This week it is clearly evident that summer is fast approaching, temperatures have soared well into the 90’s bringing with it a bit of rain and cloudy weather, the grass is greening up, the trees are all budding new leaves, the wildlife is abundant and thriving. Some of the recent rains have encouraged a few of the early bloomers to flower adding a much-needed bit of vibrant colour to the dull tawny browns undertoned by the new green growth beneath.
We were fortunate to have a pack of wild dogs pass through the reserve for a few days entertaining many guests as they spent time playing and refreshing themselves in the Sand River.
After finding the Ximungwe Female and her cub late one morning with an impala carcass, we hoped she would hoist it into a nearby tree ensuring its safety from hyenas. Sadly, this was not the case and the pesky scavengers stole their kill. However, things escalated slightly that afternoon, when we found out that in fact the Nhlanguleni Female had come in and stolen a portion of the kill back from the hyenas and hoisted it into a nearby knobthorn. After watching her feed for a while, she descended the knobthorn and before we knew it the Ximungwe Female snuck up and was in the tree feeding on the remains.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
This pack of wild dogs were found early one morning and were steadily heading in the direction of the river. Anticipating watching them cross the main channel, we looped up ahead of them and were treated to ten minutes of them playing in the shallows; chasing one another all around us.
With a fellow pack member fast approaching, she gets low and readies herself to pounce.
A very heavily pregnant female zebra stands in the open trying to deal with the rapidly increasing morning heat. Looking closer you can see her back is beginning to arch under the weight of the unborn foal, indicating that this female is very nearly about to pop and give birth.
The magnificent Fireball Lily, Scadoxus multiflorus, is one of the first flowers we have seen bloom this summer. Storing its nutrients in a bulb under the surface throughout the winter, the first rains have sprung it into action shooting up this beautiful flower. Only able to produce one flowerhead a season, this spherical umbel can contain up to 200 flowers. Although beautiful in appearance this plant can be highly toxic and used to poison arrow tips.
Following a family of Southern Ground Hornbills for the morning was fairly entertaining as they search through the leaf and grass litter in search of any snacks. These mostly come in the forms of beetles, bugs, grasshoppers. Every now and then they get lucky with something a little bigger such as a snake, tortoise, mongoose or mouse. Here a female is in the process of swallowing a little bug.
The Nkoveni female has made two consecutive kills on the same open crest in the past week and a half, providing us with some great viewing. Here, she pauses atop a fallen marula and keeps a watchful eye on a passing giraffe.
A young female that lives to the east and south of camp. Easily recognised by her 2:2 spot pattern she is often to be found in Marula trees.
The sun sets over the open areas of western Londolozi. This image was stitched together using Lightroom and I, unfortunately, lost the top of the dead tree in the process! Next time I need to be more mindful of capturing the whole scene. It was beautiful sunset nonetheless.
The Nkoveni Female scans her surroundings from the vantage of a small termite mound. The rainy and overcast conditions during the last few days have provided great black and white photo opportunities.
Although reaching the very end of its flowering season, the last few petals of the stunning flowers of a Tree Wisteria, Bolusanthus specious, add a splash of colour in amongst a grey gloomy cloudy day.
The new additions to the ostrich family, cruising the streets of the open grasslands. The little chicks are no bigger than a chicken and are estimated to be about two to three weeks old. All 14 are still intact.
Finding the Ximungwe Female and her cub on a kill in the morning, resulted in a few hyenas settling beneath it hoping for some scraps. These hyenas did get lucky and managed to walk away with some of the carcass.
Shortly after having fed on the kill, the Nhlanguleni Female settled down not too far away to digest the meal. The Ximungwe Female returned and snuck up into the tree to feed again, catching the attention of the Nhlanguleni Female.
Born to the Tutlwa female in early-mid 2011, the Nhlanguleni female spent her formative months (and years) in and around the Sand River.
The Ximungwe Female is back in the tree feeding on the remains of the impala carcass while the Nhlanguleni Female watches on just out of frame here.
Having been viewed by vehicles from an early age, this leopard is supremely relaxed around Land Rovers.
A closer view of the Ximungwe Female, silhouetted against the orange hues of the sunset on the western horizon.
After finishing her feed, the Ximungwe Female descended the tree opening a gap for the Nhalnguleni Female to feed again.
Ranger Nick Sims, and his guests were positioned perfectly for this small breeding herd of elephants as they crossed through the Sand River.
The Ximungwe Female rests while her cub feeds on an impala next to her. I really liked the branch in the foreground, just added a different type of natural frame.
A Hooded Vulture perched on a dead log waiting for the Plains Camp Male lions to move off their buffalo kill. When the Hooded Vultures get near to the kill their faces turn pink from excitement.
A six-meter tall giraffe bull is dwarfed by the vastness of an open section of the Sand River. We just missed him drinking but enjoyed the sight of him slowly ambling through the water on a warm afternoon.