A slightly overdue second instalment of our MD photo highlights series, but better late than never.
Our last photo feature from Managing Director Chris Kane-Berman was a mix-and-match of various shots from the last few years, and today is a bit more of the same. With such an extensive archive to sort through, it will be a while before we do a proper themed post of Chris’s photos, and felt it best to keep it well-rounded for now.
Today’s shots feature the Nanga female leopard quite prominently – she’s one of Chris’ favourites – as well as a nice throwback to the days when the young Ostriches were still a major headline at Londolozi.
The Tailless female, photographed a little over 18 months ago. Since that time the young male in the foreground and his brothers have moved out and formed an independent coalition of their own, the Tailless female’s sister has died, and the Tsalala pride’s future is hanging precariously in the balance.
Oxpeckers have the potential to be a cliched photographic subject, so an appealing photograph of one is hard to obtain. Simplifying this image by having a single bird and a horizontal line of the buffalo’s back, and having the oxpecker look straight at the fly that was buzzing to its left, ensures that the viewer is drawn into the scene, rather than just left looking at a photograph of a bird.
A southern red-billed hornbill chick cries out for food from its mother, perched above with a large locust in her mouth. Adult males can be distinguished from adult females by the black base of their lower mandible, while immatures have a grey eye, not yellow.
The undisputed apex predator of Africa’s waterways, the Nile crocodile. Unchanged in design for 135 million years, these creatures are perfectly adapted killing machines. Being reptiles and therefore ectothermic, crocodiles do not produce their own body heat, and therefore rely on external heat sources like the sun to regulate their internal body temperature, as this one is doing.
The Nanga female leopard is herself a unique success story, being part of a litter of three that all made it to independence – an incredibly rare occurrence in wild leopard populations. Sadly she has not experienced similar good fortunes in raising her own offspring, and has lost multiple litters over the past few years, only managing to get one female through to independence.
Here she emerges from the thicket line surrounding Nyelethi Pan, a prominent waterhole near the Manyelethi River, which is the main watercourse that snakes through her territory.
Leopard cubs are generally very shy of vehicles at first, scurrying off into the bushes at the first sound of a Land Rover approaching. Only with much patience and sensitivity can one gradually habituate them to the presence of the big green machines. One can see how this cub of the Nanga female is slightly concerned with the vehicle and the photographers therein, but with its mother present is confident enough to show itself.
Some cubs become habituated faster than others, and individuals within the same litter often display different rates of habituation. In the Nanga female’s latest litter the male cub (pictured here) was far more relaxed than the female cub.
The Nanga female was born to the Nyelethi 4:4 female in 2009 as part of a litter of three.
A water monitor basks in the sun – much like the Nile crocodile pictured above – at the same time absorbing some of the heat retained in the granite boulder it is resting on. Although not as well renowned as climbers as their close cousins the Rock monitors, water monitors nevertheless carry some impressive climbing tools in the form of extremely long and sharp claws, clearly visible here.
Regular readers of the Londolozi blog will remember when the hatching of a brood of ostrich chicks was such huge news. Well since then the chicks have grown up, and more ostriches have wandered in from the Kruger National Park, and quite frankly it can be quite difficult to tell who’s who among the ostrich population these days.
With the Londolozi ostrich population currently healthy, and the species displaying a breeding peak over Winter and Spring, the hope is that within the year we may be witness to sights like this once more.
The Nkoveni female, although being territorial very close to the Londolozi camps, is behaving very enigmatically at present. With rangers and trackers certain she is denning small cubs somewhere, every track, alarm call or possible lead within her territory is being followed up on religiously, but she is still keeping us guessing as to where she has the cubs stashed.
Elephants are one of the few animals in which delight is so evident. I know we shy away from anthropomorphism, but there is simply no other way to describe the fun that these pachyderms clearly indulge in every once in awhile, particularly the calves. Here two youngsters take the easier approach to getting muddied up by simply rolling around in a wallow, rather than going through the process of splashing the mud all over themselves with their trunks; something they probably aren’t particularly adept at doing yet anyway.
Despite much being written about how the Ndzanzeni young male has been pushed into independence by his mother, with sightings of the two of them together essentially ceasing and his persistence of movement between Piva and Mad Elephant Pan, the two have in fact been seen together again on a couple of occasions recently, with the young male now significantly bigger than his mother. This photo is a nice throwback to when he was still young, playing with the Ndzanzeni female, and his survival was still a long way from a sure thing.