The hot topic this week was of course the Tsalala female taking down a buffalo by herself. And no, it wasn’t a calf that she isolated form a herd, it was a big bull. The lioness is certainly not the biggest we’ve ever seen at Londolozi, maybe topping the scales at 130kg, if that, and the bull probably weighed well in excess of 600kg, so it was no mean feat. When one also considers that the Ntsevu pride of 6 adult females are starting to develop a reputation amongst the guides here for not being good buffalo hunters, so little success have they met with of late, it just makes the Tsalala lioness that much more impressive as an individual.
There’a a picture below of her feeding on the carcass, but we’ll provide a fuller report on the sighting next week.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
A buffalo takes great exception to a red-billed oxpecker plumbing the depths of his nasal cavity. A large herd of these bovines has been moving back and forth across Londolozi’s southern areas, with much of their traversing being fairly predictable as they have to drink every day and constantly move between the main water sources.
It looks like this hippo is about to take a bite out of the one in front of him’s bottom, but sadly that Kodak moment never materialised. With water resources becoming more and more depleted as we move further into the dry season, the hippos are concentrating in ever higher numbers in the remaining pools of the Sand River.
Many evolutions in nature are simply a function of return on energy investment. Risk vs. reward, if you will. In the small reptile world, when it comes to displaying for females, there is a trade-off; high visibility might win you more mates, but you are also far more likely to be seen by a predator. Tree agamas combat this by displaying vividly during the mating season, but taking on far more drab colouration when not, blending in beautifully with the bark of the trees they call home.
The age is evident in this giraffe bull. Off the top of my head while typing this, I can’t think of the last time I saw a giraffe carcass, but there are so many of them out here there MUST be individuals that die quite regularly. It sounds like a bit of a morbid thought but it just strikes me as odd that we don’t see them after they go…
The Aloes are in full bloom at the moment, which means the sunbirds are everywhere. This is a male Collared Sunbird, and the photo was taken right outside the Londolozi offices.
Impalas take advantage of the last of the light to move out into the clearings where it’s safer.
A Bennett’s woodpecker. This individual was scratching around in a broken-off stump about halfway up a marula tree, and I thought there might be a nest in there (which wasn’t that bright, as they mainly nest in Summer), so climbed a different tree nearby to try and get a look into it with binocs. Needless to say, there was no nest.
The perils of nesting on the ground… many small mammals would make a feast out of these Crowned Lapwing eggs, so the birds have evolved cryptic colouration for their eggs as a defence.
One of the Ntsevu cubs rests for a moment before the adult females go on the move again, bringing the cubs along with them. We are waiting for the fifth litter to be brought along with the pride, and expect it to happen in the next few weeks if we’re lucky…
The two oxpecker species; yellow-billed on the left, red-billed on the right.
Rhino cows are very defensive of small calves like this, especially because their poor eyesight limits the extent to which they see can danger coming. This cow was particularly jumpy, and we had to keep our distance from the pair.
The Tortoise Pan male. Still highly localised in central Londolozi, we will probably know quite soon whether he is going to stick around or be forced out by the Inyathini male.
The Tsalala lioness looks back from the buffalo she killed while one of her cubs tucks in. She was very lucky to keep this kill, as the Ntsevu pride walked past about 800m away and didn’t smell it; they would almost certainly have robbed her.
Londolozi staff enjoy the sunset from a beautiful spot near the Sand River, watched over by a gnarled Albizia tree.