Gosh, where do I begin? We had such a jam-packed day with so many rich photographic subjects. To put it bluntly, we had lions, lion cubs, leopards and rhino. Ok, so I said it. Now on to the day’s sightings.
We stumbled upon two adult females of the Styx pride, and one of the adult females is quite the legend in the area at 14 years old. She is a different looking lion, in that her nose rides high on her face, and you always know who she is when you see her. She has a young cub at the moment, and it may be the last she will have due to her ‘old’ age. We sat and watched the two lionesses in the open grass opposite Mala Mala Main Camp on the other side of the Sand River, and after an hour we noticed the younger female was interested in a bush buck on the river’s edge. She stalked and eventually took off running after the bush buck, only to end in failure. I could see the excitement in the other photographers’ eyes, as any chase is a great thing to see.
We were back at camp at 10:30 for brunch, and then back out by 3:00. In the wintertime many camps offer breakfast before the morning game drive, however for the next few days were are going to eat brunch after the game drive. This will allow us to get a few more minutes of sleep, without foregoing the good light in the morning. It also helps out the camp staff.
We left camp by 3pm, and photographed more lions in and around the Sand River. We had 3 cubs and 2 adult females, and we had a very difficult time getting clear shots of the cubs in the tall reeds in the river. The mothers felt comfortable enough with us, and the cubs were heard growling for their mothers to provide milk for the hungry little guys. So we had intimate experiences with these gorgeous cats during their nursing activities. I just couldn’t get a clear photograph, due to the tall grass, but it was a great moment indeed. After their feeding, the cubs played in the sand on the water’s edge. We left them and headed towards the west street bridge to photograph white rhinos that had been seen.
Rhinos are funny creatures, and I get a good chuckle when I spend time with them. They are difficult to photograph past the obvious types of shots, so I always have to find new ways of interpreting gestures, moods and behavior. After my obligatory head shots, I noticed that some of them had good gatherings of oxpeckers on their backs, so I tried my best to get these emotional birds in my viewfinder. My biggest challenge was getting a good angle, good light and a good background, but the best I could muster was a background with the bridge in the background. GRRRR. Oh well.
On the way back to camp, we tracked down the son of Ngoboswan, one of my favorite male leopards in the reserve. There are only two others that I enjoy more, and that is the Bicycle Crossing Male and the massive Emsagwen Male, and it was good to see this beautiful guy before the sun went down. He was obviously hunting, so we kept our distance and watched as he tried to sneak up on a nyala in the forest. The nyala had already figured out what was going on, but it was fun to watch the game of cat and mouse until we could barely see in the moon’s light.
At dinner we all laughed about our good fortune, and added up that we had collectively kept Sandisk in business due to our appetite for flash memory.
Note: All images in these daily blog postings are very very rough edits of the things we have seen, and I often omit the photographs that take too much time to process. I don’t take much time off during the day, as I am working with people with their photographic needs. All of my images in these posts will have to be re-processed when I get back home, and they are only included in these blog entries for illustration purposes.
Oxpeckers on the back of a white rhino