An exciting event this week, thanks to some late rain, is that the Manyelethi River started to flow. Normally a dry riverbed with only the odd pool of water, it is not since 2013 that it has been seen flowing through Londolozi. As the water table starts to drop and the river stops flowing, I’m sure we can expect to see elephants digging holes in the sand to access freshly filtered water through the dry winter months.
The overcast weather has brought several dark and starless nights. Predators have capitalised on this as several kills have been found on morning drives. In fact, the Mashaba female leopard was seen catching a young steenbok but seemingly already full from another meal, ate half of it and promptly left it in the open on a termite mound to continue on her way.
Without further ado, enjoy this Week in Pictures…
A fitting image to welcome in the weekend. The Mashaba female takes a big stretch before she set off from this termite mound. Just out of frame is a half-eaten steenbok which she had caught a few hours before. f5, 1/2000s, ISO800.
We looped around a herd of elephants in an open clearing so that we could watch them approach us. This mother and her calf came past quite close. The mother, being protective of her calf, kept a close eye on us and even lifted her head and widened her ears to make herself appear as large as possible. By making herself larger, any potential threat would hopefully be intimidated and leave them alone. f5,6, 1/500s, ISO 1000.
This is one of my favourite times of year as the bush is still lush and green, it is not too cold but not too hot either. To top it off, we are leaving camp at just the right time to watch the sunrise on morning drives. I pulled off the road to watch the sunrise in silence one morning and while we were sitting in awe, we heard the distinct rasping call of a leopard a few hundred metres away. We rushed into the area and found the Tamboti female walking down the road towards the rising sun. Not a bad way to start the day, wouldn’t you agree? f5,6, 1/400s, ISO 800.
From the same sighting as above, our morning got a whole lot better very quickly. We looped ahead of the leopard so that we could watch her walk towards us in perfect morning light. We heard a strange sound next to us and realised that her year-old cub was sitting in a tree not 15 metres from us! The cub jumped down and they went through an elaborate greeting process right in front of us. Soon thereafter the cub ran to a bush that her mother had just scent-marked and copied exactly what she had seen her do, jumping up and rubbing her cheeks through the leaves. f5,6, 1/400s, ISO 800.
A zebra and her foal stand head-t0-tail, with the foal resting its head on its mothers side. Female zebra, like most mammals, will have a strong bond with their offspring. By keeping their new-born foal close for its first few days of life, it will begin to recognise its mothers scent, voice and stripe-pattern. In this case, the foal is a few months old already but will remain close to its mother as it will still be nursing. f5,6, 1/1000s, ISO 320.
A Birmingham male lion looks up as he hears the sound of other lions close-by. This pair of lions had been mating and the male was acting particularly defensive over the Ntsevu lioness, not allowing any other lions to come close to her. f7,1, 1/200s, ISO 640.
A hooded vulture sits perched close to where a leopard had made a kill, hoping for some scraps to become available. Vultures have lost the feathers around their heads to enable them to squeeze into small gaps and crevices in carcasses to pick off bits of meat. It does however, give them a rather sinister look. This individual’s facial skin has turned pink from excitement, typical of the species. f5, 1/2500s, ISO 200.
A male lion looks fiercely towards one of his brothers as he stands guard next to the lioness that he was mating with. I enjoy how the tail of the lioness and the darkness both contribute towards a natural frame around the male’s piercing eyes. f5,6, 1/250s, ISO 1600.
A young vervet monkey peers out from the fork of a tree as the sun begins to set, casting golden light on the scene. Monkeys will spend the night in the crowns of tall trees where they feel safe, away from the threat of lurking predators on the ground. In this case, the troop of monkeys had chosen a knobthorn tree in which to roost, that probably offers further protection in the form of sharp, hooked thorns. f5,6, 1/250s, ISO 400.
Male lions can cover huge distances in a night as they patrol their territory. One has to take this into account when setting out to search for them in the morning, as tracks that seem fresh could be a few hours old and one could still be several kilometres behind them. Luckily, on this particular morning we were sitting watching some antelope when we heard lions calling as part of their territorial patrol. With some coordinated teamwork, the lions were found soon after. Seeing male lions on the move is quite humbling as their power and strength is well portrayed through their heavy footfalls. f5,6, 1/500s, ISO 800.
Not the sort of image that springs to mind when one thinks of warthog. However, warthogs have been rather shy and this was one moment where I managed to capture one that was not running away! The family had recently emerged from their burrow in a termite mound and were setting off on their morning foraging expedition. The squatting female warthog provided much entertainment to the children on our vehicle! f5,6, 1/1600s, ISO 800.
This young male leopard (the Nweti male, a new face on Londolozi) was found walking through an open grassland area in the early morning. One can see the moisture from the dew-covered grass on his front paw. He climbed a fallen over tree for a better view over the landscape where the sun fell on his face perfectly. f5,6, 1/1000s, ISO 400.
Dwarf mongooses are incredibly fast creatures, mostly seen running under thick bushes in search of insects, snakes and scorpions. They will often run back into their burrows in termite mounds when they feel threatened. If one is patient enough, sometimes they will start to emerge again, offering a great view like this one! f5,6, 1/4000, ISO 800.
The magic guarri bushes are fruiting at the moment. The berries are spherical and roughly a fingernail size, turning a deep reddish purple colour when ripe. The leaves of the guarri bush are rather distasteful and bitter at the best of times, but in contrast the fruit is very sweet and tasty! The fruits have drawn a lot of attention from animals like giraffe, that would normally not be interested in guarri bushes at all. This particular giraffe would rip a whole mouthful of berries off a branch and promptly crunch through the fruits, (rock hard) seed and all. f5,6, 1/2000s, ISO 800.
Ranger Melvin Sambo, Tracker Milton Khoza and Londolozi guests drive along a crest having just sat and enjoyed a breathtaking African sunrise. f5, 1/2500s, ISO 1000.