It has been a fascinating week at Londolozi.
We have had numerous sightings of the Birmingham males all across the reserve, which strongly suggests a territorial expansion. Two of them have been mating with two of the Ntsevu lionesses. However I think the highlight for this week was the poor old buffalo bull that appeared to be stuck in a mud wallow and subsequently killed by three hyena. “Highlight” might be the wrong word, as it’s never pleasant to see an animal killed by a predator, but the sighting was unique. Before long the Ntsevu females had smelt the carcass and moved in, providing some incredible viewing over the last few days.
There has also been some spectacular viewings of the Tamboti female and cub, as well as Ingrid dam female and her cub in the north west of Londolozi.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
This zebra mare and her foal bond as the foal tries to suckle. Large clearings like this one surrounding the Londolozi airstrip are great places to view zebra, wildebeest and other general game in the early morning, as many of them sleep in the open for safety reasons. f7.1, 1/320s, ISO 800
This large crocodile was lying on an island in the Sand River as we crossed over in the early afternoon. Crocodiles can regulate their body temperature faster through the exposure of blood vessels in their mouth to ambient temperatures. f6.3, 1/1600s, ISO 640
A lone hyena stands next to a body of water early in the morning, its curiosity piqued by something splashing in the shallows. Most hyenas at Londolozi forage alone as there are more than enough predators for them to kleptoparisitize off. f5.6, 1/400s, ISO 1250
This Birmingham male and Ntsevu lioness were found mating early one morning. Lions will mate between 4 to 7 days and roughly every 20 minutes, and given that all the females who recently gave birth seem to have lost their cubs, it is most likely that the majority of the lionesses in the pride will be mating again. f5.6, 1/s640, ISO640
The Ingrid Dam female was viewed twice this week on the north-western side of Londolozi where both times she had managed to successfully hunt and kill an impala. Her cub is now roughly 11 months old and still reliant on its mother to provide food for it. f5.6, 1/320s, ISO 1250.
She is occasionally seen around the far north west corner of Londolozi, and is generally quite relaxed around vehicles.
This spotted eagle owl had perched on a dead knobthorn and was caught in the spotlight by tracker Jerry Hambana. The owl was bobbing its head up and down looking for any species of prey such as scrub hares, mice, lizards and other small animals. Owls will bob and weave their heads to increase their field of views, as their eyes aren’t in a ball shape like ours, but rather are tube shaped and held rigidly in place. f6.3, 1/250s, ISO 2000
We came across a flock of southern carmine bee-eaters on the afternoon safari. Here I managed to photograph one of the birds as it had just caught an ant and was making its was back to a perch nearby. Bird photography is challenging, but in the case of bee-eaters, knowing that they will often hawk an insect and then return back to exactly where they were perched before, helps in predicting their movements. f5.6, 1/4000s, ISO 640
The Tamboti female’s cubs gives a big yawn late in the afternoon after finishing off the remains of a young impala. Leopards will most often yawn 3 or 4 times before stretching and becoming active, which, just like in the case of the carmine bee-eaters, allows one to predict their behaviour and prepare for photographic opportunities. F5.6, 1/320s, ISO 1000.
The Tamboti female inhabited the south-eastern sections of Londolozi, having a large part of her territory along the Maxabene Riverbed.
A large herd of buffalo estimated to be around 400- to 500-strong moves through the open areas in the south west of Londolozi. During the twilight, buffalo become a little more alert as this is when lions start to get active. In the case of this herd, the Mhangeni sub-adults were actually lying close by! f7.1, 1/125s, ISO 640.
The Nanga female unfortunately lost her second cub just a few days back. We followed her one afternoon as she moved and scent marked steadily along the roads of her territory. Leopards will sometimes mark their territory every 50 metres or so, which is exactly what she did on this day. I saw this opportunity to park in drainage-line as she approached, in the hope of capturing an eye-level shot. f5.6, 1/200s, ISO 1600.
The Nanga female was born to the Nyelethi 4:4 female in 2009 as part of a litter of three.
This was a beautiful sight on a misty morning; a female kudu up top a termite mound as the African sun rises and lights up the sky with orange. Kudu, as well as many other animals, will climb termite mounds to scan the surrounds for any predators. You can see the focus on this kudu as she stares towards something in the distance, her ears also swivelled in that direction. f7.1, 1/500s, ISO 1600.
It was good to see the Tsalasa pride again around the Londolozi camps as they have been spending a fair amount of time in the northern Sabi Sand Reserve. Here the two females and young males were slowly waking up and listening to impala and wildebeest near the airstrip. f5.6, 1/160s, ISO 1600.
A small group of impalas focus on the alarm calls of guineafowl in the distance. I absolutely loved the light on these impala first thing in the morning. General game is always alert during this time as it is still cool, with a good chance that predators may still be active. f5.6, 1/250s, ISO 250.
A crash of rhinos approach a watering hole as the late morning starts to heat up. Rhinos will often wallow in watering holes or muddy pans during the heat of the day to cool off their bodies and protect their skin from biting insects and parasites. f10, 1/640s, ISO 500.
The Ximungwe female pauses for a few minute on this termite mound to survey her surroundings. This was the furthest west on Londolozi I have observed this as-yet independent leopard. She was scent marking continuously as she moved along; bold, as she was in an area in which the Mashaba and Nhlanguleni females are regularly seen. Could she have been trying to establish her own territory or simply advertising for a mate? Female leopards will sometimes venture far outside their territory in order to mate with as many males as possible. f5.6, 1/1000s, ISO 640.
Having been viewed by vehicles from an early age, this leopard is supremely relaxed around Land Rovers.
The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the camps and vehicles.
Born to the Tutlwa female in early-mid 2011, the Nhlanguleni female spent her formative months (and years) in and around the Sand River.
These two calves were having the time of their life playing with each other. They seemed to be of a very similar age, which will often prolong friendly interaction between youngsters as when they are different sizes one will invariably push the other around. f7.1, 1/125s, ISO 250.
One of the Ntsevu females with a firm grip tries to pull a buffalo carcass from the wallow. Lions possess almost supernatural strength, and have the ability to drag a carcass almost three to four times their body weight. f6.3, 1/800s, ISO 1000