An old friend returns

17 01 2013

For those of you who have been following my blog from the very beginning, you will know that it was started as a day to day recording of the adventures, and often mishaps, of the camera trap, (a device where the animal breaks an invisible beam that then triggers the camera), I had setup in various locations around the African bush.  If you are new to the blog, you now know how it started.  The blog has changed shape a little over the years, but the camera trap kept clicking away in the background, doing what it does best: providing a unique look into the African bush, often from right next to the animal it photographs.

 

I am delighted to let you know, that the BBC Wildlife Magazines website, found my camera trap images, and ran a gallery on their site, showcasing the photographs.  It is always rewarding and exciting to see your images presented on a site that carries such weight in the industry I work in.

 

I have many exciting stories from when I have been to set the trap up, or gone back to check the images, but I will leave you with the one that stands out the most to me.

I had stopped next to the river where the trap was set, grabbed my gear and started the hundred-meter walk to the traps secret location.  When I was about thirty meters away, I saw a female leopard standing on a small sand ridge directly above the trap.  She saw me at the same moment, and slinked off through the trap – success, I thought, and even better, I (sort of) got to see the trap in action! I waited twenty or so minutes to give the leopard time to leave the area (as surprises of that nature are not always fantastic), and made my way down to the trap with the excitement and expectation of a child on Christmas morning.  Slowly looking over the sandy ridge where the leopard was standing only a few minutes earlier, I was heart broken not to see the trap.  There were plenty of elephants footprints however, and tracks showing how they had kicked and dismantled the trap, literally to pieces.  Still upset over missing the leopard image, I went about finding the pieces of the trap.  They had been spread quite a distance down the riverbank, but I did find everything.  I think I muttered and moaned the whole way back to camp, thinking of new ways to outsmart the elephants, but it was all forgotten when I checked the images on the camera.

 

Have a look through the gallery below, and see if you can find the (final) image from that day!

To join me on safari, click here!

 

 





Moving office

22 02 2012

Sometimes, things don’t sit just right, and when they need to be moved, you should do just that! That is exactly what happened on an afternoon safari, when a young female leopard wasn’t feeling very confident with her hidden stash.

The leopard had caught the unfortunate impala two nights before the move. It was a good-sized impala, and she is a small leopard, so she was set for a good few days of solid feeding. It had been placed neatly in a marula tree, and lay (very) comfortably on one of the bigger branches, which may have been the problem. The kill, although safe from scavenging hyaenas, was exposed to the sky, meaning that the vultures looking for a cheap meal, would eventually spot the carcass, and give away the position of the leopard. Playing it smart, she decided to move the kill to a tree with more cover.

The lovely little leopard timed her move perfectly – when I was there with cameras loaded! She gave me a great show, moving with such grace and ease through the tree, taking her prey down the tree (after posing of course), moving it to the new hideout, and then hoisting it again!

I was thrilled to get the entire spectacle on camera; it didn’t hurt that the afternoon sun was nicely positioned behind me…





A well kept secret

30 01 2012

So the little leopard cub that was so photographically obliging a few months ago, (https://kurtjaybertels.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/cute-vs-cute-part-2/), was holding onto a secret – one which was revealed in the last light of a great afternoon safari!

I had been down to the den site numerous times to see if I could get a few more shots of the little fella, but was unsuccessful every time. On what seemed like a pointless bet, I gave it one last throw of the dice, and came up trumps!
I caught a glimpse of a leopard as I was approaching the rocky outcrop, but it seemed a little too big to be the star of the Cute vs. Cute showdown. When I got within a decent distance, it turned out it was the mother of the cub, and as a bonus, the now slightly larger cub was out and about, annoying it’s mother tirelessly. The two leopards groomed and played with each other for a glorious half an hour, providing many great gigs worth of photos!
Almost instantly, the fun and games stopped. The cub bolted off behind the rocks, and was out of sight. The mother paid no attention, so I waited with her, hoping the cub would come back, and the clicking of the cameras could continue.
The little spotted head appeared from behind the rocks, and I aimed the camera in that direction… While I was looking through the lens, a second little head appeared! The little blighter has a sibling!
The clicking went into overdrive, and I was sure that someone’s shutter was about to catch fire!
The happy threesome got a little more mobile with their playful antics, and the light was fading fast, which made things a touch more difficult. I did manage to get in some good shots before they moved off through the rocks though, which will keep me happy until I manage to find them again!





Cute vs Cute: Part 2

23 09 2011

In part two of the difficult choice showdown, we have, (said in the same ring side announcers voice) the challenger… tipping the scales at a massive 6 pounds flat, representing the flat rocks on the eastern bank of the Sand River… an adorable little leopard cub!

Now the two on one fight is not usually fair, but this little chap brings a few extra weeks experience to the table, aging comfortably at between six to eight weeks.

The little blighter was found completely by chance, while watching kudu feeding nearby the rocky den. The spotted fluff ball made a dash across the rocks, giving away the den site, and allowing us a unique photographic opportunity! When he realized he had been seen, he went for the tried and trusted, ‘stand still’ approach that leopards instinctively use. The near foolproof technique almost worked, but the human frontal lobe won the battle, and I managed to find him again.

Amazingly, he relaxed up to the vehicle almost immediately, and allowed for a good photo session. He moved cautiously around the large rocks for a while, and then very casually rested in some shade, right next to me!

So there we have it, the throw down has been…thrown down… Which ball of fluff takes the title of the cutest cub?