Leopards fighting in the Greater Kruger
What an incredible year it has been at Tanda Tula Safari Camp.A year that definitely came with a change of pace for Britt and I. It has now been a full year since we moved into management, a move that has come with some huge learning curves, amazing growth and awesome memories.
Of course, this has also meant that I wasn’t able to pick up my cameras as much as I have been used to in the past. None the less, I have still been able to witness and photograph some life changing scenes and keep up with the stories of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserveand all the wildlife that inhabit it.
The start of the year saw me capturing an image that I had dreamed of for the longest time, a full-grown rhino bull running straight towards my lens. This image has garnered a lot success for me as a photographer. It has been shared many times and has been published by a few publications to date. To put it into perspective, that image reached over 9000 likes on Instagram (I usually get 300 likes on my images if I am lucky!). It has been amusing to read the comments that have come in across social media. Many people seemed to think that this image was the last image I ever took! Aaah, the power of zoom lenses. An image I will definitely treasure forever.
The tone for the rest of the year was set from there on out and we continuously received amazing sightings. One of my personal favourites from the year, is that of the lion cub walking towards my vehicle, with its mother laying down in the background just casually keeping an eye on him. I named this image “Your mother always has your back”. It was this image that got picked up and shared by BBC Earth, a very proud moment for me indeed.
Wildlife photography is such a rewarding facet of photography. Some sightings require lightning fast reflexes and some just require a bit of luck. Whilst others require some painstaking perseverance, such as waiting for a terrapin’s head to emerge from a puddle of water while you lay flat on your belly or taking shot after shot in order to capture the perfect image of red billed queleas, fluttering around at the speed of sound. Bush babies creeping around in the canopies of trees also presented some challenges.
The story, unfortunately, doesn’t always take a positive route. Sadly, this year we said goodbye to the famous leopardess, Marula, a leopard that was loved by guides, trackers and guests alike. I saw it only fitting that she be represented here by of one of my favourite images of her sitting in none other than a Marula tree. Farewell Marula, your legacy lives on.
Another incredible photo for me, which also took a long time to capture, was the playful cheetah’s image! Trackers are an incredibly valuable part of what we do out here and, on this occasion, I owe this sighting whole heartedly (and many, many others) to Jack Ngomane. Jack has been my tracker since I started at Tanda Tula Safari Camp and this 4-year long relationship has led to a very strong bond between the two of us. Thank you, Jack, for another awesome year!
And just as the year started with a bang it ended with one – my very first leopard fight! This is not something witnessed very often and proved to be one of those moments where good tracking, lightning fast reflexes and also a heap of luck led me to a photo series that I will cherish forever. The one image I have included here of the sighting has been picked by two different wildlife artists and I just cannot wait to see how they use the reference image to produce their own take on the scene. This, for me at least, is one of the biggest honours that a wildlife photographer can achieve – someone actually wants to paint one of my images!
To all of you, past guests, future guests and fans of Tanda Tula and what we do here, thank you so much for the comments, the support, the shares, the likes and the memories in camp and out there in the bush. Have a wonderful festive season and have an absolutely excellent 2020!
Here’s to many more days out in Africa!
Until next time, happy snapping,