On the brink of the 300th instalment of This Week in Pictures we look back on another magical week here at Londolozi. Searching for leopard cubs has been a recurring theme with a number of females harbouring elusive litters. We had some incredible sightings of the Tamboti female in particular as she led her two cubs to a freshly killed impala. The Nkoveni female continues to raise her second litter as her two six month old cubs continue to get bigger and more confident and we can finally confirm that the Mashaba female has had a litter of three cubs, although at a vulnerable four weeks old they are still bound to the den site and glimpses of them are few and far between. There will be some interesting times ahead as we wait to see which male leopard fills the void left by the Piva Male and how this will affect these various litters.
With regards to lions, we have had The Mhangeni, Tsalala and Tsalala Breakaway prides all making regular appearances along the Sand River in front of the lodges due to an abundance of prey coming down to drink daily. However, with winter slowly losing its grip on the bush hunting will get harder as dependance on the river wanes.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The Nkoveni female managed to kill a grey duiker and hoist it into a Marula Tree. After one of her cubs dislodged it and it fell to the ground the other cub then tried to take it back up. Even though it only got half way up it was an impressive attempt for a six month old leopard cub. 1/1250 at f/4,5; ISO 100
Winter time along the Sand River never disappoints. As dry conditions prevail the river provides a constant source of water to quench many an animal’s thirst. 1/200 at f/8,0; ISO 400
A Dwarf Mongoose pokes its head out of the safe refuge of a termite mound. These little mammals regularly change densites to keep ahead of potential predators. 1/1250 at f/4,0; ISO 200
A battle scarred female Hyena carries her newborn cub back into the safety of the den site. With the number of cubs in this clan growing steadily, they have been running out of space in their regular den, and are now making use of more than one. 1/640 at f/5,6; ISO 200
Not wanting to be left out, the Nkoveni female joins in on some play time with one of her cubs. Being a young female (5 years old as of a few days ago), she still has a lot of youthful exuberance. 1/2000 at f/4,0; ISO 1250
A gorgeous female who is found to the east of camp. Easily recognised by her 2:2 spot pattern she is often to be found in Marula trees.
A young baboon rests in the boughs of a Jackalberry tree. Big riverine trees like Jackalberries are vital for baboon troops to use as roosting spots in a predator rich area like Londolozi. 1/2000 at f/7,1; ISO 1000
This Spotted Eagle Owl was disturbed from its day time perch by one of the Nkoveni female’s young cubs as it tried to stalk it. Well camouflaged, these birds are rarely sen during the day, and generally only when flushed. 1/500 at f/5,6; ISO 1600
One of the Nkoveni female’s cubs on the same afternoon it tried, in vain, to catch the Spotted Eagle Owl. Although its tail looks stumpy, it is just the angle of the photo that makes it look cut off. 1/1600 at f/4,0; ISO 1000
The Nkoveni Female in the late afternoon sun, glancing back towards her cubs. The 2 spots on her left cheek, just above her whisker line, are very evident in this photo, and are part of the system for leopard identification we use here at Londolozi. 1/2500 at f/4,0; ISO 1000
A hooded vulture descends after spotting something to scavenge. Hooded vultures are the scouts of the vulture world, often the first to arrive as a carcass, acting as pathfinders for others in the area. 1/1250 at f/8,0; ISO 400
Right before returning to a kill she had made, the Tamboti Female led her two cubs to a nearby waterhole to drink. Unfortunately they were robbed of their impala kill by a hyena very soon after this photograph was taken. 1/125 at f/8,0; ISO 800
The Tamboti female inhabited the south-eastern sections of Londolozi, having a large part of her territory along the Maxabene Riverbed.
It’s always a test of patience to try and photograph a hippo with it’s mouth wide open. Spending some time at a waterhole in the early morning or late afternoon when they are a bit more active will boost your chances. 1/320 at f/5,0; ISO 100
One of the Majingilane males listens for the distant roar of his brothers after being separated. The three members of this coalition are spending much more time on Londolozi than they have over the past two years, and have been seen mating with the Mhangeni pride (their daughters). Inbreeding over only one generation is not a disaster in lion populations and is not altogether uncommon. In an open ecosystem like this it will invariably not be too long before breeding equilibrium is restored. 1/400 at f/2,8; ISO 2500
A young male from the Tsalala pride as they rest along the Sand River. We waited with them for a couple of hours in the hope they would wade across the channel behind them as evening fell, but they continued to sleep until well after dark. 1/500 at f/5,6; ISO 250
The two cubs of the Nkoveni Female play with each other in the fading light. With the INyathini male having been seen moving into the deceased Piva male’s old territory, these cubs’ future is in jeopardy. 1/1000 at f/2,8; ISO 2500