Each week as I select the photos for this post, a theme seems to naturally come through. Sometimes it reflects the time of year and the resulting environmental factors (the recent rains, for example), but sometimes it appears to be quite random. This week, we had a disproportionate amount of leopard sightings in trees! Our guests often assume that we find leopards by looking in the trees, but the reality is we track them on the ground and about 95% of our leopard sightings do not involve arboreal activity. The relative amount of time they spend in trees is both area dependent as well as dependent on the individual leopard’s tendencies. Plus, leopards in trees are often prime photographic subjects, which is why we see so many photographs of them in trees. In actual fact, it is quite special to have the opportunity to witness them in action as they move about in a tree. We were lucky this week! Enjoy the Week in Pictures…
Earlier in the week we had a great sighting of the Dudley Riverbank 3:3 Young Male. He had killed a young baboon – a challenging feat for a leopard as baboons are social animals with acute senses, alarming loudly when one of the troop detects a predator.
We got there just in time, as he was on the ground at first with most of the carcass stashed in a thicket, but upon realizing he had left a stray baboon arm in the tree, went up to fetch it and brought it back down.
A Martial eagle on a monitor kill. Monitor lizards are probably the top prey item for Martial eagles in this area, although these giant birds are capable of killing small antelope – and do so often.
This large hippo bull out of the water mid-day was definitely a surprise sighting. Usually the animals seek the cool water during the day, protecting their skin from the sun, but this male seemed to rather carry on grazing late into the morning!
One animal who does remain active into the heat of the day, however, is the cheetah. Despite being well fed from the previous day’s kill, this young male stalked impala across the open areas of southern Londolozi.
A Brown headed parrot catches the morning sun.
The Marthly Male stalks a group of nyala. He was almost upon them when he suddenly trotted away, having heard something in the distance. We wondered why he would have forfeited such a close hunt!
When we found him on the other side of the thicket, we realized why he had run. Why spend the energy when you can have a free meal? He had smelled the remains of a carcass – an impala, belonging to the Vomba Female. Here, he looks as the female takes her cub and moves away. We unfortunately could not capture images as it happened so quickly! We also got to watch as he climbed 3 different trees looking for the kill.
The dominant male of northern Londolozi, the Marthly Male has many battle scars to prove he has earned his territorial rights over Marthly the hard way.
The recent rains have brought a greenflush to Londolozi, and the rhino, like this cow, are clearly enjoying it!
A Tawny eagle just before sunrise.
Even the Piva cub climbed a tree for us this week! We found her by herself, having been left by her mother while she went hunting. She was clearly bored with solitude and played around on this fallen tree.
The young hippos at Taylor’s Dam start to get active in the early evening, play-fighting.
A unique angle on a Yellow billed hornbill – a commonly seen but beautiful bird. Recently they have been courting and preparing for their breeding season, and when we saw this male he was displaying for a nearby female.
An elephant bull quietly walks past us at sunset.
Although this sighting of the Tamboti Female did not involve watching her climb a tree, she had hoisted an impala carcass in the nearby saffron. She was relatively full and tried to sleep on the ground, but was extremely irritated by the circling vultures. She kept hissing at them, and it eventually worked, as they moved off.
After a mud-wallow, a male warthog grazes in the quintessential kneeling posture.
Even the Greater blue-eared starling isn’t above scavenging! The bird found a spare piece of meat in the Marula tree which the Camp Pan Male leopard had used to store his kill.
When we arrived at the sighting, Camp Pan was sitting on the base of the tree, very full from having eaten most of his zebra foal carcass. However, he then made an acrobatic effort to get back up the tree by jumping from a nearby rock!
Once in the Marula tree, he found the remainder of the carcass – the zebra foal leg – and climbed around searching for a more comfortable and sturdy spot in which to eat it.
As he fed, three hyenas lingered below, waiting for any spare pieces to drop.
Upon finishing the leg, he carefully and rather gracefully climbed down. Note the use of his tail here, pressed against the tree – leopard’s tails are not prehensile, that is, they cannot wrap around and ‘cling’ to branches. However, they definitely use it to balance their weight while maneuvering around the tree tops.
He leapt to the nearby rock, and ran very quickly away from the three hyenas. They probably wouldn’t have hurt him, although he wasn’t taking any chances!
An elephant calf playfully runs away from its mother.
To finish off the week, we had a fantastic sighting of the Marthly Male resting in a Marula tree. His focus was on a lingering visitor – the Ximpalapala Female leopard, who was circling the tree at a distance. She was probably interested in his impala carcass hoisted in the tree, but because she would not challenge a male, did not come closer.
He then climbed down and lay at the base, still looking towards the female. It seemed as though he distanced himself from the kill to entice her to come investigate. It didn’t work, as she eventually moved off. Once again, note the use of his tail – counterbalancing his weight against the trunk.