As a ranger, every now and then you will hit a so-called “Purple Patch”. Amazing sightings seem to be on pause until the moment you get there, and then the action starts. Leopards are literally presenting you with their cubs, lions that have been sleeping for hours start to roar the moment you arrive and switch your engine off, and you leave camp each day brimming with confidence that you are going to see something else epic. For the last 10 days or so, that has been the story with tracker Mike Sithole and I. We have been incredibly lucky to be in the right place at the right time to see some amazing things take place.
The flip-side of the coin is that I know this run of luck will probably end soon, and a 4-hour hack, trying to find a leopard that is keeping just ahead of us will be what my drives are replaced with. But I’ll ride the wave as long as I can.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
Work in the bush for 20 years and you may never see this. Probably one of the worst photos ever to grace the Week in Pictures, but certainly one of the most amazing moments. The Tailed Tsalala lioness carries one of her cubs through the twilight as she leads them to a kill for the first time. Low light meant a very low shutter speed, and as we weren’t about to use the spotlight on very young cubs (the other three were tagging along behind), I just snapped one anyway to capture a reminder of the moment. f3.2, 1/80, ISO 800
The Thickbilled Cuckoo is a very special bird to see. There were actually two of them in this sighting, most likely a male and a female, and this was probably only the fourth or fifth time I have ever seen this species. They are migratory, coming down from North and West Africa for the Summer, but these two have arrived quite a bit earlier than we would have expected. f3.5, 1/6400, ISO 320
Wild dogs from the pack of 8 (that we were ironically looking for in the Dudley Riverbank/Camp Pan sighting of two days ago) delight in each others company as they reunite after a successful hunt. f2.8, 1/1250, ISO 400
An African Fish Eagle soars majestically over the Sand River. The pair that nests across the River from Granite Camp have been successfully raising a chick this year, faring better than last year when their nest was raided by a large male leopard. f6.3, 1/6400, ISO 500
This point in the Sand River is rather appropriately named ‘Old Elephant Crossing. Go figure. f8, 1/800, ISO 500
Summer’s creatures are starting to appear in greater and greater numbers as the weather heats up. This tiny frog was found next to the Pioneer Camp car park as we waited to depart on morning game drive. It was still quite gloomy, so with Mike shining the spotlight I was able to capture a shot with a Macro lens. f5.6, 1/320, ISO 2000
This poor lioness from the Mhangeni Pride had 7 little cubs vying for suckling rights on her 4 teats. As you can see, she was NOT impressed, yet whenever she tried to move off she was followed religiously by the hungry things, not allowed a moment’s peace. f8, 1/500, ISO 400
A tender moment between cub and mother in the Mhangeni Pride as they settle in for the day on the cool sand of the Sand River. f5, 1/1000, ISO 400
A Fiery-necked Nightjar alights on a thorny branch next to the road. It’s rictal bristles can clearly be seen in this photo. These modified feathers supposedly help funnel insects into the mouth. f2.8, 1/640, ISO 1600
A rare visitor to Londolozi, the Piva female is occasionaly seen in our Southern areas. On this day she had caught a duiker near Weaver’s Nest Pan and hoisted it into a Weeping Boer-Bean tree. f2.8, 1/800, ISO 640
The South Pride is a pride we don’t often see. They were far into Londolozi on this day, following the large herd of buffalo that were in the area. I like the South Pride for their wide range of shapes and sizes. Adult females, sub-adults and young males provide a wonderful variety of lions in this, the biggest pride in the Sabi Sands. f3.2, 1/800, ISO 800
Fresh blood dripping from it’s mouth and chin, and resembling the Joker from Batman in a rather uncanny way, this hyena had just robbed the male cheetah of his impala kill. The cheetah had barely had time to catch his breath before the hyena, coming to investigate the alarm calls of the rest of the impala herd, came sniffing in to steal a free breakfast. f5, 1/1250, ISO 640
A weevil. Don’t ask me what species, but I will try to find out. This tiny little critter was crawling along the rifle rack on the front of the Land Rover as we stopped for coffee this morning, providing a perfect opportunity to get the Macro lens out and take some shots. f10, 1/640, ISO 1600
The Tamboti female and her cub explore a fallen Jacket Plum as they head East towards an impala kill the adult female has made. f3.5, 1/1250, ISO 800
The pair line up together for a drink and a wonderful photographic moment at Gert’s Pan. This was less than 200m from where the wild dogs were lying and we believe the leopards had actually been chased by them earlier, as when ranger Greg Pingo first found the female she had been calling urgently for her cub. I simply kept my shutter button depressed, shooting at high speed, hoping to capture both tongues out at the same time. f3.5, 1/800, ISO 800
Photographed by James Tyrrell
What an epic week in pictures JT. The leopards drinking, fish eagle flying and lioness carrying her cub are amazing pics.
Just stunning! Thank you!
Hi James the lioness and cub wow, hope to see them when I get there in three weeks.
I have few words for such perfection that you have delivered to us today! Thank you as always for sharing & please you don’t need to explain when a picture is not “perfect” to us eager awaiters for the week in pictures IT IS PERFECT!!!
Another wonderful week at Londolozi! Thank you for sharing these special moments with us.
Thank you again.
Amazing pics….WOW! What a week!
Awesome Shots bud!
OMG JT!!! INCREDIBLE!!!! I’m blown away. Simply magnificent. All of them. Wow. Gosh I’m so envious I cannot be there!! I want to move to Londolozi but I don’t need a job. How can I fit in? LOLOLOL
Sometimes you just don’t think it can get any better and then you present us with a week like this one..
What a wonderful world you live in..
thank you for sharing
Londolozi the Eden of the African wilderness…Stirring images keep them coming..Rich.
I hope someday I can be there to hear a mother leopard calling for her cub! What wonderful photos James, they always brighten my day.
Awesome JT, AGAIN!
Just surprised (read disappointed) you couldn’t identify the weevil and the frog?