With the sadness associated with the sudden decline of the two remaining Majingilane males, this week will not go down as one of the happiest in Londolozi memory.
But as we are forced to accept, the animals themselves can spare no emotion for the dramas that are in reality only a human construct, and life continues as normal.
We will hopefully have a full Majingilane update early next week, but for now, enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The Tamboti female has been moving big distances with her single cub, from the far eastern fringes of her territory to the west and back again. Having an idea of where the female has stashed either this cub or previous litters before helps us paint a clear picture of likely sites we might find them, or at least pick up the trail. This photo was from a sighting in which she had just returned to where she had left the cub the day before, and the two had just been scared by a massive musth bull elephant. Both leopards had lots of energy and about an hour of play followed on from this picture (blog post to be released next week), but at this particular moment we had to watch in frustration through the bushes from a high riverbank which, at least for the moment, was impossible to descend with a Land Rover. f3.2, 1/640s, ISO 320
This photo was incidentally from another sighting of the Tamboti female and cub, who have been featuring prominently over the last week or two. This impala ram had just caught sight of the two leopards as they emerged from a thicket, and was sounding the alarm. If one looks at ranger James Souchon’s vehicle in the background you can see him and all his guests also looking towards the leopards. f2.8, 1/640s, ISO 100
A pair of giraffes give a nice illustration of the difference between the sexes. Adult males (left) have much larger horns (correctly termed ‘ossicones’) with callouses on top from fighting, whilst females (right), have much thinner horns. Adult males tend to be a lot darker as well, although there is a lot of genetic variation between individuals so it’s not a hard and fast rule. f5.6, 1/640s, ISO 640
An African jacana pauses during a preening session. One can see just how spectacularly long the jacana’s toes are; they are used to spread out its weight when clambering over surface aquatic plants, allowing it to exploit a niche that other birds are unable to. f5.6, 1/400s, ISO 100
The Mashaba female has been seen on a limited basis of late. Although a brief sighting of two new cubs was had in a rocky den site a few weeks ago, no further signs of them and a lack of visible suckle marks on the female lead us to believe that the litter has been lost. A shift in her territory to the west may be related to her daughter the Nkoveni female having a litter of her own and expanding her territorial reach, although a slight overlap between mother and daughter is not unheard of. f3.2, 1/500s, ISO 800
The cub of the Tamboti female contemplates a leap to a neighbouring branch. Her mother had carried a vervet monkey kill a long way in order to share it with the cub, but the cub seemed more interested in playing, and as a consequence the Tamboti female ate almost the whole thing herself. f5, 1/60s, ISO 1600
The Tamboti female snarls across at her cub who was mewling at her. Leopards won’t feed at the same time, even mothers with cubs. It’s stictly a one-at-a-time basis, and the cub simply had to wait its turn here. f5, 1/60s, ISO 1600
This African Fish Eagle looks like it’s performing some kind of sword swallowing trick, when in actual fact this is the position they throw their heads back to when giving their iconic call, even when on the wing! f5.6, 1/1250s, ISO 800
I included this picture simply to show the adaptability and opportunism displayed by leopards. The Ingrid Dam young female had been left by her mother, and finding this dead bushveld gerbil nearby had refused to pass up a free meal. f4, 1/200s, ISO 800
This white rhino bull was sleeping in the road on a cool morning. As we came round the corner and startled him, he immediately leaped to his feet, but after his initial fright, simply stood there with his head down for about 15 minutes, seemingly guarding the female in the background. As he had the right of way and wasn’t moving off the road, we had to backtrack and find another way round. f5.6, 1/400s, ISO 640
The zebra on the left might not have long to go. A badly injured foreleg had given it a bad limp, and it would be an instant target for any lion that had to spot it walking that way. Two Birmingham males and two Ntsevu females were nearby, but moved off in a different direction as night fell, giving the zebra a stay of execution. f2.8, 1/1250s, ISO 800
A beautiful and dramatic sunrise over Londolozi. Even cloudy mornings can provide brilliant bursts of colour. f4.5, 1/640s, ISO 1250
One of the last Wahlberg’s eagles. These migratory birds have already started to abandon their nests and make their way back to north Africa for our winter, and we will have to wait until late August before we see them again. f5, 1/640s, ISO 1600
Elephant calves regularly engage in play with each other, but a lot of the time it will be a case of a larger one bullying a little one. The small tusks on the bigger one on the right put it at around two years old, while the smaller one is probably less than 6 months. f3.5, 1/250s, ISO 2000
One of the Ntsevu lioness pauses before bending for a drink. Lions are selective drinkers, preferring shallow rain water pools like this pan over larger waterholes in which the water has stagnated and had time to build up debris. f4, 1/2500s, ISO 250
September viewing is great. It’s right at the end of the dry season so the bush is nice and open, but since it’s spring the temperatures aren’t too low.