We haven’t had male leopard dynamics as complicated as this in years.
With no less than 11 different males being viewed over the last week on a reserve that usually has 4 or at the most 5 territorial individuals, it seems like trouble must be brewing. The worry is mainly around the Mashaba female, who we suspect has recently given birth. The Mawelawela and Inyathini males were viewed in a tense stand-off, lying only 50m from each other in the very drainage line in which the Mashaba female is believed to be denning. The Mashaba female herself has been viewed with a heavy gash on her shoulder, received quite possibly in defence of her litter.
We know she’s mated with the Inyathini, Tortoise Pan, Flat Rock and Senegal Bush males, and hopefully the Maxim’s male as well, so it’s the interloping Mawelawela male that would pose the biggest threat to the cubs. As nice as it is to see a leopard around who has not been viewed regularly before, we’re all hoping he moves back to the grasslands for the sake of the cubs, at least for now.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures….
The Senegal Bush male is a relatively new face amongst the Leopards of Londolozi. He has slowly been pushing further south and west into the reserve, after initially having come from the northern parts of the Sabi Sand Reserve. Pressing into the the area that the Tortoise Pan male has been frequenting, it seems likely that conflict is on the horizon.
Zebra males have sharp teeth which they use for fighting. More often than not when a zebra stallion is missing a tail, it was bitten off by a rival zebra rather than a lion or other predator.
Busted! Chris Taylor and Milton Khoza were very reluctant for anyone to know how they got stuck in the Sand River, trying to reach a sighting of the Nhlanguleni cubs. They were nearly awarded the dreaded Pink Pouch, being only minutes away from calling for help in their extraction, but luckily for them the logs they gathered did the job, and they were able to jack the Land Rover up and out of the mud. They got away with it… this time…
The cheetah siblings are still around, having been seen on our airstrip of late. It probably won’t be too long before they look to split up, but hopefully it will be a voluntary split, rather than a forced one due to an encounter with another predator.
The dry season is a wonderful time of year to spend in the grasslands of the south-west. We were fortunate on this particular afternoon to come across four elephant bulls moving slowly towards a waterhole. This male had the most impressive set of tusks of the lot.
The ostriches are still on their nest, with all 8 eggs that were initially viewed still intact. This photo was taken immediately after the afternoon change-of-shift; the female nurses the eggs in the day and the male comes to relieve her in the late afternoon or evening.
Although hot afternoons aren’t conducive for lions to be moving around on, the Ntsevu pride were hungry and got going early. They walked on and off until dusk, at one point passing less than 100 metres from a young giraffe calf which they almost certainly would have gone for had they seen it, but they didn’t, and ended up going hungry as a result.
Ranger Dean de la Rey had parked off to the side of the road to let the pride come past, but there happened to be a small puddle of rainwater from the day before right next to his vehicle. The fresh water – infinitely preferable to the grimy stuff that has been sitting stagnant on the bigger waterholes during the winter – was a magnet for one of the cubs, and it came cautiously to drink right next to Dean’s rear tyre.
Impala are skittish drinkers, as are many herbivores in fact. This herd was approaching the waterhole just as the light was fading, and kept spooking at the slightest sound. The Blacksmith lapwing that is flying across the screen from the right made them jump, and after this photo was taken they didn’t drink again.
Heading towards the new hyena den in the north on a chilly morning, we were thrilled to suddenly have the local wild dog pack run onto the road in front of us. Covered in blood, we knew they had made a kill, but knowing they have been denning further west of Londolozi we were surprised to see them heading east. Not wanting to hope too much for fear of being disappointed, we followed them for a couple of hundred metres to a termite mound, and there by the mound we were delighted to see their 13 pups waiting for them!
Sibling affection or simply one pup biting the other on the nose. Either way, having 13 pups scampering all around your vehicle is an incredible wildlife experience.
Elephant bulls from the same sighting as a few pictures before indulge in a late afternoon drink. What the fascination is with animals drinking at a waterhole, I don’t know, but what I DO know is we spent the next 15 minutes with them and were absolutely riveted the entire time.
Tracker Shadrack Mkhabela puts his Huawei’s camera to the test…
The northern hyena den is fast becoming on of the most popular places on the reserve to visit. With either 9 or 10 cubs that have yet to get their spots, it can be a veritable hive of activity, especially if the adult hyenas are there to supervise.
These 6 pups had scampered back to the den entrance at the approach of an adult. It’s generally a good policy for the young ones to err on the side of caution, staying close to safety until they can establish the threat level of an approaching animal.