It’s just too tempting to sit with 22 lions, even when there is so much going on on the reserve.
The Ntsevu pride and usually attendant Birmingham males have been the mainstay of our wildlife viewing over the last couple of weeks, and the fact that it has been new moon – which makes lions all the more active immediately after sunset – has resulted in some unbelievable sightings.
Leopard viewing has been consistent, although with only three or four vehicles patrolling the road network, it has been that much harder to triangulate their territorial rasps, and we’ve often been left scratching our heads when we’re sure we’ve got a leopard’s exact position pinned down.
Many have asked us if the lack of travellers and South Africa’s lockdown have affected the wildlife viewing at all; more specifically whether it has improved given the great reduction of Land Rovers criss-crossing the reserve, and the answer is simply that it has continued to be its incredible best.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
Two Birmingham males drink side by side. We watched these males and the Ntsevu pride drink from this same pan on three consecutive nights. On two of the three nights we watched them successfully make kills.
A slower shutter speed blurs the water around a crocodile on the Causeway. Higher water levels than last year at this time have got us excited for a strongly-flowing Sand River well into the winter months.
A green pea spider punches well above its weight category and manages to subdue a dragonfly in its web. Small dramas like this can be equally as fascinating as those of the larger predators and prey.
A lappet-faced vulture, Londolozi’s biggest. Although uncommon, we have been seeing these birds far more regularly of late, which leads us to believe that a breeding pair has established itself on the reserve.
The Nkuwa female startles a pair of Double-banded Sandgrouse into flight. This young leopard and her sister are persisting in their mother’s territory, and the dearth of sightings of the Nhlanguleni female herself (the mother) is starting to become a cause for concern. Is she still alive?
The Senegal Bush male readies himself for a pounce as an unsuspecting duiker approaches. The small antelope was simply wandering up the road, but its sudden apparition left no time for the leopard to move into cover; he simply had to lie flat and hope. Ultimately, the duiker became suspicious and moved off.
An Ntsevu lioness snatches a drink before getting going. The pride were tailing buffalo on this evening, but their lack of success – coming on top of many previous failures – has cast a dark shadow of doubt over their ability to take on these dangerous bovines.
Terrapins will use any convenient platform to sun themselves, including the local hippoptamus.
A hippo sleeps with its head resting on another individual’s back. The nostrils of the second hippo can just be seen popping up for a breath in the foreground. The greenery that surrounds them is a harmless, tiny plant called duckweed.
There are a few theories as to where the name Secretary Bird comes from but one of them suggests that it’s due to the resemblance that the crest of feathers has to a secretary in old times who would store her quill pens in her hair.
Two Impala rams square up against one another before the sun has even risen. The next month or two are important for impala rams as they head into the rutting season.
The textures on an elephant’s skin can really be appreciated when frozen in an image, particularly if shot with a slightly wider depth of field. As clichéd as it may be, to me the eyes of an elephant can be great windows into their mood. Most often, the drooping eyelids portray a sense of calm.
A youngster from the Ntsevu pride sits up after grooming one night. Grooming will typically precede activity in lions.
The Senegal Bush male walks along an open crest during a territorial patrol. Shortly after this he smelt the remains of an old kill in a tree a few hundred metres away. Luckily for him, whoever made the kill originally had moved off and he was able to secure it without a fuss.
Not one, but two leopards in a tree… The Ximungwe female lies centred and behind while her son lies above and closer to camera. They had a hoisted impala kill in the tree just minutes before, however the young male clumsily knocked it out. A hyena had been waiting below and was rewarded for its patience.
The Senegal Bush male instinctively snarls as he ascends a tree prior to stealing the remains of a hoisted impala carcass. Male leopards will sometimes encounter female leopards while on territorial patrols. If the female has a kill, males will usually utilise their greater size to appropriate the carcass. In this case, there was no leopard around so it was an easy steal.
Rhinos will often find open sandy patches to lie down in and this morning was no different. There are three of them in this picture using the road as their favoured resting spot.
A zebra stallion pauses and gives us an opportunity to really appreciate his unique markings. I love the different shades of brown and black that make up is unique stripes.
The first view of the Senegal Bush Male when we found him on a territorial patrol early one morning.
We have discussed doing the live thing but feel we can add far more impact in our current format, as there are too many variables involved in a live drive, as well as poor signal out here in many spots which makes the continuity of a sighting unlikely…