9 Animal Instincts In The Wilderness Of Londolozi

By on March 30, 2016

In Big Cats

Londolozi by Ryan Rapaport


There is no place greater for instinct to thrive than in the wild. Here, the natural order of things rules – an order we as human beings are so aptly equipped for if we just silence our minds and let that unplaceable ‘gut instinct’ take over. While we make this transition, moving from city life to safari life, the animals of Africa, and the men and women working with them, can provide several examples of this intuition at work.


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We have collated nine different examples of instinct below, all from one special corner of South Africa where the natural world has been honoured and celebrated every day for nine decades as of this year – the Londolozi Private Game Reserve. But there really is only one instinct at the root of them all – the will to survive. Congrats to Londolozi on 90 years of following your animal instincts and teaching us to follow ours. Of all the lessons you have imparted to us over the years, this is perhaps the most significant.

instinct – noun in·stinct \ˈin-ˌstiŋ(k)t\

a way of behaving, thinking, or feeling that is not learned; a natural desire or tendency that makes you want to act in a particular way; a natural or inherent aptitude, impulse, or capacity.

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9 Examples of Instinct At Work At Londolozi

1. The Instinct To Protect

“It’s believed that in an effort to protect the sub-adults in the pride, some Mhangeni lionesses led them (the sub-adults) from the area and together fled from the Matimba’s back into the west; a tactical act of experience for such a newly established pride. What followed was some courtship and mating behaviour between the remaining two Mhangeni lionesses and the two Matimba males, however, this could have been a display of false-oestrus in an attempt to distract the males from searching for the rest of the pride. Again, an impressive example of a lioness’ natural instinct to protect her pride.” – Sean Cresswell, Londolozi Ranger


2. The Instinct To Chase

The female moves the kill to a slightly better tree to hoist into…

“Its instinct to chase already well developed at this early stage in its life, the cub rushes forward to leap for the impala.” Images: Lucien Beaumont, Private Guide


3. The Instinct Of Fight, Flight Or Trust

The cleaning process

“The beautiful nyala found around camp have, over the years, become habituated to people. They gorge themselves on the spoils of finely maintained and generously watered gardens as a trade off between their instinct to flee and trust of people. “

Simon Smit

“This ‘acceptance’ of people allowed us the gap we needed to see this incredibly rare occurrence. A female had been seen acting strangely with an arched back and a raised tail, which led us to believe the time was near.” – Read more.


4. The Ranger’s Instinct

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Two rams at Londolozi

” June 17th 2015, my wife’s 50th birthday; we had been on a roll, enjoying some incredible sights thanks to the combined efforts of our Ranger Garrett and Tracker Life. So when we set off on another cold but beautiful morning, I rather thought that our luck would run out. I was wrong; Garrett and Life followed their instincts and we headed up to the northern border where wild dogs were rumoured to be active. We were immediately rewarded with two of the pack returning to their den in the stunning dawn light.”


5. The Instinct To Play

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“Although ‘play’ in the animal kingdom may purely be a developmental part of growth, helping cubs and calves hone various skills and instincts, it is almost arrogant to think that only humans are able to get enjoyment out of life.” Image: James Tyrrell, Londolozi Ranger

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“The Mashaba female and her cub, well fed and with energy to burn, recently treated us to some wonderful interaction as they tumbled around for over an hour, play-fighting, climbing trees and chasing each other all over the show.”


6. The Hunter’s Instinct

“As the dogs were going for a drink around a large dam, they caught sight of a lonely female impala. Their primal instinct as hunters went into overdrive and the dogs launched their attack, chasing the terrified impala in the water.”


7. The Maternal Instinct

“The determination of the Nkoveni female to prove her dominance and solidify her territorial boundaries by any means could be stemming from maternal instinct. Stains and suckle marks, as well as regular movement into a hidden and dense area of the Sand River indicate she has a young litter nearby.” Image: Gillian Evans

This same female was captured at Londolozi trying to prove this dominance in a tussle with another leopard, one from high up in the top branches of a Marula tree – view the whole sequence here.

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“Witnessing a brutal spectacle like this reaffirms how tough and resilient these big cats are. Not only that, but it reminds us of the powerful maternal instinct of a mother leopard and the lengths a solitary cat in the wild will go to ensure the survival of her offspring.” Image: Gillian Evans

Image: Sean Cresswell


8. The Instinct of Family Loyalty Versus The Instinct To Mate

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“It appeared as though the mother was torn between the desire to mate with the male and her instinctive loyalty to her still-dependent offspring.”

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9. The Instinct To Make A Home

Time for inspection. Hanging from his near perfect creation, a male village weaver tries to convince a potential mate THIS is the nest and partner to choose this breeding season.

“As monumental a sight as mating lion, hunting cheetah, and feeding leopard may be, they pale in comparison to a tiny village weaver, as light as a ping pong ball, weaving grasses into a pendulous globule of a basket over the water. “How do they do that?” I asked, and everyone just shook their head. Like most answers about nature, it’s “just because.” We can explain why these nests are necessary, and even how they pick ultra-light (but strong) grass and hover with agility while pushing each blade of grass in and out like some master basket weaver, but as to how it is that such tiny bird-brained birds know how to create such an object as this, it’s all instinct. Some of us are born to be lawyers and engineers, and some birds are born to weave astonishing nests.” – Andrew Evans, Digital NomadSee more images from Londolozi.


Discover more:
Blog – Londolozi Celebrates 90 Years of Safari | Video – I Am Londolozi