Every week on the reserve seems to have a theme, although it might not be reflected in the pictures. This week was definitely buffalo, with some wonderful sightings taking place in and around the large herd that has been spending time in the south-west.
It’s an awesome experience to sit surrounded by several hundred of the bovines; the constant noise, the aroma, all the interactions that take place; one can simply sit mesmerised for hours.
It certainly wasn’t all about the buffalo though, so enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The Mashaba female leaps towards where she had a kill stashed in a Tamboti tree. It’s been hard to predict this leopard’s territorial movements of late. Centred mainly around the Maxabene River, she has been popping up all over the place, and we are still unsure of the fate of her cub.
The migrants are starting to arrive for the summer! Here a wood sandpiper checks out a small side pool near the main stream of the Sand River.
Its not very often we see Jackal on Londolozi these days, most likely due to the high density of lion and leopard as well as the severe drought we had a few years ago. This had a devastating affect on some of the smaller predators who feed on rats, mice and sometimes scavenge. In this sighting we were fortunate enough to see this Side-striped jackal trying to scavenge some remaining meat from a lion kill.
The Senegal Bush male had killed a female Nyala the night before we found him. There was not much remaining of the kill but he has the tendency to be rather aggressive at the best of times. This time he was snarling at two approaching hyenas. Although they have no threat from hyenas when they have their kill stashed up in a tree it is their natural instinct to react the way he did.
An African jacana uses a hippo’s head as a perching point. Jacanas will feed mainly on aquatic insects, however they have been known to feed on ectoparasites such as ticks, from hippos backs.
An elephant bull dwarfs the fork-tailed drongo perched above him. As the elephant feeds, insects will be flushed out of the grass and foliage in an effort to escape. The cunning drongo keeps a close eye out for the fleeing insects from the branch above, ready to swoop down for an easy meal.
The Lappet-faced vulture is the largest vulture that we find in the region and the other species of vultures will sometimes rely on them to open up the carcasses of larger animals when they die naturally by using their stronger beaks to get through the tougher skin.
The two remaining Birmingham males finally catch up with the rest of the Ntsevu pride who had been on the move for most of the morning. They had stalked twice and failed. If they were to be successful in a hunt, the males would not waste time getting their share. They have been holding their own for the last few months but there seems to be more pressure from males in the surrounding areas.
A young giraffe calf followed suite when the rest of the journey crossed the airstrip just outside of camp. The giraffes have been spending a considerable amount of time around the airstrip of late, which is most likely due to the amount of acacia trees in the area which they enjoy feeding on.
A strong theme for this week has been buffalo. This herd coming to drink was just the appetiser for a spectacular morning around the waterhole in which multiple species came to quench their thirsts.
Yellow-billed oxpeckers were extremely rare in the area less than a decade ago. In recent years their population has boomed and they can be seen in increasing numbers in all the large buffalo herds on the reserve.
Barred Owlets are one of the smaller species we find at Londolozi. The barring on their chest as opposed to the streaking of the pearl-spotted owlet, and their slightly rounder appearance, differentiates one from the other. Although mostly active at nighttime, we do see them during the day, mainly along watercourses.
A buffalo bull looks up from drinking, his chin dripping with the water he and his herd will drink twice a day, usually once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
The Ximungwe young male soaks up the morning sun from Plaque Rock, an iconic spot on the Londolozi Reserve on the banks of the Sand River. The young leopard had been watching his father the Flat Rock male, who had just stalked by with a torn ear, most likely received from an encounter with an unidentified male seen in the area the night before.
A dominant male leopard over the majority of the north. He originally took over the 4:4 Male's territory when he died.
The south-west is about big skies. Big animals in the foreground add immeasurably to the scene, as this herd of elephants testifies as they move in to drink from one of the few remaining pans in the area.
After the glorious months in which the three-eared pack denned their tiny pups on Londolozi, sightings of these enigmatic carnivores have been a little harder to come by. Thankfully a large pack was seen only this morning in the central parts of the reserve, resting in a beautiful Tamboti grove.
A little bit of a cheat as this was over a week ago, but we didn’t put in a full moon photograph then so felt obliged to include one now.