Jumping for joy on an afternoon game drive. Bookended by Reckson (tracker) and Adolph (field guide) from the Kuname Lodge, the Marabert family from Argentinia celebrates their eldest daughter’s Quinceanera, a VERY important birthday in Spanish culture. (picture used with permission)
Reckson, our tracker, in his ‘office’ and ready for the afternoon game drive. The dusty sand road lay ahead as there are no tarred roads in this reserve. Sand roads also make it possible for competent trackers, like Reckson, to read the road like a newspaper. Something that is NOT possible on a tarred road. (Other than seeing piles of elephant dung)
Calling out his opposition? A little early for the annual mating season, which is usually April/May, however, this Impala ram was in the mood for some practice sparring.
Up close and personal. One of the few elephants that were were able to get close to on our various drives. It also seemed to be a feature of this reserve that elephants do not use the roads as latrines! There was very little evidence of dung on the roads that we traversed.
This is the second-largest set of tusks that I have ever seen on a bull elephant. The largest being those on one of the certified tuskers in the Kruger National Park. We had been led a merry roundabout route by this particular animal, so by the time we arrived at this sighting, he was just about ready to head off to follow the nearby breeding herd.
FYI: Young bull elephants are ‘forced’ to leave the matriarchal herd when they are between the ages of 12-15 years old. In the beginning, these young males might form small bachelor groups, but eventually, they will become solitary. Only when a bull is in musth will it choose to follow females to see if any are in oestrous and ready to mate. Once mating has taken place, he will once again leave the herd and will have nothing to do with the raising of the calf.
It is not often that I end up with images of myself ‘at work’…but this is one of those rare occasions where I was sent this image by a guest on the vehicle. For the photographers who are reading this posting, I was shooting with this Pentax 560mm, f/5.6 lens attached to a Pentax K3 body. (with thanks to Valeria for the image)
The resident dominant pride male and one of his offspring. We found this pride on almost every game drive in different areas of the reserve. Seeing that he has no current competition currently both he and his cubs are safe from attack from marauding males.
Finding a working termite mound can be a fascinating experience. The damp patch near the tip of the mound points to the fact that is one is occupied and operational.
FYI: Once discarded by termites for whatever reason, the mound will deteriorate and holes will begin to appear in the walls. These then become home for a variety of species, from mongoose to snakes.
A couple of Dwarf Mongoose on a disused termite mound. These creatures are SO inquisitive that they can barely stop themselves from scuttling as close to the vehicle as they could, just to see who/what we were.
Reckson…tracking with a quiet intensity. Most of the trackers that I come into contact with have a passion for the bush that makes the guests experience one that is almost spiritual. Like other trackers, I have interacted with, Reckson, once he is in the chair becomes focussed and the only interactions are with the guide or a series of hand signals regarding what tracks he has seen and which direction they are headed in.
On one of the game drives, we found a trio of cheetah brothers. We were allowed to approach them on foot, taking care to be respectful of their space and to remain upright so as not to confuse them into thinking that we were a prey species. (IMPORTANT NOTE: This was not a planned walk with tame cheetah, but an interaction with wild cheetah, in their territory and on their terms) Even though we were less than 10m from them, they took no notice of us at all and were, in fact, focussed on the possibility that ‘regular’ prey might be close by.
FYI: There has never bee an attack on a human by a cheetah in the wild. All of the recorded attacks have taken place with a captive cheetah in enclosures where they are unable to run from perceived danger. It is also interesting to note that these attacks have often been on small children or people who had crouched down, hence making them seem like prey.
When animals are too close for my big lens, this Sigma 50-500mm becomes my standard go-to bush lens. In this instance, it is attached to a Pentax K3ii body. (Thanks once again to Valeria for the image)
An African Spoonbill trawls its bill through the shallows of one of the many water sources looking for a meal. The late afternoon sun lit the bird beautifully.
One of my favourite subjects when in the bush. The late afternoon/ early morning light produces wonderful high contrast images like this.
FYI: The stripes on a zebra are like human fingerprints, no two animals are the same.
While Impala and Kudu seem to hog the limelight when it comes to the most photographed antelope species, this female Waterbuck presented this opportunity for a portrait that I could not pass up.
Sundowner time! Snacks and a glass of house wine as the sun sinks behind the Drakensberg mountains. Often a highlight of game drives, it allows guests to partake of local snacks, like biltong and dried wors, while enjoying a beverage ( or two) for their choice.
That being said, I remember one particular drive that I was on with two international guests, where between them they drank every bottle of alcohol in the cooler box. Needless to say that on the last part of the drive they loud and raucous and would not remain silent. They were so disruptive that at breakfast the following morning they came to apologise to both the guide and me!
And, once again, you dear reader get to see how the shot was taken…once again with thanks to Valeria. This time, my lens of choice was the Pentax 15-30mm attached to the Pentax K3ii.
On the way back to Kuname Lodge, unfortunately not a full moon, but it did offer some light other than that of the spotlight on the vehicle. With thanks to the Kuname staff and the Marabert family for sharing the drives and making them educational, informative and entertaining.
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