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 Post subject: otterspotter Alone in Kgalagadi (and also Namaqua)Aug '12
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:02 pm 
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Hi everyone
About to start my first trip report. I have just completed a three week trip taking in Kagalagadi for eight nights and a day in the Namaqualand National Park (or is it Namaqua National Park?)

And wow what a trip......

But to start let me post a few pics of Namaqua

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Was spectacular ..even the fields outside....Timed it wrong though...I should have come a bit later in the day and the light would have been better


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 Post subject: Re: Alone in Kgalagadi (and also Namaqua)
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:28 pm 
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Thanks Richard, Granjan,Willie, Tom , M Mouse, Barry, Lion, Gavin, Wannebee and Hilda

I was amazed, and the thing I really enjoyed was the freedom to walk among the flowers.
The main flower area is not so large when you compare it with maybe Postberg in the West Coast, but the flowers are dense and the area is spectacular with its passes through the mountain

I got a little confused in finding it though.. :hmz: The secret is to go into Kamieskroon and then behind the hotel..From there it is an easy 22 km to the park...

Kamieskroon --the whole town- is full of flowers everywhere and is beautiful on its own...If you are intending to go there one should also stop off at the hotel and ask advice for other areas to walk...Otherwise although the roads are attractive in the area, a lot of the flowers are behind fences and one doesnt really want to bother the farmers...

Before I go on to Kagalagadi which is a much longer story ... I think I will find a few more shots to go with these this evening..so watch this space :think:


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 Post subject: Re: Alone in Kgalagadi (and also Namaqua)
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:22 pm 
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When I arrived in Kamieskroon the night before it was raining and dark and cold....none of the flowers opened that day....I did not want to camp as it was freezing but I braved it out....I shivered the whole night. By the next morning all the clouds had cleared....And I like clouds for photography....

Well a few more before we go on to the real trip report.....

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I like to take photos with flowers doing the fill in colour...
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Overview from the Lookout point :cam:

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The recent rains created a pool


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 Post subject: Re: Alone in Kgalagadi (and also Namaqua)
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:51 pm 
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Thanks for all the comments
Yes they were breathtaking...Far more beautiful then I expected

Well let me start on my main trip report to Kagalagadi

Arrived at the gate after the drive from Calvinia….So nice to be back….Chose to rest at the 140km mark from Upington as there was a stopping spot….This trip is an alone trip…Just me and my Ford Bantam bakkie…Wife is visiting overseas…As I am having my rest got passed by a large convoy of four wheel drives..which of course would all be standing ahead of me at the reception queue… :hmz:

Isnt it nice to have tar the last few kilometers to the gate. Anyone remember what it used to be like on the last patch of road…It used to be a shock and a wake up call if I remember. I remember driving it at 30km/h for 90km…Very tiring :wall:

Anyway I soon was inside and set up my little blue tent and started preparing for my first drive.

Now as I was going to be mostly on the Auob over this period I wanted to get on the Nossob road as soon as possible.

I have to admit that the road was excellent from Samevloeing onwards. All that time of having the road fixed seems to have paid off…

I am one of those guys who enjoy everything..And its amazing how frequently the very first animal I see is a mouse

This one was up a tree…Of course he got scared every time someone drove past, but by being very patient I was able to get a shot or two.
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From here I headed north..just enjoying the environment.

It was a bit of a boring drive…but being in Kagalagadi is really what its all about…Next up was a jackal hunting by the side of the road
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To finish off a few wildebeest bathed in the last glow of the sun as I hurried back to camp.
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I did not have the time to explore to far...it was just nice to be back

That night the brutal reality of the cold clicked in…Even all my methods of trying to keep warm eventually failed so rather then be miserable I got up early (4 am) and took my camera and tripod and headed to the road next to the camp site,,,Using long exposure, a small light to light up a bush I tried to capture the stars…

However I never really succeeded...Sorry But they were incredibly beautiful

After this a shower and preparation for the day ahead and little did I know that it would be one of the best days that I have ever spent in the park…To be continued……..


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 Post subject: Re: Alone in Kgalagadi (and also Namaqua)
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:58 pm 
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Day 2 - Morning
Well I was out as early as possible and set my goal on getting to to Rooiputs and beyond… I was first out the gate for the Nossob road..The other gentleman had chosen the Mata Mata road…..As soon as I came to Samevloeing I noticed a species that I don’t always see --- a herd of Eland…But they were so skittish,,,,They didn’t stay long all I managed to get was a photograph of them running off into the distance. This seems to be so typical of eland….always at the waterhole at sunrise and gone the moment the first car arrives…

I managed to get one poor shot
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Then further up I found a Gemsbok running along the river bed…
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Now near Rooiputs I got a heads up by a guy who had been staying at the Rooiputs campsite…He had got up when all the others had been sleeping and gone for a game drive finding four lions right next to the Rooiputs waterhole…He showed me where they were..I would have missed them as they were not visible from the normal road….I parked and waited…they were on the hill

I managed to get this shot
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Then a lioness showed interest in what was down below just beyond the two cars…There were only two of us…and she walked down to investigate…I was able to get these shots

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I carried on up to Kij Kij where I spent time with the sandgrouses. The light was getting harsh and the waterhole is the wrong side for photography…So I headed back took a shot of Gemsbok

and started driving back to Twee Rivieren

And then something happened which was to become the ultimate experience of my trip…It was about 12:45 I wasn’t expecting to see anything and then on the side of my vision I suddenly saw the unmistakable shape of a………….(guess!!)

It caused me to hit the breaks too hard and I skidded but she did not get frightened…She was to stop my lunch retreat to Twee Rivieren and was going to have four hours alone with her…..


(to be continued) :wall:


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 Post subject: Re: Alone in Kgalagadi (and also Namaqua)
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:31 am 
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Well the answer is......
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Thanks everyone for their comments...hope this meets up to the expectations and excitement....

Well here is what happened
At the time of first sighting she had just descended from a tree on the other side of the river…She slowly made her way to my side as she headed north…

Soon she was walking right next to me

I had to zoom out from my original 500mm zoom lens to a 86 mm so as not to crop out any legs or tail…She was magnificent…Oh the feeling of driving next to a leopard as it slowly walks down the riverbed. I was entirely alone…

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As she walked she visited different trees..Sometimes she would smell them and grimace … was it the smell of a male?

After a bit of time one car joined me and she headed to those large (probably empty) watertanks on the road before rooiputs. She smelt them and then went behind and climbed the tree.

By then the cavalry had arrived…Consisting of large 4x4 with trailers they enjoyed driving around and around the tree taking photographs through the one small gap available…It did not bother me …I just waited away from the tree…One guy advised me to join the queue behind the other four wheel drive which I did.

I took a few shots through the gap but they weren’t so good..

By then the other cars had all left (???? Yes the left a leopard next to the road)

I waited alone for a while and then she did the ultimate..she turned around and faced south…I maneuvered my car around to the back of the tree and slightly inwards so the sun did not hit my lens…I was literally with her in the tree…Alone… I got these shots

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(and also the introductory shot)
When she left the tree she looked up
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Other shots I liked
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Now I was with her from 12:45 until 4:30…She wasn’t always moving..sometimes she would lie down where no one else could see her..I knew that in five or ten minutes she would be moving again ..not so the tourists who passed at this time….they just shook their heads and refused to wait,…During this time she also decided to climb a massive kameeldoring tree..at the top of which was a large birds nest…(some sort of buzzard) of course July is not breeding season so the juvenile that was up there just flew to another branch and ‘’swore at her in bird language’’’

Back on the ground she also succeeded in flushing a cape fox who ran off barking on to the ridge..also not happy with her. She had rushed in to the bush as only a leopard can rush…with incredible speed and stealth…After which she left the river bed for a while as she looked for game over the ridge…

A lone ‘Land rover’ had joined me during this time…He had passed and headed my advice to wait a minute or two, as a result was enjoying the experience with me…he was very kind to always let me drive first…he eventually left me when the cavalry arrived again

Our experience finished when she got near to Rooiputs…She headed out of the river bed towards the campsite…All the cars went looking for her but she disappeared..

I went back to the campsite elated with my experience….Good experiences of lions and leopards on the same day and this was only the first full day of my trip.

On the way back I noticed some cars at the side of the road

And the final sighting of the day was very quick but something I hadnt seen in the park yet

It was a .......
(to be continued)

PS: @Pumbaa - Enjoy your holiday - glad you are enjoying the TR
@Hilda - Thanks Glad you enjoyed the Eland - Saw a lot more then normal this trip ...Definetly think the population has grown...However they seem to be skittish and most times ran into the dunes
@ Serifa,Delene,Barry,Petra,Richard,Billy,Normana and others
Thanks for all your comments. Keep them coming...


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 Post subject: Re: Alone in Kgalagadi (and also Namaqua)
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 11:16 pm 
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@Saraf - Half the fun is the cliff hanger.....

I saw a wild cat.....
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I really liked the way the light came through the ears...

Thanks for your comments everyone...

Wasnt it an amazing day?


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 Post subject: Re: Alone in Kgalagadi (and also Namaqua)
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:46 pm 
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Day 3

Day 3 was a quieter day. I drove from TRivieren to Urikaruus... The Aoub river bed was a bit quiet for the larger more spectacular game. This was the only full day without any big cats...However the smaller guys made an appearance. I chose these images for you

A cape sparrow (female) in flight - not so easy to get
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A Martial Eagle taking off from the waterhole
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A slender mongoose was busy digging at the side of the road and caught a lizard
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Hartebeest Abstract
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Suricate Sentry Duty
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A yellow mongoose hangs out with other species such as Suricates
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And to top it off at the end of the day at Urikaruus the hyena's came down to swim
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I had a good day but day 4 would be a day to remember. I hardly made it out of camp in the morning.....


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 Post subject: Re: Alone in Kgalagadi (and also Namaqua)
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:01 pm 
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Today I decided to head for the fourteenth borehole as Eric the camp attendant had mentioned that lions had been frequently sighted. I was second out the camp and slowly followed the first car north. He was obviously looking for leopards and I was glad that I had an extra pair of eyes…But I was also eager to get the best light at fourteenth borehole so didn’t want to take too long. When he chose the 13th loop I chose the direct route. This turned out advantageous as I was first on this road I flushed an African wild cat which ran across the road…No problem…I slowed to a crawl, reversed slowly and when the wild cat had settled down was able to position myself for a shot. She was enjoying the sun and not doing much so one good portrait was all I got

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From there I continued to fourteenth and just as I arrived two things happened simultaneously. A whole herd of eland disappeared over the horizon…which seems to be a frequent occurrence….I have seen them every day now always at the waterholes in the very early morning before any cars arrive and then they dash into the dunes


The second thing that happened is that two young male lions were walking to the waterhole from the dunes…I was just in time to get the shot…The calvary arrived from Mata Mata (abought eight four wheel drives) a few minutes later and they missed a lot…. I managed to grab these photographs
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On the way back to camp I managed to photgraph a lilac breastest roller in flight and camp back to camp to watch springbok snorting and chasing each other
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AfternoonThis afternoon I decided to be a bit more lazy, so I only went out for the last hour and a half of the evening. I decided on Rooibrak. Lions were seen there and you never know, also I hadn’t spent so much time on that side….

The great thing about being in Urikaruus is that when the evening come you are very much alone as everyone has to travel far to get back to their camp, I spent the whole hour and a half without seeing any other cars and it was blissful.

The menu served up giraffes and lots of them. They came down to drink soon after I arrived and they just kept coming. There must have been about ten once they all came out of the dunes.

I started by trying to get shots of the water spurt just after they finished drinking

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And then to top it all off they showed affection to each other through kissing or snuggling if you prefer

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It was a great experience but it was getting late so time to get back to camp

Yet on the way I noticed a great sunset and was wondering how to capture and use the sunset in a nice silhouette shot.

And then suddenly I saw a young spotted hyena on the road. I took a shot expecting it to run off…Got close and I realised that there where more around.
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Then one came right up to me and peered at me eyeball to eyeball and started to smell the car

Since my previous car was damaged by hyena’s stealing the rubber off he sides etc I kept knocking the side of the car to keep him back a bit

I managed to get this photograph by setting my camera to 50mm
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Then time ran out and had to return to camp

Of course the hyenas came and visited us, drank and swam
( and are still wandering around my chalet as I am typing this draft of my report)

PS: Thanks everyone for those wonderful comments...You are giving me energy to keep going
I made two mistakes on day 3 - it wasn't a martial eagle (er embarressing :redface: ).... and I described day 5 at the end... when day 4 still had to come


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 Post subject: Re: Alone in Kgalagadi (and also Namaqua)
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:04 pm 
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Thanks everyone for their comments
@hilda - Glad you like the wildcat, was nice to get her in the morning light and she stayed around for a photo
@Gavin - very possibly
@Nina,Barry,Sharifa and Billy - thanks for all your comments

Day 5

No one seemed to want to get up early at Urikaruus this morning so I was the first person out..I considered heading back up to fourteenth borehole. The possibility of seeing the lions again was very high and there is always possibility of leopard. Its amazing in Kagalagadi…One never feels one has had a really successful day unless you have seen one of the big cats..But the smaller animals are just as exciting…its just sad that you have to feel guilty that you have stopped for a mouse…

So I leave the private road off from Urikaruus ..as I come around the corner there I meet guess what…two lion…It’s a bit of a shock..I am alone and my whole experience with them until they leave the road was alone…At one time even the female was hunting my car…Every time I stopped she stopped…Eventually they got into the sun as the sun had started rising…And I managed to get a few shots

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Then they left the road and headed up to Urikaruus along the river…I decided to return to camp…After telling the neighbours that they were on the way I set up and waited…Before long they arrived for a drink
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After this they headed up the dune…and I decided it was time to go on a proper game drive…After all..being interrupted by lions!! The cheek of it!

I was able to make it this time to the 13th boorhole before something else happened...


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 Post subject: Re: Alone in Kgalagadi (and also Namaqua)
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2012 4:37 pm 
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Heading north to Mata Mata I arrived at the thirteenth borehole turnoff and decided to skip the long route..aiming for fourteenth…There doesn’t seem to be too much water in the thirteenth anyway

As I came over the rise I saw something strange in the distance on the road but my eyes couldn’t make it out…I have learnt not to go blundering into an experience…It is best to the let the wildlife come to you..it makes them more relaxed and the experience is more rewarding.

I took out my binnies and what was it…Just what I was hoping to see..Two cheetahs…And I was alone and the whole experience that I was going to have on the road was going to be alone…

I moved my car a little closer and then waited for them to come to me…The came right up towards the car

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Then the veered off the road but only slightly and I was able to get these photographs. I strained my neck to keep the image as camera as low as possible to capture their heads above the skyline…

There was not any interesting interaction between them… Which was a pity …but they probably had food on their thoughts…Only later once they had moved off the road into the distance where they could watch the river bed did other cars start to arrive…The first person to arrive reported that they had just seen a leopard kill about 500m behind me…They had being following the leopard for a while and it took out a wild cat in the area…Sadly probably the one I had photographed yesterday as this was where I photographed it…But that just seems to be the law of nature. The cat that stalks birds that in turn eat mice now gets eaten by a bigger cat…Just like the jackal, the mongoose and the mouse from previous time……

After sitting with the cheetahs a while I headed back to camp for a rest as they looked like they were not moving….Later on in the afternoon I returned to find that they had moved down to the river bed where they kept to the other side so no photographic opportunities arised. I decided on whim to head to rooibrak ---bump bump bump as the road in the area is not that good, and observed a springbok stampede down the river bed for no apparent reason…..Probably just histeria,.,. Probably would have made a good photograph as they were bolting but it was so peaceful before then ,,,,,however I managed to capture a few images on the way back
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And a bat eared fox
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Thanks for your comments everyone
Keep them coming...this page was a bit full.... :thumbs_up:


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 Post subject: Re: Alone in Kgalagadi (and also Namaqua)
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:47 pm 
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Well I packed everything up in advance and left first…I decided to head down towards Kamqa as I had heard lions in the night and wanted to cover all my bases…Nothing of interest so I turn around…Get back to the same corner with all the activity of the last few days…Wave to a friend driving passed back to Urikaruus ---He obviously came here to look for the Cheetah of yesterday…but they had been at the waterhole at the night and were obviously still heading south….

As he passed me he did not realise that he had spooked a large cat…She came running across the road …It was the leopard known around Urikaruus…I couldn’t believe it..another leopard…Of course she was not happy…probably sleeping on the side of the road and these cars had frightened her off…She stayed close to the road however but she was not as settled as my previous leopard…She ran occasionally and this of course is not want I want…A frightened leopard will eventually leave me and the experience will end….But what can I do…The mata Mata crowd will arrive soon and spook her anyway and my car is smaller and less opposing then most to a leopard…I manage to take a few shots but she is always moving. The best shot that I could get was…

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She then moved to a nearby tree and climbed into it

I managed to get that angry look of an angry leopard…as if to say ‘What are you doing so close to my tree?”

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She stayed there for about five minutes, jumped down, seemed to notice something on the dune and was off….her tail being held high for some reason, like a beacon above the bush I was able to follow here for quite a while. However I decided not to wait….I think she was too purposeful and without a pattern of movement to base her movements on…I decided to leave….I went up to fourteenth…nothing happening…Just eland……But I managed to get a few photographs

Didn’t seem to like me photographing him though.
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Eland frequently run off when they see you so I am fortunate to get this image….

Then I returned back to the leopard spot but no luck…Couldn’t see her

Then as I was heading to Mata Mata I went back to the 14th Waterhole and what do you know …the lions had come down for a drink…Different lions to last time though.

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So Leopard, Lions and Eland…not to bad a morning…though I arrived too early to get my chalet so I bought a cold drink and chocolate and headed out to Sistas but the light was too bright to consider photographing anything.

Happy with my chalet and was almost considering giving the afternoon drive a miss but hey you never know what is out there

That afternoon I was going to get two experiences both which I had never photographed before. One reasonably common - (at least for other photographers in Kagalagadi) and another animal rarer then a leopard (in KTC, only second time I had ever seen one and first time to photograph it) but not so rare in the rest of SA...Can you guess the two experiences??


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 Post subject: Re: Alone in Kgalagadi (and also Namaqua)
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:52 pm 
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Thought I would add this experience which I forgot happened that morning ...It was the first time I managed to photograph a jackal catching doves


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 Post subject: Re: Alone in Kgalagadi (and also Namaqua)
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 4:33 pm 
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Sorry for the lack of detail on the last post. Can you believe it I forgot to add this experience on my previous post.

Sorry the jackal failed and he gave up quite quickly...Pity...Though I was happy with the photographs...

Thanks for the comments.

I will post the afternoon trip in the next day or so....


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 Post subject: Re: Alone in Kgalagadi (and also Namaqua)
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 8:07 pm 
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Day 6 - Afternoon
Well I set off with about three hours of time before the gate was closing and I would have to be back…

Slowly drove down the road looking at the area. I was admiring the Craig Lockhart waterhole from a distance…Ostriches,springbok and wildebeest where gathered around it in their hundreds,,, A real serengeti..And very attractive..though the image did not translate to film at all…it really looked extremely beautiful..Well nothing that I really wanted to photgraph and was about to move on when something caught my eye.

Those horns were not eland and they were not Gemsbok ..Those were kudu. Now if you know Kagalagadi well you will know a rare buck when you see one….Kudu is rare…I have only seen it before on previous trips once (at Grootkolk) and in comparison with leopard – 4 times

So I was excited…They were standing away from the waterhole…I guessed that is where they were heading so I moved my car into an appropriate place…not too close but not too far and in the shade which helps makes the car less dominate to the kudus..

Well I proceeded to have a great sighting with the kudus drinking directly in front of me
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They also ran a bit owing to their skittish nature and I tried –often unsuccessfully to capture the action...

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From here I went to Dalkeith and was excited to see a family of giraffes with a tiny baby down to drink…I was not properly positioned on arrival so I struggled to use the moment. These are some of my favourite shots

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From here I headed home being very happy with having a good afternoon without cats…Kagalagadi is more then the big cats…

The Next day day seven would be quiet in the normal cat like way, except I photographed something that my naked eye could not see, and later observed in the photograph. It was a unique behaviour of a Gemsbok...Can you think what it was ?


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