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Home of leopards
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Arriving at Londolozi a little under three years ago, it was a chance for me to explore a part of my country I had yet to experience in my life. Growing up in Cape Town, I had had very little exposure to the bush and had barely been on safari before my Londolozi arrival. As a result, I had no idea what I was getting into. Three years later and my growth and development as a game ranger and subsequent knowledge of the bush has grown exponentially. Initially it was a tough and nerve-wracking process but I soon found my feet and began to love what I was doing. Furthermore, after barely holding a camera before coming to Londolozi, I can safely say that although not a specialist photographic guide, my interest in this particular field has grown into a passion and a love for wildlife and nature photography.
In conjunction with the Londolozi blog team, I have kindly requested to continue writing and contributing to the blog. My passion for writing and story telling have been greatly influenced by my time at Londolozi and by some of the great story tellers that I have had the pleasure of meeting.
Despite being immersed in the vast abundance of flora and fauna present at Londolozi and the incredible sightings that I have witnessed throughout my time, there is one aspect that stands out for me. Rather than the animals and their interactions witnessed, it is the impact that I (and the Londolozi team) have had on people’s lives. Creating special and life-long memories with guests that I have only met for a few days by helping immerse them in the wonders of the African bush has been far more rewarding and gratifying an experience than I could ever have imagined, and something I will truly miss.
As a final farewell, I have undertaken to pick my twenty favourite photographs taken at this beautiful place, most of which capture a special moment for me. I know that I have my personal favourite in this collection, however I would love to hear what yours are in the comments section below.
Having never seen a leopard before arriving at Londolozi, this was my first time seeing leopard cubs. Secreting her cubs away for a few months, this was one of the first times that the Mashaba female guided her young cubs to a kill that she had hoisted in a tree near camp.
Whilst still in the ranger training phase at Londolozi, I was fortunate enough to witness the Mangheni pride waking up from their slumber and move towards a waterhole to have a drink. Although Kevin Power may have put this photo to shame recently with his picture of 13 lions drinking together, it is still probably my favourite photograph taken during my time at Londolozi. What makes this image more special for me was the fact that I had only obtained my camera a few days prior.
The male Cheetah that is sometimes found in the south-western parts of Londolozi is always incredible to view. Here, he obtains a vantage point on a fallen over tree as the sun goes down.
A unique sighting from start to finish as this huge and extremely powerful crocodile makes light work of its catfish kill.
Patience certainly pays off in the bush. We were simply waiting for this European roller to take flight but only managed to capture many blurred photographs of the bird and the sky. To our amazement, this striking bird returned to its same perch and started feeding on the grasshopper it had just caught.
Escaping a persistent Nhlanguleni female attempting to mate with him, the Flat Rock male decided to climb a large Jackelberry tree where he rested in its folds.
A leopard that often proves difficult to photograph due to his secretive nature, a salivating Inyathini male is perfectly framed but a large Mahogany tree, a tree that many rangers dream of seeing a leopard in.
The Island female (still the Tamboti young female at the time) crouches low in an attempt to stalk a herd of impala. Unfortunately, due to the relatively open area in which she was hunting, the impala spotted her and made a hasty retreat.
One of the Manjingilane males walks towards the rising sun as he responds to the distant calls of his brothers. More recently, this powerful coalition has been spending the majority of their time apart, which may soon prove foolhardy as the Birmingham males make their inexorable approach to Londolozi.
This was my first attempt at photographing a back-lit Matimba male. Even entry-level cameras can capture nice images with a few pointers on settings.
A rather comical image of the Mashaba young female as she yawns and at the same time overly extends her tongue. She most certainly is my favourite leopard on Londolozi as I have watched her growing up, her nervous approach at independence and her rise as a territorial leopard.
Following the Ndzanzeni female and her male cub through a very thick area, their direction had always been towards a nearby waterhole. Positioning the vehicle in anticipation for them to drink, it all worked out perfectly.
After the female had finished drinking (same sighting as the above image) she walked along the edge of the water towards a patch of shade as the morning temperature began to rise. A still and clear morning resulted in a beautiful reflection of this beautiful female leopard.
A special and memorable morning spent with the Nkoveni female and her two late cubs as they walked through a clearing allowing a perfect opportunity to photograph this young family. Upon to the unfortunate death of the Piva male, his territory was overtaken by adjacent territorial male, resulting in the death of these two young cubs.
The Nkoveni female (still the Mashaba young female at the time) rests in a Marula tree as she gazes off into the setting sun.
This was the first time I had seen a leopard cub with blue eyes. At the beginning of 2017, the Nkoveni female gave birth to two cubs. A relatively quiet morning on game drive presented us with this incredible opportunity as we bumped into the female unexpectedly as she was going back to the den.
After unfortunately losing one of her cubs, the Tamboti female expresses her affection for her remaining cub early one morning.
A sighting that many rangers dream of! After watching the Tsalala pride climb down from a Jackelberry tree in which they were resting, they slowly walked in the direction of the Sand River. Anticipating that they would cross at the Causeway bridge, we quickly raced across the river to where we were able to capture this rare moment.
The late Tutlwa female looks up as beautiful golden light falls upon her face. I was privileged to view this enigmatic female a number of times before her disappearance in 2017.
Seeing one leopard is special enough but seeing three leopards together walking in perfect unison is a moment I will never forget. Here the late Xidulu female and her male and female cubs walk down the Maxabene riverbed.
Growing up in Cape Town, the opposite end of South Africa from its main wildlife areas, didn't slow Callum down when embarking on his ranger training at Londolozi at the start of 2015. He had slowly begun moving north-east through the country anyway, ...