There’s a whisper of winter in the air at Londolozi. Days are getting shorter and the early mornings now have a slight chill to them. On the odd occasion, a blanket of fog covers the low-lying areas, creating an amazing atmosphere to watch the sunrise. It might be early to say this but a few of the tips of the long grasses are just starting to brown in certain areas however, given the mild deluge that we experienced last month, there are still plenty of small wallows and puddles dotted around the reserve. Summertime safaris come with several perks – plenty of young animals, vibrant colours, fantastic birds and incredible thunderstorms – but I can’t help but say I’m looking forward to the next couple of months at a cooler and drier Londolozi.
The Senegal Bush Male was the star feature of the last week and was seen on no less than 5 different occasions, all of which were interesting and sometimes rather unique sightings. It was my first time to see a male leopard actively hunting buffalo albeit a small calf in the large herd that he had his eye on. This was followed by one of the most amazing photographic sightings that I’ve had with this dominant leopard.
The latest additions to the Ntesvu Pride were also around for the earlier parts of the week and again provided us with a few memorable moments. The headlines also centred around the arrival of a new, young male cheetah that wandered in from the east and spent a couple of days patrolling the open marula crests near the camp. One afternoon, our guests and I were also treated to one of my best elephant encounters in a long time with a young and curious calf stealing our hearts in a matter of minutes. In amongst it all, a few beautiful birds (some more common than others), giraffes, zebra, crocodiles and mating baboons all provided us with some great entertainment. All in all, yet another special week at Londolozi.
Let me know which are your favourite images in the comments section below.
Enjoy This Week In Pictures…
A small group of Zebra graze their way through the long grass while the sun begins to set in the background.
Vultures have a preference for the open branches of dead trees. The lack of vegetation accommodates their large wingspans. The width of a White-backed Vulture’s (pictured here) wingspan can reach up to 2.2 meters (over 7 feet).
The Senegal Bush Male made several appearances this past week. I personally encountered him on three different occasions and he was seen by others on another two. Here, he was on the move while patrolling his territory. The little flick in his tail was a reaction to a group of Rattling Cisticolas (a type of small bird) frantically alarm calling at him as he walked by.
Initially seen as a young male in 2016, this leopard only properly established territory on Londolozi in mid-2019
An adolescent-aged crocodile, coated in green duckweed from a nearby waterhole, lay motionless and allowed us to drive right up alongside him. It’s not often you get up close to these prehistoric creatures.
Our second encounter with the Senegal Bush Male was a rather unique one. He came upon a herd of buffalo – a species that would usually not be found in a leopard’s diet – and began stalking the herd. Using the long grass to his advantage, he singled out a small calf and tried, for well over an hour, to get himself into a position that would give him the opportunity to pounce on it. However, the watchful eye of the calf’s mother kept him at bay.
The Senegal Bush Male peeps over the long grass towards the herd of buffalo.
A familiar favourite; the beautiful Lilac-breasted Roller. I’ve taken countless photos of these birds and it never gets old.
After watching the Senegal Bush Male stalk the herd of buffalo the previous evening, we set out the following morning to see if he had had any luck. Not far from where the buffalo herd was, Jess and Advice found him draped in a beautiful Marula tree with his fresh catch of the night – an impala lamb which can be seen tucked away further along the same branch that he’s lying on. The misty conditions made for an incredible atmosphere!
Another angle of the same scene as the previous image.
This Ntsevu lioness had had enough of these cubs climbing all over her and eventually decided to get on the move. I’m sure some of the parents out there can relate!
A tender moment between a mother lioness and her cub.
A small group of giraffes were ambling their way across the airstrip when they came across a lone hyena in their path. While the hyena poses little threat to them, it still caught their attention. They eventually chased the hyena off and into the thick bush.
This elephant calf was the youngest of a massive herd of approximately 40 elephants which we spent the latter part of a recent afternoon with. While the rest of the herd took little notice of us and continued to feed, this little one was quite curious and kept himself entertained by circling our vehicle while under the watch of its mother.
Giraffe are still one of my favourite subjects to photograph. Their relaxed temperament and peculiar body shape allow us to capture some unique images, especially in silhouette. This was taken as we left camp at sunrise.
A Double-banded Sandgrouse sticks low to the ground in the sandy two-track ahead of our vehicle. I’ve been wanting to get a decent photo of one of these birds for a long time and while this isn’t quite what I’ve been looking for, I was happy to come away with it in the end. They’re very shy and often fly away as soon as you lift your camera!
After a rather absence, a cheetah was finally seen to the east of the Londolozi camps. We’re not sure where he came from but seems to be an independent young male. He’s likely wandered into the area looking for vacant territory and good hunting opportunities. Let’s hope he hangs around for a little while longer.
Crowned Hornbills are not common birds at Londolozi. There has recently been a pair moving around in the deep south-eastern corner of the reserve and we managed to get a great view of this one before he flew off.
Baboons mating! While the rest of the troop trotted down the road ahead of us, this pair of baboons decided they had some unfinished business. Just another Friday in the bush.
This way to Londolozi!