The Birmingham males now seem to be firmly established as the dominant male coalition on Londolozi, despite not really venturing into the northern sectors of the reserve yet. Although other males are seen from time to time around the periphery of their territory, they are essentially going to be settling for the Birmingham males’ scraps.
There is no better way to go to sleep to the sound of these majestic lions calling until the early hours of the morning, which thankfully makes it a lot easier to find them once it is light.
With most days producing multiple lion sightings, we know it is only going to get better as winter settles in.
That being said, enjoy this Week in Pictures..
One of the Birmingham males stopped only meters away from my vehicle and locked eyes with a female which was approaching him, only moments after he had been mating with one of the other females. f2.8, 1000/s, ISO 320
In a dominance display male hippos will thrash their heads around in the water with their mouth wide open showing off their massive teeth. They do this as a warning to passers-by or when they feel threatened. Often hippos will show this behaviour to vehicles as we drive over a dam wall. f/5.6, 625/s, ISO 640.
We had just tracked the Tsalala pride down, and as they lay under a marula tree to rest, we suddenly spotted the Nanga young female up a nearby Jackalberry tree, perfectly illuminated by this shaft of sunlight. No more than 30 minutes later she had descended down the tree and moved off quickly to get away from the lions. f/2.8, 200/s, ISO 320.
A Verreaux’s eagle owl was perched on a dead tree listening and scanning from the dark to see what it could find to feed on for the night. These owls are the largest species we see here at Londolozi on a fairly regular basis, and their deep calls are often heard early in the morning. f/3.5, 250/s, ISO 1500.
It’s the time of the year when female crocodiles have either been mated with and have deposited their eggs in the banks of the Sand River or males are still asserting their dominance and trying to mate. Here one of the males approached the female and a very aggresive approach was taken by both these individuals. The male chased the female while trying to bite her when the female trashed around and tried biting the male back. f/2.8, 1500/s, ISO 500.
A follow-on shot from the previous photo. The female managed to escape the deathly bite of the male and attempted to get to deeper water where she would be able to protect herself more. The male was in hot pursuit of the female. This was a first for me to ever watch these prehistoric animal clash and it was certainly something I won’t forget in a hurry. f/2.8, 1500/s, ISO 500.
As the already low levels in the Sand River drop further, we should see more and more elephant herds coming down to drink as the River continues to provide water through the dry season. f4, 1/800s, ISO 320
Secretary birds are an uncommon species on Londolozi. When nesting they are fairly localized, but the past four years or so have seen what was once the resident pair move off. They seem to be back now though, and with any luck will meet with some breeding success. f3.2, 1/400s, ISO 800
A Tsalala lioness avoids getting her paws wet and leaps across a channel in the Sand River. Lions will swim when they have to, but in general will try and avoid any kind of immersion in water. f6.3, 1/2000s, ISO 640
The gory aftermath of a wild dog kill. Although these incredibly efficient predators are often said to be cruel killers, the fact is that their prey is usually dead far quicker than the victims of the big cats. Nature red in tooth and claw. f5.6, 1/640s, ISO 1000
The male cheetah in a prominent marula tree. He has been seen may times in this same marula over the years, most likely because it is isolated in a sea of grass, therefore making an ideal vantage point, and is nicely slanted to facilitate an easy climb. f5, 1/1250s, ISO 1000
A water monitor peers over a granite rock in the Sand River. This species subsists on a wide variety of food sources, but is well known for raiding crocodile nest and devouring their eggs. They are regularly to be found basking on the riverine rocks. f5.6, 1/320s, ISO 640
The Ntsevu females give way to a herd of elephants emerging from a thicket. Three Birmingham males meanwhile pause to investigate where one of the females had urinated, to see if she is in oestrus or not. f4, 1/800s, ISO 800
Eventually, with the elephants getting too close for comfort, the males were also forced to retreat. f5, 1/400s, ISO 1000