We had a lot of rain for three days this week. I mean, a lot of rain.
It is uncharacteristic for so much rain to fall for a whole day. Usually storms come and go within a few hours or less. You will notice that in a few of these photographs there’s water in the form of waterholes or puddles (which are now everywhere). Some of the photos were taken in cloudy conditions because for a few days we have been missing the sun. The rain, however, was exactly what the bush needed. The water is currently soaking into the soil and water table. The grasses are and will be flourishing! The vegetation, generally, is growing rapidly and is looking lush and healthy. If you came to Londolozi in winter last year, you would be amazed by how the bush is looking like now!
After the rain clouds passed over and the sun came out, the sunrises and sunsets have been exquisite.
The sightings have been great and, because of the rain, unique. For the birders, we’ve seen lesser spotted eagles, African black swifts, Knob-billed ducks, striped kingfishers, saddle-billed storks and various other interesting species who have followed the rains With all the insects now flying around (especially termite alates), insectivorous birds have been all over the place. Otherwise, we have had a good number of leopard sightings and a few appearances from the Ntsevu pride and Birmingham males.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
A marabou stork displays its massive wingspan (the largest wingspan of all the birds in the area) while fishing for catfish in a shallow pool of water. A hippo lies in the background without a care for the stork’s fishing trickery.
A lioness glares off into the distance from the top of a termite mound. The big cats like to use high points to scan for prey and have a vantage point if there are any threats around. For the lion, their biggest threat is only really other lions.
An exquisite female waterbuck (with a heart-shaped nose: happy Valentine’s Day!) stands peering in our direction from a high embankment. She is scanning the area for any threats. Her one ear faces backward and the other faces forward in order to hear in all directions.
The Ximungwe female drinks from a small waterhole that may not even have had any water in it five days ago. With all the rain we have been having, there are waterholes popping up everywhere!
Having been viewed by vehicles from an early age, this leopard is supremely relaxed around Land Rovers.
A large male rhino relaxes in a waterhole… there’s so much water around now! Yesterday the sun came out in full force and it was beautiful, given the last few days of rain.
The Tatowa female lies in a Marula tree; she had no kill but was up there to scan her surroundings. Here we found her in the open grasslands; this female has a very diverse territory and is seldom seen. Whenever we find her, it is very exciting.
The Tatowa female was one of a litter of three females born in early 2012 to the Ximpalapala female of the north.
The one-eared female wild dog, part of a two-dog pack we have seen once this week. It is unclear as to how she lost her ear, but it could have been bitten off by a hyena in a fight over food, or maybe it was a parasitic infection… she is, however, doing fine and the scar where the ear once was has completely healed.
The Ximungwe young male is inquisitive. Most leopards in this area show very little interest in the vehicles but this young leopard often seems to be concerned about us being around. Here he stares right at the lens; he was probably interested in the movement of the camera.
A buffalo cow stands on a ridge looking in our direction. Her ears are large, allowing her to hear extremely well; her eyesight is incredibly sharp; perhaps her well-developed nostrils, however, add to her most impressive sense: smell. The combination of 600 kilograms of muscular power and such incredible senses makes the Cape buffalo a difficult target for any predators… even a pride of lions!
A Birmingham male walks in our direction following the Nstevu pride. The Ntsevu pride is huge, comprised of 21 lions, and he is one of the fathers of the impressive litters. The two Birmingham males have held their territory over Londolozi for about two years now.
The Inyathini male pauses to look at a waterhole before approaching it to drink. He does this to asses whether there are any threats or prey species around the water. The Inyathini male was only seen once this week. He is being less frequently seen as the weeks go on.
Another leopard who originated in the Kruger National Park, he has established a large territory in the south eastern areas of Londolozi.
A dominant hippo bull opens his mouth and thrashes the water about in a display. He does this to warn potential competition or threats that if they come any closer, he will do some damage (which he is VERY capable of).
A young male cheetah. No one really knows where he comes from. One of the most beautiful things about Londolozi and the Sabi Sand Reserve is that it is an open system to the entire Kruger Park. The whole park is an area of about 3.5 million hectares!
A Birmingham male mating with one of the Ntsevu females. There is always a chance that she will turn around and claw him during mating; in order to prevent this he bites her neck, asserting dominance.
After the recent rains there are many mud baths, puddles and – a day after the rains has ended and the ground had dried – dust. This elephant bull grabs dust and blows it onto the side of his head and neck in order to cool down and protect his body from the sun.
As the summer carries on many birds are breeding. One of the most spectacular nest builders are the weavers. This male village weaver hangs out the bottom of the nest he has built and flaps his wings, displaying to nearby females how impressive his plumage and nest are!