What an amazing week to be in the bush. With the New Year came numerous rolling thunderstorms, bringing downpours of serious amounts of rain. The waterholes are at their capacity, roads have turned to rivers, and the bushveld is looking as lush as it ever has.
We have enjoyed some great sightings of the Ximungwe Duo as they have feasted on many a kill together. Three of the Ndhzenga Male Lions have returned and made a name for themselves as they were found with a single Ntsevu Lioness feeding on a large female giraffe carcass. We are unsure whether the four lions had killed the giraffe themselves or found it dead. It’s a feat that I am sure wouldn’t be too difficult for three large male lions and a female to pull off.
This morning we were lucky enough to find a large male cheetah in the southwestern grasslands, where we could spend some time admiring him. A few giraffes in gorgeous afternoon golden light find their way into the picks this week. Along with the Picadilly Female, an elephant, a handful of hyena cubs and some gorgeous birds.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
After having a brief tussle with his brother over one of the Nstevu Lionesses this Ndzhenga Male began a territorial patrol, roaring constantly.
As the sun broke through the clouds on the western horizon, the gentle golden light made for the perfect opportunity with this female giraffe. with the dramatic clouds in the background.
As the mother stood tall keeping an eye out for any danger this young giraffe was showing off its flexibility and scratching the outside of its front left leg with its mouth.
This Woodland Kingfisher sat still for just a moment before it went back to its courtship behaviour with its partner flying around the canopy above our heads.
Whilst demarcating her territory through scent marking on various bushes and stumps, the Piccadilly Female came across a scrub hare that was using a thicket for cover. She got as close as she could whilst barely making a sound, but unfortunately for her, Fork-tailed Drongos blew her cover by alarm calling at her which caused the scrub hare to dart off into the distance.
This female is most often encountered near the Sand River to the east of the Londolozi camps.
MId scavenge on the water tops, another view of the Greater Painted Snipe.
One of the Ndzhenga Males rests in the shade of a guarri bush next to his brother in between periods of feeding on a giraffe carcass.
Marula trees are fruiting at the moment drawing in elephants who love to feed on the fallen fruit beneath the trees. Silhouetted against the dropping sun the grass around this elephant was beautifully illuminated.
The Nkoveni Female and her youngster watch on from a pushed over marula tree as the second cub was hurtling its way towards them. These open clearings serve for great leopard viewing.
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.
In amidst the walk across the crest, one of Nkoveni’s Cubs had run ahead and climbed this marula tree only to shortly after, descend in order to interfere with its sibling and mother as they share a tender moment.
The Piccadilly Female snarls at a young hyena that was following her movements intently. Usually, both species will choose to avoid conflict as the risk of injury is high, which would render them vulnerable. With this being said leopards generally would prefer for hyenas to not be around them, especially when they are trying to hunt. In this scenario, the Piccadilly Female reminded the hyena of what she is capable of, should it get too close.
This morning we were lucky enough to spend some time with this large male cheetah. With the ground being fairly wet underfoot the black cotton soil was sticking between his toes and encompassing his feet making it unpleasant to walk. He eventually settled under a large knobthorn tree in the shade to rest.
A very rare and shy Greater Painted Snipe, ended up putting on a full display for us where against their normal behaviour this one spent a long time out in the open, feedingon many of the insects that the recent bout of rains had caused to emerge. This particular bird ran up and down the flooded road ahead of us for a while before pausing on the side of the road allowing for us to get unusually close.
With the Ximungwe Female making a number of successful kills in the last few days, it has provided some great viewing of her and her sub-adult male. Here he is seen feeding on an impala lamb in the branches of a large marula tree.
Having been viewed by vehicles from an early age, this leopard is supremely relaxed around Land Rovers.
A stunning scenic shot of the Maxaben River flowing after a midday thunderstorm, this is the same afternoon that caused the Tugwaan River to flow so strongly that we were unable to cross it.
Surrounding a giraffe carcass were hundreds of vultures, all roosting in the limbs of many a dead knobthorn that had been drenched overnight with a storm. As the sun broke through the clouds, the vultures all simultaneously turned their backs to the sun and spread their wings to dry out.
Four hyena cubs rest at the entrance to the den while waiting for their mothers to return at the end of the day. All looking incredibly content with life.
Cheetah are magnificent animals and sadly we do not get to spend as much time with them, so when an opportunity presents itself the rangers all scramble to get there. Here a male props himself up on his forelimbs as he scans the surrounding areas for prey or danger.
Interrupting this elephant bull, who happened to be in musth, while he was enjoying a drink at a large waterhole. Musth is a state of elevated testosterone that males periodically enter in order to mate with females. One of the giveaway signs that bulls are in musth is the constant dribbling of urine from between their legs, which has a strong, distinctive odour. This state also drives them to walk vast distances in search of sexually receptive females, and for these two reasons, continuously having to hydrate is essential, which is exactly what we found this bull doing as we drove around the corner to a hidden waterhole.
With all this water around at the moment, we are noticing a further spread of amazing birds around Londolozi. This Malachite Kingfisher sits patiently for the best moment to dive down and attempt to catch one of the small fish that swim below.