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As this week draws to a close everyone continues to speculate as to when the first big rains of summer are going to arrive. We have already witnessed a number of other signs that all point to the imminent arrival of the southern hemisphere summer such as the arrival of the impala lambs, numerous migratory birds arriving back and temperatures rising, but the bush is still dry and water is still scarce.
Sightings continue to blow us away though and this week brought about a first for me which was when the Nzandzeni young male had an interesting encounter with a hippo. On arriving at a prominent waterhole in the central parts of the reserve we couldn’t believe our eyes as we saw in the middle of the dried up waterhole this young male leopard in a stare down with a lone bull hippo wallowing in the mud. He got up and paced around the muddy wallow and we realised he was probably interested in the numerous catfish that could be seen swimming around the hippo. But with the hippo clearly outclassing him in the weight and aggression departments, the young leopard wisely settled down out of harm’s way.
The Ntsevu Pride were not seen as often as we had hoped this week but even so we managed to have some great sightings of them with their new cubs. With so many cubs to look after they have their work cut out for them over the next few months as they try and get through this vulnerable age. Luckily for the lionesses the Birmingham males continue to remain a strong and stable coalition in their area and this bodes well for the protection of the cubs.
With the impala lambing season getting underway a number of predators have been taking full advantage of this increase in vulnerable prey. A Tawny Eagle was even observed the other day feeding on a lamb. The Nzandzeni female had numerous impala lamb kills in the southern reaches of the reserve and we had one great sighting of her feeding on one in a beautiful Marula tree.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
A single Birmingham male was found in the early morning sunlight as he marched towards the distant roars of his brothers. He eventually lost interest and settled up in the shade of a tree for the rest of the day.
The Nhlanguleni female with her male and female cubs. This trio continue to be found on a regular basis and provide some amazing spectacles due to their completely relaxed attitude in the presence of our game viewers. A stark contrast to the Nhlanguleni female’s previous litter who were hardly ever seen.
A Southern White-faced Owl with the most stunning orange eyes. Spotting an owl during the day is always a special sighting!
The Tatowa young male is not often viewed but we got very lucky when we spotted him one afternoon lying on a boulder in the southern parts of the reserve. He is getting very big now and sightings of him together with his mother are becoming few and far between. It won’t be long now until he is forced to disperse out of the area by his father, the Inyathini Male.
Spotting a leopard on a boulder is one thing that gets me very excited! I think it is the sheer contrast of the grey boulder and the rosetted cat that makes it so breathtaking. I decided to put this photo in black and white for a more dramatic effect.
Six of the newer members of the Ntsevu pride drink from a puddle formed after a little bit of rain one night. These six belong to two different lionesses and with knowledge that most of the other lionesses have also given birth we are all very excited at the prospect of seeing the whole pride together at some stage.
Camp Dam is a waterhole familiar to most who visit Londolozi as it right outside Varty and Tree camp and no drive is had without observing hippos and crocodiles around the water.
These Wild Dog pups would have been born during our winter months of this year and at this stage they have left the den site and are running with the adults in the pack. They are often left by the adults when hunting but not for long as they are still vulnerable. The enthusiastic nature of this little ones means that we are often treated to amazing sightings of these Wild Dogs when then they are found on the reserve.
One afternoon we were surprised by not just one but two different packs of Wild Dog running and hunting through the southern parts of the reserve.
The Ndzanzeni female with her hoisted impala lamb kill. It was soon discovered that she had a number of other lamb kills stashed in the nearby area.
The Flat Rock Male was seen on the banks of the Sand River late one afternoon. This male spends a lot of his time in the vicinity of the river and his often observed walking past or through the lodges.
A new-born impala lamb that was born this week. The impala herds will soon double in numbers as all these long-legged wobbly lambs try and survive the multitude of predators that will try and capitalize on their vulnerability. However, the benefit of this synchronised birthing is that there will be too many lambs for the predators to eat all of them and that is one of the reasons impala are one of the most successful antelope in Africa.
The sight that first greeted us for afar! It is always fascinating to watch the interaction between two animals that are usually not associated together. Apart from a few head tosses and intimidatory “yawning” displays the hippo didn’t pay too much attention to the leopard. He did always turn to face it as it walked around the mud wallow. For the most part the Nzandzeni young male had an air of indifference to the hippo but he did keep his distance.
The Ndzanzeni young male eyes out the lone bull hippo. You can just make out the heads of all the catfish that were sharing the wallow with the hippo. Having very versatile diets we assumed that this young male leopard was weighing up his chances of catching a catfish but with the presence of the hippo it wouldn’t be as easy as he had hoped.
A single Ntsevu listens intently to the early morning sounds of the bush. Not always being together means that when they are looking to meet up with their other pride members they may rely on their excellent hearing to pick up the distant contact calls that would signal where the others are.
James started his guiding career at the world-renowned Phinda Game Reserve, spending four years learning about and showing guests the wonder of the incredibly rich biodiversity that the Maputaland area of South Africa has to offer. Having always wanted to guide in the ...