I couldn’t imagine living in a place without a significant change in season. Whether one season is good and another is bad, or they are very different but equally as appealing, the change always means there’s something to look forward to. A similar level or rainfall and fairly constant temperature all year round would be a struggle for me.
It’s ironic this, as change in life is what frightens many people the most, yet change in the bush is what most of us who live out here find most exhilarating. At the moment we are firmly entrenched in our summer schedule: long hot days, interspersed with cloudy grey ones, and we are still a long way from the drying up that takes us into winter. Yet I know that probably by February, when temperatures are remaining in the high 30s well after sunset on some days, the rangers and trackers will already be looking forward to the chilly starts of the July mornings. And then by September, when the dusty conditions and drab scenery have been around for a few months, we will all start to look forward to summer once more.

The endless cycles of nature, be they on a mega- or macro-scale, and the constant transformation that we witness all around us, are I guess the fundamentals of what make this bush life so appealing.

Enjoy this Week in Pictures…

The elephant eye shot has been done many times before. What you can’t see in this picture though (but can probably imagine) was that this particular individual was sniffing the side of my camera lens with its trunk while I snapped this shot! f5.6, 1/60s, ISO 1000

A lowered shutter speed managed to blur the sand being shot out of this young elephant’s trunk. Photographs like this are about trial-and-error; too high a shutter speed and the sand won’t blur, too low and slight movement of the elephant will blur its face. f8, 1/80s, ISO 800

A giraffe bull strolls across the airstrip as a bachelor herd of impalas start to move in the opposite direction to him. Early mornings are a great time to see general game around the airstrip, as the open clearing provides a slightly safer sleeping position than a thicket, so impalas, wildebeest and zebra are often still to be found there shortly after sunrise. f2.8, 1/8000s, ISO 100

Many of you who have visited Londolozi in recent years will recognize this face; Will Ford, Operations Manager. Will is constantly moving between the various camps, making sure that each guest’s needs are taken care of. Here he was dropping by at a pizza stop out in the bush, running a last-minute taste test. f3.5, 1/1000s, ISO 800

The Tamboti female had taken her cub to a kill about twenty metres from this very spot three nights before, and as the Inyathini male approached on this particular morning (60 hours later, and after rain), we knew it was a great opportunity to see if her smell would still linger and if he would detect it. Sure enough, as he crossed the path she had led the cub down, he stopped and began sniffing round, displaying the flehmen grimace and scent marking on every second bush after he began moving off again. It goes to show just how acute a leopard’s sense of smell is. f3.5, 1/1000s, ISO 640

Although not quite at the level of Bearded Scrub Robin chicks, impala lambs grow very fast indeed. The difference between a day-old lamb and a week-old one is quite significant, and as we approach the end of the birthing season, almost none of the lambs are wobbly on their feet anymore. They will still be very vulnerable for some time to come, but their huddling in small creches for safety helps to reduce the level of vigilance required from their respective mothers. f4, 1/1600s, ISO 1000

Spotted Hyenas are a great danger to young impala at this time of year. Knowing that the newborns will tire easily in a chase, and that they are still too young to make good decisions when fleeing a predator, hyenas will run at and scatter nursery herds, hoping to panic a young one into leaving its mother and subsequently becoming confused, at which point it will be easy to pick off. Knowing this, the impalas warily watch any approach by a hyena, sounding the alarm and fleeing if it comes too close, something they won’t do at other times of the year, when the lambs are much bigger and can escape easily. f5.6, 1/500s, ISO 1000

This young Mhangeni lioness had become separated from the rest of the pride somehow, and was looking for them all through this morning. We followed her for a couple of hours as she followed their scent, contact-calling all the time, but even though at one point she passed within about 150m of where they were sleeping, she didn’t find them, and that afternoon she was walking the same route, still searching. She would climb every termite mound in her path, hoping to spot them from on top. f6.3, 1/800s, ISO 160

Helmeted guineafowl scrabble in the dirt for morsels to eat. As they eat a lot of small grubs and arthropods, at this time of year they are often to be found scratching around in rhino or elephant dung, where they know a large number of dung beetles are to be found. f5, 1/1250, ISO 640

The older Tailed Tsalala lioness. She and the sub-adult that had been missing were lying near the waterhole at Ximpalapala koppie on this cloudy afternoon when four warthogs approached. Hearing the warthogs’ footfalls, the lioness sat up to see, which unfortunately spooked the warthogs and they ran away. As the lioness watched them disappear, the sun burst briefly through the clouds, bathing her and the rock in golden light. f2.8, 1/1000s, ISO 640

A journey of giraffes moves in a stately line past ranger Sean Zeederberg’s vehicle. Whilst giraffe sightings can be fickle, and we can sometimes go for days without seeing them, the last few weeks have seen a surplus of amazing viewing; from mating pairs to necking bulls to small calves nursing from their mothers. f10, 1/2000s, ISO 640

The Nkoveni female (pictured) has been mating with the Flat Rock male of late, and on this particular afternoon we think she was following his scent, as she would call quite regularly and constantly sniff around. Given that he killed at least one of her last litter (and most likely the second as well), it seems crazy to our human perceptions that he would now be the one she needs to mate with in order to reproduce again, but that is the reality of the bush. f3.2, 1/1250s, ISO 800

A zebra stallion in sepia. And an oxpecker. That’s about it. f2.8, 1/2000s, ISO 320

The crests around Ximpalapala koppie have been teeming with life recently, much of it the newborn kind. Apart from the wildebeest calves and impala lambs everywhere, there have been a number of very young zebra foals seen in the local harems. With an abundance of grass, there isn’t much competition between all the herbivores, and spending time in each other’s company greatly increases the chances of them detecting an approaching predator. f2.8, 1/2000s, ISO 640

The young Mhangeni lioness from a few photos previously, forlornly silhouetted against the fading light, still searching for her missing pride. f18, 1/1600s, ISO 200

Filed under Wildlife

About the Author

James Tyrrell

Photographic Guide/Media Team

James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills were well developed, and he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team as a result. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the photographic skills ...

View James's profile


on The Week in Pictures #315

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Marinda Drake

Stunning pics James. Love the elephants. Great pic of the giraffe. Did the Mhangene female find the pride? Is the Inyathini male the father of the Tamboti female’s cub?

James Tyrrell

Hi Marinda! And happy birthday for yesterday. Hope you had a nice lunch with Kim!
Pretty sure the lioness found the pride, and although we can never really be sure which male leopards fathered which cubs, as they females mate with multiple males, for all intents and purposes we are referring to the Inyathini male as the father of the Tamboti female’s cub.

Marinda Drake

Thank you James. We had a lovely time yesterday. It was such a surprise to see Kim. Nothing as nice as celebrating your birthday in the bush.

Darlene Knott

Beautiful photos! And I am with you on the change of seasons! I love watching nature changing from one season to the other. Right now we are feeling cold in East Tennessee just as it should be. Love how invigorating that feels!

Lucie Easley

James, all of your presentations are so informative as well as beautifully illustrated by your photography. It’s hard to pick a favorite among so many amazing but today it is the older tailed Tsalasa lioness. I do hope to learn that the young Mhangeni lioness found her pride and all is well. Wishing all of you at Londolozi a very Happy New Year

James Tyrrell

Thanks Lucie,
I think she did meet up with them in the end.

Denise Vouri

Another wonderful week in pictures. I do have a question- your last photo of the Mhagene lioness was shot at a low iso and a high shutter speed, with also a rather narrow fstop. Was your light still bright enough that the lower iso was necessary? We’re you shooting in total manual mode, or autofocus in manual. Just curious……

James Tyrrell

Hi Denise, good observation.
The sun wasn’t quite low enough in the sky yet for a decent silhouette shot with classic reds and yellows, and as the light was still quite bright, a technique to make sure your shutter speed is still within a functional range (my camera won’t take the photo if the shutter speed is over 1/8000s is required) is to lower your aperture to let in less light (i.e. the f-number increases) and lower your ISO. In retrospect I might have been a bit excessive here, as the shutter speed ended up at 1600s, meaning I had plenty of room to spare, but as the lioness paused in that spot I knew we had to act quickly, so just spun the dial without checking to see where it stopped, to quickly get a setting I knew would work.
I was shooting in Aperture priority using autofocus.

Denise Vouri

Aha, as I suspected. It was a beautiful shot and I hear you when you’ve only seconds to make a decision about settings. I predominately shoot in manual but when the light becomes tricky, I will switch to Aperture priority. While in manual, I do use back button focus (camera in auto focus setting) as for many wildlife shots, total manual isn’t practical. I really appreciate your sharing setting information- for us who don’t have the opportunity to spend a lot of time in the bush practicing photo techniques, it is a good barometer. Thank you for answering my question.

Mj Bradley

I hope the Mhengeni Lioness finds her pride. Also thank you news on the Tsalala’s. Are the two groups still together?
Hope they can manage to keep the youngsters safe. Always a pleasure to read your blogs.

James Tyrrell

Hi Mj, Thanks for the comments!

Hope you have a happy New Years!

Judy Hayden

Absolutely beautiful pictures. James you would not like it here in Corpus Christi,, Texas, USA, although we actually have had colder weather and SNOW one day.We do not have seasonal change over a period of time, it is 80 one day and freezing the next day. Did the young lioness find her pride? I get close to these animals that you introduce to us and thus I worry about them.

James Tyrrell

Hi Judy,
Thanks for your concern. Yes, she found the pride and is alive and well!

Connect with Londolozi

Follow Us

Sign up for our Newsletters

One moment...
Add Profile