New lions on Londolozi was the big news this week, as the Torchwood pride went first one way and then the other across the northern parts of the property, with only their tracks hinting at their presence at first.
Eventually three of them were found by tracker Equalizer Ndlovu and ranger Greg Pingo – two young females and a male. The next day there were six of them together, feeding on a hippo carcass in Londolozi’s north-east. They had chased the Tsalala female off the kill, which may be something that she will have to start getting used to as prides begin to realise that Londolozi’s north is essentially unoccupied.
Temperatures are dropping rapidly and jackets are standard garments on morning drives now. May, June and July are many South Africans’ favourite months to be in the bushveld, and hopefully the photos you will be seeing over the next couple of months will show why.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The Ntsevu cubs gather around one of the last remainging pans for a quick drink. Lions are ususally fussy drinkers, preferring fresh rainwater to stagnant water that has sat in a bigger waterhole for awhile, but now that the dry season is tightening its clutches on the Lowveld, the local predators are going to have to drink what they can find, and the Sand River in particular is going to form a more central feature in the Ntsevu Pride’s movements.
The all-over orange feel to a photo is almost exlusively a winter thing, as golden light lasts longer, the grass is golden brown, and light dust sprinkled eveywhere adds to the effect. With a low temperature for the year of just over 10 degress Celcius this moring, we’re going to have fogged animal breaths adding that little extra something to photos pretty soon… This wildebeest was out and about on what was still a relatively mild morning, but the proper chill is just around the corner…
When rangers have a day off, they generally head out into the bush anyway. A cup of coffee as the mornings get colder is a welcome treat. L to R: Nick Sims (version 1.0 (there are two of them!)), John Mohaud, Grant Rodewijk (slightly taller fellow), Bruce Arnott.
This is more green than we’re seeing across most of the reserve, as warerholes dry up. The hippo bulls have started battling for diminishing territory already, and their screeches and roars are sounding from the river in front of camp after darkness. This male had at least found a semi-substantial patch of water in which to survive.
A number of antelope inhabit the Londolozi camps, primarily bushbuck and nyala. This young bushbuck male was a little nervous about being out in the open as he followed his mother from once dense area of thicket to another.
Ranger Alex Jordan looks up at the Southern Stars. Winter is the best time for astrophotography, as the skies are clear on most nights.
The new lions on the block; three of the Torchwood pride move carefully along a road in the north of the reserve, ground that for them is essentially unknown.
The full pride were found feeding on a hippo carcass the next day, at a small waterhole in Londolozi’s north-east. The hippo was a female who had died of complications during birth, and a succession of hyenas, leopards and lions had all had their turns feeding on this unexpected boon in less than a 24 hour period!
The Alpha pair of one of the local wild dog packs trots across the Londolozi airstrip. This pack was seen digging in a number of different termite mounds in the middle of the reserve a week ago, and while we can only expect pups to be born in a couple of months, it’s nice to know that they are prospecting already…
The alpha male on the left initiates his greeting to the rest of the pack that were rushing in from further left, just out of frame. African Wild Dogs, Cape Hunting Dogs or Painted Wolves – call them what you will – have a social structure in which it is generally only the alpha pair that breed, with the rest of the pack helping raise the pups.
The remains of summer success. We have counted clutches of Egyptian Goslings numbering up to 19 before, but being so small and vulnerable, few of them survive. This gander has done well, getting at least 5 of her clutch through to a reasonable age. If my memory serves me correctly there may have been one or two more out of picture.
The Formicinae group of ants are common on Londolozi, but since they exist on such a different scale to us, they are mostly overlooked. There are over 3000 described species within this successful subfamily, and off the top of my head I’m not 100% sure which these ones are… Anyone?
Wind means massively increased alertness for impalas, and many other prey species as well. Wind makes predators harder to hear, smell and see, and this impala herd was gathered into a tight bunch as dusk fell and the strengthening wind swirled around them. I wonder if any of them were taken during the night…
The cub of the Ndzanzeni female has probably been viewed less than 10 times. Maybe one or two more at the most. Still relatively nervous of the vehicles, we were parked far away on this morning so as not to scare it. A hyena was sniffing around near where the cub’s mother had made a kill, and the cub was staying safely up on this dead tree, where we thankfully had a great view of it from a distance.
Ranger Alex Jordan again, eyeing out the photographic potential of a marula in which he was hoping the Ndzanzeni female would hoist her kill (this photo was from the day before the cub picture above).
Although we didn’t see the Ndzanzeni female hoist, the Makomsava female at the opposite end of the reserve provided some spectacular viewing in some amazing light, after she was spotted with a hoisted impala kill by ranger John Mohaud. Her mother the Nanga female seems to have ceded off territory to her, and is seldom seen these days…
A last shot before the light fades completely. Quintessential Africa.
Fingers crossed, Ian. It’s been almost a decade since they denned on Londolozi!