Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where do Field Guides Go on Leave?

As you might know, Photo-Africa is a website where Field Guides and anybody who loves and photographs African wildlife can upload their images.

Over the last few months you might have read some Blogs that have been uploaded by Gavin Tonkinson and Grant Marcus who are two of the contributing Field Guide Photographers on Photo-Africa. As you might have gathered from their Blogs, they are not only great photographers but Field Guides that work in the Madikwe Game Reserve.

Matt Jones is another Field Guide that works in Madikwe and contributes to Photo-Africa and he has sent through his first Blog post.

The life of a Professional Field Guide (yes I am calling it that - read the previous post) is always interesting and through this Blog we will attempt to give you an inside look into our always exciting life in the bush - which will of course include some great images!! If you have any questions for any of the contributing Field Guides with regards to any of their posts, images or whatever else you might wonder you can leave comments on the Blog and they will get back to you as soon as possible! Also, if there are any specific images you would like to see or parts of the lifestyle you would like to know more about let us know and we will do our utmost to get it onto the Blog!

In future I will create a link from the author of each Blog which will take you directly to his images on Photo-Africa. So anyway, enough from me.

Below you can read Matt's first post on the Photo-Africa Blog.

As always I look forward to hearing from you!



"Where do Field Guides go on Leave?"

This is a question guests always ask us, and yes we do sometimes go to other game reserves for leave! Although a lot of people don’t understand this, but we can enjoy the bush without having to pay all our attention to the guests…and just relax.

This past July I went up to Caprivi – Namibia, for some birding and of course…the FISHING!!

What a beautiful place! Yes there was a bush war fought there with South Africa and some other forces some years ago, and it does not look like any war torn area; although it has been some years. The people are friendly and are very helpful, always with a smile, but how could you not have a smile when you live in Africa and in such a great place.

Five countries converge in this area, AngolaBotswanaZimbabwe - Zambia and Namibia– two great African rivers flow here, Zambezi and Chobe Rivers – and I have heard some say that up to 75% of Africa’s elephants live here!

Bird life is stunning, as this area in the Miombo woodland area, (broad-leaved deciduous woodland, a transition zone which in the plants change from area to another; eg. Tropical to bush veld. The bush in between). What makes it great birding is you get birds from both biomes and all the water birds as well.

Went up to a wonderful little fishing lodge on the Zambezi – Kalizo Lodge, just in the camp there are birds which we don’t get in South Africa. Coppery – Shelly’s and PurpleBanned Sunbirds, Brown Firefinch, White Browed Coucal, Open Billed Storks and Western Banded Snake Eagle; the list goes on. My friend came away with about 25 Lifers (new birds) and has been a guide for many years.

Zambezi was nice and high, as the flood plains have emptied into the river; pushing all the small fry into the river as well – making for wonderful fishing. Tiger Fish also know as Stripped Water Dog, due to the fact of when he hits you – sometimes could take your rod out of your hands if not paying attention. Fifteen different species of Bream, some growing more than 3 kg (7 Pounds) in size, and a bream which grows in a river always puts up a great fight.

Just spending time and having the privilege to be on a great ancient African river like this, sooths your soul and you come home with a mind which has been widened; just by drifting down the river and seeing everyday life of the locals and the wonderful wildlife on the banks.

We drove from Madikwe up through Botswana, was a long road at times but the monotony was broken by seeing elephants or buffalo just off the national road. Reminding you that there are still some wild areas around…if you know where to look. At night we saw honey badger, civet and just missed an ellie or two, as they don’t really reflect your head lights. We camped next to road when we were too tiered to drive any future, and were kept up by elephants fighting with hyena’s whole night, not far our tent.

This is what we as guides look for when we go to other wild areas on leave…something wilder than were you work. A place which will re-new your passion or fuel your fire for wild places of this world.

If you ever have a chance to go to Caprivi, one should take the opportunity to and experience a different life which the locals live; and fantastic wild life in and around the area.

Matt Jones


Mike - Fenphotography said...

Great post Matt, an excellent read and the photos are outstanding. It must be amazing for you guys to not only see what you get to see whilst working, but for then to enjoy it even more when you have a break.

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

Great pictures and I've just caught up on your previous posts, too. Interesting reading! I liked the B&W shots. Every now and then, I like to see my pix in B&W, too. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. It would be nice if you stopped to take pictures of your sunflower fields when they are in bloom. I've seen pictures of the Canola fields in SA. That's something I would really love to see in person one day.

SAPhotographs said...

This all sounds so familiar!! When I worked at a game lodge I used to get that question all the time. When I told people I went to Kruger, they used to look at me as if I was crazy!! LOL!! But where else would dedicated bush lovers go??

Michael Palmer said...

Great read, great images!! til tomorrow!!