Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Day in The Bush

When photographing wild animals it can be days on end of seeing nothing, enduring heat, rain, cold or anything Mother Nature can whip up. Then it happens. Everything at once, everywhere I point the camera there is a capture to be had.  This is complete bliss for my ADHD or as my favorite photography partner calls it “Squirrel Syndrome”.   

This particular morning was a perfect squirrel morning.  Starting with a lone fat spotted hyena moseying down the dirt road just before sunrise. Looking back at us I swear a look of guilt crossed his face. The consensus in the back of the truck was of certainty, it was the late-night-icebox-raiding hyena in camp the night before.  No evidence other than our suspect’s behavior mirroring that of a teenager sneaking home after a night of youthful shenanigans along with a full belly, a guilty verdict was issued in the early hour laughter and jokes. The kitchen invader picked up his pace and disappear into the bush.  With the rising sun came the birds including an appearance of the ground hornbills searching for their morning breakfast of insects, frogs or any small mammal.  I as I settled in photographing the large prehistoric looking birds word came there was a cheetah nearby.  Within minutes the truck was loaded and we were off to found him.  He was easy to spot, not quite a quarter mile down the road and only a 100 yards off. We watch this male approach an old fallen tree the cheetahs use for sent marking (urine-spraying) and observation.  Sent is the main communication channel among cheetahs, who needs a technology when a keen sense of smell and a spot of dried pee can tell you who has been hanging out.  

Witnessing this carnivore’s behavior only reaffirms how fortunate I am to be documenting this vulnerable animal whose future is uncertain and how important conservation work truly has become. Making those quite days of nothing fade as the great days and images shine light on the reason for conservation.