4164 cc of Japanese technology weighing in at 1500kg against the mighty force of Loxodonta Africana (African Elephant) built purely by nature and evolution outweighing our land cruiser by another 3500kg!!! Was it a fair match or not??
Due to the top speed of our ele friend being 40kph in full charge – Simon Kimaro (who some of you know as the bravest professional driver guide there is) was hiding behind Malcolm Ryen, Coastal Safari’s chief ecologist, who shared the picture with us (thanks Malcolm!). Simon being the true gentleman allowing his opponent a head start to which the ele gained a good 20 meters in front of Simon’s chariot before he sprinted to his car checking that it was not scratched or damaged in anyway. He then jumped in turned the car around heading off in the other direction, as Simon checked in his rear view mirror he was very surprised to see what filled his view!!
All joking aside and flipping back into our latest update from the dry dry bush and that is precisely what is happening out there. My recent drive out to Tarangire and Esilalei showed dry beds which usually hold enough water for the Maasai and their cattle now only leaving a baked area resembling the rear end of Simon’s competitor.
Much elephant damage close to the side of the tarmac road that cuts through to Lake Manyara only indicating that food is getting scarce further into the bush and into the soft rolling hills. I saw x7 elephants destroying a cluster of bushes around 100metres back off the main road with the same amount of Giraffe that were only 20 metres back. On approaching the camp a small group of grants gazelle huddled around a green acacia bush and nibbled at the green leaves unperturbed by my presence.
My trip back into Tarangire, although on a mission to reach the camp, I still had time to enjoy some of the game that passed me by and was fortunate enough to catch a male lesser kudu standing out in the open. Once the dust had cleared around me from my sudden application to the brakes, the kudu still stood motionless.
Since my magical time in Ruaha N.P where I saw kudu every day on airport runs it has been years since I have laid my eyes on such fine beast. The Greater are just proud, grand in the stature and pure size with the lesser being far shyer with only 1 % of budding naturalist ever being lucky enough to focus in the bino’s on this wonderful creation of nature.
Greater Kudu – Ruaha National Park the Jewell of the South..
The lesser have the ability as do many antelope I would add to freeze and melt back into the bush. My sighting of the lesser male kudu had all attention on him as I fumbled with my open safari bag trying to hook out my camera whilst not taking my eyes of him. Finally with camera in hand and zoom buzzed out to max, my motionless male got into motion and rightly turned his derrière back to my now paused finger that hovered over the shuttle button…. ‘ok,ok’ patience and breathing are the key to getting that great shot so I paused and watched my little stripped friend walk around the back of the bush and disappear into thin air !!!
As mentioned already the art to survival for most antelope and little critters out there when they sense danger is to freeze!! Now as I lowered my camera something caught my eye 5 meters only from where I first caught the male out in the open and a smile came back to my face as I raised the camera back to my eye and began to pan with x 2 female lesser kudu which delicately began to walk through scrubby bush in the opposite direction to the male.
Then click – click – click as she stopped momentarily
to check me out once more- asante sana
Unfortunately time was pressing again and I needed to be making my way back to Arusha, so with camera now resting within easy reach I continued my safari through the burnt colors of rust and gold lost in thought heading out through the magic scenery of Tarangire.
I would like to round off my latest shout from the bush with a beautiful, graceful moment that I shared with a cow and calf as they returned to the main herd of elephant that drank and ate calmly 50 meters from where I had positioned myself on the fringes of Silale Swamps. The images of the cow shows her clearly smelling the air with truck raised as she checked for any dangers and caught the familiar sent of her herd.
breathing and bingo click, click
(Now for those who are unsure what I mean by panning whether using a happy snappy or the latest SLR digital jobby when shooting wildlife in motion, it is important to move with your subject at approximately the same speed whilst keeping whatever you are shooting in the center of your view finder (easier said than done) even as you begin to shoot the image as the shutter releases, one must keep tracking and panning to achieve the best results. As I say small pocket digitals camera these days can bring you some great results and add motion and life to wildlife shooting – don’t be afraid to try as you can always pull out another memory card and delete, delete to your heart’s content when home)
Courtesy of Claudia and Terry who travelled with B2B back in 2007 – thanks guys, great shot! and a true example of how to play with shutter speeds to capture the essence of motion in movement. (No doubt shot on a slow shutting speed whilst panning and tracking this Zebra in full gallop)
Until next time watch this spot for the latest news from the bush and hints how to make your safari experience that little more reward able.
Chris and the B2B team