The biggest event of this week was actually a non-event: no longer do we have an active Wild Dog den on Londolozi. The two adults from the pack that have been keeping their pups here have up and moved with the litter of nine, and the most amazing chapter in our recent memories has closed.
As sad as we are to see them go, we can only feel enormous gratitude that they gave us such a remarkable window into their lives for the last two months, and wish them well as the pups embark on the next stage of their growth.
They’ll most likely pop up from time to time over the next few weeks, hopefully with a full complement of nine young ones.
On that nostalgic note, enjoy this Week in Pictures…
Ranger Sean Zeederberg waits for the Flat Rock male leopard to descend from a sausage tree along the banks of the Sand River. The leopard had just walked right past the Nhlanguleni female who was resting at Finfoot crossing, not even 100m away.
A giraffe easing across the landscape one morning. The fluffy ossicones give away its sex as a female. Although it was previously believed that giraffe have a very loose social structure, not really forming set herds, recent studies are now showing that there may be fairly strong bonds within a journey of giraffe. Coat patterns are being used to identify which individuals are spending time with others on different occasions.
It’s always enjoyable to spend time at the causeway and experiment with a slow shutter speed on your camera. The crocodiles that sit and wait for fish or frogs to get washed over are great subjects to focus on but make sure you have a bean bag or tripod to keep your camera still.
The Flat Rock male was discovered on a termite mound scanning the area for any potential prey. He rested there for quite some time before setting off on his evening patrol. His territory seems to have grown quite substantially over the last few months which means that he covers a lot of ground at night and its always interesting to see where he pops up in the days after.
The son of the Emsagweni female had cornered the Makomsava female in a marula tree and stolen her impala kill, while a hyena waited below for scraps. This was the first time this male leopard has been viewed on Londolozi, but given his age (not yet three years) and the fact that the area is already spoken for by much bigger territorial males, it’s doubtful whether he’ll stick around for long.
It can be hard getting an uncluttered background for a silhouette shot. Fortunately when your subject is five metres tall, it tends to rise above it all…
A hyena sniffs the chill morning air down in the grasslands. Just like we do, hyenas also listen for alarm calls to signal the presence of a predator, and are able to differ between just a simple alarm and the more frantic sounds given when a predator has actually made a kill. When they hear that, they go running in.
A zebra foal just big enough to rest on the back of her mother as the stallion of the harem watches in the other direction.
A Black-chested snake eagle takes flight. From a distance when they are soaring above they can look a bit like a Martial Eagle but they are much smaller, lack the brown flecks on the chest, and have white on the underwing, not all brown.
All predators go through a very inquisitive phase when they are young and this hyena is no exception. As we came into view he stopped what he was doing and wandered in our direction to get a better view.
The Tortoise Pan male descends a fallen marula tree. He had sought refuge in this tree as hyena had stolen a kill that he had made just below. When they eventually moved off, he came down to search for scraps.
Shelley’s francolins are heard far more than they are seen. Inhabiting long grass areas, all one can usually make out is a rustling of grass stalks. We were lucky on this morning as a pair emerged onto the road right next to our Land Rover.
A male ostrich in his kantling display, which is part of the courtship ritual. One of the male sin the south-western grasslands has been in full breeding mode of late, and on this morning he was running between multiple females attempting to copulate with all of them.
With hopes of capturing star reflections one night, we set out with all of our gear. Unfortunately clouds rolled over. Fortunately though, they created a beautiful and unexpected effect, reflecting some residual pink light from the horizon. We will have to try for the stars another night!
This was the last time I saw the wild dog pups. The two adults have moved them off Londolozi, and an amazing chapter in what has been a pretty turbulent year, closes.