Today, Friday 22nd September is World Rhino Day! And in celebration of these magnificent creatures we just want to shed some light on the incredible people putting their lives on the line to protect these rhinos. By now, you may have heard about the incredible Rhino Guardians, a force dedicated to safeguarding the future of rhinos. The Tracker Academy, in collaboration with Londolozi, is training specialised trackers on a mission to protect these animals from extinction. With rhino populations dwindling at an alarming rate, these expert trackers are the beacon of hope. They bring ancient African tracking skills and combat training to the forefront of wildlife conservation.
This Week In Pictures has held some exciting sightings with a variety of animals and birds being seen across the reserve. With the warmth of the African Summer upon us, we have seen most animals seeking out water to cool off or quench their thirst. A few nights ago we received our first and somewhat unpredicted sprinkle of rain which is sure to kick off the summer season and trigger the transformation into hues of green. The highlight was probably having two different packs of wild dogs on Londolozi simultaneously. Wild dogs are always exciting and so this was a real treat. On the lion front, an awesome portrait of the Skorro Breakaway Male starts this week off and we close out with the stunning Tsalala Female. Two lone lions that hopefully will unite and well maybe sire the next generation of the Tsalala Pride. The large herd of buffalo which has now been split into various groups has been seen scattered throughout the reserve. The leopard viewing has been nothing short of spectacular with many different individuals being found. The two young male leopards who are still in their mothers’ territories, namely the Ntomi Male and the Three Rivers Young Male, have been seen regularly. The Nkuwa Female and her two cubs have been popping up fairly frequently too, with both youngsters appearing to be males. The Ndzanzeni Female has been fairly elusive but is still holding to her territory in the deep southeast. The Nkoveni Female has been patrolling around her territory calling in search of a male to mate with since the recent loss of her last litter. The approaching summer invites the migratory birds back which comes with it some exciting photographic opportunities. Enjoy This Week In Pictures…
The Skorro Breakaway Male remains alert as he can hear the distance roars of presumably the Plains Camp Males in the distance. Being on his own and surrounded by the Plains Camp Males to the west, the Ntsevu Breakaways to the south, and the Ndzhenga Males to his east the Skorro Breakaway Male has a tricky road ahead of him. With no pride in this area, it seems this male is avoiding any conflict with the surrounding coalitions.
A Striped Kingfisher eating a scorpion. This is one of the smaller Kingfishers we see here. After catching the scorpion, it held it firmly in its beak while thrashing it against the branch of this tree to kill it. This makes it safer and easier to eat.
The Nkoveni Female who has recently lost her cubs has been calling relentlessly in search of a male to mate with. After the sun had set she walked towards us with a long shadow cast behind her.
With almost too many buffalo to focus on, this buffalo lifted its head and looked directly at us after drinking some water. With it being quite close to the vehicle I couldn’t help but notice the detail in the buffalo’s eye.
Two of the 19 wild dog pups rest in the shade of a tree to escape the heat of the day.
A fling of Oxpeckers. I have never seen so many Yellow-billed Oxpeckers on a single buffalo before. With hundreds of buffalos carrying ticks and parasites, the Oxpeckers had a feast to choose from.
The Xinzele Female has been seen a few times in our northern parts of the reserve. After playing with her daughter in the Manyelethi Riverbed, they were chased off by a herd of buffalo. The Xinzele Female climbed a nearby jackalberry tree and the Xinzele Young female ran off into the safety of a tamboti thicket.
A small female often found in NW Marthly. Similar spot pattern to her mother the Ingrid Dam Female.
One of the adults from the Othawa pack looks towards the pups playing in the long grass before running to greet them. The afternoon golden light just catches its amber eye.
The exquisite colours of the Liliac-breasted Roller were illuminated as it flew off from its perch away from the setting sun. I find it captivating watching this bird fly as the flashes of blue and aqua light up the scene.
The arrival of the young yet impressive Three River Young Male at a scene where the Xinkhova Female was feeding on the remains of a kill in a thicket, hidden from the looming vultures.
This male had been mud bathing in a nearby wallow before he set off on a territorial patrol. The white sand from the road stuck to his feet as he wandered off into the thickets.
With the morning cloud cover and minimal shadows cast, the Ntomi male climbed on a fallen marula at eye level to us. The sudden movement of distance waterbuck captured his attention as he looked beyond our vehicle.
A single cub of the Ximungwe Female's second litter. Initially rather skittish but is very relaxed now. Birth mark in his left eye.
A male waterbuck stands alert as the rest of his herd lies in the open and rests in the morning sun that had just broken through the clouds.
After the waterbuck moved off, the Ntomi Male repositioned himself on the fallen marula tree and watched them from a distance. Although a waterbuck is too big for him to catch the inquisitive nature of this young leopard kept him staring at the waterbuck for a while.
A young female kudu scans her surroundings before sunset.
After seeing many vultures perched in an area not too far from where the Three Rivers Young Male and Xinkhova Female were, we were surprised to find the carcass of an adult zebra that appeared to have died of natural causes as there were no obvious signs of a predator. After some time the Xinkhova Female and Three River Young Male came across and found the carcass. The Xinkhova Female then also found a foal carcass nearby. The larger Three Rivers Young Male chased the Xinkhova Female off the zebra foal and dragged it towards a tree to hoist it in before nightfall.
Spots and Stripes. There is an unusual contrast between the spots from the Three Rivers Young Male and the stripes of the zebra foal.
The Ndzanzeni Female whom we don’t see regularly walks through the long grass towards a waterhole.
This female is a success story all in herself, being born as a single cub to the Riverbank 3:3 female in early 2012.
At the end of a long warm summer’s day, the Nzanzeni Female hydrates ahead of an evening of activity.
A younger wild dog from the Toulon pack looks toward some of the others grooming themselves before heading off on a hunt.
A brief glimpse of the illusive Nkuwa Female’s youngster just before sunset as he rests on a rock soaking up the warmth from the heat of the day. This leopard is one of two in the litter who are both young males.
One of two sisters born to the Nhlanguleni Female, both of whom made it to independence, the first intact litter to do so in 7 years.
A small breeeding herd of elephants crosses the Sand River after standing in the water to cool off. The one female turned to face us as the rest of the herd walked past her.
The Ntomi Male meandered through the thickets before settling near a waterhole and watched serval hippos in the water.
One of the cubs from the Ntsevu Pride soaks up the morning sun
The Tsalala female lay on one of the granite boulders in front of the camps as she watched nearby Nyala. The low light and sky allowed for a High-Key edit