Thursday, March 27, 2014

Southern Serengeti Calving Season

Words and Images by C4 Guide Albie Venter

Contrary to what many believe, the great migration never really starts nor stops ever. It is a perpetual movement of the mega herd of herbivores comprising wildebeest, zebra, and some species of gazelle. One of the main events on our safari schedule is the annual calving season during the months of February and March in the southern Serengeti. Here we caught up with the herd in a beautiful location in the southern woodland. Africa’s quintessential plains meet with the woodland and create a feature-full landscape of flat topped Acacia woodland interspersed with scenic Granite outcrops. These Granite kopje’s adds additional flavor and on them we often encountered prides of Lions, scenes reminiscent of Disney’s the Lion King.

A Scene out of Disney's Lion King! A pride on a Granite Koppie!
Quintessential East African Sunrise.

A chorus of Cape Turtle dove calls welcomed the day each morning as we travelled through the woodlands and we were treated to some of Africas most quintessential sunsets.

Our first afternoon had us photographing a pride of lionesses with no fewer than eight cubs all playing in the last rays of the setting sun.

All the large predators were present in numbers and we even witnessed a pair of newly independent Cheetah siblings taking down a wildebeest calf. Lions with cubs playing in golden light, a large male leopard and animals beyond count all contributed to a very memorable trip.

One of the Serengeti Special endemics, a Grey Breasted Spurfowl greeting calling at the end of day.

A big highlight was upon our return to camp one evening our chats were interrupted by a lioness walking nonchalantly through camp. And being a group of photographer one would imagine at least one good image between the lot of us. But alas...nothing to prove the sighting.

A Tawny Eagle taking off in early morning light.

Something I personally take real pleasure from is the fact that birds of prey were present in both species diversity as well as numbers. And although it is difficult to do proper birding during a safari in one of the worlds predator hotspots I did manage to tick off more than 120 species.

The smaller predators such as this pair of Bat Eared Foxes also added to the remarkable diversity of wildlife.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Lake Nakuru

Words and images Albie Venter

This small little park on the outskirts of Nakuru town in Kenya’s rift valley never fails to surprise me. Probably not the wildest place in the world as one can see the outlying developed areas from most places in the park it certainly punches way above its weight in terms of photographic opportunities. One of the most remarkable phenomena is the incredible rise of the water levels. There are a few explanations for it but it is possibly resulting from increased freshwater inflow into the lake due to high rainfall. This results in lowering the salinity of the water, which in turn reduces the “salt flats” which then degrades the area as a feeding spot for the myriad flamingoes and other waders. Currently the lake shore has reached the entrance gate, submerging all the original offices and the rising water levels have drowned hundreds (thousands?) of mature Fever Trees along the lake edge. The lack of numbers of waders notwithstanding, this easily accessible park still features highly on photographers hit list.
One cannot really ask for more. A scene out of a Kipling fable. A beautiful female leopard high up in a Fever tree forest. 
The enchanting Fever Tree Forests combined with the frequent early morning mist creates stunning photographic opportunities, reason enough to visit this Park.

Again the mist is the deciding factor. Here a white rhino feeds on the "floodplains" next to the lake while a flock of waders pass overhead.
However to see the big cats within such close proximity to built up areas is truly a testimony to the conservation success and tolerance of neighboring communities. During our recent travels we saw several lion prides, Leopard, the most memorable of which was perched regally in a golden Fever Tree Forest as well as a remarkable sighting of a Striped Hyena.

Birds never disappoint and in addition to a new lifer for me in the form of European Shoveller, I also saw a spectacular and always special Narina Trogon.

Even though we were not really even looking for the big cats, we caught up with several prides of lions.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

C4 and Leopard conservation success!

C4 Images and Safaris aids in the release of a wild captive leopard

On the 16th February 2014, C4 Images and Safaris were contacted to help with an immediate conservation concern in the North West Province. An unidentified man was found to allegedly be keeping four leopards in captivity and in very poor condition. The consensus by conservation officials was that the leopards were all wild - due to their aggressive nature. To prove this, they needed to see if the leopards could survive in the wild, which was the conservationists educated opinion.