Welcome back to another Week in Pictures at Tanda Tula! This week has been an interesting one to say the least. I have been completely soaked to the bone on some days thanks to the rain, and burnt to a wonderfully pink hue on others. Sometimes this wildlife photography thing can prove to be a bit of dangerous activity. However, don’t think for one minute that I didn’t enjoy myself out there! Let’s get into the reasons why…
At the beginning of the week, I was still fairly busy doing some admin in camp, when out of nowhere the gorgeous Britt comes walking in and says, ‘I think you better head out right now before the rain hits us!’ I didn’t think too much of it, as it seems like over the last two weeks both north and south Kruger have been flooded while we have been sitting mostly dry in the mid-regions. None the less, I still got ready and headed out and one of the first thing I saw towards the south was a big, dark and ominous looking cloud with distance sounds of thunder to boot. So, I decided to drive directly at it.
Before I got too far out of camp, I had come across quite a few animals that looked great against the dark backdrop of the impending storm.
But, really, it was two of the Nahru males that stole the show that afternoon. I sat with them for an age as they just slept and slept and slept, not even a herd of impala walking 10 meters behind them could stir any sort of consciousness. In fact, they got so boring I decided to see what else I could find. Turns outs not that much and so as the rain started to come down, I started my journey back to the slumbering cats. Usually, at this point most people, including me, would prefer to be back at the lodge sipping something hot to drink and taking it easy, but there were wet grumpy lions to photograph!
Luckily, I had brought two rain jackets, one for me and one for my camera. And so there I sat in my home-made jacket tent peering out like a sniper waiting for the perfect shot. I am not too sure if the perfect shot was taken but I was drenched by the time I decided to leave the boys. All I am saying is that it would have been nice of him to actually face me while he shook his mane off.
Insert Image: Shake it off
The next afternoon I managed to get out again and it was a much nicer weather! There were two things that caught my eye before the cats stole the show, again. First up, a huge Golden Orb spider just hanging peacefully across the road, I managed to get around the arachnid without any damage to her web and without any screams from me.
Next up and something I have been dying to see – the baby ostriches! My word, what a ridiculous thing to happen upon. I haven’t seen baby ostriches in a very long time, so I was very jealous a few weeks ago when Chad got that stunning picture of them. They are already getting so big!
Right, back to the cats! The boring old cats. On this occasion it was the rarest of the big cats though and something that was definitely worth spending some time with. Although, I really must thank a herd of impala who alerted me to the female cheetah’s presence. I was just calmly driving past the herd when all of a sudden, they started snorting and barking and carrying on as if they had just seen a predator… which clearly, they had!
I could just see the ear of the cat as it stood up looking directly at the impala. The hunt was off as cats seldom charge something that is well aware of their presence. Eventually the impala moved off and carried on feeding and the feline carried on sleeping with nothing more to see than a flicking tail every once in a while. Unfortunately for me, she was sleeping on what we call a sodic site or an area of geological sensitivity and thus we do not off road on these areas. So, getting closer wasn’t an option but being further away allowed me to enjoy the scene as a whole and that’s when I noticed a big elephant in the distance.
Eventually after waiting about two hours, some guineafowl came wandering extremely close to the cheetah. Then they came even closer, and closer and the cat looked even more ready for the attack! Then the guinea fowl just walked right past her and carried on with their business none the wiser to the giant cat peering out of the bush at them. Oh, the excitement, but hey, I managed to get a decent image of her, so I was chuffed!
Later that afternoon, I caught up with the two Nahru males. They seemed much happier in the dry yet cool weather and even gave me a roar, which is always amazing to hear and feel.
The next morning, I was up and out by 05:30, just in time to catch the sunrise and spend a bit of time with a hyena as he crisscrossed the overgrown flood plains.
But really this day was meant for one thing – finding and photographing the new addition to the River Pride! I have to thank Ginger and Given for their awesome tracking as it led to an entire day of photography and sun burn for me. All jokes aside, once the actual den site had been found I decided I was going to spend all day there, but first I needed coffee, some snacks, another memory card and some more sun cream.
We found a great way down into the riverbed and there they all were, lazing about and taking it easy. There is sadly only one new cub, I am not sure what happened to the rest of the litter, but I am confident that there were more to begin with. However, one is better than none! It took a very long time for the little one to relax with the vehicle there but eventually as all the other lions slept deeply, the cub decided sleep wasn’t the best use of her time!
I spent the rest of the day with this awesome pride of lions as they slept, played, groomed and eventually got up and left the riverbed towards the end of the afternoon. And although I got some pretty bad sunburn, I wouldn’t change a single thing about the day. Welcome to the world little one!
At the end of the week, the sky couldn’t just let the cats steal the show completely and so the heavens had to show off a little bit too.
Until next time, happy snapping!