During this time of year, Rangers rarely find themselves with free afternoons due to the high occupancy rates in the winter months at Londolozi. Ironically though, when we Rangers do have a guest-free afternoon, we often relish the opportunity to venture into the wilderness and see what we can find…
A few afternoons ago, after my guests had departed, I was fortunate enough to be able to do just that, with my camera loaded next to me, an excursion into the bush on a beautiful winter’s afternoon in the bush was focused on seeking out any photographic opportunities and helping the rangers seek out or track any animals. Having the opportunity to drive around Londolozi and cherish the wilderness we live in, is a rare privilege we don’t take for granted.
My afternoon’s mission began by heading down to one of my favourite parts of the reserve situated on the stunning Sand River. As I rounded the corner, a group of elephants started crossing the Sand River before me – a sight I have always wanted to photograph.
After leaving the banks of the Sand River and driving south, I spotted a committee of very full-bellied White-backed Vultures, resting and digesting a recent meal.
A call came through on the radio and alerted me to the discovery of a large buffalo herd in the reserve’s southern regions. With the sun gradually setting, I decided to head in their direction, hoping to share a moment with these amazing animals before night settled in. (Plus, Ranger Kirst Joscelyne had recently reported lion tracks not too distant from the herd)
The colours were incredible! Sitting in complete silence, listening, smelling and savouring what nature had to offer is what Africa is all about, for me. With the vehicle switched off for no less than 30 minutes, hundreds of buffalo meandered past and I managed to capture a few of the moments I was waiting for.
In an ending that couldn’t have been more ideal, we stumbled upon the Ntsevu Sub-adult Lions – a group of five – trailing the buffalo herd! As the light was fading, the below photograph is the last that I managed to capture before it was too dark. Nonetheless, it was a special way to end my afternoon.
The lions patiently bided their time until darkness was in their favour and the sun vanished entirely beyond the horizon. Then, with meticulous coordination, they began their strategic approach toward the oblivious bovines. I lingered t a distance alongside them during their hunt for as long as I could. At around 19:00pm I decided to let them be and wished both the lions and buffalo all the luck they may have needed.
What an afternoon it was, alone in the wilds of Londolozi. I’m incredibly grateful for the privilege and opportunity to engage in afternoons such as this – to sit alone with the beautiful wildlife, listen and enjoy what it has to offer is something I’ll never be able to get bored of.