It’s been chilly! Every morning we set out on safari we are all wrapped in multiple layers of attempted warmth. Blankets and hot water bottles have been well-utilized. Almost every morning the valleys are filled with a misty blanket, the sunrises have been jaw-dropping and warmth of the rising sun very welcoming. Although it’s been cold, as we are well into winter now, the sightings have continued to be nothing short of exceptional.
Highlights have most definitely been that of lions and leopards. The Birmingham male lions continue to roar along the eastern section of Londolozi and are regularly in the presence of the Ntsevu pride. The young Hosana male leopard seems to be regularly seen around Nyelethi pan in central Marthly and has been fortunate to make a few kills in this area.
The Nkoveni and Nhlanguleni female leopards continue to keep their cubs in the thickets of the Sand River and dedicated tracking has led to a couple of exceptional sightings of them when they have led their respective cubs out of the riparian thickets to kills. The Tatowa female leopard’s male cub (who we haven’t seen too often) is easily larger than his mother now, and is being seen more and more on his own as he approaches full independence.
Winter is a time of the night sky and it truly has been spectacular allowing multiple opportunities of photographing the star lit spectacle.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The winter night sky lights an isolated Marula tree in the grasslands of the south-west. A stitch of nine images allows one to capture the entire Milky Way. This is not possible throughout the year as the Milky Way needs to bow low on the horizon. 15sec, ISO 1250, f2.0
A Birmingham male follows the scent trail of females of the Ntsevu pride. Just the footprints alone contain enough scent for this male’s acute sense of smell to recognize and follow. Is another female in oestrus and is she ready to mate? 1/2500, ISO 640, f5.6
The Tatowa female leopard walks toward a nearby waterhole, constantly marking her territory. Close behind her follows her over one-year-old male cub, replicating her movements and actions. 1/4000, ISO 1000, f5.6
The Tatowa female was one of a litter of three females born in early 2012 to the Ximpalapala female of the north.
A spotted eagle owl perched on a dead thorn tree in the open grasslands of Londolozi. Exceptional eyesight and hearing allows this owl the opportunity to see any movement below it as with silent flight it may swoop in and catch a small bushveld gerbil scurrying below. 1/160, ISO 2000, f5.6
The Nkoveni female leopard perched on a dead knobthorn tree. A big yawn shows that she may start moving. 1/400, ISO 1250, f5.6
A young female that lives to the east and south of camp. Easily recognised by her 2:2 spot pattern she is often to be found in Marula trees.
The Hosana male leopard absorbs the morning sunlight on a cool winter’s morning. Not only do termite mounds provide a place to warm up but serve to be great vantage points to scan the land to see what unfortunate impala may be feeding nearby that he could hunt. 1/3200, ISO 640, f5.6
The Hosana male started moving onto Londolozi in mid 2018.
A bull elephant approaches a drying water hole in the heat of the day. After a quick drink he sucked up mud and sprayed his entire body, This serves multiple purposes of keeping cool, moisturizing skin and ridding his body of any parasites. 1/2500, ISO 500, f5.6, -0.3EV
As we had hoped. The Nkoveni female descends a dead knobthorn tree, shortly after yawning and stretching. From here she descended into the Sand River and out of sight. Was she returning to her cub? 1/500, ISO 1000, f5.6
A single frame from the stitch of nine images forming a panorama of the nights sky. Grasslands and isolated trees provide the perfect vista for capturing the starry sky above. 15″, ISO 1250, f2.0
The Tatowa female’s cub quenches his thirst after walking a good distance following his mother through her territory. As the heat of the day rises he is sure to find a cool shaded spot where he will rest and conserve energy. 1/4000, ISO 1000, f5.6
A flash of blue and red caught our attention one afternoon as a brown-hooded kingfisher landed on a nearby dead tree, allowing us to capture the details and colours of this bird. Brown-hooded kingfishers may be seen throughout the year, unlike many kingfisher species that are migratory. 1/160, ISO 800, f5.6
With a thick, misty backdrop, a single Ntsevu female limps down and through the Maxabene drainage. Blood on the side of her cheek tells a story. What had she killed in the night? Is her limp from fighting over food or was it caused by the hunt? 1/2500, ISO 1000, f5.6
A close up stare from the Mashaba female leopard. After a what looked like an eye infection recently her eyes have taken on a different look. With brown streaks they seem to intensify her beauty. 1/640, ISO 500, f5.6
The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the camps and vehicles.
It took a lot of off-roading to park in this position as the Nkoveni female leopard paused to assess her surrounds. Fingers were crossed that she would lead us to her possible den site along the banks of the Sand River, yet from here she ventured too deep into the river to continue the follow. 1/500, ISO 1000, f5.6
There is so much too look at when on safari, not only is it the beauty of a gigantic elephant bull standing nearby but the textures and details each animal has. The wrinkles and textures of an elephants ear and how walking through thick, thorn filled vegetation or fights with other bulls tell stories in the tears of the ear or scars. 1/1250, ISO 800, f5.6