For all of you that have followed this Mighty Marula Tree Series, it has been such fun taking a deep dive into a magnificent tree that can be so easy to take for granted. This will be the last episode of the series and there is no better way to finish than with a chance to highlight some of the more impressive photographic aspects of these iconic trees and all the animals that so often frequent them.
Scattered across the numerous crest that decorates the landscape of Londolozi, these trees are instrumental in the shaping of a number of animals’ lives. They form the basis of a home for many of the tiny little creatures, such as scorpions, and a whole host of other invertebrates, to squirrels all living in the holes and crevices. The excavated nests of Woodpeckers and Barbets, or platform nests of a Wahlberg’s Eagle as these birds comfortably return to the marula tree each time. Or the soothing shade on a scorching summer day for a herd of wildebeest or impala as they ruminate on their previous meal, or the dozing giraffe catching a short nap too. Monkeys bounding through the branches as they play, leopards to hoist their carcasses out of the reach of the pesky hyenas, or the largest of elephants to amble past and indulge on the delectable fruit. Either way, the marula tree is a remarkable tree and home to so many.
I hope you enjoy!
The soft bark and shade that the tree creates is a perfect spot for leopard cubs to rest while waiting for their mother.
Fewer iconic shots than a leopard in a Marula.
The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best-known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the vehicles.
Marula trees are easier to climb due to their general shape and large horizontal branches as well as the softer bark, allowing for a better grip with the leopard’s claws as they ascend.
A single cub of the Ximungwe Female's second litter. Initially rather skittish but is very relaxed now. Birth mark in his left eye.
Guests with a front-row seat to a stunning view of a leopard in a marula.
Having been viewed by vehicles from an early age, this leopard is supremely relaxed around Land Rovers.
The Ntomi Male lies comfortably in the branches of a marula tree.
The ascent of the Senegal Bush Male.
Initially seen as a young male in 2016, this leopard only properly established territory on Londolozi in mid-2019
The Nkoveni Female and a Cub on a fallen marula branch.
A gorgeous female who is found to the east of camp. Easily recognised by her 2:2 spot pattern she is often to be found in Marula trees.
The Stone Drift Female strikes a beautiful pose before closing her eyes toward the setting sun.
Also young and playful but rather with a spot pattern of 3:2. She is slightly bigger than her sister.
Just as we were coming down the marula crest, we spotted the Senegal Bush Male in the fork of this large tree. We can’t be certain but we think he was chased up there by something as he was looking rather agitated. Perhaps it was a herd of elephants that passed through the area.
Plaque Rock female ascending into the marula tree
A pretty young playful female found along the river to the east of camp
The Ntomi Male scans his surroundings atop a fallen over marula tree.
The Misava Male gracefully ascends this long bare marula trunk.
A small leopard that was forced into early independence and struggled to establish territory. Moved around eating anything it could.
Roaming across the crest feeding on the fruit that had fallen from each marula tree.
Marula trees are creating fruit at the moment and with all this fruit means elephants. This bull was feeding around this Marula for some time before he moved off.
On its way to another marula tree.
It is so impressive to see these large animals stretching up to reach the branches of the marula trees that are way out of reachof all other animals.
There is always something so iconic about an elephant on a crest with a few marula trees.
This elephant bull took a liking to the upper branches of a Marula tree and made use of his long trunk to retrieve his mouthful.
And I guess an elephant and myself in the same photo.
A close-up, wide-angle of an elephant bull with one tusk while he was feeding on the fruit on the ground.
An elephant bull gives a large Marula tree an almighty shake. They will do this during fruiting season in order to make the fruits fall.
Other Animals and Marulas
Young lions will often make use of the softer Marula bark and climb them for some fun.
A mother cheetah and her cub utilise a fallen marula to scan for any prey in the open grasslands of Londolozi.
A giraffe making the most of the well-shaded area underneath the marula tree.
Falling Marula fruit, probably wouldn’t be wise to try to catch one of these in your mouth, they are a bit large and heavy and could result in a trip to the dentist afterwards.
This monkey found the perfect spot in the fork of the Marula tree to enjoy the fruits.
A precarious situation, lions are able to climb but not as well as a leopard.
Eggs and hatchlings make up a good portion of the Rock monitors diet. It’s likely that this individual clambered into the crevice of a Marula where birds often nest in search of an easy meal.
Gaining the high ground. test.
You can see the little arm of the baby squirrel as it is pulled out of the cavity
Marula at sunset
Where the whole Marula series started!
Having the chance to focus on the marula tree and all the values and benefits of them being around was awesome. They are an amazing tree with so many organisms that depend on them and we are able to witness all these interactions and hopefully capture a photo or two to remember these memorable sightings. I look forward to many more amazing moments around these tress!