The Nkuhuma pride have been ever-present this week, spending their time traversing most of the norther section of Londolozi. Although it’s great to have a big pride operating across the Sand River (lion viewing in that part of the reserve hasn’t been what it was since the Tsalala Pride were around), this doesn’t bode particularly well for the Tsalala female and her sole cub. The hope for the young lioness is that the Nkuhuma Pride – who have young cubs themselves – and accompanying Northern Avoca males stay further north in an effort to avoid the Birmingham males.
Neither coalition seems to be in a position to need to expand territory, so hopefully the status quo between the two will remain unchanged for some time, and neither pride will suffer any losses.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
Ranger Shaun D’Araujo and his guests enjoy the last bit of movement from a soporific Ntsevu pride before they settle down to sleep away the heat of the day (the lions, not the Land Rover occupants. Or maybe both, now that I come to consider it). The pride have been moving big distances over the last couple of days but have been relatively unsuccessful in their hunting, evidenced by their skinny frames. The bright waxing moon and clear night skies might have had something to do with making nocturnal hunting difficult.
They did manage to secure a meal on this day however, although they didn’t kill it themselves. Dropping vultures drew them away from where they had lain up for the morning towards where an impala carcass was found; most likely one dead of natural causes. One impala doesn’t go very far between over 20 lions though, nor did it feed the vultures who were liberally strung about in the dead trees surrounding the pride.
We were on our way down to view the pride in the evening when we bumped into this beautiful old bull elephant. He was a bit grumpy, and literally threw a big branch at us, which traveled over 20 metres before thankfully missing the Land Rover and landing safely in the bushes. Exactly why he was in a foul mood is hard to say, but he seemed to be trailing a herd of females that we found up ahead, and may have been irascible because of unsuccessful attempts to mate with the cows.
A yellow-billed hornbill with what looks like a big caterpillar still in its cocoon. These birds have highly varied diets, and will eat anything from small fruits to mice and anything in between.
Senegal Lapwings aren’t particularly common birds across their distribution, but there are plenty of them at Londolozi. Preferring open ground and clearings, there are lots to be found up near the airstrip and on the sodic sites to the east and west of camp.
This young leveret had a brush with death after we inadvertently almost drove over it in the long grass! Clearly having been left in hiding by its mother, we had no clue it was there as we did a three point turn just off the road verge to follow some leopard tracks, and it suddenly burst out from between the tyres. Instinctively it then adopted the crouch position in an attempt to camouflage itself in the dust (which didn’t work), so we ushered it back into the safety of the long grass before we drove off.
Many of you will have seen the rhino bull that we treated a few days ago for injuries to his thigh. He would spend most evenings standing in a waterhole near camp, but the fact that we are seeing him further and further afield now hopefully means that his wounds are healing rapidly.
The Senegal Bush male and the Mashaba female were found on this morning thanks to some kudu barking. We had driven past only 15 minutes before and heard a squirrel also sounding the alarm, but not being able to see anything in the long grass, wrote it off as a false alarm. Wrong call, as we realised shortly after when we heard the kudus (which almost never give a false alarm!).
Ranger Shaun D’Araujo, whose inspirational encounter in our Valentine’s Day video has touched and inspired so many people, takes a closer look at the Ntesvu pride in the long grass to count their numbers.
A white-backed vulture casts its malevolent glance downwards.
These wildebeest bulls were staring at a thicket line and alarming, so we had a careful look for any sign of a predator. We found nothing. The bulls were fighting at the time, but kept stopping and looking up, so we thought the alarm-calling was some sort of red herring to make a potential predator THINK it had been spotted and move off as a result.
A young elephant breaks away from its herd for a closer inspection of our vehicle. Many young animals are curious like this, and fortunately for elephants, their size means that young ones can wander off to investigate things without too much risk.
Zebras and wildebeest seek the relative safety of the open airstrip under glowering skies.
The Ximungwe young male. Young leopards have an almost perfect symmetry about them; they lack the scars and tatty ears that they will receive in later life.
His mother had killed and hoisted an impala in a Tamboti tree, but the smell of the carrion had attracted a couple of hyenas, one of which the Ximungwe young male was taking exception to in this photo.