About the Author

James Tyrrell

Photographic Guide/Media Team

James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills that complemented his Honours degree in Zoology meant that he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the ...

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40 Comments

on Is This Londolozi’s Best Wildlife Photograph Ever?

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Alex
Member
Guest

This is an outstanding image,but sadly it seems that those cubs have been killed by the Dudley 5:5 male.The Tamboti female has been seen calling her cubs for four days now in the area where she had a hostile encouter with the Dudley 5:5 male,the same area where she was last seen with her cubs.

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi Alex,
Sadly we believe that may be the case.
Although we can hope, hope itself is unfortunately a fickle mistress in the African bush, and at the moment it doesn’t look too positive.

Monika Mueller
Member
Guest

simply.fabulous.photo.composition.surprise!

Jen Sawicky
Member
Guest

James, you are spot on. It’s an absolutely magnificent photograph.

Leslie
Member
Guest

When I first saw this photo I said ” what the heck is that”. That forced me to really look at the photo and when I found those two big eyed cubs I smiled and couldn’t stop staring at them. I know if I had taken that shot I would be very proud so I hope that Don does pursue the contest so many others can smile as I did.

Jan-Erik Rottinghuis
Member
Guest

Well James, it is a great pic, no doubt about it, but there have been tons on this blog (yours come to mind) that are also very good. One can argue that the angle of the tree……, etc. etc. So don’t “beat yourself up” and keep shooting those special moments. We will be hopefully there again (after way too long) this time in 12 months and we can compare…I hope!

Dave Mills
Member
Guest

One of the best, for certain. Thanks.

Kim Sams
Member
Guest

Stunning!!! That you so much for sharing and I definitely think Don should enter it in competitions! Made my day!

Pat Meadowcroft
Member
Guest

Yes, Greg du Toit, go for it! Enter that photo in any wildlife competition you can. It is wonderful. After entering it keep us unformed of how it goes!

Ian Hall
Member
Guest

It’s certainly one of the best , but there was an equally good photo of a Leopard walking towards the camera and looking straight into the eyes of the viewer

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi Ian,

Thanks for your comments.
Are you referring to the photograph by David Dampier from a couple of weeks ago? That is indeed a beautiful image, and the leopard’s eyes looking straight into the viewfinder certainly draw you right in.
This image of Don’s however, is far more than simply a leopard walking towards the camera. The rarity of seeing such small cubs is one thing, but the way so many different factors combine make this image completely unique for me.
Photography is essentially about telling a story, and the story in this one is more gripping and powerful – at least for me – than almost any other I have ever seen before!

Jeff Rodgers
Member
Guest

Blogs like this (not to mention the wildlife and the incredible staff) make Londolozi the ’10-star’ place to visit that it has been for decades.

Ed Hubbard
Member
Guest

I also had a “WOW” moment the instant I opened the photo. Having spent some considerable time at Londolozi and taken thousands of leopard photos there, I can’t imagine the overwhelming feeling that must have come over Don when he saw this shot. Enter this in every contest avalilable.

Ray Orriss
Member
Guest

This is just an amazing photo capture and so appealing. It should definitely be seen by a wide audience. I wish Londolozi was closer to Texas. We would be there often.

Susan Honnell
Member
Guest

A perfect moment captured, and yes what a beautiful story it tells. The female at guard, watching out for her two cubs with that look of both fear and glorious curiosity on their faces, wrapped up and protected in the fallen tree – spectacular. I was lucky enough to shoot the Dudley Riverbank Female with her cub and am still mesmerized by the gift of experiencing that moment. Yes … Don should enter this shot in a competition … perfection!

Jacques Sellschop
Member
Guest

Did you mean “disinterested”? Perhaps thinking of “uninterested”? For me she is “detached”, ” but I guess only seemingly so, given the vigilance with which leopards protect their cubs. On the subject of composition, I agree with you. But have you thought of cropping off that disturbing bit of unconnected tail mid-line left? I believe it would eliminate a distraction from the adult leopard, which otherwise does everything you say it does. The tail draws the eye away, for me, at any rate. The also seems to be a picture-within-a-picture prospect if one were to isolate just the cubs and the remarkable tree detail. While infants of the species generally come with an automatically captivating factor, the rarity of this moment being captured so definitively on camera certainly elevates the image to the upper echelons of the wildlife art form. The other question that arises in my mind is: if one encounters an incident so rare in frequency and effect, should one not be prepared to sit it out for long enough to capture the totally flawless image in terms of composition and action? I wonder whether the photographer took 100 images or simply two or three? But I agree with you – this one is quite special.

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi Jacques,

Thanks for your comments. Haha I’ll chat to Don about the crop, but better for him to comment 🙂 I did mean “disinterested”, but “uninterested” could just have easily be substituted.
In terms of sitting and waiting for the flawless image in terms of action, things can happen very quickly in the bush, and one doesn’t always have the luxury of the animals doing what you want. As I understand from Don, the cubs’ faces only appeared briefly, allowing him to snap off this shot. Remember there are often constraints, especially in a situation like this in which Don would have been shooting with a longer lens, not wanting to be too close to the den so as not to disturb the cubs. The female is also a factor, as she may have been on the log only briefly. For all the elements to come together like they did was very fortuitous, and in my opinion Don absolutley nailed the shot.

Wendy MacNicol
Member
Guest

This is one of the most intriguing photographs we have ever seen! We quite agree with the “bam” moment! Really good work. Congratulations! Wendy

Wendy Hawkins
Member
Guest

Oh yes this definitely should be in a competition! Pure perfection <3

Judy Guffey
Member
Guest

Didn’t see the cubs on the small screen of my phone. But ….. on the desktop pc…..spectacular photo. Well done!

MJ
Member
Guest

Don Heyneke, this photo should be entered into every photo contest that is qualifies for! James has been nothing but truthful with his accolades for your photo! It is quite amazing.. I will share it where ever I can.

Bev Goodlace
Member
Guest

Wonderful, wonderful photograph. I do agree with you James. Hope to see more of Don’s images.

Adam
Member
Guest

Totally agree. The best wildlife photo I have seen in 2015 (and I have seen a lot). A competition winner for sure. Congrats to Don on such a great photo.

Mary Moy
Member
Guest

“Purrfect”

Sepp
Member
Guest

Couldn’t agree more. What a shot.

Jill Grady
Member
Guest

I agree wholeheartedly James! It is a very special, incredible photograph that Don captured when everything aligned at the right moment, that may never come again. Don, you should absolutely enter this photograph in competitions (Wildlife Photographer of the Year)!

Lac
Member
Guest

It certainly is an interesting shot. One angle you missed (which isn’t surprising as its not something you would experience if you know the area well) is that it makes someone who doesn’t know the spot wonder about all sorts of things…how deep is that log? Can those cubs hide effectively in it? Is a log a common den site?

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi Lac,

Thanks for your comments.
Hollow logs are indeed common den sites for leopards to use. As for this log in particular, I don’t know if the hollow extended the entire way along the tree length, but it certainly went deep enough for the cubs to disappear if they wanted to hide effectively. The main prerequisite of a den site is a cavity that cannot be accessed by a larger predator like a hyena or lion. This log was only a temporary den and the female moved the cubs again within 48 hours as she had made a kill very close by which was robbed by hyenas; the increased activity in the area made the den undesirable.

Cynthia House
Member
Guest

The second time I saw this photo I noticed something I wonder if anyone else has. I can see a feline face complete with eyes, nose and lower jaw shape in the gnarled roots of the tree above the cubs. Do you see it ?

Mindi McLean
Member
Guest

Oh yes, Cynthia, I think the “cat in the tree” is what takes this photo to another level entirely. I read through everyone’s comments because I couldn’t believe no one else had seen or mentioned the perfect image in the gnarls of the tree. The cubs sit in the mouth of the “tree cat” beautifully. Thank you Don for this amazing photo and James for sharing it.

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