I was fortunate enough to recently stop at Londolozi for six nights. 2014 is the ninth consecutive year I have visited and like all the others it didn’t disappoint. My main interest is photography, particularly leopards, and with that in mind I rented a 600mm lens from the Londolozi Creative Studio.
So, armed with a couple of cameras, big lenses and questionable photographic ability, myself and my trusty guide Chris Goodman spent a wonderful six days seeking out leopards while photographing anything else we came across. However, the single most important element was my tracker Freddie Ngobeni. His fantastic tracking ability is allied to an encyclopedic knowledge of the individual leopards and an almost sixth sense of their behaviour and intentions.
Overall in six nights we viewed a total of sixteen different leopards, some on more than one occasion. For the record, and in no particular order, they were:
- Tu-Tones Male
- Camp Pan Male
- Vomba Young Male
- Tamboti Female
- Tamboti Young Female
- Mashaba Female
- Mashaba Young Female
- Nanga Female + 2 cubs
- Marthly Male
- Piva Young Male
- Ximpampala Young Female
- Tutlwa Young Female
- Unidentified young male on Sparta-Castleton Break
- Unidentified male in the Sand River (maybe Marthly Male)
In addition we also viewed the Tsalala, Sparta and Mhangen prides but this blog is devoted to the leopards of Londolozi. Thanks to everyone for my recent visit but particularly to Chris and Freddie. See you next year!
Only thirty minutes into the first drive Freddie, our tracker, located the Vomba Young Male, seen here observing impala from cover.
This cub is so transfixed by the guests it wasn’t paying much attention to its sibling’s attack!
The Camp Pan male in a burnt area while on morning patrol. Despite his advancing years he is still an imposing male.
The Mashaba Female prepares to move after a day of lying up in the Sand River.
What every photographer wants to see! A leopard on a log in the sun with no branches obscuring the view.
The Tamboti Young Female poses nicely on the log in the morning sun.
This shot was taken with the 600mm lens and you can see the incredibly shallow depth of field a lens of that focal length produces.
The Tamboti Female checks ahead before going to drink at Tortoise Pan.
Another leopard I haven’t viewed before, the Nhlanguleni Female, previously known as the Tutlwa Young Female. She is a very pretty leopard with incredibly long whiskers.
The Mashaba Young Female descends from a tree. She was trying to locate a kill that was in the area but shortly afterwards she bumped into her mother who chased her away.
Portrait of the Tamboti Female.
The Tamboti Female drinking at Tortoise Pan.
One of the Nanga youngsters peers from behind a log. Initially, the two youngsters were nervous but inquisitive of the vehicle but soon relaxed in the presence of their mother.
After playing for awhile the Nanga youngsters started to settle down – but all the while keeping an eye on us.
A portrait of Camp Pan. Another example of the blurred background you can get with a 600 mm.
The Ximpalapala Young Female quenches her thirst, a leopard I hadn’t seen before at Londolozi. She had spent all morning unsuccessfully pursuing the Tu-Tones Male to persuade him to mate. He however was more concerned with patrolling and did not take kindly to being continuously distracted by a flirtatious young female.
The very photogenic nose of the Tamboti Young Female.
And to prove it wasn’t all leopards – here are the Tsalala Pride overlooking Marthly Pools late one evening…
Written and Photographed by: Gary Tankard.