This week was all about the success and prowess of the Mhangeni breakaway pride as they continued their onslaught of weakening buffalo… Or wait. This week was all about the amazing story from lonely bird to happy family as both male and female Ostrich bring six new chicks into the wild world… Or wait, this week was all about leopard interactions, cheetah hunts, numerous male lion coalitions and huge packs of african wild dog…
How much has happened in the last few days? One can barely manage to keep up with the exciting stories from guests and staff alike, and it seems each day overshadows the next. It therefore becomes so important to constantly look back and appreciate the wonders of what was seen the day earlier, which is easily done through photographs.
Amongst all the amazing sightings we have been privileged enough to experience recently, I personally have to place one miles above the rest which were all very memorable in their own right; the Ostrich hatchlings take the cake. Besides having never seen any young Ostrich in the wild, I never expected to be able to observe their successful breeding in such a predator-rich environment. Furthermore, to be able to witness the first minutes of the last hatchling’s new life will never be forgotten and forever cherished. I am glad to confirm that yesterday all six chicks were seen walking around (and falling over quite often) under the supervision of both parents. All are doing well out there!
As all the animals stubbornly charge on in anticipation for summer, previously hidden reptiles, arachnids and amphibians begin revealing themselves. Migrant birds continue to make their return and several clearly pregnant impala ewes have been spotted by keen eyes! Most importantly, today it is gently raining! But without getting caught up in the eager dynamics of a changing season, let’s look back to what the week provided for us, the big and the “small”, in this week in pictures…
Day 1! Contrasted so nicely against the male’s jet black feathers, most of the new ostrich hatchlings are seen sitting up for the first time. Underneath his relaxed wing we could see crushed pieces of the shells, and the nearest chick to us could nearly muster up the strength to raise its head and neck off the soil. What an amazing experience! 1/1000 at f/4.0; ISO 160.
Monochrome new life portrait. Eventually, the sixth and final hatchling (nearest to camera) could manage to sit upright. 1/1250 at f/5.6; ISO 400.
With spots visible on her underside, one of the six young lionesses from the Mhangeni breakaway pride gets the others moving early into the afternoon, with both Matimba males joining them. They subsequently took down a buffalo bull well before the sun had set and fed throughout the night. 1/1600 at f/5; ISO 320.
Hot afternoons were dealt with by this Zebra mare by resting her chin on another member of the herd. The intricacy of their changing stripes certainly encourages staring, especially where the stripes fade off into the mane. 1/1000 at f/8; ISO 320.
The powerful Piva male raises his head to a distant sound, giving us the perfect opportunity to capture his profile against the harsh sunlight glow. 1/800 at f/2.8; ISO 100.
Directly descended from the original mother leopard and therefore part of the royal lineage of Londolozi.
Day 3 and all six hatchlings leave the safety of their nest for the first time! With their mother just out of frame, it was again a special sighting as both adults accompanied the wobbling chicks through the wilderness. 1/1000 at f/4; ISO 500.
Another moment from the same sighting as above, where all birds are seen together. It becomes clear how much these chicks need to grow in the next 12 months to avoid becoming someone else’s easy prey. 1/1000 at f/6.3; ISO 800.
Overcast skies lit up this uncommon Purple Roller evenly as it surveyed the open areas of Londolozi’s south-western region. Unlike the commoner Lilac-breaster Roller’s turquoise underwings, this Purple Roller boasts a deep, vulvet navy blue during flight and thus shouldn’t be overlooked! 1/640 at f/4; ISO 400.
With struggle and desperation apparent throughout the drying property, there is always a glimmer of new life and progress. This very young White Rhino calf strays just a few meters away from his mother which allows us a quick and unobstructed view! 1/2000 at f/2.8; ISO 250.
Finding the right light can really make an image come into its own. This blaring sunlight in the direction of the lens illuminates the Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill’s horn bill and also creates a glowing stage on which it stands. 1/1000 at f/2.8; ISO 80.
Standing mighty and resilient, a flowering Leadwood tree forms the perfect backdrop to a single Elephant as it traverses the black-cotton soil regions of the property for vegetation. 1/640 at f/8; ISO 400.
The dark-maned Matimba male and one of the Mhangeni breakaway lionesses spent two days together in a brief and intermittent mating bout. The distant horizon made this a very memorable few moments! 1/3200 at f/6.3; ISO 1000.
Frozen in time as the aggressive dismount reveals claws, muscles, saliva and a flourishing mane caught in morning light! 1/3200 at f/6.3; ISO 1000.
Again, light direction and strength alter a scene from one extreme to the next. Here, a beautifully back-lit Crested Francolin pauses momentarily, listening to the movements of the Tsalala pride in the Manyalethi river sand close by. 1/1000 at f/4; ISO 320.
As evening light faded away, a pack of 19 wild dog woke up to begin hunting. It is always such a privilege to see these very rare and protected animals in the wild! 1/640 at f/8; ISO 800.
To portray the wild dogs’ eager movements and constant trotting, this moment was captured through a panning technique while three of the many pups followed the rest of the pack. 1/25 at f/10; ISO 100.
While resting after a good feed on her kill, the Nkoveni female tries to catch flies which are clearly annoying her! 1/250 at f/2.8; ISO 640.
A young female that lives to the east and south of camp. Easily recognised by her 2:2 spot pattern she is often to be found in Marula trees.
Have a phenomenal weekend.