Driving the Maxabene – Londolozi Blog

One of many first issues we as rangers do as we set off from camp on our sport drives is to determine on an preliminary route.  Subsequently the vast majority of the preliminary radio communication has to do with discovering out the place everybody goes and what roads are being pushed. If all of us drive completely different roads we are able to cowl as a lot floor as potential, this helps us to unfold out throughout the reserve, which significantly will increase our probabilities of discovering animals. Certainly one of my favorite routes to take for a variety of causes is to get down into the Maxabene Riverbed and drive alongside the river sand below the dense riverine cover winding our approach via the reserve.

The Maxabene River is a deep subterranean annual river that solely actually flows above floor after a heavy downpour of rain. The supply is within the central/western a part of Londolozi and its course runs for essentially the most half in a south-easterly path throughout the width of Londolozi, till its confluence with the Sand River alongside our jap boundary. It isn’t solely a fantastically scenic stretch of riverine greenery however is often very productive when looking for each large and small animals alike.

Sdz Maxabene River Flowing Jan 2022 Wide

A not-so-common sight; the Maxabene River flows after a heavy downpour.

What makes the Maxabene so engaging to drive alongside?

Bushes and Birdlife

The course of the Maxabene transports you thru a variety of completely different environments. There are a number of spectacular timber and exquisite Tamboti thickets alongside the way in which. From the beautiful three that Dan talks about in his weblog, huge jackalberrys, wonderful leadwoods and  massive Lowveld fig timber to the plush greenery of the weeping boerbeans, and stands of knothorn timber. Many of the timber that line the banks of the riverbed have their roots deep inside the water desk, and are subsequently in a position to attain a a lot larger measurement than those who we see increased up on the crests for instance.


Giant leadwood timber on the banks of a river.


Because the seasons begin to change, one of many first timber to begin flowering are the Schotias. The pink of the flowers actually stands proud as all the things else is gray and boring.

Going into the summer season, the Maxabene turns into a vibrant hive of exercise. With most of the timber flowering or fruiting this time of yr, a number of birds and bugs are drawn to the realm. The birds and the timber are an integral a part of any ecosystem, and so they collectively create each lovely surroundings and a beautiful soundtrack to go together with it.

And listed below are only a handful of the thrilling birds that we would encounter alongside the Maxabene River.

Sdz African Green Pigeon In Fig Tree

With a hive of exercise in amongst this massive fruiting fig tree, an African Inexperienced Pigeon hops round a number of branches.


A Pearl-spotted Owlet roosting inside the dense foliage of a giant bushwillow.

Chinspot Batis Bird 3

A male Chinspot Batis delivers a small moth to one of many pair’s nestlings.

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A summer season scene. Regardless of not really feeding on fish, this woodland kingfisher was perched on a lifeless department that overhung a waterhole. Curiously, kingfishers can’t perch on the bottom and subsequently dive from perches like this one so as to get a drink.

Bb Verreaux Eagle Owl 20220625

The most effective locations to search out the Verreaux’s Eagle Owl is inside the branches of huge Jackalberrys and Weeping boer-bean timber alongside the Maxabene. Here’s a uncommon image of 1 roosting out within the open.


The Maxabene Riverbed is a superb place to seek for leopards. Leopards are solitary, secretive cats which can be wonderful ambush predators. The dense foliage inside the space offers simply the best setting for them. The best density of leopards on Londolozi lies inside the South East portion of the reserve, and it’s actually the Maxabene that performs a giant function in that.

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The Maxim’s Male leopard strides throughout a dry riverbed in entrance of our automobile. The setting actually captured an iconic Londolozi leopard sighting.

At present, there may be the potential to return throughout no less than 9 completely different leopards which can be thought of regulars within the space in and round this riverbed. Specifically, the Nkoveni Feminine and her two Sub-adult kids, the Three Rivers Feminine and Younger Male, the Ximungwe Feminine and Ntomi Male, the Senegal Bush Male and the Maxims Male.

Senegal Bush

The Senegal Bush Male on a territorial patrol, strolling with objective alongside the riverbed.

TEC Three Rivers Female Leopard and cub walk a riverbed

The Three Rivers Feminine leads her cub to a kill she had stashed inside the dense thickets that line parts of the Maxabene

The Ximungwe Younger Male rests up within the shade of a giant Jackalberry tree that towers above the Maxabene.

Discovering Tracks

The Maxabene runs for simply over 8km earlier than it joins the Sand River. With this sandy channel stretching via the southeastern components of the reserve, there may be sure to return to some extent the place an animal that we is likely to be looking for has crossed the riverbed. Tracks are comparatively straightforward to identify on a sandy substrate. This offers us an important place to begin in terms of monitoring a leopard, or any animal for that matter.

Ke Keagan And Ray Tracking

Ranger and Tracker pair Keagan and Ray assessing tracks within the dry sand.

There’s all the time a plethora of various tracks which have materialized in a single day, which could be discovered whereas venturing alongside the riverbed. Even the smallest of animals like dwarf mongooses or doves will go away impressions within the sand. It’s fascinating to try to establish all of the completely different animal tracks and piece collectively the story that unfolded throughout the interval between the sport drives.

Escaping the Parts

The weather play a giant function within the actions and behavior of the animals. On a very popular summer season’s day, elephants usually tend to gravitate towards areas just like the Maxabene the place there may be ample shade to maintain them cool. Days like these see most animals, particularly the massive cats, resting up and solely changing into lively afterward when temperatures settle down.

Ct Elephant Herd Waters Edge

The abundance of timber present numerous shelter from the wind too. Many animals really feel safer when sheltered from different parts like wind and rain, each of which impair their skill to pay attention for any potential hazard approaching. Sheltered areas don’t fairly really feel the brunt of the weather and are subsequently going to be engaging locations for many animals throughout these circumstances.

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Most antelope, together with impala are very skittish in windy circumstances. They continually undertake a heightened state of consciousness and can flee from even the slightest perceived menace.

The Maxabene will all the time be one in every of my favorite areas on the reserve. It’s just a few kilometres from camp and is a superb place to begin for any sport drive. Whether or not it’s discovering the contemporary tracks of lions within the sand that ship you off into an all-morning monitoring journey, or just admiring the birds and exquisite surroundings. It has the potential for nearly something, however you by no means fairly know what you would possibly discover alongside its course, making it so particular.