I’m a big fan of memory lane style posts.
We have such an archive of photos and stories on our Blog and on the harddrives that are starting to become scarily large (I remember when 1 Terabyte was a lot of space; when you’re shooting video in 4K, that gets eaten up in no time at all!), that it’s fun to journey back and see what was happening on this day, however many years ago. Often I’ll just pick a random incident and do a write-up based on that specific animal or sighting, but today I happened to be going through a folder from May of 2014, and thought we could review the whole month, to see which characters were around then, and to revisit old faces who may be long gone by now.
Many will remember the Marthly male; his torn ear, his huge territory covering the entire northern section of Londolozi and beyond, and his constant patrols up and down the Sand River. On this morning we had bumped into him on Londolozi’s far western edge and followed him down to the Sand River, but he unfortunately crossed it at a rocky, reed covered area that was impossible to access with the Land Rover. This photo was from when he had just emerged on the southern bank.
Tsalala and Majingilane. One group now gone, the other hanging on precariously. The Hip-Scar male always seemed to be the outsider of the vaunted coalition, and appeared suddenly out of the palm thickets in the Manyelethi on this morning. The Tsalala pride had young cubs at the time, and the young lioness from the 2011 litter (foreground) was concerned about the approaching male, having been chased by them for years. The sighting defused quite quickly after this photo was taken.
Male African Jacanas take care of the chicks after the female has moved on to find another mate. To protect them when danger comes close, he tucks them up under his wings. Little legs and toes can be seen jutting out in this photo as the male waits for the danger to pass. If my memory serves, it was an African Harrier-Hawk flying over…
The local buffalo population got hit hard in the 2016 drought, with a complete lack of grazing and the local lion population both doing their bit to lower the numbers. Thankfully big bulls like these two that were relatively common back in 2014, are starting to be seen more and more frequently.
The local hyena clan was on the backfoot 5 years ago; the Majingilane’s constant presence on Londolozi significantly impacted their numbers, and they shifted their dens to the periphery of the Majingilane’s territory. This big female was well known to the Londolozi Rangers and Trackers, her scarred-left eye being unmistakeable.
Many of you would have read Tony Goldman’s Mashaba female post from a few days ago. This photo was from the same time as Tony’s; just after her fight with the Nhlanguleni female. In fact I think this was literally minutes after the fight, as the Nhlanguleni female was found walking the other way only about 200 metres down the road, and both females were vocalising and scent-marking heavily.
What was then the younger lioness of the Tsalala female (born 2011) drinks from a pool in the Manyelethi River. Out of frame behind her was the pride’s litter of four, one of whom that would grow up to be the sole remaining female we see now, and who is regularly encountered at this same spot.
Zebra lips. I can’t think of anything more imaginative to say…
The Majingilane spent the month of May going back and forth across the Sand River. Here they pause for a drink whilst Mike Sutherland quickly snaps some shots before reversing out of the way. In fact I think Mike didn’t have his camera with him on this morning, so had to settle for iPhone photos.
The Scar-Nose Majingilane crosses once more, heading north whilst Ranger Melvin Sambo trails at a respectful distance.
The Camp Pan male, many guests’ favourite leopard over the years. He ruled Londolozi for half a decade before slowly deteriorating and eventually succumbing to old age just over a year after this photo was taken.
The Robson’s 4:4 male. This leopard was not often seen. Even rarer were good photographic sightings of him, as he was very skittish, most likely having moved in from the Kruger Park where he wouldn’t have seen many vehicles. He had been treed by the Tsalala pride in this photo, so unluckily for him we were able to take as many photos as we liked before he eventually snuck down and raced off.
The sun sets over the Escarpment to the west, as the western Koppies of the Sabi Sand Reserve are merely a shadow.
The Marthly male again, on the same morning as the opening photo, on slow patrol down Londolozi’s western edge.