Although survival is always the name of the game in the wild, the vulnerability of the many newborns, hatchlings, fledglings, calves, lambs and whatever other diminutive animal is out there at the moment means that the word is never more prevalent than at the start of summer.
The glut of young antelope means a feat for predators, whilst vulnerable birds that have just chicks sit in their nests, hoping to be overlooked by the genets and snakes that would make an easy meal of them.
Thankfully this week has been one of primarily happy stories, of some births but also of rediscoveries…
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The Makomsava cub, not seen for about a month, was found alive and well at one the mother’s former den-sites. Sadly its sibling has disappeared – we don’t know what happened to it – but in an environment in which only one intact leopard litter has reached independence in the last nine years (the Nkuwa and Finfoot females), something like this was almost inevitable. Let’s hope the Makomsava female can raise a cub on her first attempt.
It’s no wonder kudus rely so heavily on their hearing to keep them out of danger; inhabiting thicketed areas like this, it’s not uncommon for their field of vision to only extend a couple of metres in any direction, if not less.
Young lilac-breasted rollers await the return of their parents with morsels of food. This species nests primarily in holes in dead trees, and with so many other resident species as well as breeding migrants utilising similar nesting sites, the competition for tree cavities is intense.
A small rock monitor lizard peeks out from the hole in a dead knobthorn tree it was hiding in.
The bulk of the Ntsevu pride encircle a small pan to drink. For some reason, animals drinking is a mesmerising sight. More so when it’s a big pride of lions.
As some of them filed away after slaking their thirsts, gaps started opening up through which we could see the faces of others.
One of the prettier migrant birds, the grey-headed kingfisher. A pair of them have been nesting near the Sand River about two kilometres from camp. Their nest is a tunnel excavated into a sandbank.
Elephants have been prolific over the last couple of weeks. In fact in the last decade I can’t remember having this many around in mid-December. With the possibility of major local variations in rainfall, it’s possible that we have had slightly more than the surrounding areas, which has drawn them in…
An absolutely enormous rock monitor lizard. The biggest I’ve ever seen in fact. We went back later to attempt to measure it (using a piece of string and this photo for reference) but were rather terrified that the dragon itself might still be there and eat us. Not really, but knowing a lizard this size was around kept us on our toes. We estimated its length at around two metres.
The Flat Rock male and Xinzele female mate on the banks of the Manyelethi River, with ranger Melvin Sambo and guest in the foreground. The Xinzele female has yet to have cubs, but maybe that will change in the next few months…
A Southern Ground Hornbill makes short work of a small puff adder. Within a short space of time we watched a small group of these birds catch and devour at least ten different species of prey.
A tiny Mhangeni cub trails behind its mother as she leads it to where the rest of the pride had a wildebeest kill. you can read about this sighting in Ranger Pete Thorpe’s blog here.
Southern Masked Weavers are master nest builders. A structure like this can take the male less than a day to construct.
A new face among the Leopards of Londolozi; the Tavangumi male. Born in the western parts of the Sabi Sand Reserve in 2018, this male is still too small to be challenging for territory, and has been keeping a low profile in the area currently dominated by the Flat Rock male. It is unlikely that he (the Tavangumi male) will stick around for too long…
A very full-bellied Othawa male digests the wildebeest kill mentioned in the photo of the Mhangeni cub. The pride and the Othawa male has been operating on a long north-south trajectory, covering a lot of ground on western Londolozi and even beyond our southern borders. Tracking them is always fun as a result; you never know where they’re going to turn up.