Cheetah Chase – Safari Update Day 8

As mentioned in my previous blog entry, there is seldom a safari in which I don’t see something new.  In this case, one of my clients captured five adolescent cheetahs chasing a Silver Backed Jackal.

So here is the set up.  On our way to Mbaligiti, we heard of a family of Cheetahs just hanging out, so we decided to divert a bit and have a look.  When we arrived, there was mom and five adolescent cubs in the shadow of a tree.  A mother being able to raise five cubs to full adolescence is uncommon, so this was a treat in itself.  Mom suddenly moved forward in a stalking position until she realized the motion was just a jackal, then she collapsed under a small tree to find shade again.  The cubs on the other hand decided to have a go that the jackal and before you knew it all of the cubs joined in and a full out chase was happening right in front of us.  Toward the end of the clip you will see another jackal running into the frame, no doubt to save his or her mate from the chase of the Cheetahs.  In the end, the Jackals when to the scrub brush and left the Cheetahs with nothing but a dry mouth.  Special thanks to Jean Rosenblum for her video.

Cheers and happy photo’ing

Cheetahs On The Edge

Folks often ask me is what my most favorite animal in Africa to photograph. I must share with you that this is a difficult question to answer, as focusing on just one animal is just plan hard given all that we see while on safari. It usually comes down to a choice between the elephants and the cheetahs. Both can pose photographic challenges when trying to obtain ‘The Shot’. Both have a strong sense of family however, I think the cheetahs win out due to their speed and how hard they have to work to survive. A mother can have a litter of up to 6 cubs however, only three (or less) of the 6 will normally make it to maturity. There is something special about an animal that can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in less than 3 second and sustain a 75 mph burst for up to 1600 feet. Talk about Top (Gun) Cat. Sadly, wildlife experts estimate that less than 12,000 cheetahs remain in the wild today. Sit back and enjoy the video clip below as a film crew caught the cats in action. Using a special high speed camera (Phantom) capable of capturing images at 1200 frames per second, the National Geographic guys captured three of the cats at the Cincinnati Zoo over the course of 3 days.

Cheers and happy photo’ing

In the Trees

During my several of us drove into the research area, while the rest of the group enjoyed a wonderful early morning balloon ride.  We spotted a pair of male Cheetahs in the distance and started tracking them.  Before we knew it, they were heading straight for us.  To my amazement, one of the males was up a nearby tree in nothing flat, but not without a bit of a struggle.  Built for speed, the Cheetahs don’t have the shoulder climbing muscles or sharp retractable claws that the other cats have, making climbing a bit of a challenge.  While you won’t find them very high up in trees, you occasionally find them making use of lower trees for improved viability.  Somewhat uncomfortable in trees, they will not stay there for long.  In this case, we are able to maneuver the truck around to get a head on shot of him in the tree.

Nikon D3x, 200-400mm f/4.0 @ 310mm, ISO 250, 1/640 sec at f/6.3  This image was taken here.

After the Cheetah struggled with maintaining his balance in the tree,  down to the ground he came and rewarded us with a quick game of peek-a-boo before he was off with this brother for their daily hunt.

Nikon D3x, 200-400mm f/4.0 @ 400mm, ISO 250, 1/250 sec at f/5.0

Cheers and happy photo’ing

2014 Photo Safari Schedule

Safaris for 2014:
1. Rwanda – Gorillas in the Mist 1 Jan thru 8 Jan  DETAILS ARE POSTED HERE. Trip completed, full trip report in draft.
2. Tanzania – The Great Migration – Feb 15-25, 2014   TRIP IS FULL
3. Chile – Torres del Paine – March 2014,  Adventure Series Only*
4. Tanzania – The Great Rut – May 31 – June 10, 2014. Some openings remain.
5. Iceland – The Land of Fire and Ice – 10-19 Aug 2014 – DETAILS ARE POSTED HERE  Strictly limited to 8 participants, 4 openings.
6. Tanzania – Fall Migration – Sept 16-25, 2014 – DETAILS ARE POSTED HERE
7. Botswana – November 13-22, 2014 – DETAILS ARE POSTED HERE.

Looking forward to 2015:
Namibia – Landscapes of a Lifetime – April or May 2015- Details will be released in March of 2014.
Tanzania – The Great Rut
Tanzania – Fall Migration
Botswana – Adventure on the River
Lots More to Come So Stay Tuned.

*Adventure Series – Open only to previous clients and those who are willing to travel in conditions that require maximum flexibility as we explore new areas.