All the rangers at Londolozi have specific trees around the reserve in which they’re dying to see a leopard. There’s a particular dead Schotia in the north that I have driven past multiple times over the last year that I’ve always dreamt of seeing a leopard stretched out on, yet multiple disappointments have forced me to stop daydreaming when ever I pass by.
So imagine my thrill when we came around the corner recently and there was not one but TWO leopards on it! It was the Ingrid Dam female and her cub, perched beautifully in the morning light, the contrast between their rosettes and the dark bark of the Schotia a sight for sore eyes. A few pictures of the sighting are portrayed below.

Enjoy this Week in Pictures…

After a failed attempt at hunting a large spotted genet high in thecanopy of a strangler fig, the Mashaba young female scans the bush to see what meal she could try to hunt next. Her leaps and bounds through the tree canopy was a spectacle to witness yet the agility of the genet outmatched hers, at it launched into the air and  ran for its life as soon as its paws touched the ground. f.6.3, 1/500, ISO 1250

Photography is all about opportunity and being quick to react to situations. When a flap-necked chameleon strolled across the road, guests and I were out of the vehicle in a flash to capture its gentle steps as it moved towards its next tree. Was it moving to find a new mate or food potential? f.2.8, 1/8000, ISO 800

Elephant mothers show all signs of emotion and parental care which often makes us sit in amazement with these gentle giants. An elephant cow tries gently to lift her calf onto its feet only hours after birth. The power of her trunk and feet are immense yet she can use them in the most gentle of ways when needs be. It took a good few minutes for her to get this calf to a standing position. The wobbly legs showed how newly born it was. f.5, 1/640, ISO500, +0.3EV

A close bond between the Ingrid dam female and her young female cub. Both utilizing the top of a dead Schotia to scan the surrounds for potential threats or prey. The playful cub was always trying to make sure she had the best vantage point out of the two of them, which in this case happened to be right on top of her mother! f.5.6, 1/1000, ISO 1000

The Londolozi airstrip in black and white stripes. Zebras line up on the runway to feed on the fresh grasses alongside it. The newly painted white lines and black tarmac pair well with the zebras’ black and white stripes. f.5.6, 1/4000, ISO 640, +0.7EV

The Ingrid Dam female’s cub stares up at her mother in almost a sense of jealousy that her mother is at a higher vantage point and possibly in a more comfortable position. Shortly after this the cub leaped up to join its mother at the highest point of the fallen tree. f.5.6, 1/1000, ISO 1000, +0.3EV

This boulder might be small but still forms an excellent vantage point in the grass plains of Londolozi. A male cheetah scans the plains for his next potential meal. f.5.0, 1/200, ISO 1250, +1EV

A dream come true; for a year now I have dreamed of seeing a leopard in this dead tree; a fallen Schotia with seemingly space for only one leopard on it. Yet the Ingrid dam female’s cub managed to squeeze her way up to join her mother at the best vantage point possible. The playful nature of the cub kept us entertained for hours yet her mother seemed only to build in frustration. f.5.6, 1/1000, ISO 1000, +0.7EV

While others feed, a white-backed vulture pauses to assess if any potential threats are approaching and whether its share of the carcass will be stolen. Lions and hyenas lurking around the carcass kept this vultures attention as it paused multiple times while feeding. f.7.1, 1/1000, ISO 1000, -0.3EV

Spotted hyenas are often portrayed as the dirty scavengers of the bush yet a striking early morning silhouette of one portrays the mystery behind these eerie predators and allows us to view them with a sense of beauty. f.6.3, 1/320, ISO 800, -1.3EV

Leopards are visual hunters. Although they sometimes use hearing and scent to detect their prey, the approach and take-down are completely sight based. Their long whiskers feel the grass blades as their eyes lock on their target. Whiskers feel the surrounds while focus is completely on the prey. We had all been sitting with the Tamboti female when an impala lamb suddenly materialised out of the bushes; the leopard immediately locked eyes on the lamb, mere metres away. Full concentration went into the stalk and in a blur of spots, she rushed in to clamp her jaws on the unsuspecting lamb’s throat. The intensity was felt by us all and left us in awe as she consumed her well deserved meal. f.6.3, 1/320, ISO 800, +0.3EV

This photo was from the same sighting above. The commotion of the kill attracted the attention of a hyena and as soon as the leopard sensed the approaching danger, she grabbed the impala carcass and leaped up a nearby tree. Fortunately for her the kill wasn’t a particularly heavy one, but her sheer explosive power was unbelievable. f.5.6, 1/2000, ISO 1000, +0.3EV

Did you know that lions scoop water backwards with their tongues to quench their thirst? The Tsalala young female who is now walking Londolozi on her own looks at her reflection as she drinks. What will her fate be over the next few months? f.5.6, 1/500, ISO 640, +0.3EV

On game drive we might come across a few birds and animals we see regularly but pausing to capture their beauty is often overlooked. When a white-fronted bee-eater landed meters away from us in the most perfect morning light, it was hard not to lift a camera to take multiple images of this beautiful multi-coloured bird. f.6.3, 1/1000, ISO 640

A photograph doesn’t portray the patience needed to capture a moment. A rarity and very special find in the grass plains of Londolozi is a cheetah. It spent most of the day lying under the cooling shade of a bush. With overcast weather approaching our vehicle all agreed to wait for the yawns and grooming (signs of getting active). Patience paid off. It got up, scanned the horizon and proceeded to walk right past us. f.5.0, 1/250, ISO 1250, +0.3EV

The curiosity of hippos can provide heaps of entertainment. When crossing the causeway from north to south there stood three hippos, perfectly aligned in the water. In symmetry they bobbed up and down and when all three emerged it provided a perfect opportunity to capture their alignment. f.5.6, 1/3200, ISO 1000, +0.7EV

A morning spent watching one of the Birmingham male lions in full roar suddenly changed when a second roar was heard nearby. Ears perked, the male stood up and proceeded to move with intent in the direction of the nearby calls. Out of the bush, approaching at the run, was one of the Tsalala females. She immediately presented herself to the male in a mating attempt. We watched successive mating bouts with aggressive dismounts. This female is only 4 years old and has yet to birth her first litter. With any luck she may birth her first cubs in the next few months. f.5.0, 1/1250, ISO 1000, +0.3EV

A Birmingham male lion, belly full, rolls over and peers across at us. Two of these males and two lioness from the Ntsevu pride were found feeding on a wildebeest in the early hours of the morning, providing us with aggressive entertainment as they fed on the kill. Lions can consume around a quarter of their body weight in one sitting. Stuffed with wildebeest meat, this Birmingham male was not interested in moving far. f.6.3, 1/500, ISO 1000

While looking through images of the morning’s game drive I was distracted by birds alarm-calling outside my room. I peered through the window and there walked a large monitor lizard. I reached for my camera and positioned myself in the direction it was moving. It looked back in an inquisitive manner and allowed me to capture a close up of its eye. Monitor lizards like many other reptiles posses a vomeronasal gland inside their mouth. By flicking their tongues in and out of their mouth they send chemical messages to the brain allowing them to in a sense “smell” what potential food might be around the next corner or under the soil. f.2.8, 1/1000, ISO 800, +0.3EV

In full stretch a young male from the Mhangeni pride yawns as the evening falls. This pride of sixteen lions has been spending time on the western outskirts of Londolozi. Possibly not venturing further east due to the presence of the Birmingham male lions which would be sure to chase, if not kill the young males should they come across them. f.5.6, 1/400, ISO 1250

For birders, this juvenile malachite kingfisher created a stir of confusion at the Causeway recently. At first glance it looks very similar to a kingfisher that is only very seldom seen in the area; the Half-collared. The juvenile malachite possesses a black bill, much like the half-collared, yet lacks the half white collar and full iridescent blue face. This poor individual seems to have lost a part of its lower beak yet it has still been successful in feeding. f.6.3, 1/250, ISO 1250

About the Author

Alex Jordan

Field Guide

Born in Cape Town, Alex grew up on a family wine estate in Stellenbosch. Spending much of his young life outdoors, Alex went on many a holiday into Southern Africa’s national parks and wild areas. After finishing high school, he completed a number ...

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on The Week in Pictures #322

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Marinda Drake

Alex incredible beautiful images this week. They are all stunning. Can’t choose a favourite but the elephant with the new born baby is special.

Ian Hall

these are seriously good, even by your usual high standards

Dina Petridis

great pictures again !

Denise Vouri

Stunning images Alex. The mother/infant elephant story is beautiful and really shows the strong bond of the pair. Your Schotia tree shot is also classic with the leopards aboard. Thanks for sharing!!

Wendy Macnicol

I loved the picture of the Tamboti female’s mesmerizing concentration – close up! A bit unnerving …… Glad I wasn’t her prey!
Also the wrinkled nose of the mating male Lion. He looks as if he REALLY wasn’t enjoying it that much at all …. as if his honeymoon partner hadn’t used her deodorant recently (or at all – ever). Animals fascinate me. Wendy M

Joanne Wadsworth

I am so often reminded of the expected high level of writing expertise coupled with the superb photography at Londolozi. This week seemed to surpass even the highest bar. The images are totally 5 star and the storyline so entertaining. My congratulations to Jeff. I must add that I also like the creative banner (if that’s what it’s called) using the capital letters for The Week in Pictures, while overlaying an excellent wildlife image. Eye-catching, creative and imaginative. Cudo’s to whoever designed it. What can I say….all of you are so special and talented!

Karen Millman

These are all sooooo gorgeous…………the Mashaba female has a special place in my heart after seeing her there……and the elephant mama and baby is truly heart warming.

Jennifer Ridgewell

Some outstanding and unusual photos Alex – pleased you finally saw the longed-for sighting on the Schotia! Thank you for sharing.

Mike Ryan

Amazing pictures again and ha ha for good measure you throw in a Malachite kingfisher at the end. Mrs Ryan will be so envious

Nicki Ryan

Yes – Mrs Ryan is very envious! Next time!!

Alex Jordan

Hahahaha. Until next time…

Kelly Bernard

Amazing stories, synchronicity, and shots! What an inspiring time!!!

Alex Jordan

It truly is. Thank you Kelly. I really appreciate the kind words.

Callum Evans

Absolutely incredible range of photos, too hard to pick a favourite!!

Alex Jordan

Thanks so much Callum!!

Susan Strauss

Extraordinary shots!

Alex Jordan

Thank you Susan

Wendy Hawkins

Oh Alex I did have a few chuckles! The zebra were just inspecting the painting job to make sure it was good! That Schotia must have been an amazing tree when it was alive, as it is magnificent in its dead form & leopards do make the most “uncomfortable” branches look like the best resting place. All your pictures are just so beautiful I have to favour them all 🙂 Have a great weekend

Alex Jordan

Haha it was an interesting yet picturesque scene indeed. I wasn’t fortunate to see it alive but as you say it must have been spectacular. You are completely right. Thank you for the kind words.

Lachlan Fetterplace

Great pictures. I really want to know what that dead Schotia tree looks like now though…

Alex Jordan

Haha all i can say is that its an incredible scene and even better when not one but two leopards decide to climb it. Dream come true. Thank you.

Alessandra Cuccato

I am glad to see that the one Tsalala young female is still alive. And it is so great to see Ingrid and her cub again. When we saw them in early last december the cub was thought to be a male. What a beautiful girl she is, she has amazing eyes. I love the picture of her on top of her mother!

Alex Jordan

Thanks so much. It truly was a special sighting. It’s always hard sexing leopard cubs at an early age but she is indeed a young female. It was a special scene.

Nicki Ryan

Hi Alex – you never fail to impress! Thank you. Great to the Mashaba young female thriving. As you may remember she is my favourite having seen her as a cub and thereafter. Her tummy looks quite big. Given she was chasing a genet she was possibly hungry so her tummy may be down to a pregnancy by the Inyathini male (early Jan)? I cannot pick a best shot as they are all awesome although the malachite does make me feel somewhat envious!! Superb shots Alex.

Alex Jordan

I’m glad you enjoyed the image of Mashaba young female and thought of you when posting the image. It did cross my mind yet she is still quite young. Only time will tell to see what develops. Thank you!

Judy Hayden

What beautiful pictures. A good variety. The baby elephant was precious. I hope that you can her more of that little one. That young leopard uptop of that tree with his mother was funny. He was going to make himself fit. So kid like. Thank you for the great pics and blog.

Alex Jordan

Thank you so much Judy

Jill Larone

All beautiful pictures, Alex, but I especially love the Elephant with her newborn calf — very special! I hope the Tsalala young female finds her way back to join the pride — it’s very sad seeing her on her own now.

Alex Jordan

Thanks so much Jill. It was an incredible moment to witness its wobbly legs and first few steps. I have my fingers crossed.

Michael & Terri Klauber

Alex, Thanks for the summary and photos from another exciting week in the bush! We can’t wait to return!

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