As we have now come to the end of the winter months at Londolozi, which happens to be my favourite time of the year for the low temperatures, misty mornings and soft warm light that the African bushveld basks in. This season provides us with great opportunities to observe animals and capture some spectacular shots around the perennial Sand River, as well as throughout the rest of the reserve. We have been witness to some interesting developments over the last few months as the animal dynamics are constantly changing at Londolozi.
Here are some pictures I manage to capture of some of my favourite sightings from this past winter.
White fronted bee eaters are seen here dust bathing on one of the tracks of Londolozi in the late afternoon. These birds throw sand over themselves and roll in the dust to help rid themselves of parasites. This was a photograph I have wanted to capture for some time now and this was the perfect opportunity to get the low angle and backlit shot.
This Tsalala young male was lying in a perfect position for this photograph and had a beautiful backdrop behind him. This lion moved to the termite mound to get a slight height advantage, hoping to spot any hunting opportunities in the distance.
This was the last time I had the privilege of viewing the late Piva Male. He was seen here resting on this large branch as he tried to digest the food he had just eaten from an impala kill. Leopard will often host kills in trees to protect their prize from other predators below such as hyenas and lions.
Directly descended from the original mother leopard and therefore part of the royal lineage of Londolozi.
This was my very first sighting of the Tsalala breakaway pride with their cubs. The Tailless female is seen here with the cubs as they move away from a giraffe they had managed to kill early that morning to quench their thirst. Lion cubs are very cautious when approaching the water’s edge and are often on the lookout for crocodiles or any other danger.
Something I have always wanted to see is elephants crossing the Sand River in warm afternoon light. This particular herd stopped in the main channel to have a drink. Elephants are very fussy when it comes to the quality of the water they are drinking and are often seen drinking from the flowing parts or the river or digging holes in dry riverbeds for fresher and cleaner water.
We managed to find the Tamboti female and her cubs early one morning and were treated to them all playing together. This cub was chasing the mother’s tail; all the cub’s playful behaviour is vital for their development and growth.
The Tamboti female inhabited the south-eastern sections of Londolozi, having a large part of her territory along the Maxabene Riverbed.
A sighting of a lifetime. We watched as this Ntsevu lioness moved her cub to a new densite. However this little cub had to run in the wet grass to keep up with its mother and became totally exhausted, forcing the female to take a break and wait for it. Here the cub rests on its mothers back.
The Nkoveni female is seen here moving one of her two cubs away from a drainage where she was keeping them and to a near by kill she had successfuly managed to make. The cub looks up at its mother before rubbing its tail in her face. Leopards will often tough heads and rub up against each other as a form of bonding between mother and cubs.
A gorgeous female who is found to the east of camp. Easily recognised by her 2:2 spot pattern she is often to be found in Marula trees.
One of the Mhangeni females jumps over a channel of water in the Sand River. Most lions do not enjoy getting their paws wet and so will leap over small water bodies to avoid doing so.
A rhino cow and young calf show affection to one another by touching faces late one afternoon. As in many animals , this tactile contact is is a way of bonding and reassuring each other.
This has got to be one of my best memories from this past winter. Here two of the three of the Mashaba female’s new little are seen at a fabulous den sight. Leopards will keep their young cubs in small caves between rocks to keep them safe while they spend a large portion of their time hunting. These two cubs were curious of the Land Rover for a few minutes from the safety of these rocks before making their way back inside the den.
The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best-known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the vehicles.