OK I get it – This is supposed to be a TR and not a Q & A session
Firstly thank you for all the kind words from everyone. It makes the effort worthwhile and I will try to share a few more magic moments.
Cheetah2111 and Peregrine Falcon maybe one day I will share my thoughts on fences elsewhere on the forum. I’m still in the process of doing research and collecting/taking a few more photos on the subject.
Kaapsedraai, you have no idea how true your words are – those dagha boys sure smelled something all right. Being one of the older generation long distance motorbike riders, I know the risk of dehydration whilst out in the sun for long periods of time all too well. January in the park means you need to take more liquid in (unless you prefer the comfort of closed windows and air conditioning inside the vehicle), which in turn leads to more liquid that must go out. At a certain age the distance between porcelain points in the park gets a bit too far apart; for my body anyway, to handle comfortably. Throw in an ellie road-block and I’m in real trouble, basically having only two choices left……
I think it is called a calculated risk. I find the closest porcelain point on the GPS and get there as quickly as the speed limit will allow (always the first choice). If not possible I find some impala as quick as I can and get out right next to them. They get that almost amusing look on their faces, but I trust that because there are so many of them, a few will keep watching for danger instead of curiously admiring the view. Ja right
Both the above options failed on the day and I thought, why not, those are boys aren’t they? And I took my chance after having stretched my hearing to the limits, listening for that dreaded sound of an approaching vehicle. The wind direction changed and the dagha boys got up facing me, as if they knew what I was up to. They watched in silence as I got back into the vehicle and whilst I took their picture. I did not just write the above, nope, I’m sure I did not.
Seen that I started on this Big Five thingy, let me share a few thoughts on lion. Over the years I have taken many pictures of them. From white lion in captivity, to stunning creatures in Kruger and even the Kgalagadi males could not escape my lens. Somewhere along the line I lost interest completely, how many pictures of lion is enough anyway?
I guess I went through the same process that everybody else does, firstly getting that evidence shot of what I like to call “plat leeus” - lion lying flat on the ground sleeping like they mostly do. I never got tempted to lure them into doing something that they aren’t supposed to be doing naturally. Trust me I have witnessed some very bad behavior from fellow members of the human race. Patience worked in my favor and after I while my pictures turned into something worth sharing.
I got picky, very picky, even a simple blade of grass could spoil a shot. Then on this trip I remembered the words of an old friend of mine: - “Avon, photography is just your hobby - the day you stop taking happy-snaps, is the day you must put your cameras away for good”. So, I’m almost back to where I started, taking pictures of “plat leeus” and lions hiding in the tall grass.
a Reasonably decent shot of territory marking
Young male feeding
In January you have to be one of the first vehicles out the gate at opening time every morning. From Satara any road, any direction will be good enough. Cats do not like to be wet and if they are close to a road they will use it to dry out quicker. Unless you are lucky enough to find them feeding next to the road or sleeping in a clearing you have very little chance of spending time with them. During our 21 day visit we had the opportunity to spend some time with two young brothers feeding on a buffalo. One day we had the good fortune to spend about an hour with two brothers all by ourselves until another vehicle approached. The older brother must have had a run in with the Nsemani pride male a few days earlier. We could hear them from the campsite, above the chattering noise from fellow campers, and we saw the Nsemani male limping and lying in the blazing sun the next day. Have a close look above the eye of the one male. Someone else at the campsite told us that the Nsemani male re-joined his females and were doing fine the day after I took the shots of the two brothers.
One morning we slowly approached a vehicle only to watch a few females and the male disappearing and lying down in the tall grass a mere fifteen meters off the road. The vehicle drove off probably furious because we somehow spoiled their sighting. We sat there enjoying a sandwich and a cuppa whilst another vehicle approached – they had heard about the lions on the road. We sat there chatting to the people for about half an hour, them not knowing that we knew exactly where the lions were lying down out of sight and the lions not moving at all. We left after another hour – still no movement from the lions.
21 days and 2800 kilometers inside the park - not even a glimpse of a leopard, there were no wild dogs on the H7 on the days we chose to be there and I’m not going to write anything about our rhino sightings.
Stay tuned, still a few more to come.