As previously mentioned, the change in the season is upon us as we feel the fresh morning air on the game drives, winter is on its way. The shades of our lush green summer begin to fade and the crisp mornings and evenings are followed by glorious warm clear days. With slightly more dust in the air, the afternoon light and breathtaking sunsets create amazing photographic opportunities. So by lapping up any opportunity, we managed to get a great and diverse selection of images this week.
Starting with the leopards that feature quite strongly, we spend an exciting morning with the elusive Xinzele Female and her daughter. The excitement here stems from the fact that although we saw this youngster as a tiny cub, presumed to be born in early April, the two have been rather scarce and we have not had too many great sightings of them until now. After a brief glimpse of these two playing during a morning drive, they were then found a few days later with a sizeable carcass in central Marthly. This meant we had a couple days of exceptional viewing.
The Flat Rock Male was seen again on a territorial patrol along the northern bank of the Sand River. The Nhlanguleni Female has been seen a decent amount fairly close to camp, has she detected that the Ximungwe Female has moved further south? The Three Rivers Young Male has been spending the majority of his time alone, is this an attempt from his mother to push him into early independence after she was seen mating with the Maxim’s Male almost three months ago? Only time will tell.
The Ntsevu Pride and two older cubs have been seen around the reserve as their mother is beginning to take them to carcasses to feed on meat and begin the weaning process.
The young male cheetah, who was seen for the first time a few weeks ago, has also still been around hunting in the open grasslands on the eastern parts of the reserve. To keep the levels of excitement up, we have had a large pack of wild dogs come in from the south, numbering over 20 individuals.
If that wasn’t enough, throw in a first for many at Londolozi, an albino buffalo calf. Unfortunately, the survival rate of these animals is not very high but was an amazing and unexpected sight to see. The general game has been incredible to watch as they prepare for winter with many young animals growing up and the bird life is soon to change as the migrates begin to leave. The times are certainly changing, not only in the lush greens beginning to go yellow and brown but as our night sky of Orion and the Milky Way make way for our winter constellations of Scorpius we look forward to what the winter holds.
Let me know your favourites in the comments section below.
Enjoy This Week In Pictures…
The brief view of the Xinzele Female and Xinzele Young Female playing before walking off into the distance.
A small female often found in NW Marthly. Similar spot pattern to her mother the Ingrid Dam Female.
A confusing image at first where it looks as though this leopard is a contortionist, but it is in fact two leopards. The Xinzele Female had climbed into the tree first and was soon joined by her eager youngster from the other side squeezing underneath its mum’s front legs.
The brilliant colours of this Malachite Kingfisher as he looks down for any movement in the water. This is a kingfisher which we don’t see too often, let alone capture some close-up images of.
Seeing this enormous pack of wild dogs was exhilarating, everywhere you looked there were just wild dogs. It was as though there were three different packs of wild dogs joined into one.
With the cooler morning temperatures these two crocodiles warm themselves up in the morning sun.
This young Ntsevu Lion Cub looks directly at us as its mother listens to the distant calls of the Ndzhenga Males.
The size of this lion cub in comparison to its mother’s look is a great comparison to how much these animals grow.
This young male cheetah rests in the shade of a Gardenia tree but is intrigued by the distance alarm calls of impalas behind us. Cheetahs are highly alert animals always keeping an eye out for any danger sneaking up on them.
While on a territorial patrol, the Flat Rock Male walks just north on the Sand River. Often it is natural boundaries like a river that the leopards will use to divide the territories. They will scent-mark along here to reinforce this boundary.
A dominant male leopard over the majority of the north. He originally took over the 4:4 Male's territory when he died.
A kaleidoscope of African Monarch butterflies
The Nhlanguleni Female pauses for a moment to listen to the bush around her while on the search for any prey. Utilising her remarkable hearing to detect any potential meal up ahead before stumbling upon it.
Initially skittish she spent a lot of time in the Sand River, now relaxed she makes up the majority of leopard viewing west of camp.
The exquisite winter’s afternoon golden light illuminates the young male cheetah while he scans his surroundings. A male lion not too far away kept him highly alert.
The contrast of a zebra’s mane.
With the change in season, it is certainly evident in our night sky as the Milky Way begins to set earlier and earlier and make space for our winter constellations.
An unbelievable sight of a brand new albino buffalo calf. Believed to only be a matter of hours old, the fate of this young calf is in the balance from the moment it took its first few steps.
While spending time with the herd of buffalo, another young buffalo calf lifts his nose to investigate us further, a characteristic ingrained in the buffalo from a young age.
An incredible view of a gorgeous Three-banded Plover as it searches for food in the shallows of a mud wallow.
The guiding trunk of the elephant mother gently eases this very young baby elephant closer to it as the rest of the herd of elephants walks by the vehicle.
Two zebras lean on each other’s backs in the afternoon sunlight. Often one will see zebra standing in this arrangement, known as reverse parallel. Apart from the simple benefit of being able to rest ones head on the other’s back, zebra can quite literally watch each other’s back for any approaching danger.
The Three Rivers Young Male walks through an open clearing with his tail curled up as a sort of ‘white flag of surrender, trying to encourage the nearby birds and squirrels to stop alarm calling at him.
One of two cubs to survive, the sister lost at five months. Still dependent on his mother, but is growing into an impressive young male.
We don't know much about this leopard.
A colony of White-fronted Bee-eaters on the banks of the Sand River perch temporarily in the branches of a small tree while scanning for any insects nearby. From here they will launch and swoop in to catch the prey, often then returning to their previous perch in the tree to continue scanning.