Safari 2016:   A Leopard Earns His Bacon

Safari 2016: A Leopard Earns His Bacon

The 2016 edition of our annual Safari Trip came and went all too quickly.    As always it was a wonderful 10 days to be immersed in the beauty and savagery of the South African Bushveld.   Being addicted to the experience, we once again stayed at our favorite place in the world, the Dulini Private Game Reserve in the Sabi Sand Reserve.    We’ve become part of their family so it’s only proper that we visit kin every year!

Over 18,000 photos came home with us and I’ve started the daunting task of sorting through them to see what stays and what goes.

I had taken new equipment with me this year, including Nikon’s brilliant new D5, which shoots off 12 photos per second so it was easy to rack up a high photo count.   Especially since it could take 250 photos without taking a break to write the photos to memory and do it with a 20.8MP sensor.    Combining the D5 with the D800, I had substantial fire-power when it came to catching the right moment.    As far as glass was concerned, my beloved Sigma 150-600mm , Nikon 24-70mm, and a new Rokinon 24mm / f1.4 specifically for Astro-photography rounded out the kit.  Enough about the tools.

As I go through my photos, I’ll post my trip reports as quickly as possible.

For the first installment, I’ll share what we observed soon after a beautiful Leopard named ‘Torchwood’ successfully hunted a Warthog.   We had just missed the actually ‘strike’ by Torchwood but got there in time to see him catch his breath and begin feeding.

Torchwood has a reputation in the region for being a Warthog specialist and is becoming one of the more dominant male leopards in the area.   Warthogs will typically inhabit abandoned termite mounds and will burrow into them for shelter and safety.   Torchwood, having figured this out, will stake out active burrows and will attempt to ambush the warthog.   These termite mounds can sometimes between over 10 feet tall, so he’ll also stand on top of the mound and surprise the warthog from above when it attempts to leave its burrow.   Simply amazing to watch his master hunter at work.

The Sabi Sand region is blessed with a vibrant Leopard population, so it’s wonderful to see these leopards grow up from being cubs to  being independent and establishing their own territories.   From my own count there are at least 30 leopards in the region, and I might be a bit low on that estimate.

Some of these photos may be a bit  graphic for sensitive palettes, especially if you’re not a fan of seeing a bit of flesh or blood.   However it is part of the experience and part of the reality that exists in such a wild environment and goes a long way to tell the story of a Leopard and his successful hunt.

You’ll notice that my photos bear the Dulini watermark.   As in past years, I’ve shared my photos with Dulini for use on their Facebook page so when I processed my photos I kept it simple by just applying the Dulini watermark instead of re-doing an imagine for my watermark.

I hope these photos bring a sense of what it’s like to be there watching the event in person!  Enjoy!

 

How we found Torchwood minutes after his kill

How we found Torchwood minutes after his kill.

 

torch2

Yep, he’s staring my way…..

A few minutes later he went back to the Warthog to hide the carcass from Hyenae or other predators that could challenge him for the Warthog.

A few minutes later he went back to the Warthog to hide the carcass from Hyenae or other predators that could challenge him for the Warthog.

 

torch9

Dragging his trophy to ‘safety’.  Typically he would pull the Warthog up into a tree, but nothing tall enough was nearby for him to take advantage of.

 

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You can see the exhaustion in his expression.

 

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Hard work, but worth the effort for him.

 

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After another short break, he began to rip into the flesh of the Warthog and enjoyed the fruit of his labor.

 

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Clearly enjoying his success!

 

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Tasting success…..

 

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Simply a beautiful animal…..


Scenes From Safari:  Part VI – RHINO VIDEO!

Scenes From Safari: Part VI – RHINO VIDEO!

This installment picks up where parts I, II, III, IV, and V left off (please click on a ‘number’ to be taken to that part).

Here you’ll find an assortment of critters including Elephants, Lions, Dung Beetles, Birds, etc. etc.  At the bottom of this post, be sure to watch the Rhino video.   We were as close as we could get without jumping on him for a ride 😉 !

 

Did You Know? Elephants can communicate with each other through infrasound from 10-15 miles away!

Did You Know? Elephants can communicate with each other through infrasound from 10-15 miles away!

 

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A Mongoose provides a rare pose.

 

Othawa_Behind_lodge

I was about 30 yards away from these Lionesses with nothing between us. Fortunately they were too lazy to do anything about it.

 

 

 

 

Tasselberry_Ravenscourt

A male and female Leopard (Ravenscourt and Tassleberry) are about to enjoy each other’s company.

 

Dung_Beetle

Dung Beetles battle over a pile of……territory.

 

Greater_Blue_Ear_Starling

Common but beautiful, the Blue-Ear Starlings shimmers in the sunlight.

 

Red_Bill_Hornbill

A Red-Billed Hornbill

 

Mom

Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, are you up? Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom


 

In this video, we experience a Rhino come as close to us as possible without sitting in the truck with us…..

Scenes From Safari: Part IV

Scenes From Safari: Part IV

I’ve managed to pull out a few more photos from the thousands that I’m sorting through.  I’ve also attached a great video my wife captured as a Hyena was entertaining her cubs at sunset.

To see previous installments, please click here for Part I, click here for Part 2, and click here for Part 3.

Enjoy! 🙂

 

'Baby on Board'

‘Baby on Board’

 

Angel_Vulture

An ‘angelic’ Vulture awaits opportunity…..

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A nervous Warthog literally ‘hightails’ it away from me….

 


 

Lion-Cut

A Warthog got the better end of deal after confronting this Lioness…..

DogPack

A pack ‘elder’ leads these young Wild Dogs on a hunt…..

Giraffe+Young

An adolescent and baby Giraffe look on….

ScarNose_HDR

Affectionately known to his fans as ‘Scar Nose’

Woodpecker

A female Bearded Woodpecker doing what a woodpecker does….

A Majingilane male naps next to his Othawa pride Lioness

A Majingilane male naps next to his Othawa pride Lioness

 

The following video captures some great scenes as 2 Hyena Cubs play with their ‘Babysitter’….