The Big news this week is of course the newest Leopards of Londolozi.
By that I meant the cubs of the Makomsava female, who are certainly no older than a month, but probably closer to three weeks old. Two tiny leopards, being hidden in a rocky outcrop near the Manyelethi River in the north of Londolozi. The den (which has previously been used by the Makomsava female’s mother, the Nanga female) allows for some amazing photographic opportunities, so you’ll have to excuse us if many of our media offerings over the coming weeks are leopard cub-centric.
Research has shown that first-time leopard mothers have higher success rates in raising cubs than older females, so we are hopeful for these two.
The Nanga female was born to the Nyelethi 4:4 female in 2009 as part of a litter of three.
It’s certainly not only about leopard cubs on the reserve though, so enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The Senegal Bush male (drinking right of frame) and the Mashaba female had made their way to a waterhole shortly after they had finished off the remains of their kill. They have been mating since this photo was taken which unfortunately suggests that something has happened to the Mashaba female’s latest cub.
The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the camps and vehicles.
A female elephant drinking from the steady flow of the Sand River. Elephants prefer the freshest water they can find,;that’s not to say they won’t drink from a wallow if they have to, but they would prefer something cleaner. Understandably.
Probably the most versatile organ in the animal kingdom; an elephant’s trunk.
The morning sunrise over the Sand River is always a breathtaking sight. When the water temperature is higher than the surrounding air it will often give rise to a fine mist.
Fresh evidence of a male leopard that has just walked down the road. Leopards will often use roads as pathways upon which they demarcate their territory through scent marking and scraping of their hind feet. Follow the footprints for long enough and they will come to an end – where the leopard lies.
The Makomsava female perched on one of the dramatic boulders that line the Manyelethi river. Some spots on Londolozi just beg to feature a leopard, and this just happens to be one of them,
Every year at the end of winter, Knobthorn trees break out into a dazzle of yellow as their flowers blossom. The flowers emerge before the leaves. They are one of the few trees whose main pollinator is a mammal; as giraffes feed on the flowers, they transfer the pollen from one tree to the next.
The Senegal Bush male was found with the Mashaba female on an nyala kill. As usual in this type of situation, it was the larger male that had claimed the bulk of the kill for himself, although we found the pair when there were only scraps left. The male was robbed of this last bit of leg by hyenas shortly after this.
A brightly coloured impala lily. The landscape is completely dry by now and is filled with hues of yellow and brown. In some of the grassy clearings though, the bright pink impala lilies provide a beautiful splash of colour.
As the days heat up, elephants are becoming a common sight around the Sand River and at any remaining water source. Here a small family group gathers to drink mid-morning, not too far from the Londolozi camps.
A flash of colour in a thorn bush. A tiny blue waxbill finds refuge amongst the long white thorns between bouts of searching for seeds.
The Three Rivers female has been mating with the Senegal Bush male repeatedly over the last few weeks. One particular evening we had a great view of them on the banks of the Maxabene riverbed. Getting below them gave us a unique perspective.
Crocodiles and hippos live quite happily in the same pools (the hippos can be seen out of focus in the background). They don’t compete for the same food (crocodiles eat fish and the occasional antelope, and the hippos are grazers), and can sometimes even be seen basking in the winter sun within a metre of each other.
Nyalas are antelopes of the thickets. Although mixed feeders, browse material is their preferred food, and as such they spend a lot of time in riparian vegetation, particularly along the Sand River. The River itself is their closes source of water, and if lucky, one can catch a small family group like this one as they emerge into the open for a drink.
One of the Makomsava cubs gingerly approaches the edge of the rock face to peer down on the vehicle.
By far the most special sighting of the week.