When TWIP was offered around the rangers room this week, I must have had a sudden rush of blood to put my hand up. Trying to follow the 400th TWIP video the media team put together last Friday is going to be no easy task, but to help me out slightly I may have included one or two photos from the previous week as well.
Most days out of the past seven have started out chilly and ended off hot and windy; we even had rain a few days ago. I wouldn’t go as far to say it was the first rain of the season, but we were all bringing out our waterproof ponchos.
As usual for this time of year, the land is dry and the bush is open, so a large amount of our sightings have been concentrated around the Sand River and small drainage lines dotted throughout Londolozi. From the camps we had glimpses of two young male lions, a pair of leopards mating and numerous elephants enjoying the soft, nutritious food that the riparian trees of the Sand River are offering at the moment. It would be impossible to choose my highlight over the last couple days.
We watched as the Styx pride hunted a small group of buffalo bulls, with a Rhino bull grazing behind them, a herd of elephants scattered in the Manyalethi river below as the sun set off to the right; and secondly following two young cheetahs in the rain a few mornings ago. They chased a large herd of wildebeest which ended up chasing them and they finally managed to hunt a scrub hare in the open, right in front of us. You can see why I have had a difficult task of deciding on a favourite sighting, I do know that when the game viewing has been like it has this week, it makes it difficult to go on leave.
I am fully aware that this is a good problem to have but for now enjoy this Week in Pictures…
Three young hyenas emerge from a new den site found in the north. It’s hard to say if these cubs are all from the same female as there are six cubs all about the same age at this den.
Cheetahs can make us look like we know exactly what animals are going to do next. When we are following cheetahs, they will use vantage points to see what is happening around them. We will often move ahead to the closest termite mound and let the scene play out.
Another positive about the dry conditions is the great nocturnal animals we saw this week. Here two Lesser bush babies wake from sleeping all day. Although I’ve never seen it before, all signs suggested these 2 Bush babies were mating.
A Fiery-necked Nightjar perches motionless on a stump waiting for any insects to fly by. With their large eyes and wide gape, they are well adapted to hunting insects at night.
There are at least 5 trees on the property that I have always wanted to see a leopard in. This tree was certainly one of them and to have one of the Nhlanguleni young females in golden afternoon light helped.
A juvenile Bateleur eagle waits patiently for it to warm up so that it can take flight. This eagle can take up to 7 years to get its full adult plumage.
There are leopards here at Londolozi that spend more time in trees than others; the Tatowa female is one of those that is often found resting up in a tree.
The sun setting behind a Marula tree while the Styx pride were hunting buffalo in the foreground. Lions will often wait for this time of day to hunt, when prey species eyes struggle to adjust to the changes light.
With temperatures starting to heat up, sightings of snakes are going to start becoming a regular occurrence. Jerry Hambana pulled off an incredible spot of this Boomslang nestled in an Acacia tree as we were driving past.
This might be the first photo that I’ve taken of a Bronze-winged Courser. Mainly nocturnal, they use their long legs to run down their prey, which is where they get the name Courser from.
The Tortoise Pan male is a regular feature on Londolozi at the moment. Here he was lying on the edge of a waterhole in central Londolozi, which is as far north as we have seen him. The last couple of days we have found him back in the south-eastern parts of the reserve, almost back where he was born.
This giraffe’s neck, useful for reaching the highest leaves of a tree, has its drawbacks. As giraffes have to awkwardly spread their legs and lower their necks to slake their thirst, leaving them vulnerable, it can take a lot of patients to get a photo like this.
With such dry conditions, the watering holes are hives of activity during the heat of the day. This photo was taken just after the giraffe photo above. Just after these impala moved off, a large herd of buffalo came wandering down to drink as well.
Even after doing this job for a few years, I am still amazed on a daily basis at what the trackers do here. We were driving along a road when tracker Jerry Hambana stopped me for tracks of a female leopard that were heading to a watering hole. He explained that they were very fresh and that we would probably find her drinking; when we arrived at the waterhole we saw nothing, but after waiting for less than two minutes the Ximungwe female arrived and we got to witness her drinking at last night.
Two of the many water birds that we find on the causeway that crosses the Sand River. A Little Egret in the foreground and a Great Egret behind wait for any prey to swim along the edge of the Causeway.
Being eye level with any animal makes for incredible photographic opportunies, and with this Blacksmith Lapwing it was no different.
The Tortoise Pan male again, looking more and more like he will inherit the territory from his father the Inyathini male…