We’re closing in on what will probably be 6000 photographs on The Week in Pictures.
Ok I’m not going to go back and count them all, but given that we try stick to 15 images per post, we’re somewhere around the 5700 mark at the moment. The 400th TWIP should get us past the 6000 mark, so August is the next big milestone for the series.
I imagine we’ll be celebrating again with another behind-the-scenes look at some or other aspect of the creative process (click here for our 100th, 200th and 300th anniversary videos), but if there’s anything – or anyone – you’d like the focus to be on, start thinking about it and let us know in the comments section below.
For now, enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The Nhlanguleni trio are featuring regularly in our sightings of late, although to put it more accurately, one or other of them are. With the two female cubs over a year old now, they are starting to wander off by themselves, and a sighting of all three together is becoming less common. The leopards had been found the night before this photo was taken by tracker Bennet Mathonsi in a brilliant display of deductive reasoning, just as the light was failing. Bennet put together a number of pieces of a puzzle, eventually spoting a small Weeping Wattle bush moving in the middle of a thick block while he was on foot, and concluding that the leopards were in the thicket feeding. So they were, but were robbed by a hyena during the night, and this photo was taken the next morning, after the mother had led the cubs back south across the river.
What many first-time visitors to the bush don’t realise is that prey species will actively approach a predator; once the element of surprise is lost, the leopard or lion has almost no chance of a successful hunt, and the prey want to make sure they keep an eye on the threat until it has moved off. This impala was one of the first to spot the Nhlanguleni trio, and one can just see the rest of the herd becoming alerted in the background, before they too approached to establish the extent of the danger.
It is fairly obvious how seriously these antelope take the threat of a leopard by how focused they all are, all of their senses locked on the danger.
Just like the impalas in the previous photos, these wildebeest were also approaching to establish the extent of the danger. In this case it was simply a couple of rangers photographing a tortoise next to the Londolozi airstrip, but the theory is still the same.
Pink foxgloves are everywhere at the moment, adding splashes of colour to the green landscape. This zebra is more interested in the grass however.
With winter on the way, the migratory eagles have started to depart, and in a few months, Tawny eagles like this one will be one of the few brown eagle species we will have left, with the Steppe, Wahlberg’s and Lesser Spotted all having flown back north.
The Ndzanzeni young male is getting bigger an bulkier by the month. With increased aggression from his father the Inyathini male whenever the two meet, it probably won’t be long before he is pushed out of the area altogether.
On the subject of leopards, the Ximungwe cubs have been difficult to find in recent weeks. With a lot of their mother’s territory encompassing extensive blocks in which tracking is difficult and where leopards can hide easily, tracking efforts are generally protracted. In this sighting their mother had hoisted a duiker kill (out of frame above and to the left), and two hyenas were waiting on the ground below, so the cubs felt it prudent to wait their turn to feed in the safety of this marula tree.
Ground hornbills are endangered across their range, mainly due to habitat loss, but thankfully the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park enjoys a healthy population, and we see a number of phalanxes (the collective noun) on Londolozi. With the grass being so long at the moment, these ground feeding birds often take to higher perches to see what’s around them.
The Flat Rock male continues to be found further and further to the South-east of his normal territory. Whether the Inyathini male has been giving up any of his or whether the Flat Rock male is being pressured out by another male to the north-west is unestablished as of yet.
This was quite a big female hyena (at least I suspect it was a female; they are very hard to tell apart and I was going purely on size) that was wandering around the Ximpalapala crest to the north of the river, not far from where the Nhlanguleni female had her kill from the caption in the opening photo. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was this hyena that ended up robbing the Nhlanguleni leopards that night, as when we left at dusk the kill was low down in the Weeping Wattle tree, within easy reach of a large hyena.
The big herd of buffalo that has been moving through the south-west grasslands has a number of tiny calves in it. This one was literally minutes old; very wobbly on it’s feet and sticking right next to its mother. We weren’t able to get a picture of its face due to the long grass and when it crossed this road it stayed on the far side of the cow, but you can see how prominent the umbilical cord still is, trailing from its belly.
This crocodile was lurking in the shallow pan where the Nhlanguleni female was drinking in the first photo. The leopard had in fact killed an impala by this same pan about 10 days before, at dusk, and had it robbed by a crocodile emerging from the water. I’m almost sure it would be the same croc, as there would hardly be room for two of this size in such a small body of water.
I know I’ve talked about the elephant eye shot being cliched, but there are different ways to capture it, and I liked how this particular photo came out in three layers; eye, ear and background. It gives the photo depth.
My favourite shot from the guineafowl sighting of two days ago, purely for the expression on the one in the back’s face. He doesn’t seem too fazed by his opponent’s display.
The Mashaba female has been mating with the Inyathini male. Having lost a number of litters since she successfully reared the Ximungwe female (who now has cubs of her own!), we hope the Mashaba female has a couple of litters left in her before advancing age overtakes her. Having said that’ she’s still only 11, so has the potential to get a couple more cubs through to independence.