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Zuppi's Another day in the Kgalagadi, January 2017

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zuppi
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 77
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2016 2:29 pm

Zuppi's Another day in the Kgalagadi, January 2017

Unread post by zuppi » Sun Feb 19, 2017 11:13 am

After I have been in the Kgalagadi in June last year, I could not resist to come back this year. I will not document my entire trip, I simply do not have the time for it, too much has happend, too many photos :-)
But like my last travel tale 'A day in the Kgalagadi, June 2016' I will tell you about one, really exiting day.

I was lucky as I was able to secure 2 nights at Urikaruus out of the 12 nights I stayed in the park. I left as the 'gate' opend, because there was little activity at the camp itself, too much rain fell in the previous weeks and the animals where not so dependent on the waterholes. I drove up towards the 13th waterhole and parked there to observe the action for a while. Not much happend, it was quiet.
So the usual debate (stay or go) formed in my head and eventually I decided to move on to the next waterhole.

Just after the turn-off to the 14th waterhole I see four cheetahs walking on and next to the road. It's my lucky day :lol:
20170121_063308_south_africa_153.jpg

The sun was just above the horizon, so the entire scene was lit up just perfectly. The cheetahs waked towards the 14th borehole, I started to drive ahead to get them while they where drinking.
20170121_052455_south_africa_569.jpg

It did work out, one by one came to the waterhole to drink, in the water I could see their reflection.
20170121_063327_south_africa_163.jpg

Eventually all four there present.
20170121_053616_south_africa_577.jpg

20170121_053636_south_africa_583.jpg

What a treat! It turs out that the four cheetahs are the four musketeers: d'Artagnan, Athos, Aramis and Porthos. A group of males.

to be continued...

zuppi
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 77
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2016 2:29 pm

Re: Another day in the Kgalagadi, January 2017

Unread post by zuppi » Sun Feb 19, 2017 12:59 pm

Thanks, it gets better :mrgreen:
The four cheetahs eventually walked off towards the other side of the valley and disappeared in the bush. I tried to catch up with them on the other road, the one that goes through the dunes, but I failed to pick them up again.
I decided to slowly move on, constantly scanning for other interesting sightings. I did not have much success, was able to take a nice picture of this (unknown to me) little bird:
20170121_090200_south_africa_260.jpg

and some bird of prey which presented itself near the road:
20170121_075340_south_africa_237.jpg

Then just near the last river crossing before the Kalahari Tented camp a large number of cars indicated something of interest. A group of cheetahs, a total of five of them (gets better :) ) was lying under a tree, about 20 Meters from the road. Eventually I got int a good position, took some photos and waited. The photos were not great, the cheetahs in the shade and a lot of gras and branches in front of them. One car after the other left, as nothing was happening. I decided to stick around, despite the increasing temperature. Eventually I was all by myself, all other cars gone.
20170121_090731_south_africa_607.jpg

After while a police care pulled up behind me and the driver started taking some pictures with his phone... what a cool work environment 8)

Eventually I noticed that the cheetahs got alert. At the same time I see a group of wildebeest following the river bed below. I immediately understand...they going to hunt! I started driving down into the riverbed to get into position, probably breaking all the traffic laws there are (wrong side of the road, no seatbelt, camera im my one hand,eyes on everything except on the road... and a police car right behind me :lol: ).
I'm halfway down the slope as the world explodes into a mixture of panicking wildebeests, dust, cheetahs and me of course nowhere near ready for all this.
The first thing I see and can photograph is a cheetah on the opposite side of the valley with a young wildebeest:
20170121_101916_south_africa_303.jpg

I drive closer and get into position, the cheetah is killing the prey about 5 Meters next to the road:
20170121_101954_south_africa_306.jpg


to be continued...

zuppi
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 77
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2016 2:29 pm

Re: Another day in the Kgalagadi, January 2017

Unread post by zuppi » Sun Feb 19, 2017 1:28 pm

After the kill the cheetah carries the prey around my car into the shade of the tree on my right. Too close to get everything into the frame:
20170121_102051_south_africa_312.jpg

I'm in a prime position, about 5 meters away from the kill and prepare myself to fill my memorycard :D
I take photo after photo, in the mean time more and more cars start arriving and get into position. I'm a bit selfish, I will not give up my position, my apologies to all fellow observers.
Here a selection of the photos:
20170121_102427_south_africa_333.jpg

20170121_103017_south_africa_353.jpg

20170121_110215_south_africa_08.jpg

20170121_111434_south_africa_28.jpg

20170121_113558_south_africa_70.jpg

20170121_113625_south_africa_79.jpg

and this one a special favorite...
20170121_094554_south_africa_619.jpg


more to come...

zuppi
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 77
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2016 2:29 pm

Re: Another day in the Kgalagadi, January 2017

Unread post by zuppi » Sun Feb 19, 2017 5:45 pm

And here are some portraits:

20170121_104307_south_africa_371.jpg


20170121_095053_south_africa_668.jpg


20170121_094732_south_africa_637.jpg


20170121_094543_south_africa_618.jpg


and a wideangle shot of the entire scene...
20170121_110909_south_africa_20.jpg


to be continued...

zuppi
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 77
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2016 2:29 pm

Re: Another day in the Kgalagadi, January 2017

Unread post by zuppi » Sun Feb 19, 2017 6:25 pm

So I spent several hours watching the five cheetahs feeding. It was fascinating. Eventually the finished the prey and started to settle down in the shade.
I was talking to a couple I meet earlier from car to car, as I noticed one of the young cheetahs getting alert again. I quickly scanned the valley and there was a small herd of springboks walking along, with them a few young ones. I interrupted my chat and started driving back into the riverbed. I was keeping at a low speed, because I expected the cheetahs to cross the road and I did not want to hurt one of them.
A few seconds later I got overtaken left and right by running cheetahs. This time I managed to get some shots of running cheetahs, unfortunately only from the back.
20170121_115352_south_africa_101.jpg


A moment later one of the cheetahs caught a small springbok. Again it was carried back into the shade... that's when I could take this shot:
20170121_105443_south_africa_704.jpg


This time it was too far to get decent shots of the feeding, but, hey, to watch two successful chases in one day, that's difficult to top!

The rest of my day was good, some nice shots of a cape fox, some other pictures, but to compete with all these cheetah sightings, is difficult!
20170121_173411_south_africa_725.jpg


The cheetahs where identified as Hanri (the mother) with her two cubs Kerru and Kian as well as two cubs Froone and Sagan which she 'adopted' from her sister Corinne.

The next day I saw the entire group again, very close to the road for a short period before they mad off along the river and disappeared from my sight. ANd a few days later I saw a single male near Grootkolk doing a chase, he was however not successful.

Kgalagadi at it's best!
Hope you all enjoyed my day in the Kgalagadi!
Regards from Switzerland! I'll be back! :thumbs_up:

Thanks to Mattew from the Leopard/Cheetah research project for identifiying the animals.

zuppi
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 77
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2016 2:29 pm

Re: Another day in the Kgalagadi, January 2017

Unread post by zuppi » Mon Feb 20, 2017 10:12 pm

They do not look that fast, as there running very gracefully. But then again I had trouble getting a decent photo during the chase :mrgreen:
It is impressive how fast they got the kill !

zuppi
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 77
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2016 2:29 pm

Re: Another day in the Kgalagadi, January 2017

Unread post by zuppi » Sat Feb 25, 2017 3:14 pm

Thank you all!
Unfortunately I have to wait a long time until my next visit :cry:


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