“I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up and was not happy” – Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway’s quote is particularly relevant during this season. Intermittent, localized rains have fallen through many evenings and the mornings are filled with the dawn chorus, the smell of petrichor and a warming atmosphere of what the day brings as we settle into the middle of summer.
The bush has been showcasing some fine game viewing over the last week. Male lions continue to be heard after sunset and seen on all corners of our reserve as we venture out on game drive.
The leopards seen most often this week have been the Inyathini male and Tamboti female. The Ndzanzeni young male has also been viewed regularly around two water holes in the deep southern parts of Londolozi; a bit of a familiar safe haven he spends time in, as he reaches a time of independence. It’s been so lucky for all of us to be able to witness movements and habits of two wild dog packs, both of which are looking fit and healthy and thriving off the bounty of impala lambs this season brings. Elephant herds have been a true highlight of this last week, never have I seen such a vast number of elephants in the area and this was reiterated by many experienced trackers. Around almost every corner is some sort of elephant behaviour to witness. On one particular drive we estimated a herd of over one hundred individuals all spread out and slowly feeding through the Maxabene drainage; it was a hot day and therefore the mud bathing spectacle kept one entertained for hours.
General game sightings of zebra, wildebeest, giraffe and many others have also been incredible. Is this possibly due to the localized rains? Have we received more rains around Londolozi that areas to our far east and therefore animals have moved long distances to capitalize on the fresh, nutritious grasses and sweet protein-rich leaves?
It will be exciting to see further growth of the carpet of greenery around Londolozi as further rains are due to fall. But for now, soak up a few of this week’s highlights and wait for further exciting experiences to come.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
Bracket fungus. Its not always the big things with teeth and claws that can draw photographic potential in the bush but other living things with a beautiful natural display of patterns and colours. f.2.8, 1/1250, ISO 800
The Inyathini male leopard on morning patrol after a rain-filled evening. Leopards are most often seen close to game paths or roads after recent showers as they are re-scent marking prominent features. Their scent is reduced after rain and therefore requires further marking. f.6.3, 1/500, ISO 1600
Another leopard who originated in the Kruger National Park, he has established a large territory in the south eastern areas of Londolozi.
A close up on an independent eye. A flap-necked chameleon opens its mouth to cool itself down on a very hot summer’s day. f.2.8, 1/500, ISO 500
We have been lucky to see two different packs of wild dogs around Londolozi over the last week. A dog is distracted by a terrapin in a nearby water hole. f.5.6, 1/250, ISO 800
An elephant maximizes on the excellent grazing potential after summer rains. The trunk of an elephant is most similar to our tongues and has over 50000 muscles, more than 50 times the total number of muscles in our entire body. f.5, 1/800, ISO 800
Trunks and tusks wrapped around one another. I believe elephants are far smarter than we think and possess untold emotional intelligence. f.6.3, 1/400, ISO 640, +1.0 EV
A large elephant cow trails her herd through an open clearing. Elephants have been so plentiful this last week, and have provided excellent viewing and interaction. f/5, 1/2500, ISO 640, +0.3 EV
Summer is full of life and its not uncommon to see birds with new hatchlings, as with these Egyptian Geese. Spending time in water can be a high risk as the potential for predation by birds of prey and crocodiles is increased. f.5.6, 1/4000, ISO 640
A single elephant can often be dwarfed by the vastness of open grass plains. The new grass shoots are very nutritious and one may often see elephants feeding on grass more than leaves at this time of year. f. 5.6, 1/1250, ISO 640, +1.0EV
Early morning rays provided unbelievable light and water reflections. A white-faced whistling duck enjoys the warm sun rays in its aquatic environment. f. 6.3, 1/4000, ISO 800
The Ndzanzeni young male approaches our vehicle near a waterhole in the deep south east of Londolozi. He has been frequenting this water hole and must feel safety in this area, as it is central in his mother’s territory. f.6.3, 1/640, ISO 640
This female is a success story all in herself, being born as a single cub to the Dudley Riverbank female in early 2012.
Black and white stripes. A newly born zebra foal stares back with an inquisitive look. Are we possibly the first humans it has seen? f. 5.6, 1/1600, ISO 800
Ranger, James Souchon and guests enjoy an afternoon of being surrounded by elephants as they slowly feed on the move. f. 5.6, 1/400, ISO 640
A full moon hangs dim in the night sky yet lights up the surrounding landscape. Clear night skies are hard to come by in summer as thunderstorms and rain clouds frequently roll in. f. 6.3, 1/640. ISO 100
Beautiful evening rays side-light a lone buffalo bull as it strolls across the ankle deep water of the causeway. f. 6.3, 1/1250, ISO 800, +0.7EV
A burrowing scorpion emerges from its hole in search of the new termite alates that have emerged after the rains. Many animals from insects to birds have been maximizing the feeding potential to be found in the protein rich, winged insects of summer. f. 5.6, 1/1000, ISO 800, +0.7EV
An eye of a prehistoric predator, the Nile crocodile. With the Sand River rising, crocodiles have been waiting downstream of the Causeway in the hope of small fish being pushed by the water pressure towards their snapping jaws. f. 6.3, 1/640, ISO 640, +0.7EV
An Ntsevu lioness quenches her thirst at a water-filled pan on a hot morning before heading towards the Sand River to cool down during the worst of the heat. f.6.3, 1/4000, ISO 800
A carmine bee-eater making the most of the abundance of insects that summer has to offer. Flocks of these beautiful birds are often seen around termite mounds, snatching up the emerging winged alates. f. 6.3, 1/4000, ISO 800
Alert and tuned into the sounds around her, the Tamboti female leopard’s cub follows her mother on an early summer’s morning. f. 5.6, 1/1250, ISO 800
The Tamboti female inhabited the south-eastern sections of Londolozi, having a large part of her territory along the Maxabene Riverbed.