Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Day 8: Sex in the Serengeti

A funny thing just happened...while uploading these images and recalling the Lions next to my tent in the middle of the night a family of Raccoons has entered my backyard. They started to fight and growl a bit and I opened the door and went out back to scare them away when Lea grabbed me with a very serious look of worry and tried to stop me. I was insensitive to laugh, but the timing was pretty funny.

For those of you with small children there is a photo that may require some explaining you aren't prepared to offer at this point in time so you may ask them to turn away while you scroll down to preview and make sure you are OK with them seeing it.

Early morning under the ominous light of the full moon we spotted hyenas running from us down the road. Photo's were tough. Maybe one will come out.

Pretty sunrise though no animals in sight. Finally found a tree filled with babboons and another with a Lapet faced vulture to show the color. We soon found a mating pair of lions. Talk about gettin busy! 3 times in 30 minutes...impressive! It only lasts about 5 seconds and she seems to be a bit bitter about that. They growl and snarl, very cool. Got some awesome photo's though I feel like a bit of a voyeur :) Apparently, these two will go at it every 10 minutes or so for approximately 7 days! Wow!

Next we found two gorgeous cheetahs. They were brothers and hung out near a tree that was fairly close to the road. They were being observed by a woman from the Serengeti Cheetah Conservation Program. Soon they crossed the road and walked into a large field. Almost immediately they started to run. I was in the middle of changing some settings on my camera when they did but I still managed to grab a couple of cool shots. A herd of Gazelles started to walk towards them. One got within about 15 yards or so of them. The cheetah's would appear ready to strike one moment, the next they acted completely disinterested. Eventually the herd spotted them and ran away. So the Cheetahs sat and we sat and waited. About and hour went by and they got up and started walking away from us. They were already at quite a distance and there were no access roads to get us closer. The Cheetah Conservation Woman was allowed to go cross country for a good look but we were not unfortunately. The Cheetah's started to run. They went behind some trees completely out of sight and apparently made their kill. It was heartbreaking not to get to see it. Wayyyy out in the distance we could see their heads pop up intermittently but even at 800mm with a 1.3 crop factor I couldn't get close enough for a shot.

So away we went. Another driver/guide informed Nickson (everbody knows Nickson) that a Jaguar had been spotted! These cats are extremely elusive and good sightings are apparently very rare. Nickson punched the gas and we were off. I had changed sides in the car and found the opposite seat to be a thousand times more comfortable..what took me so long to figure that out? Soon we found the Jaguar. There were many cars already there so we had to wait in line to see her. The Serengeti Park Rangers were there to ensure no one lingered too long. She was a beautiful cat. She was sleeping on a rock and only once lifted her head and opened her eyes. Right then the Rangers made us leave. We made the loop around the rock three times to see her. Awesome cat!

One the way back we passed the lion love fest. Still going at it! There was a group watching and as we drove past I said in jest "jeez, give them some privacy would ya?" The turned and glared at me. Nasty looks. Others at camp don't respond when I say hello or wave either. Very unfriendly people (the tourists, not the locals). I mentioned this to Nickson and he told me where they were from and informed me that's pretty much how they treat people all the time unless you are from the same country. Oh well, their problem, not mine.

I'm very low on available memory. We've got a Safari tonight and tomorrow morning then it's off to the Bougainvillea Safari Lodge where I can dump some cards on my Wolverine portable hard drive and prepare for Ngorongoro.

-Karibu Twiga! While sitting in my tent enjoying "Kili time" and reading Catch 22, two beautiful Giraffes walked behind my tent munching on tree tops. What a great surprise!

-The evening drive began with us finding a family of hyenas playing near their den in a burned field.

-SPF 85 coated an inch thick under a wide brimmed Tilly Hat and I still get a sunburn! Sheesh. I just looked in the mirror and noticed my cheecks are burned. I'm looking pretty rugged :)

-I just had one of those incredible God influenced events happen. There are a couple of other moments in my life that stand out like tonights sunset but not many. It truly was indescribable so I don't know why I'm even trying to describe it but I will anyway...The sun sets at 6:30 on the dot. At 6:00 it wasn't looking too good. There was a herd of elephants off in the distance we tried to track down but with no luck. Earlier we had seen some giraffes. I suggested to Nickson we go back the way we came and try to find them. We did! There were 3, but one was separated by a good distance from the other two. As the color of the sky began to change, they were eating with their heads in the trees..not good. I silently thanked God for this incredible experience and asked if he wouldn't mind nudging the Giraffe's my way. As the giant orb of the sun appeared wouldn't you know it? God nudged them in the right direction! The two began walking. I got out of the car and layed on my stomach over something prickly to enhance their sillhouette. I was switching back and forth between the 70-200 and the 400mm. I should have remembered to grab my monopod, as I mentioned in earlier posts, it is not easy to handhold steadily the 400mm but I did and it worked great. I captured the photo I had dreamed of shooting before my arrival here. "Thank you God!" I shouted with raised arms...awesome awesome awesome!

-3:00AM Holy Shit! THERE IS A LION IN CAMP! In my dream I thought I heard a man in the tent nearby snoring. As I awoke from the noise I realized it was a lion! It's roaring/grunting is very loud. When I woke up at first it was directly behind my tent. So close I could hear his footsteps crunching on the dry ground. When he stopped walking right behind my tent and started to vocalize I was literally paralyzed with fear unable to even scratch an itch that was torturing me. As I am writing this he is further away on the other side of the camp but still too close for comfort. I am under my blanket writing this so my flashlight doesn't attract any attention.

A lot of good that did! As I came out of the covers, my other piece of crap flashlight that had been shorting out chose that moment to start to work while on the floor pointing light out of the tent! Brilliant! He sounds further away now.

I forgot to put this picture of Swalehh on the blog last night. He is such a nice guy.
The dancers mentioned in Day 7...the way the girl was shaking her booty made Beyonce look like she learned to dance from me!
I will never forget the sunrises in Serengeti.
The epitomy of peace.
A male gazelle thinks he's got what it takes to rule the harem now.
This Lion was incredible.
She seems so unimpressed doesn't she?
I love this photo.
Now you see why she was know in Lion talk she is saying "What? Was that it?"
Sorry for the Lion Porn everyone.
I was so happy to find another Secretary Bird. I really think they are great.
A Male Cheetah sharpening his claws before the hunt.
It almost looks like he's laughing here.
Such a pretty cat.

I blinked my eyes and he was!
Like Lions, you can barely see them when they're in the grass...look at the top right of the pic and you'll see the potential prey..why he didn't take him down I'll never know.
Ugh, I was so frustrated that they were letting Gazelles walk so close to them but not giving chase.
OK, so the Topi in front of them here may have been a bit too ambitious a goal.
Zebras? Maybe.
Many Tembo walking single file.
The ever elusive leopard.
I'm afraid my leopard shot isn't going to be exactly a one of a kind.
Such a great surprise to find Giraffe's behind my tent!
The spelling might be off a bit, but the message sure got across..especially when the Lions were next to my tent at 3:00AM!
A Lioness reenacting a scene for the Lion King.
This is a good shot to see the color on the face of the Lappet Faced Vulture (it's White-backed vulture on the right).

I really liked these birds. Nickson would be so proud because I didn't have to look up the's a Lilac Breasted Roller.
The most incredible Sunset I have ever seen in my life.
Seriously...what a sunset.
I've entered this image in a couple of competitions at local fairs..wish me luck!
On the way back to camp we spotted this owl in a tree. Editing the image a moment ago I saw there is blood on his beak.


Anonymous said...

Great PORN! The stories just get better every day. Good luck on the contest. I love the elusive leopard and the sunsets with the giraffes

Mellimage said...

Totally awesome pictures, Mat. The lion porn may stand out, but I love the tree silhouette!!!