It’s getting tough to choose what to look for on drive these days.
With an active wild dog den, at least two female leopards with cubs (that we know of), multiple prides of lions moving in and around the reserve, a cheetah with cubs somewhere out there and a surplus of elephant, we truly are spoiled for choice.
Most weeks here are defined by a big event or drama, and this one was no different, with the frightening discovery of the Ntsevu pride having spent an hour trying to dig out the wild dog pups from their den. Greg Pingo and Pete Thorpe had been tracking the pride and were highly concerned (understatement) when tracks led straight to the den, where clear evidence of the lions digging were to be found. All was revealed on the footage from the trail-cam that watches over the den’s entrance, and we will be covering this story in more detail on our social media platforms in the next 24 hours.
For now, enjoy this Week in Pictures…
James Souchon watches one of the Birmingham males walk by, trailing the Ntsevu pride. The lions had already eaten when we found them before sunup (note the male’s full belly), but continued moving well into the morning, staying on the trail of a herd of buffalo. They ended up bumping into the Othaawa male who had killed a buffalo calf, and he was promptly run off the reserve by the Birmingham males.
Surely one of Africa’s most beautiful eagles; the Bateleur. This was the male of a pair, and we sat patiently for twenty minutes waiting for the female (who was circling above) to come in for a landing on the same tree. She didn’t.
A young male kudu crosses the skyline. Another half turn in his horns and a pronounced thickening of the neck once he starts fighting for mating rights will pronounce this bull as an adult.
A mature elephant bull approaches the flowing water in the Sand River. As we move into the winter months, the landscape is drying up. The perennial Sand River is a real source of life now, particularly to herds of elephants. They can be seen moving in the river in front of the Londolozi camps almost on a daily basis at this time of the year.
The reserve has beens seemingly flush with cheetahs over the past week or so, as no fewer than five were found over a 36 hour period; two different males and a female with two cubs.
A wild dog from a pack of five that has been seen in the north-western parts of Londolozi. It sounds ridiculous, but with all the attention on the pack of two that has been denning pups in the middle of the reserve, other packs have almost become superfluous.
Green pigeons are some of Londolozi’s more beautiful birds, but it’s difficult to get a good view of them; they are frugivorous, and so spend much of their time in the dense canopies of fruiting trees. Luckily this small flock chose an open perch to enjoy the morning sun.
The Senegal Bush male has in a short space of time become Londolozi’s most prominent male leopard. Although the Flat Rock male still patrols the Sand River in front of camp and is therefore a seemingly more likely contender for the title, his expanded territory often puts him in the far corners of the reserve where the roads aren’t driven quite as much.
A Black-winged Stilt is reflected in the shallow water. These waders will walk around the edge of a waterhole probing the water for any aquatic insects, tadpoles or small fish.
Moments after chasing the Nkoveni Female and the Flat rock Male into nearby trees, two Ntsevu Lionesses stop to scan over the Sand River from the high riverbank.
A large elephant bull investigates a dried up waterhole. As we head into our dry winter more and more animals will have to rely on the Sand River for water.
The Ximungwe young male had been treed by some hyenas, but his inexperience (and a bit of pressure) drove him to poor tree selection. The branch he was resting on snapped a few moments after this photo was taken, sending him plummeting earthwards. Luckily it wasn’t a big fall.
The sound of rutting impala is still very much around as the males chase females all over the place looking to mate.
A female Red-billed Hornbill perches waiting for any insects to catch her attention. You can tell that it’s a female because there is no black patch on her lower mandible, that the males have.
We are coming into an exciting period for leopard cubs. We caught our first glimpse of the Nkoveni female’s cub at the start of the week, and only a few days later found the Piccadilly female and HER cub high up on some rocky outcrops in the north of the reserve. With the Nhlanguleni female heavily pregnant and the Mashaba female possibly already having given birth, things are shaping up por a spectacular leopard winter…