Recently I was sitting with Jess MacLarty, reminiscing on her days as a ranger and she was showing me some of her images. I hadn’t seen any of her photographs before and I was blown away with some of the things she had seen and what she had captured in her 7 years of guiding at Londolozi.
As guides we have countless joyful times out in the bush and get to witness births, deaths and watch the stories of the various animals we love so much unfold. Our photographic records form a narrative of our guiding careers and allow us to share our story and experiences with others.
Jess has a beautiful style. You can tell that she loves and respects nature through her photography and I begged her to put together a blog to showcase some of these memories. Jess however, is not a fan of writing about her work, hence why I am doing it on her behalf.
I really hope you enjoy the first section of what will be a two-part blog series, looking on as a ranger remembers.
The Tutlwa female sits high up in the tops of an Apple Leaf tree. She had been chased up there by lions and looks down disdainfully at these bigger cats who don’t stand a chance of catching her in the high, flimsy branches.
An elephant baths itself in a cloud of dust before heading towards a waterhole for a drink in the early evening.
A glorious sun sets over the open areas of Londolozi. This still remains one of the best spots on Londolozi to stop for an evening sundowner.
Two of the Majingilane male lions cross through the Sand River, responding to the call of their brothers. The strength of this coalition is evident in the way that they cross the river together in unison.
One of Tamboti female’s cubs, from an unsuccessful litter, takes a drink from a waterhole. It is always hard to see these female leopards attempting and failing at raising cubs but there is also huge privilege in being allowed to witness this struggle.
An impala ram stands to attention and sounds the alarm to show that he has spotted a leopard. By doing this he tells the predator that he has seen it and that the predator no longer has the element of surprise.
The Marthly male stalks an unsuspecting warthog as it leaves its burrow. This leopard was renowned for hunting warthogs and perfected the art of patience, waiting for the perfect moment before leaping on his prey.
An incredible thunder storm rolls in across Londolozi. The last ten years have seen many good seasons of rainfall and this sight was a common occurrence during the summer months.
A group of zebra stand together in a confusion of stripes. This dazzling of lines is thought to be one of their defence mechanisms against predators because when they stand together like this, it is hard to decipher one zebra from another.
Two of the Mashaba female’s young cubs suckle in the early morning light. Countless years spent viewing this leopard has resulted in a trust relationship so strong that she allows us to view her young, vulnerable cubs.
A Majingilane male lion performs the flehmen grimace, testing the scent of a lionesses urine for signs of estrus. These males were the dominant coalition for the majority of Jess’ guiding career and she got to see them living out the prime of their lives on Londolozi.