Friday, May 30, 2008

Weekly High-Five!

This is the first of the Weekly High-Five.

Every Friday, five of the images uploaded to the Photo-Africa Stock Library during the last week will be chosen and discussed briefly on the Blog. This will not only highlight some of the new work added, but also give you the chance to add your input and feedback on the images! Hopefully constructive, but please be honest!

So with that here goes with this weeks High-Five!

Image 1 - Baby Jackal by Bradly Leighton

This shot definitely has the cute factor going for it. Initially I thought that the placement of the youngster in the frame could have been a little bit to the right as one feels he is looking and moving into the open space on the left, but this is not a real worry. The fact that the grass stems on the right of the image almost frames the youngster fixes this very nicely. The highlights in the fur feels a little harsh, but not enough to really cause concern. Overall a great image!

Image 2 - Thorn Abstract by Gerry van der Walt

Nice macro image as it is a very difficult thing to get 'truly' correct. The focus in this image is obviously the thorn, but the little branch on the left of the image almost takes the eye away from the actual image. Nice idea on this image, but background could have been a little more non-intrusive and the main branch tilted slightly to create even more of a diagonal line across the image. Nice attempt.

Image 3 - Kudu Silhouette by Matt Jones

Potentially an unbelievable African image! The Kudu is an amazingly beautiful antelope and by combining this with a great sunset and awesome silhouette this image is definitely on the right track. The main problem, and that is a strong word in this case, is the branches that is 'growing' out of the Kudu's head. If you were to play with this image in Photoshop and get rid of the branches and perhaps push the contrast up just a touch, this image would be even better then it already is! Gotta love African sunsets.

Image 4 - Leopard in Spotlight by Grant Marcus

I really like this. Apart from the fact that an image like this has been taken in Madikwe should be framed immediately (due to the erratic leopard sightings) the overall image is beautifully composed. The diagonal line combined with the leopard staring in that direction makes you wonder what she is looking at and almost creates movement to the right of the frame. The two background colors also compliment the colors on the leopard very well. Great image!

Image 5 - Buffalo Bull by Matt Jones

My favourite. Great composition using the horn and face as part of the frame. Initially I was not sure about the splash of highlights on the ear but it works. Your attention gets drawn to the ear first, almost looking like an abstract, and then the whole picture comes into view and you notice the big guy is looking at you. Just like in the wild! A great image and my Pick of the Week!

Let me know what you thought of the images and which are your favorites! Also make sure to check out these and other images on the Photo-Africa Stock Library. New images are added almost every day so a lot of great African Wildlife & Nature images to browse through!

As always I look forward to hearing from you!


Thursday, May 29, 2008

What About Us?

I personally do not know how anybody can shoot an elephant. For any reason!

Elephant culling has been a hot topic in South Africa and abroad and is still one of those subjects that when it gets mentioned people get very emotional, very quickly. The fact that this practise, however it may be perceived, is being allowed again after 13 years has now again opened this controversial matter. I read a very interesting article in the latest edition of Getaway Magazine which explored elephant culling and this got me thinking.

Now opinions on this matter will differ greatly between people and I suppose if you ask 100 people their opinion you will get a 100 different answers. We keep on saying that elephants destroy the environment so much that is going to, if it has not already started to influence the future of other species whose habitat gets destroyed. Is this really the case? Can this be proven without a doubt?

There are scientists that believe that it would be very tough to actually prove that elephants have a negative and irreversible impact on the environment and that their populations are too large. We have all read the figures that state that the Kruger National Park can deal with a population of 7000 elephant but currently has more than 15000 but who decided these numbers initially?

Some of the new thoughts from scientists are that 7000 might be an aesthetic carrying capacity rather than an ecologically based number. If this is the case, who are we to start talking about culling elephants who are, let’s be honest, only doing what they are naturally supposed to do and what we will drive for hours to see them do!

Now the major problem with elephant populations in the wild seems to be the following:

- Elephant transform their environment, possibly irreversibly so.

- Elephant populations do not seem to self-regulate. Leave them, they multiply.

For these reasons we, as a collective, are again starting to talk about culling these amazing animals – quite a disturbing thought. Stop for just one second and think of only one other species on the planet that meets the above requirements.

Transforms environment irreversibly.

Does not self-regulate numbers - even with contraception.


So what about us?

Quite an interesting and ongoing debate and you can read more in the latest Getaway Magazine. As always I look forward to hearing from you!


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Photo-Africa Update

During the last few days I have been able to capture many great images. The game viewing started off pretty slowly but as always, things change. Great sightings and great moments!

This is the young Etali male. We found them on the dam wall at Tlou Dam. The sky was quite dark and very dramatic so we circled the small pride a few times to get as many different angles as possible. Going to be a very good looking lion when he grows up!

These two Tree Squirrels were sunning themselves early in the morning. They were stretching in every conceivable direction and I was able to capture this one stretching and sticking his tongue out at the same time... just like my dog at home! Very cute creatures!

Always great to see the Wild Dogs. They were pretty static this time around, but the light was good which gave us plenty of opportunities to get some great images and we truly took advantage of the opportunity. A LOT of great images!

The Photo-Africa Stock site has been growing pretty fast over the last few weeks with new photographers joining and many new images being added on a daily basis! You can view the newest images by clicking on the Newest Photos tab on the front page.

As I am currently in a part of Madikwe where the cellphone reception is not the best, I will be adding a lot of my own images when I get back to Johannesburg next weekend but I will continue to update the Blog on a regular basis!

I have also been doing a lot of additions and changes to the Photo-Africa site which will be uploaded then. Once these changes are in place you will be able to jump to and view each individual photographers work on the Stock Site. All from one page. I am also working on various Payment Gateways so that images can be purchased in different currencies as well as subscriptions which will allow you to download many of your favourite photographer's images within a given time period. Again, watch this space!

A special thanks to Grant Marcus who has been adding many new pictures as well as contributing to the Blog! Make sure to stop by the Stock Site and have a look at his work!

As always I look forward to hearing from you!


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ellies in Musth

Meeting an elephant in musth......

I am back from holiday so now my real holiday can start again. It is always good to get back to the bush. Driving one afternoon to Tloudam we met with an elephant bull in full musth. Normaly they are quite aggresive.

We do see it quite a lot, but does everybody knows what it means ?

I t is also mispronounced as "musk" Musth is when males have a high testosterone level, normaly makes them aggresive.

Musth is a Hindi word meaning" mischievous" describing the condition in indian elephants. It only starts when the males are in their early twenties.

Musth can last up to 4 months a time. They are normaly searching for mates during that time. The back legs are stained at the inside and a fluid is running from the temporal gland on the face. When they are in musth they loose foraging time because they are tracking down females the whole time. When they meet up with the females the female may take up to 2 weeks before excepting the suitor...................poor guy !!

Just a bit of background on musth.. Luckily the male we saw was chillled. He walked right up to the vehicle and made us all realise how big they realy are and that they deserve more respect than we think they deserve.

Not far from there we got a big group of females. We spend some time with them and our friend rocked up. He immidiately chased the other males of, but the females were very stuborn............................

Thats all for now, hope you enjoyed that!
Grant Marcus

A Cold and Wet Winter Morning

When I got down to the lodge today the sunrise over Tswene Tswene was magnificent. We do not normally get clouds like this in winter, but it made for a great sight over the hills in the middle of Madikwe.

It started raining a few minutes later, which again is very strange for this time of year so our Game Drive was delayed just slightly. While we were waiting I took few images around the deck of Nkurru lodge.

After a few minutes the rain let up, at least for a little while. There were some pretty dramatic landscapes as we made out way through the Inselbergs. Things got VERY wet and VERY cold a little while later but we did get grat sightings of elephant,rhino and lions. The general game wa also out in full force which made our decision to brave the elements a pretty good one!

Very strange weather for this time of year but the drives are, as always, still amazing!

As always I look forward to hearing from you!


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Gizmo Update!

As you can see from the image above, Gizmo has lost the 'bucket' the vet put around his head and his eye has haled very nicely! We still have to put drops in for another week or so to keep the eye moist, but other than that he is all good! :)

The image above is Gizmo playng with Roddy's dogs at Nkurru, where we are currently freelancing. Giz was the only boy and I reckon even if his eye was stil sore, he would have forgotten about it very quickly... He only had one thing on his mind!! :)

Until next time!


Sightings at Nkurru Game Lodge

I am currently freelancing at Nkurru Game Lodge in Madikwe and even though the week started off very slowly, to put it mildly, things started picking up this morning - which cannot be said about the weather... it is getting VERY cold!!

Here are a few of the images from this morning's drive.

Found two big male rhinos just after leaving the lodge. The light was perfect and we all got pretty excited about the photo opportunities but these two gentle giants did not feel like a photo-shoot so early on a winter's morning. Got a few shots but the best part was that we actually started seeing animals again... yesterday nothing!!

We get to see quite a lot of Kudus in Madikwe. Nothing strange about that. This particular guy had us quite confused and worried though. From this angle, he looked perfect. Big guy, very healthy and apparently just another beautiful antelope. When he turned around we got quite a fright...

On his right side, this Kudu had some very serious looking injuries. From what we could see it looked like he had an open wound on his cheek area and his eye was also wounded very badly. This is not the kind of images I would normally post, but seeing this guys in this state got me thinking. Even though he was obviously very badly hurt, he carried on regardless. No feeling sorry for himself, no blaming the other kudu, just carry on with his everyday activities. I reckon these injuries were sustained in a fight with another male and this little tussle has left this guy in quite a bad state. His vision might now be compromised on the one side, but all over he was healthy, alert and hopefully will be around for quite some time.

After the kudu we finally found them...

The Etali female and her two youngsters. The cats have been making things quite difficult the last few days but this was one of those great 'surprise-moments'. We came around the corner, just about to stop for our morning coffee, when the three of them came strolling down the road. Nothing like being met head on by a couple of lions early in the morning! We followed them for a while and as they decided to cut back into the thick bushes around the Inselbergs, we stopped for our coffee break. Great sighting, great coffee!! :)

We are heading out this afternoon to hopefully get a look at the Batia brothers. These two legends in Madikwe are around 14 years old and still quite a site! (Should perhaps do a bit of a history on them at some point... Hmmm...) Hopefully I will be able to post some some images of the 'old boys' soon!

As always I look forward to hearing from you!


Thursday, May 22, 2008


"By whose command
were the animals
through groping fingers,
one for each hand,
reduced to the big and little five?

Have we forgotten
that wilderness
is not a place,
but a season and that we are in
it's final hour?"

Even though we might not always think of it in so many words, we all know it. The above words from a poem by Ian McCallum captures what I think is one of the things that draws us to Africa. There are moments when you are watching nature's story unfold where you forget everything. No matter where you are from or what life has taught you, for those few moments when you are watching a lion sleeping peacefully in the afternoon sun everything is forgotten. Nothing else matters!

And it is not just the lions or any of the Big 5 for that matter. Watching even the smallest Dung Beetle on his endless quest makes everybody stop and watch. We do not judge. We do not offer advise. We do not think of a way in which we could do it better. We just watch and for that moment we are at peace. With ourselves. With each other. With nature.

Is it because we know that the words from the poem are correct? Does it take the hidden knowledge that the single moment you are sharing with nature might not occur again and that future generations might not be able to share that same moment? Having the privilege to share in nature's continuing story transcends differences. We have a shared vision. A common interest. At least for a short moment in time.

Is it possible for us to actually take these shared moments and learn from them? Can nature teach us something and at the same time make us aware of the fragile world that we have the privilege of sharing? Using the old cliche - Guess only time will tell!

For those of you who were wondering - Yes. We did find lions the next day and that is what got me thinking about this whole thing. For a few moments everybody was still and just watched. Completely absorbed. Absolute magic!

I am heading back to Madikwe today and for the next two weeks Adele and I will be based at Nkurru. Hopefully some more great moments and after having fought through all the settings, I will now be able to add Blogs on a more regular basis!

You can also now sign up to have each new Blog delivered straight to your email address. All major image updates will be made on the Blog so make sure you sign up by using the link at the top right of the screen!

As always I look forward to hearing from you!


African Road Rage!

And I don't think anybody is going to argue with him!! :)

These images were taken in the Kwandwe Game Reserve. (Photographer unknown)

Until next time!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Not a Lion in Sight...


We have been driving for almost two full days now and there has not even been the smallest sign of a lion. Not a track - nothing! Actually, we have not seen ANY predators in two days.

The Wild Dogs were at Tlou Dam yesterday, but when we were still about 10 minutes out they go mobile and the 'vehicle circus' moved east away from the Dam.

Decided, with the guests, that we are not going to wait around for a maybe and kept moving. Had the most amazing sunset with a pair of very in love giraffe and then made out way back to the lodge. This morning we had awesome sightings of elephant, rhino and buffalo but still nothing that eats meat.

So in about 45 minutes we will be heading south to, hopefully, find something with lots of teeth and large claws!

As always I look forward to hearing from you and check back tomorrow to get the update on our predator hunt this aftrenoon!


Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Photo-Africa Stock Library is Up and Running!

We have just launched the Photo-Africa Stock Library! To visit this exciting new addition to Photo-Africa visit


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

An African Township - A Morning in Supingstad

Visiting a township in South Africa. The thought of doing this unfortunately still conjures up feelings of poverty, racism, crime and other such negative connotations.

Every time we have driven to or from Madikwe, I have noticed that in almost every township and community there are graves that have a little canvas roof built over them. Not all together, but every grave, without a tombstone, has it's own canvas roof. After asking some of the staff at Royal Madikwe about this I decided I want to go into the closest township to find out more.

So early this morning Dinamosi, Amos and myself headed off west away from Madikwe towards Supingstad, the closest community to the Game Reserve.

What an amazing experience it turned out to be!!

As we left the Wonderboom Gate we bumped into Chris, one of the rangers from Impodimo Game Lodge. He was heading to Zeerust to go and try his luck at the Licensing Department again. Hope the fourth time was lucky!! We continued west from the gate on the road which, 14 kilometers later, would take us into the heart of Supingstad.

My two 'tour guides', Dinamosi and Amos, knows Supingstad quite well. Even though neither from them are originally from this area, quite a large number of the staff in Madikwe live there so they know the small community very well and it is also where the go to 'party'! We even stopped by the tavern that they reckon is the best in the North-West Province but more on that later.

When we arrived I realized - this is African living. These people lived a life that few of us, who have grown up in cities and with every conceivable luxury, can imagine. It was amazing!

When we arrived in Supingstad just after 06h30 am the whole place was just busy waking up. Children everywhere getting ready to walk to school. Chickens, goats and pigs scratching around in search of their breakfast. The early morning light was perfect on the self-made houses where you would struggle to find two that look even close to similar. Here are just a few of the houses we passed.

Every shape and size imaginable! For me the best thing was to see that no matter how small or simple a person's house was, it was very well looked after. Fenced. Clean. Beautiful in it's own way. There was however no structure to where a house was built. No formalized numbering that I could pick up.

Dinamosi and Amos said that apparently if you want to build a house in Supingstad, you need to go and speak to the Chief, a Victor Suping. His ancestors started the community and through this he now has the right to 'charge' for the plot where you want to build. The price is also not set, but dependant on how wealthy you are. Kinda makes sense in an African way!

On our way to the school, we stopped by the tavern where Dinamosi and the guys hang out and have a couple of beers (too many probably!) From the outside it did not look like much.

To be honest, even form the inside it did not look like much but the African way of reasoning saved the day again!

The guys reckon that the tavern which we passed on the way into Supingstad, which I thought looked pretty nice, is too close to the main road. If the party gets going and the people have a few beers too many, which I am sure happens every now and then, the road is too close and they might "fall into the road". Hey... you can't argue with that!! The people apparently also come from Botswana because of this 'clever design'!

As we continued, we passed quite a number of churches, shops and even hair salons.

The local shop. Here you can buy anything from Lotto tickets to milk and bread!

Two of the churches in the middle of Supingstad.

This is the ZCC (Zion Christian Church) which is situated just outside of Supingstad. Does not look like much, but is very well supported.

One of the 'work-from-home' business!

Another one but judging by the amount of broken cars in this guys yard, I am not so sure I would let him work on my Land Rover!

Now this is what started this whole story.

You can see that the graves each has a small green canvas roof constructed over it. Now after chatting to quite a few people I finally found out why they do this. If a family has enough money to buy and construct tombstone, there is no green roof. The roof, which is also called a 'bathla', doubles as a tombstone and contains all the details that would normally be written on the tombstone. Apart from this, it is also a sign of respect for the deceased to give them shade on their journey. There were a few differences in some of the stories, but this seemed to be the most commonly told version. Very interesting and it is only in the North West Province that I have ever seen this done.

Anyway, as we continued on our morning tour of Supingstad I kept on being amazed at how friendly the people were. Young and old alike, no matter what they were doing, were always quick to wave or greet us as we drove by. More than you can say for any city I have every visited!

Husband and wife discussing the day before they both set off on their seperate ways.

Walking to school.

Always time for fun. They loved the camera!!

All the high school children walking to school. This is the main road that goes to Madikwe.

There seems to building projects everywhere. New buildings like this one is less common, but alterations to already exciting houses is very common.

This old lady was putting in a lot of effort pushing this wheelbarrow. When we passed her she was very friendly and did not looked phased about her efforts at all. Cannot even begin to think what some older ladies I know would say (or do) if they had to do this kind of chores every day!!

Fetching water. A lot of the houses do not have running water and this forms a part of your every day routine. Kinda makes you thankful for what you have hey?

There is a simplicity to the lives these people lead. No rushing after cell phones. No worrying about power shortages. No 'difficult' decisions we face like what fast food to go and fetch tonight. None of that!

I am sure that some of you might disagree with me on this, but to a certain extent I envy the life that these people have. Make no mistake, I love having satelite television, pc's that can do pretty much anything and water when I open my tap but these people know who they are. They believe in their culture. Where they come from. Respect for your elders.

Some of the things I think we have lost through all the technology and the hectic lifestyles we lead.

It is strange that a lot of these people, especially the younger ones, want what we have. I believe that deep down we also feel the same... There is something in the way that they live their lives that we want.

Simplicity. Respect. Knowing yourself.

It was an amazing experience to, at least for a short time, be able to share in their story and it is something I will definitely do again!

As always I look forward to hearing from you!