It almost seems like the bush has accelerated during lockdown, with the sightings coming thick and fast, and the hardest thing being deciding where to go.
The problem is you never know what you are missing out on elsewhere, and with a few kilometres between sightings sometimes, one needs to commit to a specific animal(s) or tracking effort.
The pack of two wild dogs was found late this morning, quite close to camp, and although I didn’t see them myself, I know exactly where I am going this afternoon. The female is heavily pregnant (very early in the year) so we are going to keep a close watch on her movements while she and her partner are around.
While I go and do that, enjoy this Week in Pictures…
Some of you may have watched our social media video of when the Ntsevu Pride were found on a wildebeest kill. At one point, the two Birmingham males became very aggressive towards one another and had a proper tussle. This photo was taken of one of them immediately after the fight, and one can clearly see injury to his bottom lip.
A hooded vulture, hoping to scavenge some food from the lions’ kill, decides it would be safer to simply have a drink for the meantime,
Mopane worms are the caterpillar stage of an emperor moth. They got their name because of their propensity for feeding on the leaves of the Mopane tree, although the trees don’t occur at Londolozi, so the caterpillars have to make do with other options.
This elephant bull has been hanging around the central parts of the reserve, south of the Maxabene River. Although he is young and none too impressive size-wise, his tusks are pretty big for a bull that is probably not yet past his twenties.
Bark Spiders are named for their amazing camouflage, that blends them in perfectly with the bark of trees where they choose to spend their day. They re-weave their webs every night and re-ingest them before dawn to save the protein. This one either had something wrong with her, as she seemed pretty lethargic, or she was simply late getting to the safety of the trees.
Londolozi’s most numerous in front of Londolozi’s – and the world’s – tallest. An impala ram stands ruminating while a giraffe feeds on Tamboti trees in the background.
These tree squirrels had been alarming intensely only a few minutes before, and we were scouring the area for a predator as a result. Eventually they stopped making a noise, which led us to believe that either whatever they had seen had moved on, or they had simply been chattering at each other, which they are well known to do.
Evening clouds roll across the Londolozi savanna.
The Makomsava female is probably the most regularly viewed leopard north of the Sand River. “Regular” is a loose term though, as we’ll sometimes go a couple of weeks without a confirmed sighting of her.
The only surviving cub of the Nanga female, who essentially inherited her mother's territory in central Marthly.
Zebras take advantage of the good grazing while it’s still around; in a few months the grass will have browned even more, become brittle and relatively nutrient poor.
Pete Thorpe (foreground) lines up some photos of the Ntsevu pride as they finish the remains of a wildebeest they took down.
A hyena lifts its head from where it was trolling it underwater next to a hippo carcass. A number of the clan here were submerging their heads and trolling them around; possibly looking for morsels they might have dropped. If anyone has a better explanation, I’m all ears…
The main thing photographs can’t capture from sightings like these is the noise (and the smell). The air was filled with eerie whoops, crunches and splashes as the clan squabbled over what remained of the carcass.
The Ximungwe female gracefully descends from a marula tree. A wider angle can sometimes be more effective in situations like this, as it emphasises the scale of the environment, as well as the leopard’s place in it.
A herd of elephants use the last of the light to snatch a drink. The evening was cloudy and it was almost dark, so trying to get tac-sharp photos would have been impossible without pushing the ISO to unacceptably grainy levels. Instead we opted to play around with slightly slower shutter speeds, which aimed to strike a balance between freezing some elephants whilst capturing motion blur in others.