Lions and Lionesses in Pictures

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The Week in Pictures

The Week in pictures at Londolozi Game Reserve. A fascinating beginning to July with many sightings of elephant herds, the Sparta lionesses and the Dudley 5:5 Young Male and Vomba Female together, as well as a trip back to the one of the early members of the Londolozi family…

 

The Vomba 2:3 Female shows her affections towards the Dudley Riverbank 5:5 Young Male. Having mated a few months prior after the epic battle between the Camp Pan 4:3 Male and Dudley 5:5 Young Male, this female is relentless in her approach to mating with all the males in her territory along the Sand River. A tactic that creates confusion as to who the true father of her potential cubs is and ensures their longevity.

 

A herd of elephants comes to drink at Vomba Dam. These individuals were part of a larger breeding herd of over 100. The Winter months reveal much larger breeding herds of elephants than Summer as these social animals congregate together along the Sand River and at pans throughout Londolozi.

 

A rare photograph of a Crested barbet pre-takeoff. With its splendid colours, this little bird is always beautiful to watch.

 

A buffalo calf rests its head on a neighbour. We have been treated to a herd of over 500 individuals passing through Londolozi on a regular basis. Unfortunately for them, however, many of the local lion prides have caught on and can often be seen following them.

 

A very young giraffe runs to keep up with its mother. Judging by the shriveled umbilical cord still attached to its belly, it is probably only a few weeks old. Despite this, this young giraffe would have been standing within minutes of its birth and walking shortly there after. Spending 16 months gestating in its mother’s womb, the precocial development of this species allows it to be strong and active right from birth.

 

The Dudley Riverbank 5:5 Male jumps down past the Maidie Varty and Howard Mackie plaques at Plaque Rock. HOWARD MACKIE described as “the good companion” was in 1971, together with John Varty, the first ever ranger/manager and guide of an embryonic dream of a safari company. John and Howard were lifelong friends and as students at Wits University set off in the April of 1971, on a holiday semester, to seek fame and fortune on the Varty family farm called Sparta in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Their dream was to start a Safari Business which would ultimately become known as Londolozi

 

In Howard’s time Leopards were shy, elusive and seldom seen. Today the leopards have become the iconic cat which causes guests from across the globe to travel to Londolozi to see these beautiful spotted cats free, wild and safe as they go about their daily lives in the heartlands of Londolozi Game Reserve.

 

The “Howard Mackie” plaque, seen in this picture, is in memory of Howard and the great contribution he made to the start up of Londolozi and also as a Founder Pioneer in creation of “Helicapture” – the original and first ever game capture company in South Africa. Howard became a leading expert in the capture and after care of wild animals. This poignant photograph demonstrates the timelessness and enduring renewable cycle of nature as yet another generation of the Leopards of Londolozi visit at “plaque rock” in the heart of Londolozi

 

A young elephant plays after a drink from the river. He seemed to be trying to get a cheeky glance at us as well as irritating his neighbour.

 

The Vomba Female looks for the Dudley Riverbank 5:5 Male from a rock amongst the wild date palms in the Sand River. This lush paradise of riverine bushveld is one of the prime territories at Londolozi and belongs to a leopard who is both undeniably beautiful and intelligent.

 

The Nyeleti 4:3 Young Male. We have been having more and more sightings of all the Nyeleti youngsters from the Nyeleti Female’s 2009 litter. Now independent, the two males and one female seem to be spending much of their time on Marthly. It was a huge achievement for the female to raise all 3 cubs to independence successfully; in fact, this was the only time it has been recorded in this area.

 

The Nyeleti Young Male stares intently at some impala in the distance. His pink nose is not the only indication of his youth and inexperience. Shortly after this picture was taken, he missed out on several hunting opportunities around Ximpalampala Koppies.

 

The Nyeleti Young Male tries to slink away after once again being spotted by some impala.

 

A herd of elephants crosses the Sand River after having a morning drink. Being one of the only perennial water sources in the area, the Sand River attracts many large breeding herds this time of year.

 

One of two Sparta Breakaway lionesses drinks at Shingalana Pan. This is the only time that we saw the Sparta lionesses this last week. We are unsure why they haven’t joined up with the rest of the Sparta pride, only meeting briefly before parting. One can only suspect that the Majingilane Coalition’s influence continues to play a part in the Lion Warfare.

 

The Dudley Riverbank 5:5 Young Male and the Vomba Female mating. As we saw last week, the Marthly Male seemed impervious to Vomba’s advances; this male, however, was more than willing. Perhaps it had something to do with his ongoing bid to take over the territory formerly belonging to the Camp Pan Male. We found them along the river, in the heart of Camp Pan’s domain.

 

Hippos sunbathe next to LTA dam to escape the cold winter water. Spending most of the day in the water, these gargantuan beasts will warm themselves outside in the Winter months allowing herds of oxpeckers to feed off the insects and parasites that get caught in the heavy folds of their skin.

 

The Dudley 5:5 Male crouches behind a termite mound, stalking the unsuspecting impala. Being an older and more experienced leopard, his hunting tactics are swift and efficient compared to the youngsters we have been viewing. Even despite this, a small red bushwillow tree blocked his attack, and he walked away still hungry.

 

Dudley 5:5 has his third attempt for the morning on impala. Shortly afterwards, he gave up to take a nap, but was unaware that he was only about 50m away from a sleeping Camp Pan Male. We were keen to see what an interaction between the two competitors would bring; however, they were surprised by the two Sparta Breakaway Lionesses who sent both animals running at full tilt in either direction!

Talley Smith
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