Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Photo Safari #1

There really is nothing that quite like leaving the comforts of the lodge early in the morning to see what surprises waits around the corner as you wind your way along the dusty roads of Madikwe.

It has been great to be back in the bush. It has also been great to see and experience all the things that you recall only as memories after being away from the African action for a while and the best part of it - it's better than you remember!

As you may know Adele and I are now working at
Tuningi Safari Lodge and we already feel at home. Even though it is still very cold in the bush we have had a very warm reception and we look forward to where this new adventure will lead us. (Think I need to write a book on all our travels one day...)

As we started slightly out of what should be the normal working cycles (normally it's work for 6 weeks get 2 weeks off) there has been three guides at the lodge. This meant that I could ride shotgun with
Gavin and Grant and have the chance to take pics without having to worry about whether the female elephant is actually going to turn over our vehicle. We will be doing this until the 20th when Grant and Monique goes on leave at which point all the leave cycles and working rosters will be in place.

So as promised, here are a few of the images, in a kind of a photographic type of style, from my last few days back in Madikwe. It has lived up to everything we remembered and more!

The first morning I went out with Grant we found this Ground Squirrel's nest. There must have been about 6 of them caught between the overwhelming urge to get some of the early morning sun and hiding from potential prey. Nice sighting and shows the beauty of the 'smaller things' in the bush!

That afternoon we found this breeding herd of elephant at Tlou Dam which is one of the few water sources around at this time of year. As always we kept an eye out for the females with their youngsters and on this particular afternoon this habit was justified.

She was not 100% convinced about us and her repeated charges made us move about 30 meters in reverse. Must admit, I was impressed by the way Grant took pictures and reversed at the same time!! (Read Grant's Blog on this as well!)

She stopped a few meters from the front of our vehicle, gave us a good look and then went off after another vehicle - sorry Mike! :) Always a rush and I am quite happy with the way the images came out!

Great day out! Grant got to take a few days off so I went out this morning with some of the new guests at Tuningi. They have been unbelievably lucky!! After their first three drives, they have another 5 to go, they have seen all of the Big 5 except for Buffalo, Wild Dog and Black Rhino! Crazy stuff but brilliant for photography!

I decided to head South to try and relocate the two male lions Grant wrote about in his previous Blog. ON our way we found two Black Rhino about 200 meters off-road. It was one of the burnt areas so we could not go off to far but I still liked the combination of color with the gray giant in the middle of the scene.

As we made our way from the Rhino I heard on the radio that someone had audio of the Wild Dogs. Now you will recall that they are currently denning on the hills in the middle of the reserve so for us to find them when they 'descend from above' is quite something! We went into the area and found the whole pack, minus the brand new pups, in a dried up pan where they have just finished killing and eating an impala. We found ourselves surrounded by Wild Dogs with the youngsters (from last years litter) running around and playing with each other all over the place. Brilliant stuff!! I must have taken around 100 images, which I still have to check through and upload to the stock site, but here are a few of the ones that immediately caught my eye.

Was great to see the youngsters play with each other. They would jump up, like in the image above, and then just take off again and run like their lives depended on it.

In between all of the playing, the youngsters would pick up a leftover piece of the kill and run around with it. Almost exactly like your dog at home running away from you with a toy. Amazing to watch!

This looks quite aggressive but nit quite the case. The young dogs were playing and I was shooting at about 6 frames per second (one of the features I love most on my Nikon D300) and this was one of the resulting images. Great action capture! Can't wait to look through the rest of the images! (Amanda - you would have loved the 15 minutes we spent with the Wild Dogs!)

This afternoon I did not get to capture any images as we spent the entire time looking for the Thola Mateya lions. No luck, but on the way home we got a brief glimpse of Podile, a very relaxed female leopard in the South. Not long enough to get an image, but great moment none the less.

So there you go. A few highlights, in photographic safari style, of the last two days. Our idea is to upload a Blog like this at least once a week which will features highlights and images of the drive and walks we have done at Tuningi. If you enjoy this kind of thing, make sure to visit often or subscribe to receive the Blog via email as soon as it gets published. You might also want to check out the following three books that have been self-published by Gavin, Grant and myself.

A Photographic Safari - by Gavin Tonkinson

Madikwe's Animals Through My Lens - by Grant Marcus

Africa's Big 5: A Close Up View - by Gerry van der Walt

To find out more or order your own copy you can click on any of the above three images. I am also in the process of compiling a 'Best of Photo-Africa 2008' for release later this year so make sure to check back often!

As with all images on the Blog you can visit the Photo-Africa Stock Library to view more images or purchase the images for personal, commrecial or editorial use.

As always I look forward to hearing from you.

Until next time!



Grant Marcus said...


Great blog......again!
Love the wild dog shots,that D300 is the bomb !


AmandaLii said...

Gerry! Yes, I LOVE the pics of the wild dogs; especially the one with them running with "kill leftovers"....Absolutely stunning and so like my own "wild" dogs who play tug-o-war with squirrels or wild rats that get too close to our bird feeders.

Michael Palmer said...

My goodness, I am lucky to see a deer and a butterfly in one day - great life you have there - thanks for sharing.

Mike - Fenphotography said...

Great post Gerry look forward to your up coming posts. Been looking at the D300 myself lately, but a little pricey, will have to wait for my D70 to die first (plus I still love it) shots are amazing as always, the elephants jump right out at you.


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