Wow the grass is long!
Although that might sound as if it’s tricky to spot things (it certainly can be), we actually find that animals tend to be funnelled into the more open areas, pathways and roads by the thicker vegetation. It’s far less energy-consuming for a leopard to march down a dirt track than to wade his or her way through extensive two-feet-high stands of Themeda triandra.
It’s been a tricky week for leopards; whereas for most of the year their hoisted kills will keep them anchored in the same spot for a day or two, at the moment they are snacking predominantly on impala lambs, which are such small morsels that invariably the leopard will have consumed the carcass and moved off within a few hours.
Elephants galore are encountered on every drive, as has been the norm for the last six weeks or so.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The Flat Rock male is encountered far less often these days. Having expanded territory into the north, where there are fewer roads, sightings of him are infrequent, so we take full advantage of them when they come along. On this morning he had been scent-marking extensively, probably in response to rain from two nights before, which would have washed some of his previous scent away…
Elephants are taking full advantage of the full pans and waterholes, swimming on the hot days and seemingly having the most enormous amount of fun while doing so…
There is a pair of Spotted Eagle Owls seen regularly near the Mashaba Drainage to the east of the Londolozi camps. This is the same watercourse that gave the Mashaba female leopard her name. Although it’s possible that a different pair has moved in to where a former one used to reside, the consistency with which I’ve seen them at the same spot over the past decade and the fact that owls are reported to live for 10 years in the wild with bigger species living longer, leads me to suspect that at least the bulk of the sightings have been of exactly the same pair in residence.
Impalas are like sheep – in the metaphorical sense – in that when one starts running, the whole herd generally follows suit. The contrasting white and black rump patterning is supposedly a means through which individual herd members follow each other.
Summer and mud are two constant bedfellows in elephant terms.
The Ntsevu pride is still splitting, with the sub-adults going one way with one or two adults, and the other big females being found in a different part of the reserve. Recently however, we have seen one sub-adult female with the split of four adults, and can’t shake the feeling that a couple of the younger lions might not end up splitting altogether.
Not everyone’s favourite, but bats play a vital role in the ecosystem. This is a Mauritian Tomb bat, suspended under the eaves of the staff gym roof. We tend to only think of impalas, wildebeest and warthogs when we think of the seasonal breeders amongst the mammals, but insectivorous bats – like this species – only breed in the spring and summer too, which makes sense given that that’s when their insect prey is most abundant.
It’s not only rhinos, elephants and warthogs that spend time in the mud. Hyenas like this one are often found in small pans to keep cool, although it’s generally the water they prefer and not the pure mud.
Ranger Nick Sims and co. watch the Ntsevu pride filter across the Londolozi airstrip at dusk.
Given that the Ntsevu pride had been on the hunt through these very clearings the night before, this young wildebeest calf can count itself lucky to be alive.
A very unusual sighting of a Dwarf Bittern out in the open. Usually only seen skulking through the grassy and reed-covered fringes of small waterbodies – and rarely at that – this one had been flushed by some elephants coming down to drink at a pan, and flew up to briefly perch in this open fork of a Knobthorn tree.
It’s been said that a large mammal like a buffalo or rhino can carry away 25kg of mud with it from a wallow at a time. After seeing a bull covered from head to toe like this, it’s a statement I can easily believe.
If you look closely, you’ll see the Styx young male in the background, watching the elephant herd pass by (it might have been the Nkuhuma young male, I tend to forget which is which).
Lone elephant bulls, open clearings and big cloudy skies are a fantastic combination in summer. This bull was heading for the marula tree in front of him, which he shook a couple of times to dislodge the fruits.
The Londolozi airstrip is a popular place for herbivores; with open grassy verges and excellent line of sight, it’s a safe place to feed in the day and sleep at night. Photographically it also makes for open, uncluttered backgrounds.
Stunning pics. Amazing how beautiful and green the bush is.
James, I saved owl, and I saved the Leopard, and I saved Dwarf Bittern🤗
James, Beautiful images once again. It’s interesting to see how green everything is. It must make it more difficult for tracking with the long grass!
It is always to see the world of Londolozi going about its business in accord with the rules of nature. You have brightened up my morning no end!! Thank you. Victoria
Thanks, one of my favourite bits of the week, maybe next year or the year after I can get back.
Hello! Do you know if impalas have peculiar places when running away from a predator? Like the lambs in the center etc? I know this is typical of buffalo and bison. Thank you for the lovely pictures
Flat Rock is one beautiful boy!
Great pictures again this week. I love the rhino bull covered in mud.
The flat rock male is such a beautiful leopard. I enjoyed the foto of the elephants swimming and playing in the water, not to talk about the rhino covered in mud. The spotted eagle owl is so precious to me, as we have a pair behind our house in the trees. So shy and a master of disguise. They had one chick and is now all grown up already. So glad the wildebeest calf made it through another night. Wonderful foto’s!!!
I’m glad the bat was included. They’re such amazing animals and I rather enjoy them.
Loved all the pics, but especially the bat photo! Cool shot!
I loved all the animals covered in mud – like a giant nature spa day. The lone bull elephant in black and white was very striking as well.
Great week of photos James! The bush is alive and well, and everything seems to be popping!
Another wonderful blog.. I love bats and was happy to see you included them!
Thank you for sharing!
Good to see some photos from that 600mm lens- especially the Flat Rock male and the lone Impala on the airstrip. It’s always a treat to wake up Friday morning and find TWIP- a good start to the weekend!
Wow, that’s a lucky sighting of that dwarf bittern!!
Great B&W elephant photo.
I really enjoyed the week in pictures! Very interesting! Thank you for sharing! Beautiful images!
Special array of images this week. Thanks!!
Hi James. Interesting and “different” pics today – the Mauritian Tomb Bat and the Bittern. The Mauritian Tomb Bat is apparently insectivorous. If it was a fruit eating bat would it’s facial structure be somewhat different? Secondly, my sister-in-law sent us a picture of a very strange looking and beautiful white moth. I would like to send it to you guys but don’t know which email address to use. No-one seems to know what the moth is. Can you help us please with an email address? Thank you! Wendy M
Love the pic of the Ntsevu pride on the airstrip ! Great variety as always..thanks James for keeping Londolozi close to us as our winter rolls on.🙏💓