Kruger National Park – April 2013

 




IMG_5138We decided to take our annual family trip to Kruger in April, rather than the winter months.  This is  a very different  time of year to when we normally  visit.  The  viewing of  birds and animals was challenging due to the late rains.  The  bush was green and dense  and many of the migratory birds had already left for warmer climes and many of the  animals had dispersed into the bush with the  late rains and  abundance of  groundwater.  Spotting game was  challenging and  viewings were relatively sparse to what we are normally used to.

We  were  fortunate to camp next to  some professional wildlife photographers  who  regularly  publish their pictures in National Geographic and sell stock photography. They gave me  some great tips and one  realizes there is always something new to learn to get great shots.  My camera  malfunctioned a day before the trip  but I was able to  work around it  though it  impacted   the auto focus and ability to change   iso on the fly.  So my  %  of keepers was far less successful.

Particularly noteworthy  was a   wild  dog hunt with  24  wild dogs  pursuing an impala down the Timbavati river   until they   headed bang smack into  4 black maned lions in their prime.  The  dogs  barked at the lions  and were then  pursued by the lion  which passed right in front of the car.  I realised the limitations of  my old canon 20D as  the light was dim and it was raining and overcast. I  really needed a high iso camera free of  noise to make up for the poor light.  There was so much happening  and  my photos  were mostly  disappointing  but  driving  down the  road  with the  dogs hunting on either side of the vehicle  calling to each other was an amazing  experience  and one of  my most memorable in 30 years of  visits to the Kruger.  

The following day there  was a great leopard  sighting within a   few hundred meters of of the previous afternoons  viewing.  This time the leopard which sat  calmly for  20  minutes in a clearing was suddenly chased up a   log  by 2  wild  dog who made  a brief  5  second appearance  before disappearing.  Alas it was too far to get a    shot with dogs and leopard in the same frame.  

The  middle and southern  part  of Kruger gave  up a lot more sightings  compared to the Letaba and Olifants  area  but the  strong  flowing  rivers  and  number of pans dams and  puddles in the bush generally meant that much of the  game had dispersed into the bush and were not reliant on the waterholes.  3 Cheetah were also seen which is also  special  but I have seldom seen  so little game in a  10 day trip.  We   focused a lot on insect life and  bought an excellent field  guide which opened up  a  whole new  exciting world.  

The trip  got me thinking that I must pursue  a Field Guiding Course which would enable me to  one day  achieve my dream of  being a safari  and photographic guide.

I hope you  enjoy the pictures.

Phil

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