Lions will do things on their own time. Just ask anyone who’s sat with them for hours waiting for them to move, and they’ve done nothing except roll over lethargically a few times.
The Nttsevu pride are no exception. One would imagine with all those cubs to feed the lionesses would be on the move around the clock, catching what they can, but not so. Tracks of the pride including two of the Birmingham males recently led towards Londolozi’s southern reaches, where a large herd of buffalo had been moving the evening before. Following the tracks, we all expected to come round the corner at any moment and find the felines on a buffalo kill, but no, we found them fast asleep and empty -bellied. The buffalo were a few hundred metres away and unconcerned.
After the day got hot and the lions only moved further into the shade, all the game drives drifted back to camp, with the only people still out on the reserve being Renias Mhlongo and his Tracker Academy students on a prolonged lion-tracking exercise.
Just when lions would be expected to be the least active, they got up and took down two young buffalo from the herd, kilometres from the lodge, with Ren and the students having heard the commotion and enjoying front row seats to the show, which apparently lasted about 20 minutes as the lions took down their victims then got chased off by the herd multiple times.
So no, we have no photos of lions taking down buffalo this week.
Nature. Unpredictable at best.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
African Jacanas have the longest toes relative to their body size of any bird in the world. The weight distribution that results from these elongated feet allows them to walk out on the floating leaves of aquatic plants, or even – as in this instance – the floating dung of a raft of hippos.
The Tamboti young female has been spending a lot of time in the core of her mother’s old territory. While other females may have moved in and taken up territory around the fringes, this young leopard seems to be holding strong in a small area to the north-east of the Maxabene riverbed’s lower reaches. Being small and therefore more vulnerable, she spends much of her time up in the boughs of the Marula trees that dot the landscape.
A different angle of the same sighting. The leopard had killed a small duiker and hoisted it into the tree, but while we sat there in the late morning she dropped the kill into the long grass and finished off the last of the meat on the ground. Such small scraps just weren’t worth the effort of re-hoisting.
A Martial Eagle swoops in. Few raptors are as impressive as these, especially when you consider they are able to catch and kill mammals up to the size of small antelopes.
A low angle of Africa’s biggest species of snake. The forked tongue of this African Rock Python can clearly be seen here, as it follows the scent trail of something that had passed by.
The rains of summer see the emergence of the first warthog piglets from the burrows in which they are birthed. Litters of four or five are fairly common across the reserve, but sadly as the season progresses, these incredibly vulnerable little pigs get snapped up by a wide range of predators, and the litter sizes drop progressively from four to three, to two… Thankfully this little one was part of a litter of four that is seemingly still going strong!
Early morning on the Londolozi airstrip sees lots of activity from some of the herbivores that spent the night in the open for safety. These two zebra males were part of a larger bachelor herd just out of frame to the right.
These pads must have walked many kilometres along the dusty tracks of Londolozi, their soft appearance belying their deadly nature.
The hippos have had a turbulent time over the last few months, with the Sand River rising, then falling, then rising, and now low again. There’s more rain on the way, so they may well be uprooted once more.
Ball envy. It’s a real thing.
Ranger Jess Shillaw takes her birding seriously! Check out Londolozi’s Instagram stories for birding challenges between the rangers.
While two of the Birmingham males have been looking a little the worse for wear over the last few months, this male has been in glorious health, dominating the mating with the two Ntsevu lionesses that have yet to conceive.
Since the big drought of 2016, buffalo have been in short supply over the Sabi Sand Reserve, especially the solitary bulls, who for the most part were taken out by lions during the worst of the conditions. Thankfully we are seeing a resurgence in their numbers over the last few months, particularly in and around the Sand River.
A male comb duck, formerly knob-billed duck. I have to say I prefer the previous name; far more descriptive, although not exactly flattering.
With the intermittent rains, dung beetles have been scarce for weeks at a time. We found this one at sunrise and aided the photo by shining a light from the side. Literally 20 seconds later, when we realised the photo would be much more effective if we shone on his face and not his rear-end, the sun – and the golden light – had gone behind a cloud bank!