We continue today with our memory lane series, but get back on track slightly since July’s offering accidentally went back 6 years, not 5.
I’ve still cheated slightly today though, as it seems August 2014 was fairly quiet photographically for me, so I dipped into July’s archive to make up the numbers. It was all winter though, with the dryness of the season pervading the photos whichever month they were from.
See if you recognize some of the old faces amongst the leopards in particular.
The Majingilane were still very much a part of our lion viewing back then. They were slowly starting to move into the west, having already sired cubs with the Mhangeni females (those cubs are now the Ntsevu pride), and gotten cubbs of the Sparta females through to independence. With their job effectively done on Londolozi, we started seeing them less and less. This was the male with the missing canine, crossing the Sand River in the wake of the rest of the coalition.
This was the start of four consecutive game drives in which we followed this female cheetah, who was clearly hungry and on the hunt. Despite making a number of attempts over the next 48 hours, she was continually unsuccessful.
This was the next afternoon (or next morning) after the above photo. One can clearly see how much more sunken in her stomach is.
Finally, on the 5th drive, she happened upon a herd of impala and managed to bring one down. She fed rapidly until absolutely bloated, by which time a number of vultures had descended, eventually pressuring her off what remained of the carcass.
Elephants are synonymous with winter here, and there will inevitably a herd or two somewhere along the Sand River, attracted to the lush food and the water. This calf was part of a herd that was descending into the river to drink.
As far as I recall, this was the Ottawa pride, and remains the only sighting I’ve ever had of them. They generally stay right out in the western sector of the reserve, and on this particular morning had taken down a buffalo in the Sand River, just inside our traversing area.
If you look carefully, there is a slight reddish tinge on the faces of these wild dogs. The one at the back looks very full-bellied as well, meaning they had just come off a kill. I seem to recall they were on their way back to a den to take food to the pups.
The Nanga female was raising cubs that winter, which I believe were her second litter. The first were born the previous year around the same time, but sadly only made it to around 6 or seven months. This year’s litter did slightly better, with a young male making it to just under a year before he was abandoned by his mother when she gave birth again. He hung around for a few weeks but then was not seen again.
More elephant claves, with this one struggling to regain its feet after rolling around in the sand of the Maxabene riverbed.
This was a different sighting of one of the Nanga cubs, outside where they weer being denned on the Southern Cross Koppies in the northern parts of Londolozi. They were still fairly shy at this stage, and this photo was taken from quite far away.
A young elephant strolls past ranger Melvin Sambo’s vehicle, down in the Sand River.
Many guests from around this time will recognize or at least remember the Makhotini male, or Maxabene young male as he used to be known. This was round about the time that he was establishing himself on the southern parts of the Singita reserve to our west, but after a few scuffles with the Kaxane male, decided he might be better off elsewhere and eventually settled further south.
I still can’t believe this sighting actually happened! We had been parked beneath this massive Fig tree way down in the south-west, talking about how amazing it would be to see a leopard in it. As we were leaving we spotted a female leopard approaching, who promptly called her cub out of hiding, and they then both climbed the tree to the very branch we’d been discussing. You can’t script this kind of stuff. The cub grew up to be the Kigelia female who is now territorial to the south of Londolozi, and has already birthed cubs of her own.
We had a whole Beach Olympics Day in full swing with some guests right around the time these elephants hove into view. This section of river has changed dramatically now; without any major flooding for a number of years the reed beds have grown back somewhat and it isn’t quite as open anymore.
Ranger Mike Sutherland taking the opportunity to photograph the same elephant herd pictured above as they exited the riverbed once more.
This is a July shot that I inserted anyway, but it was from the 30th so it almost counts. The Camp Pan male (back) and Tu Tones male (middle) consort with the Tamboti female in an amazing display of leopard symmetry. This photo only serves to highlight the different paths taken by the Tu Tones male – who remained within his father’s territory, much like the Tortoise Pan male is currently doing – and the Makhotini male pictured above, who ultimately dispersed and established a territory of his own.