Every game drive was a success, but this particular one was historic in my two dozen years of safaris. We were less than 300 meters from camp when we stopped to watch five lions awaken and after watching them for just ten minutes, Ranger Alistair Smith cranked up and before we could travel a city block, we spotted a female leopard and her male cub resting on a nearby termite mound.
A young female that lives to the east and south of camp. Easily recognised by her 2:2 spot pattern she is often to be found in Marula trees.
A leopard who took advantage of the death of the 4:4 male in 2016 to grab territory to the west of the Londolozi camps.
We’d heard that this leopard, the Nkoveni female, had lost her dominant male and father of two cubs when he fell prey to lions a few weeks prior and that a male leopard seeking to expand his territory, the Flat Rock male, had recently killed one of those cubs. The mother succeeded in luring the Flat Rock male away from the remaining cub, who’d survived while left alone, but as we watched, the pride we had just left spotted them on the termite mound and began walking towards them. The Nkoveni female saw them at the last moment and narrowly escaped, hiding for cover in a nearby thicket.
As we followed the leopards through the bush, we rounded a corner to see three beautiful wild dogs looking our way. We were told that these three musketeers had separated from a pack of twelve or so and that they (two males and a female) were likely going to set up their own pack.
We stayed with these painted dogs for several miles watching them run.
They finally crossed east out of Londolozi and so we bid them farewell.
We were all congratulating our team on the most spectacular game drive ever when we suddenly saw the road ahead was blocked by a herd of over a dozen elephants.
As we continued the drive, we passed by a member of the anti-poaching squad, the fearless protectors of the rhinos and other endangered species. Their record is admirable as since they were constituted, we understand that the rhino population has been fully protected and is thriving on the property and beyond.
As Dave Varty has said, these guys are but one of the many sure and efficient ways Londolozi employs to protect these animals. Others initiatives include incentivizing stewardship and preservation, whilst making the odds of poaching a lesser pursuit.
We then began heading toward a suitable place to stop for a coffee. Passing by a waterhole we spent a bit of time watching the birds and crocodiles. Then we came across the perfect, deserted, flattened grass spot for our morning coffee and snacks. We all jumped out and Alistair and Tracker Euce Madonsela laid out a tasty coffee, hot chocolate, tea, biscuit, and chocolate chip cookie spread. We were so absorbed in recounting the events and occurrences of the morning that until someone caught the movement in the brush, we hadn’t seen that we were being watched by a large white rhino.
He never came close, preferring to watch us sip our coffee from the comfort of the thickets. Someone mentioned that we hadn’t yet seen zebras and sure enough they were waiting around the next corner.
What a day that was ….
Thanks for a wild and wonderful stay at Londolozi with special thanks for this morning’s drive to our guide Alistair Smith and tracker Euce Madonsela.