Elephant Plains photo safari 11-15 July Part 1

14th August 2015
I hosted a group of South African Wildlife photographers for ODP Safaris at Elephant plains, the game viewing had been really good and we were all looking forward to a productive Safari.

After meeting everyone and getting everyone settled in it was time to head out on our first Safari.

Our first stop was the 2 Styx Male lions that had stolen a giraffe kill from the Mangene pride of lions, the Two lions were feasting on the Giraffe and their bellies were quite full but they kept on eating ! We tried various different angles as well as some fill flash on the feasting lions.

After some time we left the Lions and had a Look at the Mangene Lions that were not far away in a nearby riverbed, the pride was sleeping and a few individuals were grooming, because they do not have a big Male Lion in their pride they could not defend their Kill from the 2 Styx Male Lions.

After a Quick drinks stop we headed back to the Styx Lions and their Giraffe Kill, we used a combination of Flash and Spotlight to get some great images of the lions as they still fed on the Giraffe.

Finally it was time to head home, it had been a good first Afternoon of our Safari.

The following morning we set off Searching for Salayexe Female Leopard and her young cub, on the way we photographed a small herd of Elephants as they fed in the morning.

We heard that the Styx pride of Lions with their young cubs had been found so we changed our plans and headed off to have a look at the cubs, along the way we found 3 members of the Shimungwe pride of Lions, they had moments before caught 2 young Impalas and were busy feeding, the Lions were tucked up in a Bush Willow tree and it was not great for photography so I made a short video of them feeding.

We left the Shimungwe Lions and headed off to see the Styx Pride. When we found the Lions they had stopped moving for the morning and they were settling down for the day, the Lions lay down in the shade of a big Termite mound, the cubs however decided it was play time and they had a game of rough and tumble on the side of the Termite mound, we photographed the as they played and interacted with each other, a wonderful sighting of the cubs !

After leaving the Lions we headed back to the Lodge for breakfast, along the way we photographed some Kudu and Waterbuck as well as a beautiful herd of Impalas.

That afternoon we set off to search for Salayexe Leopard and to see if we could photograph her cub, after finding tracks for the Leopard and tracking her she was finally found lying up on the bank of a dry Riverbed, after a short while the Leopard moved along the edge of the riverbed on the embankment, we followed as best we could.
After about 10 minutes the Leopard emerged on a small clearing on the edge of the riverbed she was alert and staring intently into the tall grass on the edge of the clearing, for the next 90 minutes we watched as the Leopard stalked, pounced and chased a invisible prey item, we were amazed at how the Leopard was stalking her prey only by sound !

Finally we got a brief glimpse of what she was chasing, it was a rather large Cane Rat, the Rat ran away from the Leopard along the edge of the clearing enabling us a brief view of it before it again disappeared into the tall grass, Salayexe didn’t give up easily and she continued her chase of the Cane Rat. Thanks to Liesel for letting me use her video of the Hunt in this blog.

Just as it was getting quite dark Salayexe made one last final pounce into the grass and she emerged holding the Rat by the back of the neck, persistence and effort had finally paid off for her, it was only at this point when the Leopard was holding the Rat that we could see how big the Rat was, a big meal for the Leopard and a good reward for the effort she had put in to catch it.

By this time it was completely dark and we used the spotlight to get images of the Leopard with her kill, Salayexe stopped in a thick patch of grass to feed on the Rat and we patiently waited for her, Eventually the Leopard started moving again carrying the remains of her kill back towards the den where she had hidden her cub, when she got closer to the den we left the Leopard to go back to her cub with her Rat meal, everyone was elated at having witnessed this amazing event in its entirety, we had also gotten a few great Images.

The following morning we set off before the sunrise and went to follow up on the 2 Styx Male lions, they were still busy feeding on the giraffe kill, by now their stomachs were quite large and round and both Lions seemed a bit uncomfortable but they continued to eat !

After spending some time with the Lions we went searching for Salayexe again, along the way we found a couple of Saddlebilled Storks feeding in a shallow pool of water, we sat on the waters edge and photographed the birds fishing. A short while later both birds flew off so we continued on our way.

We went past a second Waterhole and here we found a Hippo lying in the Shallow water, we got ourselves into a good position and got some pics of him as her dozed in the morning light.

While photographing the Hippo the 2 Storks we had photographed earlier came and landed in the same pool of water where the Hippo was sleeping, they started to fish and we sat watching them, the Storks quickly got used to our presence and soon they were fishing quite close to us as we photographed the fishing action, on a few occasions the Storks got lucky and managed to catch a few small fish.

A Hammerkop also joined the Storks in the pool of water and it walked along the edge of the water hunting insects and other prey items.

At this point Salayexe had been found and she was at the den site, we set off to go and have a look !

Salayexe and her cub were in a playful mood but unfortunately for us they were behind some tall grass and there were a lot of branches obstructing our view, we did manage to get some images of them as they moved around, the cub would attack its mom and a short game of rough and tumble would follow.

At one point the cub climbed a nearby tree, it was fun to watch this little Leopard navigating the thin branches and trying to maintain its balance, it was great to watch but difficult to photograph so I made a short video of the playful tree climbing cub.

Finally it was time for us to leave Salayexe and her cub and we headed back to the Lodge for breakfast, it had been another great morning !


Photo comment By DIPANKAR DAS: Liked the photographs. Wanted to learn photography though I have a basic DSLR cannot afford Canon D5 and lenses due to financial constraints and commitments. Do a little photography on own. Always want to make someone a teacher but never found a good mentor who would like to teach the skill and art. Very nice photographs.
Photo comment By Yusuf: You're doing a great job. I like it. May you never tired in your quest. I'm appreciating you from Nigeria.

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