And just like that September 2023 has come and gone. The first month of spring is behind us and life at Londolozi begins to flourish. The past few weeks have been incredibly special from a sighting point of view at Londolozi.
A pack of wild dogs and their pups have hung around and provided us with some magnificent experiences. Although there has been no shortage of all animals throughout the reserve the lion sightings have to be right at the top of the wonderful sightings we’ve had over the past few days. In particular the sightings of Ntsevu Males and their sister. These lions have become buffalo-hunting machines among many other large herbivores. However, to put one sighting right at the top of the list of my best sightings ever was watching these young lions take down a hyena and then interact with the clan who came in to save their companion. It was a remarkable sighting, on an open crest in the northern parts of the reserve.
The Maxim’s Male and Nkoveni Female have been spending some time together mating over the last few days. The Maxim’s Male, initially a tricky leopard to view as he would often move away and would not be comfortable being close to vehicles, has now relaxed significantly and we have been treated to a few amazing views of the two of them. Let’s hope that in a few months’ time, the Nkoveni Female will be having her next litter of cubs.
With the days getting slightly longer the time for photography and the length of the ‘golden hour’ is only beginning to increase.
Enjoy This Week In Pictures…
Three of the Ntsevu Male Lions sit up on a termite mound as they gaze into the distance watching a herd of buffalo. These three males along with their fourth brother and one sister have become buffalo kill machines. We are so excited to see what the future holds for these young males and what territory they begin to seek with them only growing in size and confidence.
A wild dog catches a glimpse of a hyena on the other side of this small waterhole. Right after this photograph was taken this wild dog trotted over to the other side to chase the hyena off. The light on this particular afternoon was something special. The golden reflection on the water makes this image that much more pleasing.
A big male giraffe cruises across an open crest in front of us at sunrise. Stopping and spending time with these magnificent creatures at sunrise can be something quite special. Not only does it give us the chance to switch off the vehicles, and appreciate the sounds of nature we also get to stop and listen out for the possible calls of predators in the early morning.
The Skorro Breakaway Male Lion has provided us with a few magnificent sightings along the banks of the Sand River. Any sighting in and around the Sand River is just magnified by its beauty. Just after leaving camp a call came through on the radio that the Skorro Breakaway Male was resting on the bank of the river not too far away. As we arrived he got up and crossed the river just in front of us. Before getting the whole way through the flowing water he decided to take the opportunity to quench his thirst. What an incredible view we had!
Competition for the scraps. A young hyena comes charging in to chase a Hooded Vulture off an old elephant carcass that he believed belonged to him. This photo captures the amazing rivalry between these two scavengers.
Two White-backed Vultures have a disagreement over who should move in and feed first. Watching these large birds disagree and scrap over their food had to be a highlight of the week for me.
Eye-level with one of the Ntsevu Males. Notice his posture! Just on the other side of this bank, a herd of over 500 buffalo were grazing peacefully. Little did they know that this male and his siblings were planning their approach.
One of the Ntsevu Males gazes back towards his siblings making sure that he’s not the only one approaching the herd of buffalo. Hunting buffalo requires a joint effort. The more numbers lions have on their side the better the chance of a successful kill.
A large bull elephant walks down the river road straight towards us. On this particular day, there must have been around 100 elephants around the water’s edge of the Sand River.
The Senegal Bush Male waited on this termite mound for the majority of the morning. We are convinced there was a warthog or two inside the nearby burrow beneath him. This male leopard has been seen on a few occasions sitting and waiting near the burrow entrance for the warthogs to exit. This provides him with a great opportunity to catch them by surprise. In the end, we left him there and didn’t see or hear any signs of a warthog in the burrow.
A young elephant calf and its mother were also part of the large herd of elephants that I mentioned earlier. I love this photo as the calf is perfectly framed by the mother’s front legs and her trunk. I can only imagine that the young elephants love heading down to the river to enjoy the coolness of the water and the ability to play in the sand.
This last week the Maxims Male and the Nkoveni Female have been mating quite regularly. After losing her cubs a few weeks ago we are hoping that in a couple of months time, the Nkoveni Female will be having another litter.
Rangers Keagan Chasenski and Andrea Sithole along with their guests have front-row seats to one of the Ntsevu Males walking along the water’s edge.
A female zebra drinks on a warm day. There is something great about a black and white zebra photo, this particular game drive was still rather overcast and so I decided to try a high key shot and convert it to Black and White.
Sightings of the Maxim’s Male have begun to increase substantially over the past few weeks. He has finally begun to relax around the presence of game-drive vehicles and has allowed us to view him without moving into thicker vegetation. This huge male leopard is an absolutely beautiful specimen to see and it’s awesome to witness first-hand how a careful approach to viewing these elusive predators can only help with the future sightings of them. In this particular photo, just after mating with the Nkoveni Female in a thicket nearby he decided to come out and rest only a few feet away from our vehicle. We got the opportunity to really appreciate his size and beauty.
Another relatively new face to us at Londolozi. This was the first time I had seen the Gijima Male Lions. This beautiful male lion lifted his head as one of the dominant Ndzhenga Males called in the far eastern parts of the reserve. His much darker-maned brother was lying just to his right. Who knows what lies ahead of these two males, will they possibly decide to encroach on the Ndzhenga Male’s territory?
Clash of the Titans. Two Buffalo Bulls tussle with each other in some pretty beautiful golden light. The dust and flies sitting on the buffalo add to the drama of the image but notice how close the horn is to pocking the far buffalo in the eye. Most of these tussles can begin as just playing, however, some can turn into serious fights.
Can you count how many wild dog pups there are here? Notice all of them staring in the direction of the water in front of them. Even at this age they’ll be very aware of the potential danger of crocodiles near water. They all approached (even this very shallow water) very carefully.
One of the more intense sightings I have had in a while as the larger of the Ntsevu Males suffocates a hyena. The lion-hyena rivalry is an ongoing battle throughout Africa. Without male lions, hyena numbers would not remain stable and skyrocket. In this particular case, this hyena managed to escape as its clan arrived just in time to save it. This just goes to show how tough and resilient these wild animals are.