“I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy” – Ernest Hemingway
The dust at Londolozi has begun to settle and the onset of summer rains is fast approaching. With 30mm of rain having fallen not too long ago, the grass, flowers and leaves are bursting on a daily basis with a flush of greenery and colour across the landscape, providing herbivores with a rich food supply. It is a time of happiness, fresh scents and the luminous greens of new life, which Amy Attenborough wrote about in her blog yesterday.
Elephant, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest and buffalo herds have been well-dispersed since the first rain, due to localized showers and widened food potential. Migratory birds are continuing to flock onto Londolozi, in search of the budding insect population and warm summer weather and predator dynamics are constantly changing. The Tsalala pride has been reduced to three individuals, with the whereabouts of the others is still unclear. We have sadly also experienced the loss of one of the Tsalala breakaway cubs as well as uncertainty regarding the Mashaba female leopard’s new offspring. The Majingilane male lions have been moving through the central parts of Londolozi, scent marking regularly. The rising heat across the landscape creates a spectacle at waterholes with gatherings of mammals and birds alike. It’s seems that things are heating up in more ways than one on Londolozi.
One of my highlights this week have been the influx of bird species, particularly the arrival of some rarely-seen broad-billed rollers. The Mashaba young female leopard has also been spending some time with the Inyathini male, feeding on the same carcasses, which has been fascinating to watch. The Tsalala and Tsalala breakaway prides have been in the same company again, tempting us to all ask again if they will re-join as their numbers dwindle.
No matter where you are in the world I hope the following images below keep you connected with Londolozi, the ever-changing environment and the experiences we are so lucky to be a part of.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The Nanga female photographed on her evening patrol. The sun was setting, igniting the landscape and this beautiful leopard in golden light as she marked her territory. f/5.6, 1/800, ISO 640
The Nanga female was born to the Nyelethi 4:4 female in 2009 as part of a litter of three.
A herd of about 200 buffalo begin to wake as the early morning sun rises.We have been seeing small groupings of buffalo bulls throughout Londolozi but the large herds have not been as common of late. This is possibly due to localized rain providing fresh grass in different areas, thereby dispersing these herds. f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO 800
The Mashaba female stares at an approaching hyena who had been drawn in by the scent of a fresh impala kill stashed meters above her head. Hyenas and other rival predators are the primary reason that leopards go to the effort of hoisting their kills. f/5, 1/3200, ISO 800
The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best-known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the vehicles.
A male black-bellied bustard utilizes a large termite mound to display its presence to females. Although these birds occur throughout the year, it’s after the onset of the first rains that we begin to hear them call and see them more prolifically. f/5.6, 1/8000, ISO 800
A close up of the eyes of one of the Tsalala breakaway lion cubs. One cub has not been seen for some time and at this point we are sadly assuming it to be dead. f/6.3, 1/1500, ISO 1000
A female buffalo with a very peculiar and unique shape to her horns. This growth form may be caused by mineral deficiencies, inbreeding or injury, and seems to occur more often in the female of the species. f/5.6, 1/800, ISO 800
Atop a termite mound, the Tamboti female’s cub stares back at us with curiosity, naturally framed by the branches of a sandpaper raisin bush. f/6.3, 1/100, ISO 1000
Overlooking the Varty camp dam, a young baboon grabs onto its mother whilst the female is groomed by a younger individual. I can sit for hours with these baboons as they exhibit so many human-like characteristics. f/5.6, 1/5000, ISO 640
A rare migratory bird and new arrival with the season, a broad-billed roller sits atop a dead tree. We are lucky enough to have two pairs nesting on Londolozi that we know of currently. f/6.3, 1/400, ISO 1000, +2 EV
Driving along the Sand River gives us the best opportunity of seeing flocks of white-fronted bee-eaters. They often sit on top of branches, hawking insects that fly by before returning to the same perch to feed. f/6.3, 1/1000, ISO 640
The three Majingilane male lions have been seen this week. Although ageing, these old males are still fit and healthy, covering huge distances to protect their territory from other coalitions. f/2.8, 1/3200, ISO 640
The old female from the Tsalala pride as she heads towards to the Sand River. She is trailed by two of the sub-adult cubs. The second adult and one cub have been missing for some time and recently two further cubs have disappeared. Only time will tell what the fate of the pride will be. f/5, 1/640, ISO 1600
With the change of seasons from spring to summer, large swarms of bees break away to establish new hives. A swarm of bees gathers on a branch, collectively protecting the queen. f/6.3, 1/125, ISO 1000
With very high temperatures in the middle of the day, waterholes are often an attractive place for rhinos to gather for a thirst-quenching drink. Its not unusual to see white rhinos gathering at waterholes as this species tend to be more social in this area than their browsing cousins, the black rhino. f/6.3, 1/500, ISO 640
A hippo yawns in an attempt to intimidate a rival. Towards the end of winter, waterholes start drying up and competition between hippos can become intense. With a flash of rain recently, such tension should begin to subside. f/5.6, 1/800, ISO 800
Hooded vultures have a very unique way of changing their facial skin colour when excited and become a bright pink when picking up scraps of meat around a carcass. f/6.3, 1/640, ISO 640
The iconic call of an African scops owl is often heard on warm, windless, summer nights. Large eyes allow them very acute nocturnal vision. This is the smallest owl found at Londolozi, reaching 16 cm in height and only 65 grams in weight. f/6.3, 1/125, ISO 1600
The Tamboti female stares at an approaching hyena on a rainy afternoon. She was on high alert as her young cub rested meters away from her. f/5.6, 1/125, ISO 1000
The Tamboti female inhabited the south-eastern sections of Londolozi, having a large part of her territory along the Maxabene Riverbed.
A side-striped jackal soaks up the sun’s first rays on a cool morning before heading to thicker vegetation to rest for the day. f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO 800
After chasing off the Mashaba young female leopard, the Inyathini male stares up at a hoisted impala kill on the high branches of a marula tree. With the Piva male’s demise, we are watching with interest as to whether the Flat Rock or Inyathini male will take over this territory. f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO 640
Another leopard who originated in the Kruger National Park, he has established a large territory in the south eastern areas of Londolozi.
The open grasslands in the south western section of Londolozi provide an ideal habitat for ostriches. Guests and I had the privilege of viewing nine of them in the area, two of which were males. Will we see a new clutch of eggs in the near future? f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO 800