That awkward moment

27 03 2012

Sometimes, being the boss doesn’t always pan out the way you thought it would. Out on safari, a young male leopard was going about his business, marking territory and the like. Before I even got settled in the sighting, a larger, more dominant male came running down the trail, calling as he ran. Turns out, this was his territory that the young intruder was brazenly marking as his own. This was a mistake.
The incensed large male gave chase, looking for a fight.
The younger male knew he was taking a chance, and fled. He didn’t run cowering with his tail between his legs – he legged it so quickly he literally disappeared! I had no idea where he went, and neither did the large male!
This seemed to infuriate the territorial male even more, and he moved quickly around the area where he had last seen him, nose to the ground, calling every thirty seconds or so, providing me with some rather different images. He was in the mood for a fight, and didn’t let up. This was almost his downfall…

He was so engaged with the intruder, that he sacrificed his usual stealth and quiet for a very public showing of his alpha male status. These public announcements were not only heard and felt by the long gone male, but also by a lioness, who was now watching the top of leopard world run around in circles.
The situation the large male leopard found himself in now was quite different – he was the one on the receiving end of the pecking order.

The lioness charged in and the cameras clicked solidly. Her running paws kicked up some leaves that got the leopards attention. He looked confused for a split second – his opponent had just grown remarkably quickly! He put two and two together and made a break for the safety of the nearest tree. The lioness, who had the element of surprise coupled with a serious weight advantage, (lioness ±180kg vs. ±100kg leopard) got a little distracted in her charge and seemed to miss the leopards break away. (You need to have a look at the images here, fourth last image). Perhaps she was looking for the other leopard he was ‘fighting’ with, or maybe a food source – either way, he make a clean getaway. She did return shortly afterwards though to make sure he knew who really was the boss!
This was a unique chance to see the top two cats at the same time.

When the lioness left the skirmish, I followed her with a hunch. She came and went alone, and on the same path. Where had she come from, and why was she going back the same way? When she crossed the river, she showed me exactly what was going on. She had been suckling very small cubs! The lioness’ den site was right next to the show grounds of the large male leopard. She had left the cubs, (a little too well hidden for photographs in a hole in the river bank), and made her way to make sure the leopard left the area as soon as he was brave enough to descend the tree. This, I am sure, he did!





50 Photographic Safaris

20 03 2012

The good times have arrived! 50 Photographic Safaris has officially been launched, and the opening safaris are awesome! This is an opportunity to snap away all year long, all around the world! This dream-come-true job will take me to all the hottest wildlife destinations around the globe, starting with the greatest of them all – the great migration!
I will be leading a group of 6 keen photographers through the mass of animals trying to cross the Mara River in Kenya! The mad action on the plains of Kenya should produce hundreds of amazing images, which I will share on the blog – of course!
Other safaris lined up for this year are a trip to sunny South Africa, to do the predators of the Sabi Sands, and another life long dream – the Gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda! I cannot wait to bring you these images!
All the safaris are sold on a first come first serve basis, so if you are keen to join, just visit the website, http://www.50safaris.com, and send through a booking request form to see if there is still space!

I have put together a video of the Classic South African Safari to whet your appetite!





A pretty ugly fight

9 03 2012

Often when you are on safari, you are looking for something specific, but more often than not, its what you are not looking for that is the most exciting!
I had headed out on a typical afternoon safari, thinking I was ready for what the wilds had to throw at me, when, literally 5 minutes into the drive, a clacking ball of turquoise and lilac came falling down in front of me!

It took a few split seconds to realize what was going on, but naturally, my hands had gone for the camera and started lifting it to my eye. When I had worked it all out, I was snapping away like a mad man at arguably two of the most beautiful birds, two male Lilac Breasted Rollers, doing their level best to destroy each other/impress the female. The lucky lady had casually taken up a ringside seat, and was shouting encouragement to the contenders. The two birds, now in full battle mode, ignored me completely and were using every trick in the book to overcome their rival.

The entire fight lasted only a few seconds, and both birds flew away from the fight with most of their striking feathers intact. There was a clear winner though, as one of the birds returned after seeing off his defeated competitor and perched right next to the now silent female.

It was hard to fully understand the impacts sustained by the birds during the fight, as the camera’s shutter was working overtime, but when I got back to camp and went through it all, I was amazed by the brutality of it all. It did lead to some interesting images, which always puts a smile on my face.