With just over six weeks to go until we say goodbye to 2017, the question on everyone’s minds here has been, “when are we going to get rain again?” It’s an even more pertinent question when we look back at the last couple of years where our summer rainfall has been sub-standard and everyone is a little on the edge when it comes to this matter. Our question was answered two days ago though with a blessing of 35mm of rain that is going to do wonders for the bush.
The impala lambs have continued to drop this last week and they will benefit from the growth of new grass shoots as the welcome rains soak into the ground, leaving the impala females well nourished. The rains have also coincided with the return of the woodland kingfishers who have migrated back down to Southern Africa to breed, making us well aware of their presence with their shrill call, which provides a constant reminder that summer is here.
The Mhangeni Pride has been on the move this week with sightings of them ranging from the southern most boundary of Londolozi all the way up to the northern parts of the reserve where they were found yesterday with full stomachs. In comparison to the still-strong Mhangeni Pride, the Tsalala Pride and the Tsalala Breakaway Pride continue to leave us with a lot of unanswered questions as they are sometimes seen together and sometimes apart. At almost two years old, three of the sub-adults (two males and one female) in the pride are starting to become more independent and have been seen on their own for the most part this past week.
The Nkoveni Female took full advantage of the thunderstorm we had two nights ago and managed to kill three different impalas, whilst the Mashaba Female and the Inyathini Male also were both found the morning, each with their own impala kill.
As the year draws to a close, we continue to hope for more rain to rejuvenate the landscape and look forward to witnessing the transformation that will happen as a result.
Until then enjoy this collaborative Week in Pictures…
A Tsalala pride sub adult lion runs across the drying Sand River in order to get its share of a recently killed impala. The three Tsalala youngsters have been spending most of their time alone over the last few weeks. f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO 640 Photograph by Alex Jordan
A male cheetah patrols his territory in the southern grasslands of Londolozi. These animals have superb eyesight and use termite mounds and fallen trees as vantage points to scan their surroundings. f5,6, 1/400; ISO 1600. Photograph by Pete Thorpe
The same male cheetah photographed above. The slight bulge in his stomach was as a result of the previous day’s meal but being animals with such fast metabolisms and being opportunistic in nature, he was already on the lookout for his next meal. f5,6, 1/400; ISO 1600. Photograph by Pete Thorpe
An elephant bull cools himself in the Sand River. The wet sand tossed from his trunk left a neat streak down the front of his face, giving him a rather comical look. f5,6, 1/1000; ISO 400. Photograph by Rob Jeffery
A gorgeous male violet-backed starling photographed in full breeding plumage. The female, by contrast, lacks this iridescent plumage altogether. f9, 1/250, 1/2000. Photograph by James Tyrrell
An incredibly rare and special sighting of a pair of hyenas mating. We will be following up this photograph with a full story of this particular sighting in the next week or so. f4,5, 1/2500, ISO 640. Photograph by James Tyrrell
The Tamboti female rests with her kill safely stashed in a Tamboti tree nearby. High off the ground she was able to take a nap without having to worry about her meat being stolen by competing predators like lions and hyenas. f5, 1/500, ISO 1400. Photograph by Pete Thorpe
The Tamboti female inhabited the south-eastern sections of Londolozi, having a large part of her territory along the Maxabene Riverbed.
Two of the Tsalala pride sub adults groom one another in otherwise hard-to-reach areas. These lions have been struggling over the past few weeks. If you’re interested in more of their story click here. f6,3, 1/2000, ISO 500. Photograph by Rob Jeffery.
A kudu bull feeds on some newly sprouted leaves. As the rains continue to fall and the trees begin to sprout fresh shoots, these antelope are having an easier time sustaining themselves. f5,6, 1/1600, ISO 500. Photograph by Pete Thorpe
A panoramic of the southern grasslands of Londolozi with sunlight streaming through the clouds as dusk approaches. Cloud formations are incredibly beautiful at this time of the year. f8, 1/800, ISO 160. Photograph by James Tyrrell
The Tamboti female’s cub manoeuvres a Tamboti tree that had a kill stashed in its canopy. f2,8, 1/500, ISO1250. Photograph by James Tyrrell
A very young giraffe calf suckles from its mother. Youngsters of various species abound at this time of the year. It is likely that the female giraffe chose the open grasslands to allow her to scan for approaching predators, making a hasty retreat possible if needed. f/5.6, 1/3200. ISO 640. Photograph by Alex Jordan
A mass gathering of thirty one red billed ox-peckers atop a buffalo. We often see these birds grooming through the fur of antelope but a group of this many birds made it an exceptional sighting. f/6.3, 1/800, ISO 320. Photograph by Alex Jordan
A buffalo bull crosses the Sand River behind a pod of resting hippo. Old bulls that have left the roaming herds will often move towards dense riverine bush like this, which has both good quality grazing and a constant supply of water. f9, 1/400, ISO 640. Photograph by James Tyrrell
The Mashaba female leopard ducks her head as she approaches a herd of impala in the distance. With the mass of young impala lambs being dropped at the moment, most predators are focusing their attention on this species for food. f2,8, 1/4000. ISO 320. Photograph by James Tyrrell
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.
A rhino calf emerges from a wallow, coated in fresh wet mud. This helps to cool it down as well as provide a protective coat of mud on its skin in preparation for the hot day ahead. f5,6, 1/400, ISO320. Photograph by Pete Thorpe
A hyena uses a waterhole to cool down in on a hot summer’s morning. It’s blood stained face and distended stomach indicates that it has come from a recently-finished kill. f3,5, 1/5000, ISO 1600. Photograph by James Tyrrell
An evening of dining under the stars; a group of guests enjoy an African bush dinner. f2,2, 10th of a second, ISO 100. Photograph by James Tyrrell
Can you decipher what animal this is? A Mhangeni Pride youngster walks past a small pan, where its reflection is captured in the water. f5,6, 1/2500, ISO 500. Photograph by Kevin Power
Ranger Sandros Sihlangu and his guests enjoy watching a herd of elephants drinking from the Sand River at the causeway. As the rain continues to fall and grasses sprout throughout Londolozi, these animals are beginning to disperse from the river. f5,6, 1/6400, ISO 2000. Photograph by James Tyrrell
An old Majingilane male lion yawns, displaying his well-worn and aged canines. The rough texture of the tongue can aid in grooming and removing soft meat from bones. f/6.3, 1/2000, ISO 800. Photograph by Alex Jordan