Winter is coming!!
If you’re at all familiar with the popular TV series, Game of Thrones you’ll instantly recognize that statement. With the highly anticipated start of the 8th and final season scheduled to start on Sunday evening, it seems like the change of the season here at Londolozi has synced up perfectly this week as the first signs of winter have finally arrived. Unlike the inhabitants of Westeros – that fear winter – I absolutely love it. The mornings have become crisp, the sunsets seems to be lasting just a few extra minutes longer and the animals have been active throughout the day.
With a fair amount of late rain, the sound of Sand River can be heard throughout the camps which is a welcomed sound for most of us. The Ntsevu pride and the Nhlanguleni female and her cubs have been featuring prominently on drives over the last week but my highlight has been watching the Mashaba female and the Ndzanzeni young male mating. We (myself and tracker Innocent Ngwenya) followed their tracks in the middle parts of the reserve recently and found the pair lying together in the long grass. After waiting with them for a few minutes we watched as the young male comically tried his best to mate with the promiscuous female. As this is his first attempt at mating he needed a few tries to get it right. A bout of mating will usually last no more than half a minute; on more than one occasion we watched as the Ndzanzeni young male just sat on the female for almost two minutes not doing anything, this result in the Mashaba female lashing out in frustration at him. This is a huge milestone for the Ndzanzeni young male and we are left wondering if the Inyathini male will eventually push the young male out of his territory or if he will end up taking over his father’s territory.
As I try binge watch the first 7 seasons of Game of Thrones before the start of the new season on Sunday, enjoy this Week in Pictures…
One of the 12 Ntsevu cubs breaks away from an intense playfighting session to quench his thirst. A stare down from a lion, whether young or old, seems to have the same chilling effect.
The Ottawa male makes a brief appearance on Londolozi. Spending most of his time west of our property we don’t often see him; one would think that with three Birmingham males just to his east his days would be numbered but he seems like he’s carved out a small territory. For now.
The next generation of female leopards here on Londolozi. The Makomsava female will be 3 years old towards the end of this year, we can expect to find her mating within the coming months.
Three members of a wild dog pack use the vantage point of a termite mound to try find the rest of the group. Wild Dogs will often get ‘lost’ during the mayhem of a hunt, but using vocal communication and a strong scent they are usually able to rejoin fairly quickly.
With the late rains, there has been a bloom of wild flowers which has brought the usually shy kudus out into the open.
The Tamboti young female always seems to be in a tree. Taking after her mother, the late Tamboti female who would seemingly climb any tree she walked past.
Another one of the Tamboti young female. We found her in this tree with a hoisted impala. We not entirely sure if she killed it or not, but being incredibly opportunistic she may has come across the Impala carcass and made it her own.
Unofficially the most photographed bird on Londolozi. This Lila-Breasted Roller was perched on a branch employing the sit-and-wait technique, pouncing on any insect they may come across its path.
One of the last few Woodlands Kingfishers that still remain here as most have began their migration back north. As with most smaller migratory birds, they will do most of their flying at night; this is thought to reduce predation from larger birds of prey.
Two young stallions take a break from sparring just long enough for me to take this photo. You can’t go wrong with turning a zebra photo into black and white.
We found the Flat Rock male on a morning patrol a few days ago. Sightings of this male have been few and far between as he has almost doubled the size of his territory in the last couple of months.
An elephant bull wandering feeding across a grassy crest. If you look carefully this massive mammal is disturbing a few African Monarch butterflies that were in the long grass. Just for fun, try count how many you see in the photo and write you answers in the comments below.
A giraffe is bathed in sunbeams as the sun slowly starts to dip towards the western horizon.
This ever-alert waterbuck cow kept a watchful eye over us as we tried to move closer to get this photo. Not an animal I’ve taken many photos of but they are one of my favourite antelopes nonetheless.
Two young members of the Ntsevu pride chase each other in a seemingly endless game. This type of play is important in the development of young lions.
It was all a bit to much for this cub. From the youngest litter, this 4 month old cub rests, exhausted, against a stump.