Africa Live Sept 2014: 03 An eventful morning

Africa live photography blog

Welcome back all, thanks for joining me on the next diary entry.

Due to a busy workload here at the moment I am breaking the entries up to be by the half day. We had a great trip so there is plenty to see!

We also only have a week left with our tents to take bookings for our workshop in February as the camp puts the tents out to open bookings. So please do get in touch if you are after a place to come a see these amazing animals out in the wild and improve your photography.

Right, on with the show..

After a great start last night I had high hopes for the morning and I wasn’t disappointed.

We had some eager Cheetah lovers in the group so our first port of call was to catch up with one of the younger cheetahs first thing as there was a fair chance of morning hunting with all the game around.

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And we weren’t disappointed. Already awake and clearly scanning the plains with those incredible eyes I decided to wait and follow.


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I never fail to be impressed by the binocular vision of Cheetahs. Able to pick out opportunities we can only just see with clunky googles pushed against our faces. Even in this low (and gorgeous) sunrise light.


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And we’re off! I have followed enough Cheetah hunts, both successful and failed to know when one means business from the start.


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We make sure we are in no way influencing the hunt one way or the other, so during these early stages we keep a good distance. Often getting up ahead. Here I am out at 400mm and cropped in on the original hugely. The D800 still continues to prove valuable for distance shooting as well as taking on sky grads with no stepping in the colours. Ears up and alert as you can see.


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There was a nearby herd of Gazelle that were alerted to her presence, so no dice there. Here you can see the look across the plains behind us showing intent.


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Knowing they can escape if they see the danger coming from a distance, the nearby Thompson’s keep a very close eye on the predator.

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We had to take a somewhat convoluted route around a small river to the other side as that was where Patrick and I were certain she was heading. So we took the calculated gamble and made our way around.

Always a slight gamble as if he decides to change direction we need to head back again. By the look though something specific had been spotted. Likely a young Gazelle.

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We weren’t the only ones watching the hunt.


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You have to prepare to invest a lot of time when following a Cheetah hunt. They take their time and often have to walk long distances to find an opportunity. We had another camp vehicle following us, so we decided to split up and double our morning chances. We beelined to the Leopard den not too far from here and Charles was going to radio us when she made a move. Teamwork!


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The most dangerous animal to encounter on foot! Buffalo are always up for a confrontation.

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Jackpot! She was still in the gully and on arrival poked her head out to see what we were. This behaviour is a little more on edge than normal so it was highly likely the cub was still there.


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She saw we were of no danger and went back into the bush. We made our way to the other side and were greeted with a fantastic sight.


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Very low down and hidden in the gully the light was very bad and the B&W processing is the only way I could do the sight some justice. We were straining out of the vehicle and around bushes to get a somewhat clear view.

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Wonderful to see and a real treat. Not even through the second drive and we have Leopard and Lion cubs under our belts. Amazing! The Mara is fantastic for pulling me in despite the number of times I have been and all I have seen over the years.

We checked in with Charles over the radio and our Cheetah had settled under the bush so we decided to leave the two Leopards to their tricks and have some breakfast across the way.

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A conveniently pre-propped Skull.


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Interesting patterns from the larvae remains. The 200-400 is such a versatile lens you can use it for simple close up work as well thanks to its close focusing capabilities.


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We returned back to our Cheetah just before ‘the off’. A very young Thompson’s amongst a small herd had strolled into the area which always triggers the hunt reflex.


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Out stretched, not quite at full pelt though as the young Gazelles are slower and less nimble than the lighting fast adults.


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And the inevitable outcome. We were unable to see the strike as it happened amongst the bushes but (unusually!) the kill was brought out into the open.

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Cheetahs and their kills are very vulnerable to other predators so they begin to eat very quickly and keep a constant vigil.

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It was not 10 minutes in before trouble was on the horizon..


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Firstly the Jackals arrived. No threat to the Cheetah but they will cause a lot of unwanted attention. Hyenas know the signs when others have spotted a potential scavenged meal.

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Jackals are always great fun as despite their small size they are very bold, cheeky creatures. Always testing how far they can push their luck with the bigger predators.


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Not a good idea!

And I’ll leave you on that cliffhanger there folks. Please do check back in the next day or so for the next update. See how the Jackals got on and how we managed on the rest of this day!

Thanks for stopping by folks, if you have been enjoying these posts please drop me a line on Facebook or twitter as I love getting your messages and it spurs me on to do more. Questions on any aspect of the trip welcome too! There is plenty more to come so check back often.

We also have some places February 2015 Big Cat safaris. So if you fancy seeing it all for yourself and improving your own photography CHECK OUT THE DETAILS! We have to release our unsold tents at the end of October so please to register your interest (at no obligation) as soon as possible.

Rich.

TOUR DESCRIPTION
DATE
AVAILABILITY
DETAILS
BIG CATS OF THE MARA
Feb 2020
LAST SHARING PLACE LEFT
DETAILS
BIG CATS OF THE MARA
Feb 2018
FINISHED
DETAILS
BIG CATS OF THE MARA
July 2017
FINISHED
DETAILS
BIG CATS OF THE MARA
Feb 19th 2016
FINISHED
FINISHED
THE GREAT MIGRATION
Sept 26th 2015
FINISHED
FINISHED
BIG CATS OF THE MARA 1
Feb 11th 2015
FINISHED
FINISHED
BIG CATS OF THE MARA 2
Feb 16th 2015
FINISHED
FINISHED