Luna the leopard’s fight to raise her cubs in one of the most punishing places on earth.
- Wildlife photographer Hannes Lochner, from South Africa, spent two years in the Kalahari documenting Luna’s life
- During that time he saw her have three litters, two of which survived, but one set was taken by hyenas
- Much of his work followed the leopard’s activity at night, when it was safer for her to move and hunt
- Luna had to protect her cubs from the park’s lions, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, brown hyenas and jackals
- Mr Lochner also captured other fascinating moments in the Kalahari animal kingdom during his two-year project
Wildlife photographer Hannes Lochner spent 750 days in the harsh surroundings of the Kalahari Desert to chronicle the life of a female leopard and her struggle to raise cubs in one of the most punishing environments on earth.
Lochner, 41, travelled a colossal 100,000km during his time at the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The images, collected in his new book ‘The Dark Side of the Kalahari’, capture the awe-inspiring beauty and breathtaking diversity of life in the region.
Shooting mostly at night, the Cape Town-born photographer had to brave night-time temperatures of -13 in the winter, while trying to catch up on his sleep in sweltering 40C heat in the day.
‘I have always been fascinated by leopards, and my dream was to follow and document a leopard raising cubs in this Kalahari hostile environment,’ Hannes said.
‘There are few female leopards in the south of the park, and we started tracking one with a cub of 12 months old.
‘She was not very accommodating, and took us at least three months to get used to us. She didn’t have a tracking device so we had to track her the hard way. Lots of hours in the bush.’
The leopard, named Luna, had to protect her cubs from the park’s lions, cheetah, spotted hyenas, brown hyenas and jackals, all of whom will kill cubs on sight.
The leopardess had three litters during the two years and three months she was trailed by Lochner. Her middle two cubs were killed by a brown hyena, but she later gave birth to another two which survived.
Also, unusually for leopards, she was regularly joined by ‘family man’ Oscar, the father of all three litters.
Lochner was accompanied on his travels by his partner Noa Koefler, who did all the film work for the project. Her video clips can be seen on the App that will be released at the end October to accompany Lochner’s images.
|Fast facts about Leopards:|
|Coat colour||Varies from pale yellow to deep gold or tawny, and sometimes black, patterned with black rosettes while the head, lower limbs and belly are spotted with solid black|
|Average weight||60 kilograms|
|Head and body length||100 0 190 cm|
|Tail length||70 – 95 cm|
|Shoulder height||45 – 80 cm|
|Speed||Up to 57 km / hr|
Date: 3 September 2013