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Home of leopards
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Sometimes when guests ask, ‘When is the best time of the year to come to Londolozi?’, my response is that if you are a photographer, and interested in the big mammals, then winter is preferable. The dry weather provides clear skies, excellent light, and less dense vegetation to block the view. This week, however, I realized that answer is completely wrong. Instead of getting irritated with the low light, tall grass or wet conditions, I tried to use them to capture the essence of summer and how the animals fit into their environment. Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The afternoon light catches a group of waterbuck on Winnis' Clearing.
A Lesser kestrel, a very rare bird for this area, flies with a grasshopper. We saw it for a brief minute and somehow my camera focused on it as it flew by, luckily as I needed the photo to get a proper identification on the bird!
We waited for 2.5 hours in order to capture a potentially epic sighting of a leopard climbing a tree. Unfortunately for us she did not move a muscle, proving that sometimes you just have to be content with getting a glimpse of a leopard in the first place.
The Maxabene Female relaxes in a Marula tree. This leopard is famous for her tendency to rest in thickets, so when she was spotted this week sleeping up the tree, out in the open, we were all very happy!
Two zebra stallions fight for dominance in a bachelor group.
As David Dampier mentioned on Wednesday, one of our big sightings this week was of the Camp Pan Male and Tamboti Female mating. Early on in the week, they started out aggressively, typical of leopard mating.
The Tamboti Female stares longingly towards Camp Pan. Female leopards are generally the ones to initiate mating.
As if we weren't lucky enough to see leopards mating, they also drank side by side!
The Tamboti Female tries to seduce Camp Pan.
`Five days is quite a long time for a mating pair to remain together. They definitely started to slow down towards the end. Here, they seemed more interested in posing for us than actually mating.
Towards the end of the five-day honeymoon, they began to resemble a couple in an argument!
A Burchell's coucal, nicknamed the 'Rain Bird' because of its tendency to call before a storm, comes out of its usual habitat - deep in a thicket - giving us a rare glimpse out in the open.
A Ground hornbill holds its prize while calling to other birds nearby.
A young Bateleur eagle flies above. Spending their early years with a tawny brown plumage, these young birds only grow their distinctive black and white feathers once they are mature enough to hold their own against other territorial bateleurs.
The Vomba Young Female uses a termite mound for elevation to look at a herd of impala. She was unsuccessful in her hunt, but we returned the next morning to find that she had killed a wildebeest calf instead nearby.
After mating with the Tamboti Female, Camp Pan was very hungry. He luckily managed to kill an impala and hoist it in a tree, and we were lucky enough to catch him when he climbed up it one morning to feed.
A young zebra feeds on grass from a termite mound
A young elephant bull gives himself a mud bath. I just love the airborne mud about to crash over his back.
If you have ever wanted to know the difference between a male and a female Plum Coloured Starling, look closely at this image. On the left is the male with stunning plum colored feathers on his back. To the right is the female with speckles on her breast.
The scar nosed Majingalane cranes his neck to look behind our vehicle. All 4 members of the coalition spent time as one unit this past week. An impressive sight to witness but also to observe the ever unfolding dynamics of dominance between each of these 4 male lions.
High above the wilderness a Martial eagle flew above our vehicle carrying a kill. After looking closely at the image I am still unsure what was grasped in its talons. Can you see what it is holding?
Seeing a chameleon at night is a special sighting to begin with, but seeing one during the day is perhaps even better. The natural light allows one to carefully observe the complex arrangement of patterns, colors and textures that these 'Dwarf Lions' have dappled all over their bodies.
A herd of impala stare at the Majingilane Coalition as they nonchalantly started stretching in the late afternoon. Herd animals, these impala use a variety of alarm calls to indicate potential dangers or outright distress.
A member of the Majingalane Coalition drinking. After a few deeps sips he looked up to a noise in the bush, his eyes staring intensely at the source of the commotion - a Swainson's Francolin.
It is a common sight to see flocks of Red-Billed Oxpecker feeding off the tics on a buffalo's hide. What is unique, however, is to witness one oxpecker feeding another. Here an adult feeds a juvenile whilst one looks on.
Two piglets nuzzle each other in the late afternoon. Having being born along with the rest of the calves, lambs and foals in Nov/Dec these two have done well to stay out of harms way.
This was probably the most unique sighting of the week for me. I had never seen a crocodile actively feeding. Apparently it had killed this large male warthog when it had come for a drink