From an almost abundance of leopard cubs at the start of the year, we find ourselves nearly at the other end of the spectrum as we approach year-end. Although a number of the year’s cubs have survived, many of them are approaching independence, with the Nanga female having seemingly forced her female cub to go independent already, and the Ndzanzeni young male – now significantly larger than his mother – we suspect will be the next to be given the boot.
What this does mean though, is that a number of the female leopards have started mating again, with the Nkoveni, Mashaba and Kigelia females forming mating pairs with various males over the last week.
The birthing of impala lambs all over Londolozi represents a feast for the predators, and the leopards in particular have been taking full advantage.
The Summer months are about far more than leopards though, so without further ado, enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The Nkoveni female leopard presents herself to the Flat Rock male while the Mashaba young female watches on in the background. It was remarkable to see three adult leopards together in one sighting. Keep an eye on the blog for a video of this amazing sighting coming out in the next few days. ISO 1000, F7.1, 1/125.
An African harrier-hawk tries to raid a nest using its specialised legs. A burchell’s starling, which is a whole nesting species, harasses the big bird of prey, attempting to drive it off with this mobbing technique. ISO 800, F6.3, 1/2000.
A close-up shot of the Nkoveni female who was on the trail of the Flat rock male. Since having lost her cubs, this female has come back into estrus and has been seen mating with this male on a few occasions. ISO 400, F5.6, 1/1000.
A Birmingham male lion on a territorial expansion mission through the heart of Londolozi. On this occasion, he was seen south of the Sand River, further out of his coalition’s territory than ever before. ISO 1000, F6.3, 1/1000.
The Nkoveni female rests on an impala lamb kill she had made. With it being the core of the impala birthing season, this is the animal we see being fed on the most by predators. ISO 1250, F7.1, 1/320.
A motion blur of a hyena, which is achieved by slowing down the camera’s shutter speed and tracking the movement of the subject as it moves by. A noise in the river during our sundowners one evening caught our attention, which is when we noticed this hyena making off with its impala lamb kill. ISO 640, F6.3, 1/30.
Another photograph of the Nkoveni female leopard captured during her period of mating with the Flat Rock male. This was edited by Kylie Jones, in the photographic studio. Click here to find out more about the editing sessions available during your stay at Londolozi.
An unusual angle of a male rhino feeding above us on an embankment. Notice how he has caked himself in mud, typical behaviour done to protect the skin from the heat and harshness of the sun during the summer months. ISO 800, F8, 1/500.
A tiny elephant calf plays with its older sibling. We estimated this youngster to be only about a week old. It’s size, the extreme hairiness visible below its chin and its wobbliness on its feet were all giveaways of its tender age. ISO 400, F6.3, 1/500.
Two young male giraffes practice their fighting skills. They gain momentum behind their heavy heads by swinging their long necks and smash their horns into one another’s stomach, chest and rib area in an attempt to establish dominance. ISO 400, F7.1, 1/1000.
A close-up shot of the Tailless Tsalala pride females’ cub. This pride is going through an incredibly tumultuous time at the moment. Click here to read the most recent update. ISO 1250, F7.1, 1/1250.
A Plains or Burchell’s Zebra looks towards where one of the Majingilane was sleeping in a clearing. Although well aware of the lion’s presence, this individual zebra and the rest of its group were not too concerned, recognising the threat level from the lion as being effectively zero. A male lion slinking around in the undergrowth, acting furtively and remaining hidden, would represent a much greater threat. f6.3, 1/6402, ISO 1000. Photograph by James Tyrrell
This zebra had also seen the lion, but was unconcerned. Zebras can run very fast, and a visible threat is far less dangerous than an unseen one, so the zebra was quite happy to go on its way. f6.3, 1/800s, ISO 1000. Photograph by James Tyrrell
A Steppe Eagle comes in to land. These migrants have only arrived in the last month or so, some of them from the Steppes of Russia, as their name suggests. Their arrival coincides with the impala lambing season, and a large part of their diet at the moment consists of impala afterbirth. f7.1, 1/2500s, ISO 320. Photograph by James Tyrrell
The first crop of impala lambs are notoriously difficult to get a good photograph of without a decent telephoto lens. Their mothers are generally skittish, leading their offspring away from any potential threat, including Land Rovers. After a few weeks, they generally relax quite a lot, and one is able to approach a nursery herd a lot more closely. f5.6, 1/250s, ISO 800. Photograph by James Tyrrell
Two spotted hyena cubs await the arrival of their mother, while a third, younger cub, lies just on the edge of the frame to the right. Adult females will usually sleep away from the den for the day, returning in the late afternoon or evening to nurse their young before heading out to forage for the night. f4, 1/60s, ISO 1600, Photograph by James Tyrrell
A hippo was killed by a rival bull a couple of years ago, and its skull remains as a great talking point for rangers and guests. One of the guides had been giving a brief demonstration of the hippo’s jaw and teeth on this day and had left the skull with a wide-open gape when this elephant herd arrived. Curious animals by nature, elephants will often investigate old carcasses, more particularly of the bigger animals, and especially those of other elephants, and these two gave the skull a good sniff before turning away to have a mock fight, as seen on our Instagram feed yesterday. f5, 1/400s, ISO 640. Photograph by James Tyrrell