I’m cheating a little here as not every photo was from this week, but I’ve been away on leave and wanted to fill up some space with some photos from before I left. The bush cast remains pretty much the same though, without any real changes having taken place in the predator dynamics.
The major event from the last fortnight is of course the influx of impala lambs into the ecosystem. Much like the infantry on D-Day, June 6th, these tiny antelope don’t want to be the first to hit the beach, as they instantly become the targets. Far safer to arrive in the middle wave of births in a week or so, when the local predator population have glutted themselves and there’s a much better chance of survival in numbers. Many thousands will be born across the Sabi Sand reserve, and with an estimated 50% survival rate through the first year, the impala population is about to get a nice boost…
…as is the dinner menu for the leopards, lions, jackals and hyenas across the reserve, in fact any carnivore that is large enough to tackle a newborn antelope that’s barely bigger than a mongoose.
That’s nature, and those lambs that survive will just ensure a strengthening of the gene pool.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
One of the Birmingham males considers whether or not to reply to his brother’s distant roar. In photography – as in most things in life – one learns far more from one’s mistakes, and in this case, I unfortunately didn’t capture his eye. Whilst the side profile is nice and it’s great to get so much detail in his mane, it’s the eye ultimately that should make a shot like this, so the photo falls short.
As cute as these impala lambs are, and as abundant as they’re becoming, it’s hard to get a decent photo of one, as the little blighters seldom stand still long enough. The sighting of this lamb was quite unusual infact, and we’ll be putting out a blog on it next week…
As temperatures rise (it’s hit 40 degrees Celcius a couple of times in the last week), the local hyena population takes to the water – what little water there is left. A nice dip is a sure way to cool down and reduce the amount of flies that can irritate you.
What was a sandy riverbed a couple of years ago has sprouted into a reed- and grass-covered open area. The Sand River hasn’t flooded in a long time, and it is the annual inundation that usually prevents the establishment of a plant base. Without the sand banks being washed clean, the vegetation has been able to grow, and herbivores like these elephants have taken full advantage. With the river being very dry, it’s more common to find the elephants in the river looking for food than water these days.
Same place, different animal. Giraffes often move through the open Sand River bed, but as they are browsers not grazers, it’s the riparian wooded areas along the river fringes that they are moving between.
A juvenile Bateleur eagle. These birds take approximately 7 years to gain their full adult plumage. Before that they are rather drab birds, looking much like any other brown eagle. On the wing though they are unmistakeable, as their short tails and distinctive flight pattern make them easy to identify.
A low angle shot of a giraffe cow drinking, with some oxpeckers in attendance. Knowing the giraffes were heading towards a waterhole, we drove ahead and parked next to a thicket, lying on the ground behind the Land Rover’s wheel. The herd never knew we were there and we could photograph these gentle creatures from a really unique perspective.
The Ximungwe female on one of her forays away from her den. The Tugwaan riverbed in Londolozi’s southern sectors has a number of small boulder clusters along its length, and it is between these that the female has been moving her first litter of cubs, although sightings of the litter have been inconsistent.
Soft evening light falls on an elephant feeding in the Sand River. The reeds that this individual is chewing on would be softer than many other options away from the river, and elephants are careful to eat easily cheweable food in order to protect their teeth.
The old Kaxane male before his death. This leopard was known across the reserve for his striking eye colour, which is evident here despite the distance.
Another lesson in poor settings choice! Looking through binoculars, it initially appeared as though these two pin-tailed whydahs were sitting on the same branch when in fact if one looks closely you can see the bird on the left is actually further away. When snapping the photo I left my aperture too wide and my depth of field was therefore far too shallow, so the bird on the right was out of focus. What I do enjoy about this image though is that it clearly shows two males in different stages of breeding plumage development. Male pin-tailed whydahs grow long tail feathers during the summer which they use to display to females, and the bird on the left has clearly got a head start over his rival.
Although white rhinos don’t have a set breeding season (their gestation period is 15-16 months), it seems that every second female on the reserve has a small calf with her at the moment; a wonderful testament to the protection efforts of the Sabi Sand Reserve.
A lone hippo bull takes full advantage of one of the few remaining pools on the reserve. Wanting to conserve as much energy as possible as the thermometer crept slowly up through the 30s on this morning, this bull hardly even acknowledged our presence.
You don’t see them much smaller than this. Hyena cubs are born almost black and with their eyes open, and the bolder ones amongst them stick their heads out of their dens within a few days of birth. This little one was gently placed back at the mouth of the den by its mother after it strayed a bit too far.
One of the Birmingham males enjoys a last drink from a pan before the morning’s rising heat forced him into the shade.
One of the Nhlanguleni female’s cubs glances up into the boughs of a sausage tree. With the impala lambs starting to flood the reserve, it’s not at all unlikely that we see this young leopard and her sister start to test their hunting skills on these diminutive antelope.
We’re still waiting on proper rains to really green the place up, but the Sand River started flowing again today which is huge news…