The best sighting of this week for me was the interaction between the Tsalala pride and the Nhlanguleni female. Both are regularly found in the Sand River and the female leopard herself is currently believed to be denning cubs somewhere. In the last couple of years, a number of Londolozi leopards have been killed by the Tsalala pride and I am sure that encounters between these lions and the local leopard population are far more frequent than we think. Thankfully the Nhlanguleni female managed to escape this time unscathed.
From the smallest to the largest inhabitants, enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The Nhlanguleni Female is not seen as often as some of the other resident leopards in the area. When she is seen it is often very close to or in the Sand River. This sighting was very unexpected as we were watching the Tailless Lioness and her cub enjoying the afternoon sunlight, when all of a sudden the lions got up and started running towards something we couldn’t see. The leopard then appeared out of the thick brush in the river bed and darted across the river away from the lions, only allowing us a brief photographic opportunity before she disappeared into the reeds once more. f5.6, 1/800s, ISO 640
A Female Chin-spot Batis perches in a Russet Bush-willow Tree, listening to the calls of its mate nearby. Females of this species have a chestnut band on the breast, whereas males have a black band. The chin-spot from which this species gets its name is only found on the female but cannot be seen here because her head is turned. This pair is often seen near Founder’s Camp deck. f5.6, 1/1000s, ISO 800
This zebra stallion mounted the female as they were wanting to mate. A sign that shows a female is ready to mate is when they flatten their ears, as seen here in this photograph. The male will mount the female and open his mouth. As it happens this sighting involved more foreplay than actual mating, so we didn’t witness the actual event. f7.1, 1/2000s, ISO 320
Wild Dagga – also known as Lions Tail – usually flowers in Summer and Autumn. The plant is used by some tribal communities to cure illnesses such as diabetes, and to treat scorpion and snake bites. f5.6, 1/320s, ISO 1000
An African wild dog – one of a pack of 8 – pauses briefly on a clearing next to the Londolozi airstrip. We were driving up the airstrip when its common residents – Impala and Wildebeest – were panicked by the sight of this pack emerging from the thickets. Despite a lot of running around by all three species, the dogs didn’t catch anything and moved off to hunt elsewhere. f6.3, 1/1250s, ISO 1250
The cub of the Tamboti female chews on a round-leafed teak branch. Young cubs will chew on a variety of objects in order to promote jaw and tooth development, but this is the first time I had seen a leopard cub chewing on a branch like this. f5.6, 1/640s, ISO 1250
A Female Giant Kingfisher perches on a branch over the Sand River. Females have a rufous belly while males have a rufous chest. An easy way to remember it is that females wear a skirt and males wear a shirt. f5.6, 1/2000s, ISO 800
An Elephant calf gets some affection from its mother and a sub-adult. Elephants have an incredible social system in which they are often seen having very intimate moments. To observe the relationship between mother and calf reveals a profound level of care and tenderness that is second to none in the animal kingdom. f7.1, 1/500s, ISO 2000
Trying to warm up in the Autumn morning sun, the cub of the Tailless female was continuously pestered by a fly. The mornings have been very chilly of late, as evidenced by the mist coming out of the young lion’s mouth as he growled with annoyance. f5.6. 1/1250s, ISO 800
As the frustrated young male got up, he caught sight of some impalas grazing in the distance, unaware of the pride’s presence in the river bed. f5.6. 1/1250s, ISO 800
Always keep a look out for natural frames in wildlife photography. As luck had it, whilst viewing this elephant bull a female kudu strolled past in the background. I managed to capture this shot as she passed between the trunk and the front legs. f4.5, 1/800, ISO 2000
The black and white stripes of a zebra’s coat can present wonderful opportunities for abstract photography. This red-billed oxpecker provided a little extra colour. f5.6, 1/1000, ISO 320
The Ingrid Dam young female watches us from a granite boulder. Her mother had successfully managed to catch an impala and had just returned to the kill with the cub. After feeding briefly, the cub moved into the shade to watch us leaving her mother to feed. A cub of this age will still be heavily dependent on its mother for food. f5.6, 1/2000s, ISO 1000
A young elephant bull tries to intimidate us with a mock charge. Much like the praying mantis below, elephants will also attempt to make themselves look bigger to try and ward off threats. Young bulls like this one regularly exhibit this behaviour in the over-confidence of youth, and displays like this are almost never serious. f4.5, 1/640s, ISO 640
I was walking down to Varty Camp to deliver a lens to a guest when I came across this mantis having a tussle with a skink. When a mantis is threatened, it stands tall, spreads its spiked forelegs, fans out its wings as wide as possible and opens its mouth. It is quite frightening for a human, so imagine what it would be like for another creature of similar size. The display makes it seem larger in an effort to scare off the threat. Some species of mantis have vivid colours and patterns inside their wings and forelegs for extra emphasis. In this instance the threat worked and the skink ran away. f5.6, 1/320s, ISO 800
The Ximungwe female presents herself to the Inyathini male as a prelude to copulation. This female is only three years old and it is unclear whether or not she will be able to fall pregnant yet. She has mated with the Inyathini and the Flat Rock Males but there is still no sign of pregnancy. f5.6, 1/800s, ISO 1250
Wonderful images Kylie. Love the Tambotie cub, the baby elephant with the herd and the praying mantis and skink.
Some truly amazing photographs of leopards!! My favourite has to be the one of the Tamboti cub chewing on the branch. The giant kingfisher and young elephant bull are also very special!
Awesome that you managed to get the mist coming from the young tsalala cub! The 300m was too close to get it properly.
Kylie, you presented a excellent variety of images for us this week. A long awaited personal question was also finally answered …. had my very favorite leopard, the Ximungwe female, ever gotten pregnant since I knew she had been seen mating? The answer was no, and the reason is because she is only three years old. I’m so very glad to get a update on her!
Awesome set of pictures Kylie. well done!
Beautiful photos and great commentary Kylie. Kudos on capturing the Tamboti cub, zebras at “play”, elephant family, and the mantis. Even the smallest creatures deserve some camera love.
Kylie, We enjoy following your images and appreciate you (and others!) sharing the camera settings. We learn something from you each time you post! Love seeing the way the elephants always protect their young!