I first learnt about Londolozi Game Reserve in 2008, when I was reading a book about leopards, called Living with Leopards by Nils Kure, that referenced Lex Hes’ book The Leopards of Londolozi. I learnt a bit more watching The Silent Hunter, but it was only in 2016 when I found the Londolozi website and started reading the Londolozi Blog that this place really began to have to have an impact on my life and how I looked at the Greater Kruger area.
I’d been reading the posts on the Londolozi Blog for almost a year when Londolozi Live was introduced. I joined almost immediately, I thought that it was a brilliant way for people -whether they have or haven’t visited Londolozi – to interact with the staff and learn more about the reserve. Straight away I found myself getting sucked into the leopard dynamics. I was sad when the Piva Male died and then I was waiting with bated breath to see what would happen to his old territory and the females in the area if the Flat Rock or Inyanthini Male took over. I’ve also become very involved in the story of the Majingilane and I am still waiting to see if the Birmingham Males make a move against them.
And Londolozi Live allows one to communicate directly with rangers and members of staff to find out how the Tsalala Pride is doing or if the Tatowa Female’s cubs are still alive. Perhaps my favourite part about the Blog though must be the Week in Pictures, which I look forward to every seven days and which never ceases to amaze and inspire me. The diversity of wildlife in the photos, and the creativity, not to mention the emotion, in the images are just incredible.
I’ve also been able to learn a lot of things from Londolozi Live. Certain blog posts have improved my understanding about certain key aspects of animal behaviour, including bird migration, elephant emotions, leopard habits and hyena social dynamics. The videos that are created by the media team are not only filled with stunning content, but also hold several key messages.
For example, in the Power of Transformation Video Dave Varty mentions how in the perceived drought you can experience the most learning and growth, and I learnt that “sometimes what looks like drought is actually the beginning of renewal”.
The video of the famous ostrich family had the beautiful message of ‘Love is worth the Wait’ and the video of the quelea flocks had several key messages, including how we are still connected and similar to every living thing around us.
And of course, there are the videos of the most incredible sightings, from lion and hyena battles and three leopards in the same tree to a pangolin in the long grass. My wildlife photography has also improved substantially since I joined Londolozi Live. I started using Lightroom after watching Kylie Jones’ tutorials and that has dramatically improved the quality of my photos. I’ve also recently learnt how to use the radial filter correctly on Lightroom thanks to one of the tutorials. And I’ve also learnt from the tips that the rangers and field guides posts relating to certain aspects of photography, especially regarding exploiting various levels of light, photographing lighting and star trails, and spotlight photography.
Perhaps most importantly, Londolozi Live gives me a vital connection to the bushveld, providing me with a little piece of sanity amid the stress and the fast-paced atmosphere of Cape Town. After a day studying at UCT, going onto the blog and looking at the latest Week in Pictures or watching a video of a lion roaring makes me feel alive and inspired at least for an hour.
It always makes me long for a trip to the bush, the place where I feel most alive and at home. Luckily at the beginning of this year I was able to go on a two week safari road trip through Botswana with a group of my friends, which included two nights apiece in Mabuasehube in the Kgalagadi and in the Central Kalahari, and three nights in Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta, so that did wonders for me. I was able to see my first wild dogs and cheetahs, and I was able to apply the tips from the Blog to take my first photos of lightning and star trails among so many other incredible experiences.
I still have not yet been lucky enough to visit Londolozi myself but Londolozi Live has given me a vital connection to the incredible place it is. It has taught me so much about the bush, tracking and, though it might sound a bit cliched, myself. I look forward to seeing what 2018 brings and hopefully someday I’ll be able to visit Londolozi and finally get that photograph of a wild leopard. The bushveld is where my heart is and I hope to follow it one day.