The final TWIP of 2020! A year that has quite literally rewritten history and will be spoken about for generations to come.
For us, it was the first time that Londolozi was forced to close its doors to the public. However, putting the pandemic aside, it has nonetheless still been an incredible year. Our media team did a fantastic job at bringing the wilderness to you, across all corners of the globe, for many months as we were all locked down.
This allowed the magical game viewing to continue as we all followed with bated breath as the wild dogs denned and raised their pups on the reserve for the first time in years, how a female cheetah raised two young cubs while a Birmingham male paid a visit to an evening drinks stop and a honey badger was given a second chance at life.
These are but a few of the incredible highlights of an otherwise very unusual year. We can’t express how happy we are to be open and operating once again; sharing this incredible place with all our visitors.
Seasons greetings to you all.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
I still find it amazing how tolerant the herbivores are of their oxpecker companions. They are often seen pecking away inside the rhino’s large nostrils and ears.
These two elephant bulls were having a standoff. When we initially came across them they were peacefully feeding alongside each other but as they both approached a small pan to drink and wallow in the warm morning sun, the larger and presumably older bull (on the right) took exception to the company. The wallow wasn’t big enough for the both of them.
The Piccadilly female perches herself on a fallen over Jackalberry tree on the northern bank of the Sand River. With the vegetation being the densest it has been in years, the animals often need to make use of natural vantage points to scan their surroundings.
Bateleurs often scavenge and will regularly follow descending vultures in the hopes of getting a small meal out of it. This female bateleur (the whitish wing panels indicate her gender) was perched on a low branch, just above a small flock of hooded vultures which were feeding on what looked like an afterbirth of an impala.
Yellow billed oxpeckers aren’t nearly as common at Londolozi as their red billed relatives. However you stand good chance of seeing them if you happen to find a large herd of buffalo.
A naturally framed elephant calf drinks alongside its mother. These two were part of a herd of roughly thirty elephant which we sat with for nearly 45 minutes as they wallowed and drank at one of the many wallows around at the moment.
Water (or nile) monitors are the biggest lizards that we find in Africa and can grow up to 2.5 meters. However, specimens of this size are quite rare. The markings on this particular individual really caught my eye and it allowed us to get rather close before darting off into the water.
The Piccadilly female carefully descends an acacia tree that she had stashed an impala ewe kill in. We have enjoyed some consistent viewing of her and her cub recently who still remains rather shy around the vehicles.
A female giraffe feeds on an apple leaf tree just a few meters from our vehicle. The dexterity of their lips and tongue is incredible.
A portion of the Nstevu pride keep an eye on a small herd of elephant as they slowly approach in the distance. The dynamics of this pride at the moment seem to be confusing everyone but I personally haven’t heard of them all being together for a couple of months now indicating that a split is essentially underway.
The abundance of water around at the moment is spoiling the birds like this pied kingfisher who have plenty of small pools on the rivers edge now to stake out.
Another kingfisher that I have really enjoyed seeing over the last few weeks is the grey headed kingfisher, a pair of which are nesting downstream from the Londolozi camps. You are almost guaranteed to see at least one of them if you drive through that area.
The rocky outcrops in the northern reaches of the reserve are the only place you’ll see klipspringer antelope. They can be difficult to spot but this female presented herself rather nicely on top of this large granite boulder.
The Birmingham males still hold a significant territory in the eastern half of Londolozi. But for how much longer? The coalition of two remaining brothers will soon start to feel the pressures of younger males closing in.
One of the charismatic creatures of the bush; the vervet monkey. Troops of these small primates are often encountered across the reserve and keep us quite entertained with their antics. This one was comfortably perched on a broken branch of a knobthorn, watching the other members of the troop forage beneath.
It’s always quite interesting shooting into the sun. The photographs don’t always turn out how you imagine they should but I enjoyed this one of a young elephant bull making his way up the crest in the late afternoon.
A leopard’s tail dangles from the branch of a marula tree.