Suckling warthog

As this is the only time, so far as I recall, that I’ve seen a mother warthog suckling her infants, I share this image – not as a great picture, but simply as a record.

Nikon D500, 70-300mm. Processed in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro.

Mother and infants.jpg

Warthog Games

Two little warthog piglets were playing a robust game of catch and head-butting when we came across them at the edge of the camp in Marakele, on our first afternoon there, at the end of a game drive on which we had seen virtually nothing. Needless to say we sat for a while and watched – the mother contentedly snacking, siblings grazing, while these two little guys happily beat each other up.

Made me think of my three grandsons, actually – they’re not there yet, but they will be.

Taken with the Nikon D500 and 70-300mm. Processed in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro.

Zebra to the rescue

To maintain my sanity, or at least the appearance thereof, from time to time I have to take a break from what another photo blogger calls the work that pays the bills, and process an image.

Here, as a foretaste of an upcoming posting, is just one image, of a pair of zebra in the Marakele National Park, more for my own relief than anyone else’s.

I hope you enjoy the image anyway.

Nikon D500, Nikon 70-300mm zoom, processed in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro.

 

Zebra, Marakele # 1

Photographing rhino

Photographing rhino, in my amateur experience, can be a challenge. Mostly the problem is finding them in the first place, and when you do see them they tend to be just standing around, galumphing great hulks, or snoozing in the shade of a tree, where the light is awful.

If you’re a pro, you wait for the right moment – and waiting can mean a long, long time, before something interesting happens. When you’re not a pro, just someone like me, you’re either driving, with limited time at your disposal, or you’re on a game drive, which means someone else is driving, and there are a whole lot of others with you, who want to look, snap a picture, and get a move on.

So I was really glad to get these two, contrasting images, one somnolent, the other full of energy and movement, and work them up in black and white. They were taken during our visit to the St Lucia Wetlands, but across the road as it were, in the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve, a mere 45 minutes from the town itself.

It’s worth a visit.

St Lucia ‘seconds’

One of the things about St Lucia that makes things a little tricky for the photographer is the vegetation – dense, lush, green, all too often in the way of a clear shot, especially for the traveling amateur or tourist who does not have the luxury of lying in wait, sometimes for days or weeks, to make that definitive image.

These images are definitely ‘seconds’, not the first quality – but I share them because of the moments they capture: a giraffe, with an ox-pecker or tick bird over one eye, a clutch of zebra resting on one another’s rumps, a zebra seeming to laugh, or bark, or whinny, an impala (perhaps the best shot of the lot, in photographic terms) turning to look back at us.

Kudu coquette

This young kudu bull, posing beside a tree in the St Lucia Marine Park, seemed almost coquettish as he looked at me looking at him through the lens of my camera.

[In the original version of this post I made the embarrassing error of referring to the bull as female – I fear the coquettishness had me tied up in knots!]

Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park

The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park, up the north coast of KwaZulu Natal towards Mozambique, became South Africa’s first Natural World Heritage Site in 1999. Rob and I visited in December of 2012 – it was one of those rare places where a hippo might wander through your garden at night, where leopards hang about on the edges of town, while crocs are thick enough to form a bridge across the muddy water, if you’re dumb enough to try it.

For one reason and another, I never seemed to have time to really work through the photos from the trip, so here is a project for the next couple of posts – some images from St Lucia. We start in a rather low key way, but will progress to close-ups of hippos, I promise.

 

Impala dominance

After Clarens, and much wining and dining back in Johannesburg, Rob and I drove Mike and Karen, Hayley’s parents, to Pilanesberg, for a day of game watching and conversation and getting-to-know-each-other-better. We had a simply lovely time together, with two wonderful people.

At the very beginning of our game drive, on the far bank of the first dam, we came across this pair of male impala, duelling for dominance, while a harem of females browsed unconcernedly nearby.

The ground was arid, a dull sandy orange, much the same colour as the animals; the light was flat and the action was far away. Even with my 70-300mm zoom, equivalent to 450mm with the crop factor of the Nikon D500, I had to crop the images severely to get these pictures, and the absence of contrast posed a further challenge.

I was fascinated by the interlocking ironmongery of the horns, however, not to mention the strained bodies of the contestants, and so I offer these images not as great photos but simply as reference to the experience of watching this struggle in the wild for dominance and females.