The fun way to do it

30 10 2012

Over the last few months, we have seen various ways of dealing with the hassle of crossing Africa’s rivers.  The male lions started us off by casually starting to cross the river, then hitting an absolute panic and splashing their way nervously through the rest of the crossing.  It wasn’t graceful by any means, and the slip at the end, landing the lions head in the water and his tail in the air, didn’t help.  Next to cross was a large male leopard.  Always poised, and with a certain arrogance, he went for the cool, calm, collected approach.  He moved through the river as if it were not even there.  The judges gave him a solid nine point five.  Following the leopard, we had an example of how not to do it.  The young wildebeest that was trying so desperately to cross the Mara River, got trapped in some underwater rocks, and had a less than pleasant discussion with a monster crocodile.

We now have a new method of dealing with river crossings – the fun way to do it.

We came across a troop of olive baboons early one morning on a photographic safari in Kenya.  They were slowly approaching a small river that was flowing with some real vigour after a night of solid rain.  With almost no warning, the large male leading the troop took a single step run-up, and leaped across the hazardous water, clearing the obstacle in one go.  We quickly got into position, and enjoyed the rest of the troop, nearly fifty individuals, going for gold as they jumped across the water.  A good ninety percent of the troop made it without even touching the water, and that includes mothers with babies of various sizes attached to their fronts and backs.  The remaining ten percent were youngsters that were just too old to be carried by their mothers.  It was fantastic to watch, as the little guys gave it their best shot, but fell a little short drenching themselves in the process.  The sighting lasted for about ten minutes, most of which was filled with the constant clicking of some hard worked cameras.





A morning splash about

20 06 2011

At least once, if not twice a week, I find tracks of male lions crossing the river at a particular point. It is a beautiful crossing with great photographic opportunities – except for the fact that I have never actually seen the lions crossing the river…
Riding on the back of the pangolin luck (see https://kurtjaybertels.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/the-good-luck-continues/), I managed to break the months of frustration and actually witness three male lions crossing through the river! Not only did they cross the river in front of me, but they crossed east, (for all of you not familiar with where the sun rises, it’s in the east – you should know that though…), into beautiful morning light! I was so excited, the buffer on my camera was used up before the first lion had even finished crossing! This means that while the images moved from the camera to the card, I was unable to take a photo – a breathless and painful couple of seconds. When breathing resumed, and the camera started clicking again, the lions were at the near bank, which seemed to be the end of the first round action, until, (unbeknown to the lions and myself, algae had grown on the exit point), the second lion through the river slipped, going belly up into the fresh winter water! I again have to comment on the brilliant morning light – the lion did not care about the morning light at this point.
With two through and one to go, the cameras were again raised. The third lion to come through the river, was the brave and noble individual that secured the buffalo kill a few weeks ago, see https://kurtjaybertels.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/an-age-old-battle/. While he is confident to work his way around a buffalo, he seems less sure of himself around water. It took him a while to get going, and even stopped to growl at the river. (Lions do fall victim to crocodile attacks). He moved cautiously through the first two smaller channels, and then came to the deeper third channel. He entered slowly and surely, staring into the deeper water. Three or four steps in; he lost his nerve and put the burners on! He charged through the water, in almost a panicked fashion – forgetting all about his alpha male status! The morning light needs another mention.
Absolutely fantastic to watch, and even better to photograph! Months of waiting, and years of dreaming have produced some of my favourite images! Enjoy!