Tag Archives: Wildlife

A gift that keeps on giving…

Big thanks to the lovely ladies at Well Designed Journeys for featuring a two-post interview with Dave on their beautiful blog, sharing his advice on wildlife photography: Wildlife Photography Tips for Travelers on Safari: Interview with Dave Estment and Wildlife Photography Tips for Travelers on Safari: Part II

This passion has blessed us with countless incredible trips into the African bushveld. It’s one of those gifts that keeps on giving. In fact, we’re off to Madikwe Safari Lodge again tomorrow, courtesy of their head ranger, Marc Lindsay-Rae – a fabulous friend and fellow photographer, who has just won the 2010 Africa Geographic/Canon Photo Competition for rangers and safari guides (with an awesome shot of a mother and calf black rhino charging him). Way to go, Marc! Here he is, with his winning photo (for the month and year):


MARC LINDSAY-RAE with his winning wildlife photo!

For those who don’t know, black rhino’s are endangered, which makes that pic all the more exceptional. We were treated on a previous visit to Madikwe to a spectacular sighting of three together, and a pack of endangered wild dogs on the hunt. It was too dark for decent photo’s, but regular readers of this blog will have seen plenty more wildlife pics in the past. Some stunning ones of Dave’s are included in those two posts at Well Designed Journeys, and here are a few other highlights just for fun:


AMARULA HOT CHOCOLATE – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa


MORNING BREAKING – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa


BREAKFAST FOR TWO – Madikwe Safari Lodge, South Africa


MARC, CLAIRE & GREG ENJOYING SUNDOWNERS – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa


AFRICAN SUNSET – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa


HEAVENLY SUITE – Madikwe Safari Lodge, South Africa

. . . and a quote from another photographer (as well as actor, artist and writer):

“I have never been in a natural place and felt that was a waste of time. I never have. And it’s a relief. If I’m walking around a desert or whatever, every second is worthwhile.” – Viggo Mortensen

Wishing you all a wonderful few days, until we return with more wild magic to entice you to visit the bush soon too 🙂

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Celebrating Southern African Getaways

Sincere thanks to the fabulous Christine Searle at SA-Venues, for including me in her awesome post: South Africans share their favourite local getaways! It’s a total treat to participate and discover what’s special to others too 😀

Picking only one favourite was impossibly tough, given the abundance we have here – as well as how privileged Dave and I have been, thanks largely to friends, family and our professional photography. I narrowed it down to the African bushveld, because I believe that nothing compares to the ‘soul vacation’ this offers. Here’s the longer list, incorporating more of Southern Africa and a few of the countless highlights we’ve enjoyed:

Londolozi private game reserve, SA – leopards:


LEOPARD CLOSE-UP – Londolozi Game Reserve, South Africa

Madikwe private game reserve, SA – wild dogs:


AFRICAN WILD DOG – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

Schotia Safaris, SA – lions:


MUFASA – Schotia Safaris, South Africa

Welgevonden private game reserve, SA – rhino’s & elephants:


RHINO SILHOUETTE – Welgevonden Game Reserve, Waterberg, South Africa


ELEPHANT SILHOUETTE – Welgevonden game Reserve, Waterberg, South Africa

Timbavati private game reserve, SA – buffalo:


BUFFALO BULL – Timbavati game reserve, South Africa

Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana – abundant game and raptors:


HIPPOS AT SUNSET – Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana


FISH EAGLE TAKING OFF – Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana – wide open spaces and occasional cheetah:


DAVE checking photo’s on our roofrack – Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana


CHEETAH RUNNING – Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana

Mozambique – scuba diving, especially Guinjata Bay’s manta rays:


MANTA RAY WITH REMORA FISH – Guinjata Bay, Mozambique


ME SCUBA-DIVING – Mozambique, Southern Africa

Lesotho – enduro riding, in particular the extreme Roof of Africa:


ROOF OF AFRICA 2010 – Lesotho, Southern Africa


VIEW OF MALUTI MOUNTAINS – Lesotho, Southern Africa

Cape Town (where I grew up) – family, fun, Two Oceans & Table Mountain:


TABLE MOUNTAIN from V&A WATERFRONT – Cape Town, South Africa


VIEW OF CAPE POINT – Cape Town, South Africa

As far as wildlife goes, we’re planning perhaps the pinnacle trip for September next year: Serengeti under Canvas in Tanzania with &Beyond Africa, which follows the migration in luxury tents. CAN’T WAIT, especially since it will probably include scenes like these:


WILDEBEEST RUNNING – Masai Mara, Kenya


HOT AIR BALLOON ABOVE MIGRATING WILDEBEEST – Masai Mara, Kenya

I wasn’t lucky enough to accompany Dave to Kenya, where he shot these last two pics, so that’s high on my wish-list of wildlife destinations, along with others in Southern Africa, such as Namibia (where I was born), Zambia (where my father was born and raised) and Zimbabwe (where some of our special friends come from). And that’s just for starters. Ah, AFRICA…what’s to do but LOVE YOU?

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Judgement

Judgement can be unjust.


VULTURE COMING IN TO LAND – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa


VULTURES FEEDING – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa

It’s a steamy summer evening near the Kruger National Park. Anticipation spikes the sunset as we pull up to the ‘vulture restaurant’ at Moholoholo (“The Very Great One”) rehabilitation centre. A simple patch of sand to us, the spot is significant to the birds. Dozens of them. The moment the carcass thuds to earth, they swoop in from their circling. A bombardment of quietly beating feathers flares dust into the air, muffling soft tearing and crunching sounds. Not a single squawk is uttered.

Each species knows precisely what to do. Larger-beaked prey ‘openers’ jostle beside their cousins who pick the bones clean. The ten minute melee is marked by precision feeding, highlighted with huge hops and tugs of war, as well as the intermittent scampering of a warthog. He’s having dinner too, snatching morsels from the heaving heap.

As swiftly as it began, the meal is over; barely a scrap to mark the spot. A flurry of large bodies lifts off and flies away. No wonder Nature is not strewn with waste. Among the less endearing of her feathered set, vultures sometimes receive a bad rap. Perhaps not the prettiest, they each have a part to play. As we all do.

Quotes to consider:

“Judge a tree from its fruit, not from its leaves” – Euripides

“We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions.” – Ian Percy

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – Carl Gustav Jung

“The tendency to turn human judgments into divine commands makes religion one of the most dangerous forces in the world.” – Georgia Harkness

“. . . It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.” – Paulo Coelho

“Although I cannot lay an egg, I am a very good judge of omelettes” – George Bernard Shaw

Here are a few more pics taken by Dave:


VULTURES & MARABOU STORKS – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa


WARTHOG WITH VULTURES – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa


WHITEBACKED VULTURE – Moholoholo, Hoedpsruit, South Africa


WHITEBACKED VULTURE – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa

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Khwai is calling, battling Hippo’s and all . . .

Selecting a calm, open spot along the winding Khwai river in the Okavango Delta, we loll beside our vehicles while Danie fires up the gas. He’s a master at the art of the skottel braai, tossing bacon and eggs like a ninja with a nunchaku. The aroma is enticing as the air is crisp, and we’re starving. It’s around 8:30 am, but we’ve been awake for ages, catching the best of the light ever since sunup.

Hippo’s blast lazily every so often, reminding me of Jeremy Mansfield’s brilliant impression. He had us in stitches one morning on Highveld Stereo, transporting us right here to one of our favourite places. The snorting intensifies, trapping our attention on two large beasts, intent on one-upmanship. Their teeth clack together for a good twenty minutes, against the lively orchestra of splashing water.


HIPPO CONTEST – Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana


HIPPO CONTEST – Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana


HIPPO CONTEST – Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana


HIPPO CONTEST – Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana

They’re still at it by the time we’ve wolfed down breakfast, so we mosey further along and drift into the day. Swinging past later on our afternoon drive, we find the pool more peaceful. That’s not to say there’s little to photograph. Game is abundant, but Dave is diverted by a branchful of Bateleurs. Climbing from the car, he creeps closer, avoiding heaps of dung while relishing the freedom of this stretch of land.


DAVE AT PLAY – Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana

The raptors oblige, perching long enough for him to capture their beauty:


ADULT BATELEUR – Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana


JUVENILE BATELEUR – Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana

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Trust

Trust = Treasure


GROUND SQUIRREL EATING FROM HAND – Mabuasehube, Botswana

A temporary home from home, Losoloago Pan shimmers her welcome. Oppressive desert heat drives us straight to our freezer, emerging with cans of half-frozen mango juice. Stretching, we soak it in, along with the silence. Like shrugging into a familiar shirt, we begin the process of unpacking. Some way off, the silhouette of a Spotted Hyena, less hairy than its Brown brother, lopes behind bushes. We know from last time that both may be about, unusual as it is for their territories to overlap. They’ll visit later no doubt, when the flames of our fire begin reaching for the stars.

The gurgling of a Hornbill catches our attention. Dave is ready, aiming his Nikon into the overhanging thorn tree, which provides scant shade for our rooftop tent. Not to be upstaged, a Francolin scampers towards his feet, followed by some Ground Squirrels. They’re shy at first, growing bolder when we offer little bits of bread. Teeny paws pull our hands closer, light as the brush of eyelashes to cheeks. Never before have we interacted this intimately. Tentative, but determined, they test the limits of Trust. The pleasure, of course, is entirely ours.

Quotes to consider:

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” – George MacDonald

“Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you do not trust enough” – Frank Crane

Here are some more images to illustrate the scene:


LOSOLOAGO PAN, Mabuasehube Game Reserve, Botswana


YELLOW-BILLED HORNBILL – Mabuasehube Game Reserve, Botswana


HAND FEEDING FRANCOLIN – Mabuasehube Game Reserve, Botswana


GROUND SQUIRREL – Mabuasehube Game Reserve, Botswana

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Grace

Grace = Gift


KALAHARI SUNSET – Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana

We call it ‘Big Sky Country’, the Central Kalahari. Somehow the horizon seems more expansive. Parked alongside a pan in Passarge Valley, we contemplate the meeting point of Heaven and Earth. Mesmerized, we forget to sip our nicely chilled drinks and nibble on the cashew nuts. Regal Gemsbuck drift nearby, quietly crunching the rough grass. Further away, a Ground Squirrel family frolics above its burrows. We’re done filming them. That was exclusive to Golden Hour. Maybe they’ll humour us again in the morning.

Light lingers solely in the sky, gone from the sand. The first rumble of far-off roaring reaches our ears. Warm up for the hunt. Anticipation tingles through the evening air, tempered by a peculiar peace. ‘I have a theory,’ Dave murmurs. ‘It’s almost as if the animals enter a trance-like state, accepting that one of them will go down.’ He’s right, I muse. Predator and prey appear to share a primordial pact. Premeditated panic knows no place here. Only Grace.

Quotes to consider:

“I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief… For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” – Wendell Berry

“Grace is available for each of us every day – our spiritual daily bread – but we’ve got to remember to ask for it with a grateful heart and not worry about whether there will be enough for tomorrow.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

“We cannot go faster than grace…If God will not go ahead with us, we must wait and go with God.” – Marcia Hollis

This is how the Gemsbuck looked a little earlier:


GEMSBUCK HERD – Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana
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African Elephant on the Charge!

Several things happen simultaneously:

– an Elephant trumpets
– men yell
– tyres spin
– dust flies
Plovers shriek
Impalas scatter
Hippo’s submerge
– my throat constricts
– the video camera tumbles into my lap

. . . and Dave calmly fires off a sensational sequence, hand-held from our roof rack:

I don’t know how my husband does it, but there you go 🙂

He shot this near the Khwai River Lodge, just North of Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. No, we weren’t doing the five star thing, rather the real bush deal, camping at the Khwai Development Trust site just up the drag. Thereby hang a whole lot more tales, but we’ll save them for another day.

Our friends in the Prado had inadvertently come between the elephant and the water. Never a good idea. They got off fine, albeit shaken and stirred!
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