As South Africa enters a state of lockdown for the next 21 days, we hasten to reassure everyone that the wonders of the African bush will continue to be brought to you unabated.
Although in a reduced and somewhat isolated way, we will still be going out onto the reserve to keep up the landcare, monitor our rhinos, and keep tabs on the incredible wildlife that has no idea what is happening in the greater world. The Ntsevu pride continue to hunt impala, the Mashaba female is still consorting with the Senegal Bush male, and the myriad of wild inhabitants of this small piece of eden live out their lives unchanged.
Make sure you log on to the blog on Sundays to view our weekly game drive highlights videos.
For now though, enjoy this Week in Pictures…
A pack of 18 wild dogs, or painted wolves, spent a considerable amount of time on Londolozi recently. On this particular morning they had split up to chase a herd of impalas, and two of them had cornered and killed an adult ram. Meanwhile, the rest of the pack (of which the dog pictured is one), were a few hundred metres away, oblivious to the success of their pack-mates, but nevertheless listening intently for any indication as to what had happened.
One can imagine how vigilant the local herbivore population has to be, living in an area populated by the highest density of leopards yet recorded in Africa. The reality is that it’s the predators that have it tough; trying to sneak up on this many hyper-sensitive ears, eyes and noses is difficult.
Tracker Richard Mthabine looks up to where the Plaque Rock female was in a marula tree. When entering a big cat sighting, the trackers at Londolozi will come back into the vehicle from the tracker’s seat. It takes a lot of pressure off the ranger, not having to worry about putting the tracker into a thorn-tree when off-roading, it improves the view for the guests, and it enables the trackers to engage far more easily with those same guests, sharing their wealth of experience and knowledge.
A young Bateleur getting the last of its adult plumage, as evidenced by the mottled colouration on its wings. These eagles can live for 40 years, and only get their adult feathers after 7 or 8 years.
After the Monitor lizards, giant plated lizards are the largest species we get at Londolozi. This wasn’t a particularly big one, but I enjoyed the way it had its forelimbs spread in such a relaxed manner as it basked in the morning sun.
A full-bellied Ntsevu pride rest on the Londolozi airstrip. A couple of the older cubs were missing when this picture was taken, but came trotting in a few minutes later, from where we presume the pride had been feeding on a kill. With a new moon and cloudy conditions creating very dark evenings, we have witnessed a number of successful hunts by this pride over the past week.
The cliched elephant eye pic, but it’s so hard to resist taking it when one of these enormous pachyderms is feeding peacefully so close to you.
The same sighting as two photos previously. The camber of the airstrip to promote water runoff means that one can park on one side and be photographing animals on the other side at eye-level (which only really works if you are using a long lens). The elevated position of the airstrip on top of a hill also means you can get a nice vista into your background.
One of the local wild dog packs after another successful hunt, the blood on its face evident of the kill it had just helped finish.
Trailing behind wild dog packs one will usually find a hyena or two. So successful are the dogs in their hunts that the scavenging hyenas know there is a good chance of picking up scraps in their wake.
Reduced activity around the Londolozi camps has resulted in an absolute explosion of bird life. This black-collared barbet unfortunately flew into our office window one morning, but seemed none the worse for wear, and managed to flutter up to a nearby branch to gather its senses. This photo was taken out of the office window.
The Ntsevu pride were found on the airstrip a couple of times this week, usually with the Birmingham males in tow. These males are starting to show signs of age, in particular this individual who is sporting a pronounced limp. How long will they be in charge for…?
The other Birmingham male gets nuzzled by one of his offspring. The sub-adults of the Ntsevu pride are still too small to survive on their own, so the Birmingham coalition still need to stick around for a good six months or so to ensure their offspring have a chance of making it to adulthood.
An African Harrier-Hawk (previously Gymnogene) gets mobbed by a Burchell’s Starling. Harrier-Hawks are specialised nest-raiders, their adapted limbs allowing them to cling upside down to the sides of dead trees while groping in cavities for small chicks of other birds. Needless to say, they are regularly seen being mobbed by hole-nesting species like starlings.
The best news to come out of Londolozi this week; the Tsalala lioness was found with her cub alive and well. We hadn’t seen the cub in a couple of weeks but it was found opposite Varty Camp recently, sleeping in the sand next to its mother.