About Rich Laburn

Rich Laburn

Rich Laburn is filmmaker, photographer and writer who is based at Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa. Spending his time capturing scenes of the wild and communicating the beauty of the African bushveld, he runs the Londolozi Blog as a way to entertain and engage people wishing to visit these wild lands.

Latest Posts by Rich Laburn

Watching An Elephant Give Birth In Southern Africa

October 30, 2014 by  


As a guide in Africa, I have a wish list as I’m sure many guides do, things I would love to see, rare sightings I’d love to witness during my guiding career and I have been fortunate enough to tick off a few over the last few years. Having said that, every now and then we have sightings that no words or pictures can describe.

This afternoon’s events were just one of those moments. Myself and guest Irene Nathanson headed out on game drive. As we were leaving for game drive we were discussing our plan for the afternoon, the Sparta pride had been found in the morning and so we decided to try our luck and see if we could find them.

About 45 minutes into drive we were heading down a road called Circuit South when we stumbled upon a breeding herd of elephants and from a distance myself and Richard could see that something was not quite right. The herd seemed unsettled but there were no obvious clues as to why. They scattered running in all directions so we stopped the vehicle, switched off and observed from a distance. After a while the elephants seemed to relax and started feeding. We started the vehicle and began approaching.


There were about 40 elephants all together, spread out over about 200 meters. We were watching one of the larger females feeding when we noticed something clearly was going on. There was plenty of rumbling noises between the herd and we noticed that even though they were feeding they were not completely relaxed… Richard and I were confused as to why.

I picked up my binoculars and started scanning the herd when I noticed  that one of the females looked uncomfortable and awkward. This female was not eating and was walking from side to side and back and forth. A closer look with the binoculars revealed that there was a massive bulge below her tail. I showed Irene and Richard and the thought occurred to me that perhaps she was going to give birth, a big call to make. This behaviour of the herd and the large female is something I have never witnessed before.

This particular female was more vocal than the others to the extent that she let out what sounded like a squeal, a roar and a rumble all at the same time. Within seconds the rest of the herd came running from all over the clearing. Once they approached her, they continued to rub their bodies against hers and kept on touching her with their trunks. Even though we cannot understand what they were saying, you could definitely feel it.

The female was constantly moving from side to side and the other members of the herd stayed right by her side. The adults surrounded her and constantly made sure she stayed right in the middle of the group at all times.

The elephant then reversed out of the herd and we noticed what looked like orange jelly dangling from her back legs. This is the amniotic sac which protects the baby during pregnancy. We had all been discussing what we thought was happening and when we saw this sac it was the moment we realised that we might in fact see something that is seldom witnessed in the wild…

The elephant  birth was going to happen sooner rather than later.


If you look closely you can see the feet of the baby elephant as it makes its way out of its mother and into the world!


An extraordinary moment – watching the mom give birth.

I immediately reached for my camera but after a couple of minutes chose to put it back in my camera case and observe this sight instead. I knew that if I was to see an elephant give birth, the memory in my head would be more vivid than any picture could ever capture.

After about 20 minutes of the female moving around and pushing, we saw the calf’s feet appear and we all knew it was not long until the baby would drop. The female moved around in circles for a couple of minutes before she gave one last push and the baby dropped to the ground…


The calf can be seen on the ground in the middle, protected by the rest of the herd.

It was incredible to see the reaction from the rest of the herd. All the adults surrounded the calf and began touching it with their trunks –  almost as if to welcome the new born into herd and to make sure it was fit and healthy. The adult started kicking sand and dust onto the calf which I am sure was to absorb the afterbirth…

You could see how each adult tried to help the calf to its feet using their trunks and feet. It took about 13 minutes for the calf to stand although very wobbly the calf’s first instinct was to suckle from mom.

We managed to find the herd the very next day again and were all delighted to see the new family member.

The most amazing part of this whole experience was not only watching the elephant being born but to see how caring and compassionate the herd is towards one another. It was a beautiful sighting and I am  thankful to the herd for allowing us to view this special moment.

Written by: Trevor Ryan McCall-Peat

Photographed by: Irene Nathanson

Dining at ESTER, the Best New Restaurant in Sydney

October 26, 2014 by  


On my journey to find the national dish of Australia, I headed off to Sydney and ended up having dinner at ESTER. At his very new and very hot Chippendale diner, former Billy Kwong head chef Mat Lindsay has little more than a combi-oven, a Thermomix blender and a vacuum sealer by way of high-tech tools. The beating heart of Ester is a massive wood-fired oven. They have recently been awarded Two Hats and were named Best New Restaurant in Sydney.

Dining with friends Rob and Vicky, Mike and Sue, Howard and Shelley, this is what we were indulged with…

esta (1)

Raw Kingfish, Mandarin and Nori – simply sublime

esta (2)

Lobster Sausage Sanga (an Australian Slang word for sandwich!)

esta (3)

Octopus, Nduja, Ink. Nduja is typically made with parts of the pig such as the shoulder, belly and jowl, as well as tripe, roasted peppers and a mixture of spices

esta (4)

Prawns, Brown Butter and Capers – unbelievable combination and have already tried it at Londolozi!

esta (5)

Greens, Fermented Chili and Garlic. Whole Fennel, Leeks and Spring Onions with Pak Choy – all done in the wood fired oven.

estaa (1)

Whole Yellow Eye Mullet

estaa (2)

Whole Cauliflower, Almond and Mint – this was incredible!

estaa (3)

 Contributed by Anna Ridgewell


ESTER Restaurant

46-52 Meagher Street

Chippendale NSW 2008, Australia

In Heaven At The Fine Food Australia Show

October 24, 2014 by  


My quest was to head down under and discover the national dish of Australia, an interesting feat.  The first stop was Melbourne for the Fine Food Australia Show – a massive trade show five times bigger than the SA Good Food & Wine Show.  I needed two days to see as much as possible – lectures on upcoming food trends, taste new products, see equipment on offer and meet some great chefs.

As I travel on my food safaris, there is nothing better than catching up with people over a glass and bite– Melbourne guests Craig, De Villiers and Brett did not disappoint!

The first culinary destination was that of Prix Fixe –the creative hub of Philippa Sibley, one of Australia’s leading dessert chefs. Based on a different theme every month, the restaurant concept is inspired by people, the arts and music whilst bringing together fresh seasonal produce, transforming both the interior and menu itself into a whimsical dining experience from 1997 – 2014. Diners book and pay upfront as you would for a theatre performance. The food is both a surprise and delight.

In Sibley’s words – “Chefs become associated with dishes like an artist to a painting or a singer to a song. It is tremendously flattering to be thought to have ‘signature’ dishes.”

These were the signature dishes we dined on.


Truffled Quail, Grilled Fennel, Bois Boudran – from Ondine 2002. 2011 Fairbank Rough, Bendigo, Vic
Freshly Shucked Oysters washed down with a glass of NV Mumm Champagne was a great way to start the evening.



Above, Heirloom Carrot and Chervil Soup, Grilled Scallop, Vin Santo, Amaretti – from Albert St Foot and Wine 2012. Unbelievably delicious – 2013 Mac Forbes RS 45 Riesling, Strathbogie Ranges Victoria.


Confit Salmon, Crayfish, crushed purple potatoes, Japanese flavours – from est est est 1997. 2011 Wanted Man Marsanne Viognier, Heathcote Vic


‘Snickers’ – Circa 2007. There are absolutely no words to describe this incredibly decadent, mouthwatering dessert! Campbells Liquid Gold Runterglen Topaque, Rutherglen Vic.

I was fortunate to have a great tour guide in the form of Craig who the following day showed me around greater Melbourne and had lunch at Chin Chin – a sharing experience where the many different dishes have exotic and varied flavours of Asia. The Massaman Curry was one of my most delicious Melbourne moments!



Spicy Corn and Coriander Fritters with Iceburg Lettuce, Mint and Chilli Jam


My favourite! Massaman Curry of Coconut Braised Beef, Kipfler Potatoes, Peanuts and Crispy Shallots


Wok Fried Salt and Pepper Squid Nuoc Cham and Vietnamese Mint – beautiful.

That evening we dined at Cicciolina in St Kilda – a fabulously packed Italian restaurant, the place to go before a show! Still pretty full from my great lunch, I decided on two small starters. Stuffed Zucchini Flowers followed by a Souffle of Blue swimmer crab meat, shallot and lemon thyme served on a champagne & chive veloute ended my stay in Melbourne sufficiently satisfied.


Tempura fried ricotta stuffed zucchini flowers on a warm salad of peas, ricotta and smoked salt

Be Wowed by 15 Vibrantly Colored Birds in the South African Bush

October 16, 2014 by  


Tony Goldman has a passion for photography and while he has shot a lot of larger animals on safari, below is a collection of some of the birds he captured in the South African bush in May.


Scarlet Crested Sunbird


Collared Sunbird


Hadeda Ibis


Crested Barbet


Southern Whitecrowned Shrike


Red Capped Robin Chat


A yellow-billed hornbill, not necessarily found in camp but this is a great picture of one eating a frog.


A Dark-capped Bulbul


White Throated Robin-Chat

Grey Headed Bushshrike


White Browed Scrub Robin


Green-backed Heron


Red-billed Firefinch


White Bellied Sunbird


Bearded Scrub Robin

Written by Kate Neill and Photographed by Tony Goldman

Looking at South African Wines as Their Summer Approaches

October 13, 2014 by  


While winter may be fast approaching in Europe and North America, winter is on its way out in southern Africa and summer is around the corner. Trees are greening, plants are flowering, migratory birds are returning, the impala and other antelope are heavily pregnant and the days are hot! With summer rapidly approaching South Africa and the temperatures easily reaching 35°C winter is slowing becoming a distant memory. It’s getting too warm for full-bodied red wines and with long summer days, lazy lunches and afternoons spent next to the swimming pool one rather yearns for something fresh, crisp, light and refreshing. With that in mind below are my wine recommendations for this summer. 


Let’s start with champagne shall we?

When asked when she drank Champagne Lilly Bollinger once replied, “I only drink Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not in a hurry and drink it when I am, otherwise I never touch the stuff unless I am thirsty.” My sentiments exactly.

This stunning Méhode Cap Classique is a great blend between Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, sourced from Graham Beck’s farms in Robertson and Stellenbosch. It has a beautiful silver-pink hue with subtle yeasty tones, it bursts with berry and cherry flavours and has wonderful oyster shell minerality. It’s a fun wine but at the same time elegant and structured. Perfect for drinking any time of the day, especially at lunchtime with Chef Anna’s range of sorbets.


La Vierge “Original Sin” Sauvignon Blanc 2013

This serious but fun wine hails from the Hemel-en-Aarde valley outside of Hermanus. La Vierge have based the theme of their winery very much around heaven and earth, Adam and Eve, and so forth, hence their logo is that of Adam and Eve pondering the serpent and the forbidden fruit. The road to heaven is paved with a zillion temptations as Adam and Eve discovered when they had been tempted by the serpent to eat from the forbidden fruit. In Hemel-en-Aarde, Chardonnay is the rage. La Vierge had ‘sinned’ by planting Sauvignon Blanc, but did so knowing that it would bring them infinite knowledge about this cool-climate grape variety. In it you get the opportunity to taste the forbidden fruit of the Hemel-en-Aarde area.

The wine shows tropical melon and pear drop, with some lemon grass and a wonderful mineral flintiness. There is 7% Semillon blended into the wine which adds mouth feel and richness to the palate. This wine pairs beautifully with a roasted tomato soup.


Beaumont “Hope Marguerite” Chenin Blanc 2013

This wine from Bot River is close to home with the wine maker, Sebastian Beaumont’s brother, Lucien Beaumont, Londolozi Ranger Extraordinaire, and his wife Nadia running Granite Camp.

The farm, home to the oldest wine cellar in the region, is steeped in history dating back to the 1700s. It has been in the Beaumont family since 1974. This wine was named after Sebastian and Lucien’s grandmother, Hope Marguerite. Although the residual sugar on this wine is higher than previous vintages, it is wonderfully balanced by natural acidity. It has aromas of ripe green apple, dried apricot, almonds and a hint of cinnamon spice. This wine will pair nicely with prawns with a warm Peri-Peri sauce as the slight sweetness on the wine will help to bring down the chili heat of the sauce.


Oak Valley Chardonnay 2013

This winery is based in Elgin. Oak Valley was founded in 1898 by Sir Antonie Viljoen, a medical doctor who graduated from Edinburgh University in Scotland. Sir Antonie was also a Senator in the Cape Parliament and was knighted in 1916 for his efforts to bring together Boer and Brit in the bitter aftermath of the Boer War.

Sir Antonie, who signed up as a medical officer with the Boer army during the war, was placed under house arrest on the Oak Valley property for the remainder of the campaign after his capture by the British.  His internment on Oak Valley was only granted on condition that he paid for the services of two British soldiers to guard him for the duration of the war!

Sir Antonie was instrumental in planting the first deciduous fruit such apple and pear orchids in the area. This industry is still the financial backbone of the region. But today Oak Valley focuses their efforts on producing elegant wines.

The wine shows distinctive fruit aromas of green apple, orange peel, and vanilla, citrus fruit such as orange and lime marmalade and honey characters. What I love about this Chardonnay is that the oak is subtle and well integrated, it is not overly oaked, buttery and too “heavy” but has a wonderful acidity, perfect for summer drinking. It will pair well Chef Anna’s Mozambican spatchcock chicken or even grilled beef fillet with a hollandaise sauce.

Yes, red wine does have a place in the extreme summer heat of the Lowveld. What I love about Pinot Noir is that it is ideally served slightly chilled around 16°C, perfect for those hot days.

The farm in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is owned by Dave and Felicity (nee Newton) Johnson. They have both been in the wine industry since the 70’s with Dave becoming one of the country’s first Cape Wine Masters in the early 90’s. The winery was founded in 1997 and I always find it a bit funny how even though Felicity lost her maiden name with marriage she ensured her family’s legacy continued in the winery name!

The wine has fragrant cherry and currant aromas with a wonderful earthiness and spice. It will pair nicely with Scottish salmon with a salsa verde.


What kind of wines do you enjoy drinking in the winter and in the summer? What are your favorites?


Written by: Kim Drake

Surreal Reflections Show the Power of Wildlife Photography

September 18, 2014 by  


“Shapes distorted, dissected by the wind only to be reassembled into abstract designs, a beautiful illusionary canvas, ever moving.” ­– Christine Matthai.

As in any form of art, the artist is always looking for a new creative twist, something that will bring a new dimension to their piece. In photography it is no different. Reflective photography for me gifts a photographer with so many new possibilities.

rhino reflection Trevor

Rhino Reflection, an example of a photograph of a rhino reflected in the water creates an interesting perspective. Photograph by: Trevor McCall-Peat

Capturing a reflective image in itself provides a challenge as there are numerous elements that need to come together to capture that perfect moment, especially in wildlife photography as your subjects have a mind of their own and getting them to the right place at the right time is often no easy task. But reflection for me offers us so much more than just a challenge. It allows our mind to wonder and to see an image in a unique way, adding depth and interest.

Reflections are just one way of the ever changing shapes that so beautifully epitomises this incredible place in which we live, always transforming, never the same and so apparent now as winter ends and summer springs to life.

To photograph reflections is always high up on my list but as I have mentioned, it is definitely no easy task. I have put together a collection of some of my favourites as well as some taken by fellow guides and good friends…

Camp Pan mike

The Camp Pan male captured here in black and white and reflected in the water. Photograph by: Mike Sutherland.

cheetah andrea

The blood stained mouth of a cheetah is  reflected in the water making the image a lot more interesting. Photograph by Andrea Campbell.

hamerkop Trevor

A hamerkop wades through the water. Photograph by: Trevor McCall-Peat

Hyena Mike

Submerged in the water, a hyena cools off and slakes its thirst. Photograph by Mike Sutherland.

male lion andrea

Male Lion. Photograph by Andrea Campbell.

sand piper Trevor

Double take: a sand piper seen from two angles. Photograph: Trevor McCall-Peat

Tree Andrea

A striking and unusual image of a tree. Photograph by Andrea Campbell.

Tsalala cub Mike

The Tsalala cub inspects its reflection. Photograph by Mike Sutherland.

tsalala cub Trevor

Mirror Image. The Tsalala cub quenches its thirst. Photograph by Trevor McCall-Peat.

Tsalala lioness Mike

The Tsalala lioness strides through muddy waters. Photograph by Mike Sutherland.

Zebra Andrea

Reflections of black and white. Photograph by Andrea Campbell.

Zebra Mike

Zebra Double. Photograph by Mike Sutherland.

Tsalala cub Andrea

This image of a Tsalala cub is made more interesting by the reflection of the tree in the water. Photograph by: Andrea Campbell.


Drinking shots are always a good idea for trying to capture the reflection of the subject you are shooting. Photograph by Simon Smit.

croc shadow

Night-time reflections. Photograph byTrevor McCall-Peat.


Another interesting double is created in this image. Photograph by Simon Smit.

Written by: Trevor McCall-Peat

Photography: Trevor McCall-Peat, Andrea Campbell, Mike Sutherland, Simon Smit.

South Africa: The Best of the Bush in Late August

August 30, 2014 by  


The first heat has hit and the knobthorns are flowering and the first Wahlberg’s eagles have been sighted, a sure sign that winter is coming to an end. Although I am excited to once again be driving through verdant green hillsides and have all the migrant bird species back, I can’t say I won’t miss winter. The chill of the early mornings and the mist hanging low in the valleys are two of my favourite things about the bush.


It’s not over yet though, and there is still a nip in the air in the mornings. The wildlife in South Africa continues to impress, so while we await the first rains in a month or two, enjoy this photo journey.


The male cheetah surveys his domain. Will he and the female mate again and have more cubs? We are hopeful, as both have been spending time in similar areas.


An elephant bull snatches a quick drink as he crosses the Sand River to rejoin his herd.


This hooded vulture had landed to investigate the scene of a Sparta Pride kill. Finding nothing left, he didn’t mind when one of the Majingilane moved in and forced him into the air again.


The second youngest hyena at the newest den site gets bullied by some of the older cubs while its mother lies nonchalantly by.


Getting a nasty nip one too many times, it sought solace next to her.


An amazing little frog. Unfortunately its eyes are slightly out of focus, owing to the shallow depth of field I had on the Macro lens


The Makhotini male was found in the deep south recently. He hasn’t been seen for awhile in these parts, and reports from the south of the reserve, as well as a big cut on his lip and nose, tell of a territorial confrontation with another big male leopard not so long ago.


Although it might seem insensitive, this little elephant calf provided us with great amusement when it mock charged us on the banks of the Maxabene River, displaying as much bravado as it could muster, but when it descended onto the sand to follow its mother, it tripped immediately and fell headfirst. Here it flails about while trying to get back to its feet


The Tutlwa female stands over the Gowrie male. She has been mating with him recently, deep in the territory of the Nanga female.


The Nanga female and one of her cubs. Our worst fears could be realised, as we believe one of the cubs may have been killed by the Tutlwa female.

Cheetah, vantage point, sunset. A winning photographic combination.


He looks west towards the Drakensberg and the setting sun, probably looking to settle down for the night.


The rains will be here in a month or two, and mud-baths will be the order of the day instead of dustbaths for the elephants.


The Marthly male winds his lonely way through his territory. How long can he hold out against the continuous pressure from the Gowrie male?


These are from a few months ago, as you can probably tell from the green grass, but I was looking at them today and wondering how long it will be before we see the Tamboti female giving birth again? Here she lies with her recently independent youngster in the foreground.


Same setting, different focus. The cub looks back (notice the swollen tick above her eye) while the mother snoozes.

Photographed by James Tyrrell

10 Great Quotes in Honor of Nelson Mandela Day

July 19, 2014 by  


In celebration of Mandela Day on July 18,  here are ten great Mandela quotes. Some of the quotes you will have seen before, but some are less well known. On Africa and Home “I believe that South Africa is the most beautiful place on earth. Admittedly, I am biased but when you combine the natural beauty of sunny South Africa with the friendliness and cultural diversity of our people, and the fact that the region is a haven for Africa’s most splendid wildlife, then I think that we have been blessed with a truly wonderful land.”

Winter is (5 of 21) “We are a winning nation! We acknowledge our problems and challenges and then proceed to tackle them with determination and in a spirit of optimism. We have overcome much in order to be where we are.” “African music is something that goes straight to your heart and it tells the story of your own life, your living conditions, your aspirations.” yy   On Education and the Next Generation “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” “Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation.” “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that generation. Let your greatness blossom.” On Communicating … Effectively “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” “In human affairs, no single person, organisation or social formation ever has a final or an absolutely correct position. It is through conversation, debate and critical discussion that we approach positions that may provide workable solutions.” “The relative success that we have achieved in Southern Africa vindicates our belief that conflicts can and must be resolved peacefully through dialogue.” On Morality and the Human Spirit “As we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people the permission to do the same.” “There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return.” Many of the quotes above were taken from Nelson Mandela: Conversations with Myself and Nelson Mandela By Himself. We would love for you to add to our list. What is your favourite Nelson Mandela quote and why?

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