The past week has been flooded with an array of emotions. Some melancholy and others euphoric as one dominant male lion was killed but another five young cubs were found.
The Othawa male last being seen moving through Londolozi in the response to other lions in the area. Venturing deep into the Birmingham males’ territory, a brave move. The Othawa male was never seen alive again. No tracks of him returning to his own territory, no distant roars to the west. We knew that something was going to happen, but the finer details were a mystery. The aging Birmingham males would be the most likely to have succumbed to the Othawa male if it was a one-on-one fight. However, although the Birmingham males are around twelve years old they are still in good condition and this is where we can see the strength in a coalition lies. It was simply a numbers game. Three days later the remains of a male lion were found and later confirmed to be the Othawa male through various identifiable features and dental structure.
On the topic of lions and on a much happier note, we have found the lioness from the Ntsevu pride with the five young cubs still alive and well, and we have been blessed with wonderful viewing. They have been spending a large majority of their time in the Maxabene riverbed deep in Londolozi.
A few of the male leopards have been found on their territorial patrols and provided amazing sightings. The Ndzandzeni female and her two cubs have been a regular feature during the game drives in the southern parts of the reserve. The Nkoveni female and Ximungwe female and their cubs have on the other hand proven to be more difficult to find.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
Using the alarm calls of a wildebeest to bring us into an area, we found tracks of lions leading into a clearing. We looked up and saw one of the Birmingham males in the middle of the clearing lift his head. This was the first time they were seen together after the death of the Othawa male lion on Londolozi and we therefore knew that neither of them had been the casualty. Using the dental structure from the carcass, in combination with not seeing any tracks of the Othawa male returning back through Londolozi, and him not being seen on Mala Mala either, we can confirm that it was him that was killed on our eastern border.
The older and slightly more battle-scarred Birmingham male emerges from the long grass, seeking out a shadier spot to rest up for the remainder of the day. He now has a few more scars decorating his face, likely from the battle with the Othawa male.
Whilst one male was seeking refuge in the shade of a tree, his brother cast his eye over at a number of descending vultures in the distance, deciding whether or not he should go over and investigate. He chose to stay put.
A brown hooded kingfisher perches on the limb of a dead leadwood tree, scanning its surroundings for prey.
A cluster of processionary caterpillars at sunrise, on the thin branches of a silver raisin bush. This species, although appearing to be soft and harmless, has a defense mechanism that is really not pleasant for humans. Touching one can cause serious irritation and is definitely worth avoiding.
This dwarf mongoose was temporarily distracted by us during its morning search for food, and it perched on its hind legs to get a better look at the Land Rover before resuming its foraging.
With giraffes being so tall, close-up photographs of them often have a nice clean background, making them perfect subjects for black and white photographs. I decided to overexpose this image to get a white background and convert it into monochrome.
We saw this hyena emerge from the Sand River and walk hastily along the road towards the rising sun. After an evening of prowling around in search of anything to scavenge on it was now probably on the search for somewhere to rest.
For most of the summer there has been a lone hippo bull frequenting this particular waterhole on the reserve. Every time we approach the water he shows off his large incisors, reminding us that this is his home.
The excitement we had after finding out the Ntsevu cubs were all still alive was palpable. Somehow they had avoided us for a number of weeks. Nonetheless, they are all accounted for, and without the threat of the Othawa male around anymore, we are hopeful that they will survive. Here, three of the five cubs sit in the sun on the banks of the Maxabene river and watch the vehicle with curiosity. Their mother was not too far behind them giving them extra confidence. Without her around they would probably have hidden themselves away in a nearby thicket.
Upon crossing the Sand River early one morning we were lucky enough to watch a pied kingfisher hovering in search of fish in the shallow water. With the sun low down and colour in the eastern sky, I took the opportunity to attempt a silhouette shot.
A herd of elephants came down to drink at one of the river crossings as things were warming up after a chilly morning.
A tree squirrel perches on the trunk of a dead marula tree and nibbles away at the nuts of one of its old marula fruits.
The colder months of May and June bring with them great opportunities to witness misty sunrises over the Sand River. Whilst sipping on a warm coffee we waited patiently for the sun to emerge from below the horizon; the beginning of another beautiful day in the African bushveld.