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 Post subject: Tips for Spotlights
Unread postPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 1:19 pm 
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Reading the thread on drives, the topic of spotlights was raised. Namely, are you allowed to take them on drives. Many mentioned that some people do not use them properly. Im just wondering, does anyone know if you can take them on drives and more importantly...tips on how to use them properly.

To start...the obvious:

1. Do not direct right into the eyes of the sighted animal.

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 Post subject: Re: Tips for Spotlights
Unread postPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 1:41 pm 
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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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No you cannot use your own spotlights on drives.

Can you imagine the light pollution, never mind the effect on the animals and birds if everyone on board used their own light? And even if you accept that not everyone would bring a light, how do you decide when enough is enough/what strength is acceptable, etc?

4 lights are permitted on the vehicle - and no more than 2 should be used at any one time on one side of the vehicle. The strength of the official spotlights is also controlled.

Some guides, like myself, have their own lights which they use in special circumstances or as a back-up if there is a failure with the official lights. Mine has a red filter which is invaluable.

As for tips..... use it like a search-light, keep it moving gently around looking for animals under bushes and trees, in trees, sweeping around open areas. Moving it too fast just upsets your eyes.

When you pick up reflection from eyes don't keep it constantly on the eyes, allow the light to wander off a little and then back - give the animal a rest from the bright light (how would YOU feel? and the light is less bright for you!) - and then move it back briefly. Once the animal is found and identified try to light in front or to the side of it rather than straight in its eyes.

Also think of the poor guide and driver and do not shine the light forward! You end up catching the wing mirrors and windscreen and even if the result is not a blinding reflection, the light causes reflections on the window and the driver cannot see ahead. Wait until the vehicle has stopped at a sighting if it is ahead on the road, and then shine forward.

If you do want to shine on the other side of the vehicle then either turn off and on again, or sweep the light down towards the floor or towards the roof rather than swing it straight across and blinding someone on board.

When meeting another vehicle either turn off, or hold the light facing the ground next to the vehicle not in the faces of people on the other vehicle..

I am sure folk will have other tips too! I always give these instructions at the time that we start to use the lights, and demonstrate what I mean with my own light.

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 Post subject: Re: Tips for Spotlights
Unread postPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 1:52 pm 
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Thanks for the response Ecojunkie. Getting conflicting views on whether or not one can take a spotlight on a game drive. I would think you would not be allowed to for the reasons you have mentioned. Great tips.

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 Post subject: Re: Tips for Spotlights
Unread postPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 1:59 pm 
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ecojunkie wrote:
I always give these instructions at the time that we start to use the lights, and demonstrate what I mean with my own light.


:thumbs_up: :clap:
Wish that all guides could do this. Like previously mentioned in another thread, the use of spotlights can really make/break your night drive.

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 Post subject: Re: Tips for Spotlights
Unread postPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 2:11 pm 
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A few other points.....

Take your binoculars - they can be invaluable when trying to find an animal among bushes, and you will be surprised at what you can see with the spotlight and binos - just don't expect to use them when the vehicle is moving!

Don't expect to be able to identify an animal at a distance - the eyes will reflect but that is all you will see.

Accept that many animals will do exactly what we would do and turn away from the light, move away, or close their eyes - and then you will not locate them again after that initial flash. Don't expect the guide to find and/or identify every set of eyes you spot!!!!

While bushbabies usually give bright red eyes, along with nightjars, and the antelopes usually a pale yellow-green reflection, you cannot these days always judge the animal by the reflected colour. Any eyes will shine red if the light is directly on the back of the retina. The rest of the reflected colour now depends on the animal, the type of bulb in the light, the strength of the light, etc. Years ago with only one type of light around it was possible to judge from the reflection, but no longer.

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 Post subject: Re: Tips for Spotlights
Unread postPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 5:30 pm 
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EJ I disagree with you on your previous post when you said that you are not allowed to take your own spotlight!
I have been on many drives in most of the camps in Kruger and never was it mentioned to anyone on the drive that you are not allowed to use your own light :shock:
Must also mention as I did in another thread that those operating the light can make or break a drive :shock: The most enjoyable drives I have been on were with ppl who knew how to use the lights, as face it.....the guides do NOT give instructions in 99% of the drives I have been on....the ones where ppl took there own and knew how to use it were the best :lol:

PS I have also looked at the indemnity form ...and nowhere is it mentioned that you cant take your own light!! From a photographic point of view...if I have to go on a drive again..I will certainly take my own light just in case the guide does not give instructions!!

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 Post subject: Re: Tips for Spotlights
Unread postPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 5:44 pm 
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I stand by my statement a) for the reasons given above, and b) because every camp I have worked in has had that rule.
If some guides ignore it, or fail to give instructions that is their responsibility.
A photographic light is different if only used for photos and it is not too bright for the animal's eyes.
No photograph is worth damaging an animal's eyes even for a short time.

I have also requested that the light be given to other guests on occasions! (Diplomatically suggesting it is nice to change over, and allow someone else a turn and to suffer the insects!)

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 Post subject: Re: Tips for Spotlights
Unread postPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 9:27 am 
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My tip: don't keep the spot aimed in the same direction all the time.
During the day, your eyes naturally seek out the spaces where you can see the most.
If you're driving next to thick bush, you try look through.
You naturally look down other roads, firebreaks, culverts etc, anywhere to maximize your field of view.
Do the same with the spotlight.
Sweep it back and forth, look for breaks in the bush, in front and behind etc.
Often, you might get a bush that obscures your view when its at the '3 o clock' or '9 o clock' position, but you can illuminate the area behind the bush when its further forward or behind.

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 Post subject: Re: Tips for Spotlights
Unread postPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 10:42 am 
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We have been on numerous game drives were by people have brought their own spot light. :hmz: so im with mgoddard on this one ~ does not state anywhere that one is not allowed to bring one (although mine would only last for 20Min if that :wall: )

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 Post subject: Re: Tips for Spotlights
Unread postPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 5:19 pm 
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On some of the drives we have on, the only spotlight working, was our personal one.
My worst experience ever was when the guide gave the two spotlights to two children to wield - that was a nightmare and most of the time the lights were either on the canopy of the vehicle or in our faces - needless to say we saw nothing on that particular drive.
On another forgettable drive from Tambotie our guide told us that it was not his job to spot anything, he was merely the driver -
the problem was that it was a big truck and as none of the push buttons to alert the driver to the fact that we had seen something, actually worked, we had to shout from the back and by the time the message got through most of the sightings ran away.
Sadly Ecojunkie not everyone is as professional or as caring as you are.

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 Post subject: Re: Tips for Spotlights
Unread postPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 3:10 pm 
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I took my own spotlight on a ride in Kgalagadi in Feb and was asked to switch it off, which I did.

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 Post subject: Re: Tips for Spotlights
Unread postPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 3:45 pm 
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@ecojunkie. What is the limit with regards to the maximum strength of the spotlights? We use 1million candle power lights (but that is on private property next to Kruger)

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 Post subject: Re: Tips for Spotlights
Unread postPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 9:24 pm 
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Our lights are 800.000 candle power.

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 Post subject: USE OF FLOOD / SPOTLIGHTS
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:36 am 
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I was watching the 4x4 show on tv here and Andrew St.Pierre White the presenter was discussing spot / floodlights. He showed the LED Lensar X series torch which makes even car headlights look dim and has a range of over 500mtrs.

My comment is that surely if you were to use a torch this powerful for night spotting in the park then you could do some serious damage to an animals eyes, especially the owls.

Are there any regulations governing the use of torches in the park beyond using common sense? :hmz:

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 Post subject: Re: USE OF FLOOD / SPOTLIGHTS
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:55 am 
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Good morning DSouter.

I feel the same way and I am sure that they do some sort of damage.

At most outdoor stores, they sell the LED lamps/spots with the red game spotting filter. In some stores you can even get a red filter on its own to attach to your lamp. I hope people with these LED lamps are aware enough to take measures to protect the animals’ eyes.

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