Umlani Captured In Photos- June 2018
"IT'S REALLY BEAUTIFUL, IT FEELS LIKE GOD VISITS EVERYWHERE ELSE, BUT LIVES IN AFRICA"- Will Smith
JUNE HAS BEEN A SPECTACULAR MONTH YET AGAIN FOR GAME VIEWING WITH US HAVING SOME OF THE BEST SIGHTINGS IN A LONG TIME. FROM LIONS TO THE RETURN OF THE BUFFALO HERDS. IT IS CLEAR THAT WINTER HAS SET IN AS THE BUSH BEGINS TO DIE DOWN, GREENS FADE TO BROWNS AND WITH THAT THE SIGHTINGS TEND TO INCREASE. IT IS DEFINITELY WORTH IT BRAVING THE COLD WINTER CHILLS THAT COME WITH SAFARIS AT THIS TIME OF YEAR.
ENJOY THE IMAGES CAPTURING THE HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE MONTHS GAME DRIVES.
The mbiri males have continued to show their presence as dominant males of the area, spending a lot of time patrolling their territory. On two occasions they were seen claiming the kills of both the Ross pride lionesses and the Zebinine pride, a small price the lionesses have pay for the protection of these formidable males.
The smaller of the two Mbiri males staking his claim over the spoils of a young giraffe kill that the Zebinine pride lionesses had.
The large Mbiri male watches his coalition partner drag the giraffe carcass to cover, in an attempt to avoid the prying eyes of vultures.
The 2 beautiful Zebinine pride females brush up against each other to reassure bonds between the two of them. These lionesses are hiding small cubs at the moment in one of our dry river systems and we are hoping that soon they will introduce us to the little bundles of fur.
On his way to a nearby pan for a drink, this male paused at the sound of hyenas harassing his coalition partner for scraps of the giraffe kill.
There is very little that can beat a sighting like this, a big male lion, drinking while he reflects in the water and we had the sighting to ourselves, it just doesn't get better...or does it?
Yes it does, when the other male came to join the drinks stop. He settled in for a good drink before both males started roaring together a few feet away from our vehicle.
The boys on patrol, they ooze confidence and have a real presence about them as they swagger along their territorial boundaries. It is no wonder that the only male lion roars we hear come from these two.
The Timbavati is absolutely saturated with elephants at the moment, huge herds of close to 300+ individuals have been seen on an almost daily basis, it is truly a magical experience being amongst these super herds and literally being surrounded by elephants as far as the eye can see.
Two calves rough-housing in some beautiful golden light and dust, creating a magical moment.
When the light and conditions are as amazing as this...even a famous "bum-shot" looks spectacular.
A young elephants quenches its thirst at a small waterhole.
A small herd of elephants moves through one of the dry riverbeds that snakes its way through the Timbavati, the elephants favor these areas as there is an abundance of both food and water.
Although plenty of leopards have been seen this month, it has not always been possible to get photos of them, Marula has been mating again with Rothsay male and although she is relaxed, he just isn't during the daylight hours and tends to shy away from the vehicles, Marula wanting to mate follows suit. We found Mazinyo male on top of a termite mound one morning waiting for warthogs again, they knew something was up (on top of their mound) and remained safely in their burrows to live another day, the leopard decided it was better to move on and look for his meal else where. Nthombi however has really been the star of the show and we have had some unbelievable sightings of her, she is also heavily pregnant and I imagine she will have her cubs in the next few weeks. One particular sighting stood out though when we were following her one night, she led us through some thick bush clearly on the lookout for a meal, we watched as she attempted to catch 3 scrub hares, coming close but failing each time. She then popped out of the thickets onto a relatively open patch so we looped around to get a better view of her when she suddenly dropped into a stalk and before we knew it came running straight towards us, catching a Red crested korhaan RIGHT next to the vehicle. We sat with her as she fed on the bird for about half an hour where we were able to get some amazing photos of her.
Mazinyo male leopard out on the hunt, his intent is written all over his face as he stands poised ready to spring into action at any sign of a potential meal.
Nthombi stalking through the shadows in search of a meal, due to her being heavily pregnant she is focusing more on smaller prey species such as scrubhares, birds, steenbok and even rodents.
Success! It was a huge surprise when she pounced on the Red crested korhaan right next to our vehicle, giving our guests a once in a lifetime experience.
We stayed with her while she fed next to the vehicle, it took her about half an hour or so to finish off her feathered meal, affording us some great opportunities to photograph her.
Another sighting we had of Nthombi, she had killed a steenbok and was resting after she had fed for a bit.
A very pregnant Nthombi, one of the most amazing things we witnessed with her, and a first for myself, was watching the cubs kicking and moving around from inside the womb as she lay next to us.
As I mentioned, we have been seeing more buffalo than what we experienced last month, it is not uncommon to see the herds at this time of year as individuals and smaller herds will join up and move together in their search for food and water.
A bit of a different image of a buffalo, we sat with a large herd as they crossed a dry river bed in front of us, the open sand allowed for us to experiment a little bit, and I was able to capture this Hi-key image as a bull stopped to have a look at us before moving on.
As much as this buffalo looks like he is smiling for the camera, he is in fact showing the flehmen response after testing the urine of a female to see if she is ready for mating or not.
Soft morning light as the sun rose over a herd of buffalo.
With a pack of wilddogs denning on a next door property, we have enjoyed regular sightings of these endangered carnivores this month. One particular sighting really stands out when we came across the dogs on the hunt. We battled to keep up with them as they ran through dense bush and when we eventually did we found them feeding on an impala. After they fed they all moved to a nearby waterhole and began playing and chasing each other around making for a superb sighting.
A feeding frenzy of dogs as they quickly devour their prey, interestingly this is usually a noisy affair as the dogs excitedly feast, but due to the high number of hyena in our area the dogs ate in almost complete silence.
Ever alert, this dog picked up on an approaching hyena, they didn't mind too much as it was a lone hyena and the bulk of the impala kill had already been eaten.
A few of the pack members waiting for the rest to catch up to them at the waterhole.
Let the games begin, it is always special to see wild dogs interacting as its often the only time that you get to really see them without have to follow them through dense bush over kilometers as they hunt.
As the pack left the waterhole a lone dog stood out on a small island in the middle of the water watching the rest of his pack members leave, creating a perfect end to an amazing sighting.
That is all for this months highlights, lets hope that next month is even better, as there is potential for lion cubs, leopard cubs, wild dogs puppies and much much more. Until then...
Written & photographed by: Greg McCall-Peat