I couldn’t imagine living in a place without a significant change in season. Whether one season is good and another is bad, or they are very different but equally as appealing, the change always means there’s something to look forward to. A similar level or rainfall and fairly constant temperature all year round would be a struggle for me.
It’s ironic this, as change in life is what frightens many people the most, yet change in the bush is what most of us who live out here find most exhilarating. At the moment we are firmly entrenched in our summer schedule: long hot days, interspersed with cloudy grey ones, and we are still a long way from the drying up that takes us into winter. Yet I know that probably by February, when temperatures are remaining in the high 30s well after sunset on some days, the rangers and trackers will already be looking forward to the chilly starts of the July mornings. And then by September, when the dusty conditions and drab scenery have been around for a few months, we will all start to look forward to summer once more.
The endless cycles of nature, be they on a mega- or macro-scale, and the constant transformation that we witness all around us, are I guess the fundamentals of what make this bush life so appealing.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The elephant eye shot has been done many times before. What you can’t see in this picture though (but can probably imagine) was that this particular individual was sniffing the side of my camera lens with its trunk while I snapped this shot! f5.6, 1/60s, ISO 1000
A lowered shutter speed managed to blur the sand being shot out of this young elephant’s trunk. Photographs like this are about trial-and-error; too high a shutter speed and the sand won’t blur, too low and slight movement of the elephant will blur its face. f8, 1/80s, ISO 800
A giraffe bull strolls across the airstrip as a bachelor herd of impalas start to move in the opposite direction to him. Early mornings are a great time to see general game around the airstrip, as the open clearing provides a slightly safer sleeping position than a thicket, so impalas, wildebeest and zebra are often still to be found there shortly after sunrise. f2.8, 1/8000s, ISO 100
Many of you who have visited Londolozi in recent years will recognize this face; Will Ford, Operations Manager. Will is constantly moving between the various camps, making sure that each guest’s needs are taken care of. Here he was dropping by at a pizza stop out in the bush, running a last-minute taste test. f3.5, 1/1000s, ISO 800
The Tamboti female had taken her cub to a kill about twenty metres from this very spot three nights before, and as the Inyathini male approached on this particular morning (60 hours later, and after rain), we knew it was a great opportunity to see if her smell would still linger and if he would detect it. Sure enough, as he crossed the path she had led the cub down, he stopped and began sniffing round, displaying the flehmen grimace and scent marking on every second bush after he began moving off again. It goes to show just how acute a leopard’s sense of smell is. f3.5, 1/1000s, ISO 640
Although not quite at the level of Bearded Scrub Robin chicks, impala lambs grow very fast indeed. The difference between a day-old lamb and a week-old one is quite significant, and as we approach the end of the birthing season, almost none of the lambs are wobbly on their feet anymore. They will still be very vulnerable for some time to come, but their huddling in small creches for safety helps to reduce the level of vigilance required from their respective mothers. f4, 1/1600s, ISO 1000
Spotted Hyenas are a great danger to young impala at this time of year. Knowing that the newborns will tire easily in a chase, and that they are still too young to make good decisions when fleeing a predator, hyenas will run at and scatter nursery herds, hoping to panic a young one into leaving its mother and subsequently becoming confused, at which point it will be easy to pick off. Knowing this, the impalas warily watch any approach by a hyena, sounding the alarm and fleeing if it comes too close, something they won’t do at other times of the year, when the lambs are much bigger and can escape easily. f5.6, 1/500s, ISO 1000
This young Mhangeni lioness had become separated from the rest of the pride somehow, and was looking for them all through this morning. We followed her for a couple of hours as she followed their scent, contact-calling all the time, but even though at one point she passed within about 150m of where they were sleeping, she didn’t find them, and that afternoon she was walking the same route, still searching. She would climb every termite mound in her path, hoping to spot them from on top. f6.3, 1/800s, ISO 160
Helmeted guineafowl scrabble in the dirt for morsels to eat. As they eat a lot of small grubs and arthropods, at this time of year they are often to be found scratching around in rhino or elephant dung, where they know a large number of dung beetles are to be found. f5, 1/1250, ISO 640
The older Tailed Tsalala lioness. She and the sub-adult that had been missing were lying near the waterhole at Ximpalapala koppie on this cloudy afternoon when four warthogs approached. Hearing the warthogs’ footfalls, the lioness sat up to see, which unfortunately spooked the warthogs and they ran away. As the lioness watched them disappear, the sun burst briefly through the clouds, bathing her and the rock in golden light. f2.8, 1/1000s, ISO 640
A journey of giraffes moves in a stately line past ranger Sean Zeederberg’s vehicle. Whilst giraffe sightings can be fickle, and we can sometimes go for days without seeing them, the last few weeks have seen a surplus of amazing viewing; from mating pairs to necking bulls to small calves nursing from their mothers. f10, 1/2000s, ISO 640
The Nkoveni female (pictured) has been mating with the Flat Rock male of late, and on this particular afternoon we think she was following his scent, as she would call quite regularly and constantly sniff around. Given that he killed at least one of her last litter (and most likely the second as well), it seems crazy to our human perceptions that he would now be the one she needs to mate with in order to reproduce again, but that is the reality of the bush. f3.2, 1/1250s, ISO 800
A zebra stallion in sepia. And an oxpecker. That’s about it. f2.8, 1/2000s, ISO 320
The crests around Ximpalapala koppie have been teeming with life recently, much of it the newborn kind. Apart from the wildebeest calves and impala lambs everywhere, there have been a number of very young zebra foals seen in the local harems. With an abundance of grass, there isn’t much competition between all the herbivores, and spending time in each other’s company greatly increases the chances of them detecting an approaching predator. f2.8, 1/2000s, ISO 640
The young Mhangeni lioness from a few photos previously, forlornly silhouetted against the fading light, still searching for her missing pride. f18, 1/1600s, ISO 200