The big news this week is that the Makomsava female has given birth to her first litter in the northern parts of Londolozi. She is using a rocky outcrop that happens to be a few hundred metres west of where the Picadilly female was denning her single cub. The den is extremely well hidden, which is great for the cubs but it means it’s tricky for us to get a view. We await our first proper sighting anxiously!
The Ntsevu pride dynamics are definitely in a state of flux. There were two sightings of separate individual lionesses from the pride on the same day. In one sighting, a Birmingham male and all 14 youngsters (we confirm that there are 14 alive) managed to find the lone lioness, who did not seem overjoyed to see them as she let out a constant low growl as they all approached. Maybe a pride split is imminent? Time will tell…
For now, enjoy this Week in Pictures…
A very content looking hippo rests in the Sand River one sunny morning. It’s not uncommon to see pods of over 30 hippo in some of the pools in the river at the moment.
This would not be the sight you want to see if you are a fish in a shallow pool of water. Fish eagles thrive during this drier time when there is not much water around meaning lots of fish are squashed into in the remaining smaller pools.
The Piccadilly female and her cub were seen a fair distance away from the den off Southern Cross koppies this week. We initially found the mother in a tree under which a clan of hyenas were finishing a kill that they’d stolen from her. We presume the cub had run away in the chaos, as it was found very close by. It was fantastic to follow the two of them on the move, a rare sight that we hope will happen again soon.
A close up view of the mouth of a giraffe. Notice the long and pointy top lip which, together with the tongue, is used to grasp onto branches and leaves upon which they browse.
We came across two female ostriches that had been dust-bathing on a small termite mound in the late afternoon. Our stars aligned when they got up and moved off, which enabled us to capture this beautiful moment of one of them walking in front of the setting sun.
Although we have quickly passed the peak of the winter low temperatures, there are certainly still a few rather chilly mornings to be had before things start warming up. This morning in particular was a cold one and the little bee-eaters were feeling the cold as much as I was. They will often huddle up on a branch close to each other to try and keep warm.
Perfect symmetry. Sometimes things align well in nature as two sub-adults (centre) and two cubs (outside) from the Ntsevu Pride drink alongside each other. Luckily for us, they managed to find pools of water in the depressions created by elephants alongside the main waterhole, meaning no ripples were created that would have ruined the beautiful reflection.
Something had spooked some of the impala which caused them to all start running in the opposite direction. They tend to follow a herd mentality so if one or two of them get spooked it’s their natural reaction to panic and bound off in a different direction to the disturbance. Guy managed to capture this impala as it took to the air to jump over a small, dry mud wallow.
Ranger Sean Zeederberg looks on as an elephant calf darts across the road. Notice how the ears are lifted above the head in an attempt to make itself appear larger. Still young, it is a little bit weary around the vehicles, but will soon take on the relaxed nature of the adults in its herd.
The beautiful contrast of colours and the iridescence in this black stork’s plumage is what caught my attention. It’s incredible how having a plain backdrop while doing photography tends to enhance the colours and features of your subject.
From the same sighting as the drinking photo above, here the group of 14 Ntsevu Pride youngsters settled in an open clearing to rest. Most of them were full, indicating a good meal was had overnight. See how some of them have little brown marks on their chins from drinking next to the mud!
A pack of African Wild Dogs line up for a drink just outside the Londolozi camps. Although tentative at first due to the risk of crocodiles (of which there are many in this waterhole), they soon gained the confidence to step right in for a drink. Covered in blood, they must have made a kill prior to us finding them.
Soft clouds stream across the sky one morning above the Manyelethi River. There is a granite extrusion that lies in a west-east line through the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. The tips of it can be seen in the form of rocky granite outcrops, locally known as “koppies”. In this image one can see how the boulders in the foreground align with further koppies to the east.
The dexterity of an elephant’s trunk is truly remarkable. They have more than 60 times the number of muscles we have in our entire body, in their trunk alone. Weighing more than 100 kilograms, it is fascinating to watch how they can delicately pluck fruit from branches. It is of course understandable how they can snap branches too…
A flock of red-billed queleas flutters about in an open clearing as they feed on grass seeds. They are the most numerous wild bird in the world, sometimes gathering in flocks of hundreds of thousands. Against the early morning sun, their wings were illuminated beautifully – a great opportunity to get low and attempt to be creative!