The highlight of the week was a visit from an unfamiliar pack of 17 Wild Dogs. Within 12 hours they were gone from the property again but some amazing viewing was had whilst they were here.
My personal highlight was coming across the Nottens female one morning in the South of Londolozi. Tracker Mike Sithole spied leopard tracks on the road and said they were fresh. How right he was, as about 500m further on we rounded a corner and had the beautiful old female casually walking along into the morning sun. Seeing this leopard is a rare privilege these days. At almost 18 years of age, she is our oldest territorial female and is a direct descendant of the original Mother Leopard of Londolozi. Knowing she may not be around for too much longer, we savoured every moment with her…
Enjoy this week in Pictures…
Some of the pack of 17 wild dogs trot ahead of us on the evening’s hunt. f3.2, 1/640s, ISO 640, @ 200mm
The Nottens female. When we found her on this morning, I initially didn’t think it was her as she was looking more like a leopard of twelve years than a leopard of seventeen-and-a-half. f4.5, 1/1000s, ISO 100, @ 200mm
The beautiful young eyes of one of the Styx Pride’s sub-adult males. We took a big gamble by driving our boundary road on this particular morning, but it paid off… f3.2, 1/500s, ISO 320, @ 150mm.
We don’t know the full story here. Whether the Gowrie male killed this giraffe or not or whether it died of natural causes and he just tore off the leg. Whatever the case, this was was the first time any of us who were in the sighting had ever seen a leopard with a piece of giraffe hoisted in a tree. It wasn’t a small giraffe leg, either…! f4.5, 1/500s, ISO 320, @ 130mm.
His belly full of giraffe meat, the Gowrie male reclines languidly on a marula branch. f2.8, 1/800s, ISO 320, @ 200mm.
Evening light bathes some elephants feeding on Red Grass (Themeda triandra) in the Open Areas while barn swallows flit amongst them, snatching up grasshoppers and other insects disturbed by the enormous pachyderms. f9, 1/320, ISO 1250, @ 200mm
A pair of Wahlberg’s eagles alarm calling had alerted us to the presence of a predator, and upon investigation we discovered this sleepy Verraux’s (Giant) eagle-owl with a dead guineafowl clamped firmly in its talons. The leg and foot of the guineafowl can be seen sticking out to the left of the owl. These birds favour riparian trees with dense foliage to sleep in during the day, so to get such a clear view of one was a real treat. f5, 1/160s, ISO 100, @ 200mm
Similar to the yellow-billed hornbill dust-bathing picture of a few weeks ago, some red-billed oxpeckers engage in similar behaviour. f2.8, 1/800s, ISO640, @ 200mm
The aftermath. The Sparta Pride had passed through the night before, leaving a wildebeest ribcage and some bones behind. Full-bellied, they were lying half a kilometre away, leaving the hyenas and vultures to fight it out for the scraps. f4, 1/640, ISO 400, @ 145mm
Little and large. A white rhino cow and calf stroll down the road in Londolozi’s southern grasslands. f2.8, 1/640, ISO 320, @ 200mm
The Tamboti female leopard in the Maxabene riverbed. She had had her kill robbed by the Mashaba female the night before, and we think she was on her way back to a den-site, as matted fur around her teats told us that she had been nursing cubs. As yet, no-one has seen the cubs and they are probably too young to be viewed by the vehicles, but we are holding our collective breaths… f2.8, 1/1000s, ISO 800, @ 200mm
The Tamboti female again. Ever the opportunists, leopards will take any chance they get for a meal. Here, some impala rams were grazing ahead of her, but they were far from any sort of cover and she opted against the hunt. f2.8, 1/500, ISO 800, @ 200mm
More of the Tamboti female. She watches us carefully as she drinks from a pool of rainwater. Leopards would far rather drink from a shallow puddle formed by the rain as the water is probably cleaner than that found in a permanent waterhole that may be covered with dung and algae. f2.8, 1/200s, ISO 1600, @ 200mm
The cub of the Vomba female pauses from feeding on an impala kill to watch one of the Majingilane walk by on the airstrip a few hundred metres away. This sighting saw the notoriously shy cub well and truly relaxed around vehicles. A young male, he is now almost as big as his mother! f5, 1/320, ISO 2500, @ 200mm
The Cheetah is proving particularly difficult to find these days. If he isn’t perched on a log or up in a marula tree scanning for prey, the long grass of his territory makes spotting him an almost impossible task. When he does rear his head however, magic moments like this can happen… f4, 1/5000s, ISO 640, @ 70mm
Photographed by James Tyrrell