Photographer Stu Porter’s most recent visit to MalaMala

Stu's creativity - a gorgeous starry night sky

Stu's creativity - a glorious starry African sky (Photo: Stu Porter)

Stu Porter leads photographic Safari Tours throughout Africa, and has made many visits to MalaMala Game Reserve. During his most recent visit, we were able to capture various special moments. The following photographs are just a small portion of the quality frames we captured while on safari at MalaMala Game Reserve.

“The first afternoon kicked off with a large herd of elephants crossing the river in front of main camp. It was a good start to the days ahead, and a great way to relax the tense fingers of four very keen photographers.

The Newington male in the early morning light

The Newington male in the early morning light - Matt Nolden

The Newington male

The Newington male - Stu Porter

The morning presented early luck when tracks of a large male leopard lead us to the Newington male only several hundred metres down the road. Sunrise was minutes before we found him, providing perfect light to capture great images. While lying in short dry grass, the Newington male called out a low rasping roar. Seconds later, his call was answered by another male leopard not far away. While the Newington male continued to pose for our cameras, Stu spotted a larger male leopard approaching. It was the Princess Alice Pans male. The Newington male took fright and moved off swiftly.  There was no further aggression as he was quick to submit to his more dominant father. The two leopards lay forty meters apart, not phased by each other’s presence. The Princess Alice Pans male climbed an old termite mound where he enjoyed the early morning rays.

Princess Alice Pans Male moments after stalking towards the Newington Male

Princess Alice Pans male, moments after stalking towards the Newington Male - Stu Porter

Upon following up on the last of the Eyrefield pride’s buffalo kill, we stumbled across two hyenas each holding pieces of the buffalo carcass. Both seemed very excited and ran around Matshipiri Open Area, thrilled with their good fortune.

One of the hyenas with a leg of buffalo

One of the hyenas with a leg of buffalo - Stu Porter

After a short breakfast on the run, we found the Fourways Pride at Buffalo Bush Dam. It seemed they had made a kill the night before as their stomachs were swollen. The young male lion, who recently joined the pride, was the only lion to look into the camera.

The new member of the Fourways Pride, satisfied after a hearty meal

The new member of the Fourways Pride, satisfied after a hearty meal - Stu Porter

We then passed a small herd of buffalo while on route to Clarendon Open Area, where a male cheetah lay on a termite mound, seemingly waiting to be photographed.

A male cheetah poses on a termite mound at Claredon Dam

A male cheetah poses on a termite mound at Claredon Dam - Stu Porter

The open area was a good place to photograph some plains game. Wildebeest, warthog, zebra, jackal and ostrich were abundant.

Burchell's zebra drinking from Claredon Dam

Burchell's zebra drinking from Claredon Dam - Stu Porter

Later on, we decided on a plan to find lions. The ideal setting in mind was a pride on a river bank, soaking up the afternoon sun. Well, luck continued on our side when the full compliment of the Eyrefield Pride was found on the eastern bank of the Sand River. With the light almost over, we still managed to photograph the pride. The lions had their heads up, anticipating what the night would have to offer.

Late afternoon with members of the Eyrefield Pride

Late afternoon with members of the Eyrefield Pride - Stu Porter

Late afternoon with the cubs of the Eyrefield Pride

Late afternoon with the cubs of the Eyrefield Pride - Stu Porter

That wouldn’t be the last time we would see the Eyrefield Pride, in fact, the next afternoon we had all ten members of the pride feeding on the remains of a wildebeest which they managed to kill alongside the airstrip. The late afternoon light created another opportunity to capture the lions aggressively feeding on what remained.

Eyrefield Pride on Wildebeest kill

Eyrefield Pride on a wildebeest kill - Matt Nolden

Eyrefield Lioness drinking from a small pan after feeding on a wildebeest kill

Eyrefield Lioness drinking from a small pan after feeding on a wildebeest kill

Action continued when we bumped into a young female leopard who seemed intent on mating with the West Street male.

West Street male and young female leopards

West Street male and young female leopards

Another morning came with a pleasant surprise. After thinking we had seen it all from the leopard side of things, we discovered that we were in fact very wrong! Ranger Pieter van Wyk had been following the tracks of a female leopard and her two young cubs. Drag-marks led him down to the river bank, where he located the Tamboti female and her two four-month old cubs feeding on a male impala kill. We were lucky to capture rare interaction between them on two different occasions. (A video of this sighting will soon be available to view on the website).

The Tamboti female's cubs

The Tamboti female's cubs - Matt Nolden

One of the Tamboti female's two cubs

One of the Tamboti female's two cubs - Matt Nolden

A further highlight of Stu’s stay was the last morning watching the Eyrefield pride after they killed a young buffalo in the Sand River just north of Rattrays Camp. The seven cubs were extremely excited at this prospect. The three mothers left the dead buffalo untouched for the cubs to play with. Watching the cubs playing with the dead calf in the middle of the watercourse was simply spectacular from a photographer’s perspective.

Cubs of the Eyrefield Pride playing with dead buffalo calf

Cubs of the Eyrefield Pride playing with dead buffalo calf - Matt Nolden

Cubs of the Eyrefield Pride playing with dead buffalo calf

Cubs of the Eyrefield Pride playing with dead buffalo calf - Matt Nolden

Cubs of Eyrefield Pride playing in the Sand River

Cubs of Eyrefield Pride playing in the Sand River - Matt Nolden

Cubs of Eyrefield Pride playing in the Sand River

Cubs of Eyrefield Pride playing in the Sand River - Matt Nolden

Cubs of Eyrefield Pride playing in the Sand River

Cubs of Eyrefield Pride playing in the Sand River - Matt Nolden

Cubs of Eyrefield Pride playing in the Sand River

Cubs of Eyrefield Pride playing in the Sand River - Matt Nolden

Four days were over in a heartbeat, but it won’t be long before Stu returns for more classic photographic opportunities.

*For more photos of Stu’s visit to MalaMala, please visit our Facebook page.

Matt Nolden

Ranger – MalaMala Game Reserve

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