Another week draws to a close in this beautiful place that we call home.
The highlight of the week for me was seeing three adult leopards all in one sighting; unusual as leopards are normally solitary by nature. The Flat Rock Male had been seen mating with the Mashaba Young Female when the Nkoveni Female unexpectedly showed up. She must have heard the sounds of mating and joined the pair, watching them from a distance at first. Eventually she got a bit closer but the Flat Rock Male, having mated with her a few weeks back, was not interested at first. He was however seen mating with this female later on in the morning. The two females showed subtle signs of aggression but were otherwise fairly tolerant of one another, which was interesting to note. Having both been born to the Mashaba Female (albeit in separate litters) one wonders if this had anything to do with it.
Other notable sightings from the week included the Tamboti female being seen on two different occasions with two different impala lamb kills. The exciting thing about the second kill was that she brought her cub to come and feed. Having not been seen for a few days, rangers were beginning to fear the worst. Luckily though, our fears proved to be unfounded.
It was also great to see the Tsalala Breakaway Pride hunting along the Sand River yesterday after a week-long absence. It is an interesting time for the pride as the Tailless female seems to have joined up with her sister from the Tsalala Pride, while the young female who she used to move around with has been mating with the Birmingham Male lions to the North of Londolozi. Only time will tell if they all join up together again.
Until then enjoy this Week in Pictures…
Whenever you see a giraffe drinking look out for the characteristic head swish just as they finish. These animals have a special network of capillaries at the base of their necks that helps to prevent excessive amounts of blood to rush to their heads when they bend their long necks down to drink. 1/640 at F/5,0; ISO 800
A black-chested snake eagle soars above us in search of prey. Despite its smaller size, this bird of prey is sometimes confused with the Martial Eagle due to fairly similar colouration. The martial eagle has darker underwings and a spotted chest and underbelly though. 1/8000 at f/5,6; ISO 1250
A knob-billed duck perches, allowing us a clear view of the strange protrusion on its beak from whence it gets its name. These birds are intra-African partial migrants, being drawn into this area by the higher quantity of grass seeds, leaves and aquatic insects at this time of the year. 1/3200 at f/8,0; ISO 500
One morning, whilst searching for the Ntsevu pride of lions, we discovered the Tamboti female instead and stayed with her the whole morning as she led us to where she had killed an impala lamb. 1/2500 at f/5,6; ISO 640
After patiently following and waiting with the Tamboti Female, she finally leapt into a small acacia tree to feed on her kill. You can see the impala lamb carcass towards the top left of the photo, stashed in the branches of the tree. 1/2000 at f/6,3; ISO 640
The Tamboti female inhabited the south-eastern sections of Londolozi, having a large part of her territory along the Maxabene Riverbed.
After recent rains tortoises, like this leopard tortoise, have become a lot more active. During our dry winter months these animals aestivate (enter into a state of torpor) and we do not see them. 1/1000 at f/5,0; ISO 640
The Flat Rock Male was seen mating with the Mashaba Young female on a few occasions this week but no one expected a third leopard to join the pair. Take a look at the next photoraph to find out who it was. 1/500 at f/5,6; ISO 640
Having been viewed by vehicles from an early age, this leopard is supremely relaxed around Land Rovers.
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.
The Nkoveni Female (far left) surprised everyone as she decided to join the mating pair. Apart from some snarling and growling there was not much aggression between the two females. We will be following up this story later on in the week with some footage captured of the trio’s interactions. 1/1000 at f/5,0; ISO 800
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 red-billed oxpecker rides on the back of a white rhino. Notice the prominent bumps of the ridge of the rhino’s back. This is one of the distinctive features separating the white and black rhino, as the black rhino has a much more concave dip near the centre of its back. 1.400 at F/5,6; ISO 1250
The Nkoveni Female was seen again this week back in her usual territory to the east of the Londolozi Camps. With the impala lambing season in full swing she is also one of the predators taking advantage of this multitude of young and vulnerable prey. 1/250 at f/5,6; ISO 1250
Impala herds continue to grow in size daily. Soon we should be seeing the first wildebeest and warthog youngsters of the season. 1/800 at 5,6; ISO 1250
The Tsalala Breakaway Pride were seen again after a long absence. We spent the morning following them as they tried to hunt kudu and waterbuck along the Sand River. 1/1000 at f/5,6; ISO 1250
The Tamboti Female has had a successful week of hunting after she managed to catch another impala lamb yesterday. Fears that she had lost her cub were abated when she went off to fetch this remaining youngster and brought it to the carcass to feed. 1/80 at f/5,6; ISO 3200
A pearl spotted owlet looks down at us from its perch in the branches of a Buffalo Thorn tree, overhanging the Maxabene dry riverbed. These birds have false eyes on the back of their heads, a spotted head and a streaked not barred chest that separate it from the fairly similar-looking African barred owlet. 1/320 at f/5,6; 3200
On one particularly hot day this buffalo bull did not venture to0 far from the water, resting in the cool water of the Sand River. 1/400 at f/5,6; ISO 200