All the wild dog pups are well.
So many people have written in to enquire about how they’re doing that we’ll try and update everyone as often as possible, and they’ve all made it through another week, without any visits from lions or marauding hyenas.
The Ntesvu pride made a big loop through the southern grasslands – which went unnoticed by us for a couple of days as we were preoccupied further north with leopards and the wild dog pups. They were found this morning right down in our south-west, clearly fresh from a kill judging by the blood that covered their flanks and chests.
Our conviction (or hope, rather) that the Mashaba female must have cubs somewhere has made us intensify the search for here, but we’ve come up empty-handed a number of days in a row. We’ll keep at it.
While we’re out searching, enjoy this Week in Pictures…
A Ground hornbill takes flight at sunset. As the name suggests they spend most of the time walking around looking for food on the ground so when they do take flight it’s almost surprising.
A lioness from the Ntsevu pride rests on the bank of a waterhole one morning. Notice the tiny drop of blood on her left cheek and the pink hue of blood on her neck from a recent kill.
The Ntsevu Pride and two Birmingham males drink at a beautiful waterhole in the open grasslands. They all had quite a bit of blood on them suggesting that they had been feeding on something during the night or early morning.
An elephant bull strides across an open clearing near the Londolozi airstrip.
A big yawn from a small dog. One can see the sharp teeth have developed rapidly in the pups. Now at about a month-and-a-half old, they are already feeding on large chunks of meat regurgitated for them at the den by the pair of adults.
One hyena follows another along a dusty road early one morning. There were alarm calls in the area and tracks of both a male and female leopard. We were not able to find either of the leopards, but are convinced that these hyenas knew something that we didn’t; maybe there was a carcass nearby that they had smelt.
Rays of light flare out from behind the Drakensberg mountain range. As the bush dries out, dust is being kicked up that result in spectacular sunsets.
This Ntsevu lioness had left the pride in the late morning from where they were feeding on a giraffe kill. Why, we aren’t exactly sure. Her teats looked relatively swollen though, and it is always possible that she is the first of the adult females to fall pregnant again.
The cub of the Piccadilly female has not yet become habituated to the Land Rovers. Our vehicle was parked at a distance here (a 600mm lens was used for this photo), and there was only one vehicle present, yet the cub was still shy, no matter how quietly we sat. This is all part of the habituation process though, and after a few more viewings like this the cub should hopefully be ignoring us completely.
The Ntsevu pride lie up under lowering skies. A graduated filter effect was used in the post-processing to accentuate the clouds in this picture.
The open grasslands aren’t necessarily the place one would associate with elephants, yet on this afternoon we enjoyed an amazing sighting of them feeding slowly down towards a waterhole. Half the herd wasn’t even captured in this photo.
A small herd of elephants have a drink while a hippo finds shade in the same pool of water. I have watched hippo chasing animals away from waterholes before, but in this case, the hippo couldn’t care less.
An African Spoonbill perched above a waterhole outside Varty Camp. Very distinctive with their unique bill shape, these birds are commonly found around shallow water bodies. They will sweep their head from side to side, snapping prey up in the spoon part of the bill itself.
The wild dog pups are entering a dangerous age of curiosity. venturing slightly further from their den’s entrance, even when their parents aren’t their, leaves them vulnerable to any stray predators passing through. So far all ten are alive and well though.
An elephant bull makes use of the last light of day to feed on pods of a Torchwood tree. Lots of elephants are utilising this food source at the moment, and it is incredibly to witness how strong they are, pushing their foreheads to the trunk and shaking the entire tree to force the pods to the ground.
The Ximungwe young male up to some antics with a Russet Bushwillow sapling. He stalked and pounced on this little shrub over and over, honing skills that will one day put him in good stead for stalking and pouncing on prey.
My thoughts exactly!