It has been estimated that roughly 50% of impala lambs make it through the year. At least that’s the figure I’ve heard. Once most of the females have dropped their young ones there is safety in numbers, as the lambs gather in creches, but the unfortunate few that get born early have been likened to the first to hit the beach in the D-Day landings. Absolutely at the mercy of the leopards and other predators that may catch sight of them. This year has been no exception, with the majority of kills we have seen over the past couple of weeks being impala lambs. Such small animals get taken by everything from Martial eagles, Jackals, baboons, hyenas, pythons, and of course the big cats. Not being particularly substantial meals, it is not long before the larger predators are forced to hunt again. We are privileged to bear witness to a lot of the action.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
It seems all the mothers are in playful moods this week on Londolozi. The Nanga female leopard bounds ahead of her cub. f3.5, 1/1250, ISO 640
Investigating where a bateleur eagle had been hopping in a marula tree, she leaped around the branches, sniffing carefully. We suspect another leopard may have had a kill stashed in the tree. f3.5, 1/800, ISO 400
With a bloody grin reminiscent of the character “The Joker” of Batman fame, a hyena finishes off the remains of an impala lamb it had snatched from the clearings around Ximpalapala koppie. f4.5, 1/800, ISO 640
Following hot on the heels of the impala births are the wildebeest. This was the first calf seen this season, one of two in the resident herd on Tu-Tones crest. f4, 1/1250, ISO 640
The Ximpalapala young female leopard on the remains of the impala lamb documented in yesterday’s post. Marula trees like the one she is in in this picture are perfect trees for leopards at this time of year. Relatively easy to climb, easy branches to hook kills over and with a nice canopy for shade and cover during the summer months, they offer everything a leopard needs. f2.8, 1/2500, ISO 320
A territorial male wildebeest stands guard over his airstrip domain. f4, 1/1250, ISO 160
A pride in high spirits, the Mhangeni females and cubs treated us to an amazing afternoon of playful antics. f3.5, 1/1600, ISO 800
The Mhangeni lionesses are still young and often get involved in the games their cubs play. This female was more than happy to indulge these cubs in their stick game, although used her size to outmuscle them and claim the prize! f2.8, 1/800, ISO 800
A rare daytime view of a nightjar in the open. I’m pretty sure it’s a square-tailed nightjar, as the white in the outer retrices (tail feathers) seems to go all the way up, whereas in the fiery-necked nightjar the white would only extend part way up the tail. f2.8, 1/1000, ISO 800
A grainy shot of the Sparta pride tearing into a zebra foal. We had followed them for an hour on this evening as they made a few unsuccessful approaches through the clearings at dusk, but as the darkness properly settled they managed to catch this young zebra. It was rather an opportunistic kill as we think the zebra was startled by a fleeing giraffe. We were lights down at the time, allowing the pride to hunt in the pitch black, and heard the running hooves of the giraffe followed by the sudden squeal of the zebra foal as it ran into the deadly trap of 9 encircling lions. f2.8, 1/60, ISO 2500
The vervet monkeys around camp provide amazing viewing themselves. Seasonal breeders, most young are born at this time of year, so the local Varty Camp troop has its fair share of tiny little ones at the moment. f3.2, 1/500, ISO 640
Quickly becoming my favourite female leopard on Londolozi, the Mashaba young female is like a pocket rocket, leaping up into every tree she can.
She was lying in a deep, deep buffalo-thorn thicket when found this afternoon, but soon climbed into a nearby knobthorn tree to wait for the afternoon to cool down a bit before going exploring. f3.5, 1/1000, ISO 640
Here she lies in a leadwood tree at Tsalala Pan, taking a quick breather. f2.8, 1/320, ISO 800
A lone buffalo bull snatches a quick drink from Circuit Pan as the day warms up.
The Majingilane with the missing canine peers over the leaves at our approach. All four Majingilane were seen in company on this morning, and this particular individual happened to be lying near the airstrip when I dropped my guests Kim and Tonya Illman off for their flight, so I snapped a couple of shots on the way back to camp. f3.5, 1/1250, ISO 320
Photographed by James Tyrrell