The highlight of the week for me was undoubtedly the opportunity to get my first glimpse of the Vomba female’s cub. There was by no means a great photographic opportunity, as the cub is still quite nervous and kept crouching in the long grass, but just the chance to see it was amazing.
This week I tried some creative shots, with pictures of one of the Sparta cubs from between a lionesses legs as well as an elephant calf framed by its mother’s legs.
Continuing on the theme of leopard cubs, Richard Siwele pulled off one of the most intuitive track and finds I have ever witnessed. After seeing a single track of one of the Ximpalampala youngsters crossing the road, we walked through the bush for about 45 minutes looking for the cub. There was not a single track to be seen and just as I started to think that we were fighting a losing battle, he spotted the Ximpalampala female and two of her cubs in a marula tree about 100 metres away! After seeing one track, he was convinced that they were in the area and I have learned not to doubt this man. Since then these ageing cubs have been seen quite regularly in the vicinity of the Ximpalampala koppie.
My week was rounded off by a sighting of the Nottens female lying in a marula tree. I always relish the opportunity to have a look at this grand old lady, never sure if it’ll be the last time I get to see her. This was a really lucky sighting, as we were actually following the Camp Pan male, when suddenly she popped her head up in front of my vehicle. When the Camp Pan male eventually noticed her, she escaped up the marula tree, allowing us a great photographic opportunity.
I hope you enjoy.
This is an image that I have been trying to capture for some time now and I love the result. It is surprisingly difficult to capture an elephant calf at just the right time as it walks behind its mother!
A very similar concept to the previous image of the elephant. This time I waited for one of the Sparta females to walk past a cub and was fortunate enough to have the cub glance up at the female at just the right time.
This cub really put on a show for us. After the female walked past, he got up and stretched. Look at his claws pushing into the branch.
An interesting pose as two of the Sparta females lie side by side. I love the symmetry.
This week we were lucky enough to see both the Piva female and, later in the week, her mother, the Nottens female.
Two white faced ducks reflected in the water. These birds have such lovely contrast in their markings.
This is undoubtedly my favorite male lion to photograph, as he has such striking eyes. Here, the Majingilane with the prominent hip scar lies with the Sparta pride.
This raptor is responsible for one of the most distinctive sounds of the African bush, the call of the African fish eagle. Perched on a dead tree, it surveys the waters of the Sand River for its next meal.
After one of the most incredible ‘track and finds’ by Richard Siwele, we were privileged to spend a bit of time with two of the Ximpalampala youngsters on Marthly. This cub was the more nervous of the two and is one I haven’t previously been able to photograph, so I was thrilled when it climbed up onto a boulder and posed momentarily.
My first glimpse of the Vomba female’s cub! I was ecstatic to finally get a glimpse of this cub, one that’s been eluding me for a few months now. We tracked the Vomba female to an impala kill. The cub, however, is still quite nervous of vehicles having been raised in an inaccessible part of the Sand River, so we watched from as a distance as it played hide and seek with us.
An extremely inquisitive hyena cub comes to investigate the game viewer. The hyena den site in the south of our traversing area is still providing some phenomenal viewing.
We spent the morning tracking the Camp Pan male and eventually found him strolling down the road. Just as we arrived, he turned off of the road and so I looped around in the vehicle so we could get in front of him. As I was driving through the savanna, suddenly the Nottens female lifted her head in front of my vehicle. What a pleasant surprise!
Unaware of each other’s presence, the Camp Pan male and Nottens female both lay down in the long grass and went to sleep, not more than 25 metres from each other. Eventually the Camp Pan male discovered Nottens and she made a dash for a nearby marula tree.
The Nottens female is still looking remarkably well, even after her fight with the Tamboti female last week. This 17 year old leopard still has the largest territory of any of the female leopards on Londolozi.
Written and photographed by James Crookes