The Ntsevu pride have been in and out this week, walking right across the reserve on an east-west trajectory, but as far as the actual sightings go, they have generally been fairly dormant whenever we’ve found them. Instead it has been the leopards that have once again stolen the show.
The Sand River, although it still has far more water in it now than it has at this time in previous years, is starting to dwindle in its flow, and hippos in particular are getting crammed into only a couple of remaining pools. Their territorial snorting can be heard on most nights, echoing up from the riverbed.
We still haven’t found the cub of the Mashaba female, which we suspect is still alive, but given how regularly her tracks have been seen moving through one particular part of the Maxabene Riverbed, we think we have the area of the latest den narrowed down.
More on this soon.
In the meantime, enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The Mashaba female plans the next part of her climb. There was an impala kill hoisted in this Tamboti tree that 5 different leopards moved through over the course of twelve hours. We don’t know which leopard actually made the kill but we suspect the Ximungwe female.
An impala drifts into a pool of light. Early morning and late afternoon create wonderful shadows that are there to be exploited as a photographer.
Shelley’s Francolins are one of the more vociferous bird species we find on Londolozi, although we don’t often see them. Their long-grass habitat helps them stay camouflaged, and if they simply stand or lie still, one’s eye will drift right over them without realising.
Many questions are being asked about the Ntsevu pride by the field team. Will they remain as a single unit or will they split? (we suspect the latter). When will they next have cubs? When will we see them taking down a buffalo again? For the most part we have only seen them sleeping this week, but we suspect something big is coming from them soon…
One last beam of light filters between the peaks of the Drakensberg Mountain Range. Winter sunsets can sometimes go through different phases, producing different colours as they develop. This was no exception.
As I left camp a herd of waterbuck was feeding along the road. The low morning light caught their shaggy coats, illuminating their tufts of hair. Within the golden hour, a photographic opportunity cannot be passed up.
Ranger Guy Brunskill takes a moment away from his camera to enjoy the scene in front of him. While tracking mating leopards we happened across this herd drinking in a hidden cove of the Sand River, only just accessible with a vehicle.
A spider hunting wasp with a baboon spider that lost the battle. The wasp will drag the spider to a hole, then lay an egg on it. When the larva hatches out of the egg, it will feed on the spider.
I can’t remember a time on Londolozi when so many giraffe calves were around. We counted six in only one creche a couple of days ago. Thankfully for them, the Ntsevu pride has not been frequenting these grassy crests, so for the most part they have avoided a nasty fate in the belly of lions, but who knows what will happen in the coming weeks…
Some of the grey herons down by the Causeway have been nesting, and this male was displaying between stick-collecting efforts. It is generally the male that collects the nesting material and the female that does the actual building.
A spotted hyena looks up to where the Ximungwe female was feeding on an impala kill. Hyenas are patient animals, and will wait for a long time when there’s a kill hoisted in a tree, knowing the leopard may drop it when it feeds, particularly if it is a young and inexperienced cat.
Klipspringers are specially adapted little antelopes that inhabit rocky outcrops. Their specially adapted hooves are able to grip on precarious slopes that other antelopes would simply slide right off.
The Senegal Bush male has been seen on a few occasions this last week and is fast becoming one of the more dominant male leopards that we see as he establishes more and more territory.
Chaos ensued one morning as a pack of Wild Dogs hunted across the reserve. They were able to kill an Impala ram and this opportunistic hyena managed to run off with a part of it.
Elephants have incredible textures under their feet. The patterns are unique to each individual and can be seen in their footprints in the sand. As a herd walked past us one afternoon, I slowed my shutter speed down for a panning shot. This normally works well when tracking a subject moving parallel to you, so I got lucky with this one.
An elephant cow walks through a clearing directly opposite Varty Camp. Herds of elephants are seen regularly from the Londolozi camps at this time of year.
The Finfoot female basks in the morning son while rangers Sean Zeederberg and Guy Brunskill take advantage of a tremendous photographic opportunity.