The Week in Pictures is essentially a way for blog followers to get a feel for what is happening in the Londolozi bushveld. It invites you into the lives of guides and guests in this rich and wonderful landscape. As always the bush is ever changing and thus the reflection on each week yields a number of unique experiences and adventures. The following images reveal a touch of what really stood out for me over the last week of guiding.
What really stood out for me were the number of unique leopard sightings. The reason for this is that on the 26th of September the first rains of the season graced Londolozi’s soil. The storm on the dark night of the 26th brought wind and rain that the animals had not experienced for several months, provided the ideal hunting conditions for predators. The prey species become vulnerable on nights like these as the wet and windy conditions disrupt their normally acute hearing, sense of smell, and vision. The next morning the guiding team went out into the bush to find as many as ten leopard kills. This particular night will be recounted in detail by Rob Jeffery in a blog coming out in the next few days.
I hope you enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The Tamboti female and her cub; here both leopards lie, full bellied, under a tamboti tree in which a dead impala was wedged. The female had killed two impalas that night. 1/2500 at f/5,6; ISO 1250.
The Tsalala breakaway pride are spending more and more time in and around the Sand River, which presents plenty of hunting opportunities at the end of a dry winter. Here one of the cubs stares in absolute awe at its sleeping mother.
The Mashaba female feeds on her kill, also made on the night of the 26th. The kill was an impala ewe which she hoisted in a tamboti tree. She fed and then left to fetch her cubs, allowing them to also delight in the spoils of the first rains of the season. 1/5000 at f/5,6; ISO 1250.
This was a unique scene with three different species perched in the same tree. The bird in the foreground is a grey heron, the one in a middle is a tawny eagle and the in the background is a yellow-billed stork. I focused on the tawny eagle because at that moment (with its impressive hooked bill and brown plumage) it seemed to stand out more than the other two. 1/1250 at f/5,6; ISO 800.
In this instance a hippo paddles its tail with the aim of spreading its dung. On its back is the red-legged, yellow-billed black crake. 1/6000 at f/5,6; ISO 800
An elephant bull drinks whilst staring almost directly into my lens. Extra wrinkles in elephants’ skin allows for easier temperature regulation in hot conditions. 1/400 at f/5,0; ISO 1000.
This was a special moment whereby a mother hyena carefully lifted its young cub, walked over to the large burrow in the termite mound behind them and placed it into the den to join the others. She then left the litter to begin her nightly forage. 1/1250 at f/5,6; ISO 800.
The Mashaba young female has what looks like a very relieving stretch after having fed for the last couple of hours since the rain. After this she moved off into a shaded thicket to hide herself from the harsh sun. She was another one of the leopards found with kills after the rain; she had made three that night!
One of the Majingelane male lions walks directly toward us. There are few things more powerful and moving than a fully grown male lion walking with eyes fixed in your direction. 1/1000 at f/5,6; ISO 1250.
A grin from a young hyena. This cub makes it very known that he/she could care less about us being in its space. 1/6400 at f/5,6; ISO 1000.
This shot is another one of the Mashaba young female; here she sits on the branch of a uniquely textured dead leadwood. This tree was home to one of her three kills made on the night of the 26th. I chose this image because the leadwood frames her body in an almost planned way. 1/8000 at f/5,6; ISO 800
The Mashaba young female; this shot provides a wider perspective of the one above. She lies full-bellied on top of her perch next to her prize. 1/8000 at f/4,5; ISO 800
One of the Mashaba female’s young cubs. This was the first time I had seen the cubs and felt very privileged in that moment. The image captures what I like to call ‘in every act of destruction there is an act of creation’; the hanging impala head in the background symbolizes destruction, and from this destruction comes food and life for the young leopard cubs, providing them with strength and a better chance of survival. 1/4000 at f/5,6; ISO 1250.
This male southern tree agama was sporting an impressive array of colours. A tradeoff in the wild is the added chance of attracting a mate by sporting bright colours while at the same time making yourself more vulnerable to predation due to your increased visibility. 1/400 at f/6,3; ISO 1000.
An old hippo bull lies in a small waterhole not quite deep enough to cover his whole body. After being ousted from his position of dominance by a younger, stronger male, this old bull will probably live out the rest of his days alone. 1/4000 at f/5,6; ISO 1000.
The Nkoveni female’s now single cub shows its affection for its mother. Here they walk through an open clearing towards to their impala kill, hoisted in a thick saffron tree. The Nkoveni female made two kills that night! 1/6400 at f/5,0; ISO 1000.