I, like most other rangers, often struggle to come up with an answer to one of the most frequently asked questions by guests: “What is your most favourite sighting here at Londolozi?”
It’s a question commonly met with an answer like, “I have witnessed so many amazing animal interactions it’s difficult to isolate a single sighting”, or “I could narrow it down to five incredible sightings but it’s so difficult to choose one.” The truth is that all of these answers are entirely accurate. We as rangers are all so incredibly privileged to witness the interactions of wild animals on a daily basis and it is often difficult (particularly for individuals who have been guiding for longer periods of time) to isolate merely one sighting that stands out above the rest.
Having grappled with this question many times and being relatively unsatisfied with my own responses every time, I took it upon myself to sift through thousands of photographs taken over the past few months, not only to remind myself of a series of truly incredible sightings, but also to select one image from each of these sightings that I could share. By sharing these images I hope to highlight not only the many memorable moments we share with our guests, but also to illustrate the true magic that exists in the wilderness parardise of Londolozi.
I hope you enjoy viewing the images as much as I enjoyed sharing these moments with guests…
This elephant bull pressed himself up against a Marula tree, shaking it repeatedly, allowing the ripened fruits to fall to the ground, which he then devoured. The newly bloomed wild foxglove flowers made for an incredibly beautiful scene.
The Xidulu young male and female cubs generally provide a very entertaining sighting. At the age of 11 months old, they are now confident about being out in the open and exploring their environment. This exploring often means playing with each other and fine-tuning their stalking skills. Here the young female swats at her brother, who had tried to climb the tree alongside her.
The Mhangeni pride, led by the females in the foreground of the picture, moved through an open grassland area, responding to the distant noise of a herd of buffalo. The look on each of their faces shows an obvious intent.
The Tamboti female leopard descends a Marula tree where the Xidulu female had stashed an impala kill the day before. The Tamboti female vocalised repeatedly from this tree, perhaps in response to the Xidulu female’s encroachment of her territory.
The Nkoveni female descends with her wildebeest calf kill in search of some shade, as the morning sun moved onto the spot where she had stashed the kill overnight.
One of my favourite moments of all! The Tsalala pride crossing the Sand River. This pride has been moving rather erratically lately, covering a large area. This could well be due to the absence of the two Matimba males, which has forced them to stay on the move to avoid other males in the area.
The first glimpse of the Nanga female’s six week old cubs. Being very skittish at the stage that this photo was taken, it was almost impossible to have them wait in an area long enough to take a photograph. Luckily I had my camera focused on the entrance to their den site, waiting for this exact moment.
Arguably my best sighting to date. The Mhangeni pride and Majingilane males were resting in the Sand River in the early morning when a rather agitated white rhino bull decided to chase the lions off, leaving a cloud of dust and a scene of chaos behind him.
As if the sunset on its own were not ‘typically African’, we had the added bonus of a herd of elephants dust bathing in an open clearing, as the sun set behind them.
The Xidulu female’s cub demonstrating the strength and agility of leopards as she re-hoisted the remains of an impala kill that her mother had made the evening before.
A buffalo cow quenches her thirst on a scorching hot summer’s afternoon. The red billed oxpeckers used this as an opportunity to search for any ticks and parasites to feed on.
One of my personal favourite images. The Piva male leopard makes use of the long grass to conceal himself, periodically emerging to watch a herd of unsuspecting impala nearby.
A Matshipiri male lion bathed in golden morning light, moved towards us in the long grass in search of the six Mhangeni breakaway females lying nearby. The moment he made direct eye contact is one I will never forget.
The Nanga female’s cub, now six months old, is far more confident in her exploration of her surroundings nowadays. Another favourite moment for me!
The mighty Majingilane males arising from a lazy afternoon sleep. The distant alarm call of a kudu had attracted their attention.
The Piva male on an early morning territorial patrol. The focus and determination in eyes is like nothing I had ever experienced before.
The battle-scarred Inyathini male leopard also patrols and scent-marks the outskirts of his territory, affording my guests and I a wonderful opportunity to photograph him walking towards us.
A Tsalala lioness focuses her attention on a herd of wildebeest ahead of her. After taking this image, she proceeded to crouch down and begin her stalk. Unfortunately, her boisterous cubs spoiled the hunt.
Yet another typically African sunset, this time with an impressive Kudu bull as the primary subject.