Firstly, the answer to the latest Bird ID Challenge.
Either these are getting easier or you the participants are getting better. Either way, most people got this one right. It was a Buffy Pipit.
Not the most spectacular birds around, the pipit family all look pretty similar, and it is quite possible that some of the rarer species get spotted but dismissed as one of the more common varieties. African and Bushveld Pipits we see here regularly, but I guess it’s time we start paying closer attention, as it’s likely there are way more Buffy Pipits around than we realise.
Now, on to today’s post…
This week we marveled at the grandeur of nature’s protagonists and the sheer abundance and majesty of wildlife inherent to Londolozi’s rich ecosystem.
We spent some quality time with three of Londolozi’s younger Leopards; the Nkoveni female’s cub and the Nhlanguleni female’s two cubs. They are all on or around their one-year birthdays. It is a boisterous and energetic time in the life of a leopard. They climb every tree in sight and stalk anything that moves. On one day in particular they were but three of a total of fourteen different Leopard viewed! Their larger cousins featured no less prominently with multiple sightings of different Lion prides including the lone Tsalala Lioness as she traversed the Sand River on more than one occasion.
On a different day, the Elephant were gathering in vast numbers. They were around every bush and on top of every crest. One herd in particular numbered at approximately one hundred and seven individuals! No animal holds dominion over the bushveld quite like a big bull African Elephant, of which we saw several.
And let us not forget the smaller creatures, like the African Honey Bee, whose contribution to this paradise is of no less consequence.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
At sunrise, we found the Nhlanguleni female’s two cubs climbing around in a Marula tree about five minutes drive from camp. With semi-full bellies it was clearly playtime. They were both jumping between the branches with reckless abandon.
With playtime over, the sisters found their way over to a large termite mound and surveyed their surroundings. In good shade, this is where they decided to take a well earned mid-morning nap.
At the tail end of the wet season, the mud begins to crack and the water recedes. On this particular afternoon, it was lions that we were after and the tracks imprinted in the mud were a sure sign of their passing. The search was on!
At last we found them! The Ntsevu pride, numbering six adults and twelve cubs, were lying out in the open, playing and grooming one another. These three cubs climb all over their mother while she looks up at a passing vulture.
In wilderness teaming with big game it’s easy to overlook the little things but in an area of such ecological scope and depth all one needs to do is look and the bush will reveal it’s secrets. This Yellow-billed Oxpecker, a rarity on its own, was busily bringing food to a nest, bored into an ancient Leadwood tree.
Humming with purpose, a hive of African Honey Bees makes their home in a hollowed out Jackalberry tree. It is estimated that they are responsible for the pollination of over sixty percent of indigenous flowering plants, so their role within the ecosystem cannot be overstated. Could they also be a way of protecting select keystone trees from the deleterious impact of Elephants? Perhaps a topic for another time.
One of the Nhlanguleni cubs finds a comfortable spot in a dead tree.
Londolozi’s two species of tortoise in the same shot. This male Speke’s Hinged Tortoise was was trailing a larger female Leopard Tortoise. We could only guess at his intentions.
From one of the smallest to the biggest. Standing three meters at the shoulder and weighing nearly six and a half tons, a male African Elephant is a sight to behold. This bull was in musth, a state of testosterone overdrive, and he was on the trail of a second male who was also in musth.
The male on the right (who was being pursued by the male in the previous photograph) somehow knew he was being pursued even before the pursuer came into his direct line of sight. He turned and faced his challenger head on in a powerful clash of tusks. The bout lasted but a few minutes before the bull on the right turned and fled.
A large herd of elephant flees in a panic across open ground. We did not know the reason for it but sometimes it’s in response to larger bulls in musth searching for mating opportunities.
Bull giraffe are generally solitary and move from one temporary association to the next in search of females. At 1.4 tons and five and a half meters at the shoulder, giraffe deserve their place amongst Africa’s big game.
Alerted by snorting impala, we found the Nkoveni female and her cub sitting in a broken Marula tree. At this stage in the leopard mother-daughter relationship they have a very friendly disposition. After warming themselves up in the morning sun they moved off through the grass toward a nearby waterhole for a drink.
The Nkoveni female led her cub to a small waterhole for a drink. Note one of her ears facing backwards listening for the slightest indication of danger. Given the recent lion activity in the area, drinking can be a potentially dangerous undertaking.
The Tsalala lioness crosses the Sand River at Old Elephant Crossing, on one of her regular food finding forays. The next chapter in her maternal story is one we are all looking forward to here at Londolozi Game Reserve!