As most people have headed back to work for the start of 2019, things have continued unabated in the bush; a place where the wildlife knows no year or date or even time. The only things out here are seasons, daylight or night, hot or cold. And the animals react accordingly.
Fortunately in our air-conditioned offices we can find some form of protection from the fierce heat outside or the pelting rain that falls every now and then, and while we do so we can enjoy another of Tony Goldman’s fine photographic journals of his last visit to Londolozi.
Tony was last here just before the first rains fell which is why the bush still looks so brown in his photos; one only has to compare the setting of the shots to some of the more recent photos to appear on the Londolozi blog to see the changes in the landscape that the wet season has wrought.
Enjoy Tony’s latest gallery…
It’s weird to think there was only a single ostrich on Londolozi a couple of years ago. After the arrival of the males and that single female’s breeding success, there are now a number of the world’s biggest bird strutting around. Fortunately for them they seem to have avoided the attentions of the areas large predators.
This shot is of a young male just acquiring his adult plumage. At about a year all ostriches will resemble females with dull brown feathering, but eventually the moulting of the males will result in their black colouration.
A lone plains zebra. Whilst there is still no conclusive evidence that tells us why zebras evolved their stripes, some studies that look at average temperatures across their distribution have noticed a correlation between the species with denser stripes and slightly higher temperatures, suggesting that the stripes may well have something to do with thermoregulation.
Burchell’s coucals are heard far more than they are seen. Known to call just before and after rain, they favour rank grassland and water margins, and can often be seeing skulking around at the water’s edge hunting for prey, This one has caught a tiny frog.
The Nkoveni female and tongue engage in mutual grooming. As well as keeping themselves clean, grooming can also aid in temperature control through evaporative cooling of the saliva, and reportedly provides an additional source of Vitamin D which is produced on the animal’s coat through exposure to sunlight.
African hoopoe’s are some of Londolozi’s most strikingly coloured birds. We have mentioned before on the blog how one can get a good idea of a bird’s dietary preferences from the shape of its bill, and from the hoopoe’s we can tell that it spends a lot of time probing for insects in soil.
The underside of a leopard’s paw. These pads have walked many many kilometres along the dusty trails of Londolozi.
A yawn from one of the cheetah trio displays its canines. Although not as fearsome as a lion’s or leopard’s, a cheetah’s teeth are still viciously sharp; more than enough to puncture the windpipe of their prey in order to asphyxiate them.
One of Varty Camp’s resident pair of Barn Owls opens its sleepy eyes. As the name suggests, these nocturnal birds are regularly found inhabiting man-made dwellings, although this pair are the first of their kind to have been seen nesting in a Londolozi building in the last decade.
Two of Africa’s most dangerous animals share space quite happily. Although big crocodiles represent a danger to small hippos like this one, the hippo cows are represent just as big a danger to the croc, so both have a deterrent to keep a respectful distance from each other.
One of the Ntsevu females looks up while nursing a few of the pride’s cubs. one of the main reasons lions are theorised to have evolved into a social predator was for the mutual care of the cubs, and an increased survival chance.
A rather grumpy-looking cub of the Nkoveni female. This cubs is approaching a year old by now, and may well be the first offspring the Nkoveni female manages to raise to independence.
The local hyena den has been extremely productive of late, with multiple females raising well over 10 cubs. Females will share a communal den, and it hasn’t been unusual to see over 15 hyenas of different ages all whiling away the morning or afternoon hours on the periphery of the den-site.
The Makomsava female is regularly encountered along the Manyelethi River in Londolozi’s northern parts. Her mother the Nanga female seems to have ceded off a significant chunk of her territory to her, as the Nanga female is now being seen less frequently, and further east than we used to encounter her.
One of Londolozi’s noisiest birds; the Arrow-marked babbler. This group dwelling species is usually before they are spotted; their distinctive cackling call, when uttered by one of the flock, is invariably taken up by the rest of them.
Another of Londolozi’s noisy avian species, the black-collared barbet has a distinctive “Too-puddley” sound to its call, although what some don’t know is that the call is in fact a duet given by a male and female bird.
The Flat Rock male has become a mainstay of our leopard viewing over the last couple of years. Although under pressure from the larger Anderson male for a while, the Flat Rock male seems to have weathered the storm and still patrols right along Londolozi’s Sand River frontage.
An Ntsevu female, tired of the attention of the pride’s 13 growing cubs, snarls her displeasure.