Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Dogs of Mana Pools

On Friday morning I depart for my favourite part of Africa - Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe. I am hosting a Wild Eye photographic safari to this pristine and ethereal wilderness area, and I am quite excited to return there...

During our maiden voyage to Mana, my buddy Marlon du Toit and I were fortunate to spend some quality time with one of the local packs of African Wild Dogs (also called Cape Hunting Dogs or Painted Wolves). Mana Pools is a stronghold for this species, the most endangered of Africa's predators (fewer than 4000 remain in the wild).

We located the pack again on our last afternoon of the trip, sunning themselves in a dry riverbed. We decided to venture a bit closer, and to do so meant we had to physically leopard-crawl over the coarse river sand for about 40 painstaking meters, with bare elbows and knees, carrying our cameras equipped with super telephoto lenses in one hand and our beanbags in the other hand. Progress was slow, as the going was tough and we also didn't want to cause the canines distress. When we were in a good position, still not too close to cause distress, we settled in and spent some time photographing their lazy antics.

Eventually, the alpha male got a whiff of us as the wind direction shifted. He immediately came closer to investigate. It was thrilling to look through the viewfinder as he bore down on us slowly, checking us out. 

Nikon D3s  |  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II  |  1.4x teleconverter  |  f6.3  |  1/320 SS  |  ISO-4000

When he was too close for my lens to focus, I looked up, and looked him in the eye. 

Nikon D3s  |  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II  |  1.4x teleconverter  |  f6.3  |  1/320 SS  |  ISO-7200

He walked around us, taking in our scent, and after ascertaining that we were not a threat to his pack, he did the unthinkable - he flopped down a mere 15 meters from where we were still lying motionless.

It was epic. 
It was a moment that forever changed the way I see wildlife photography (well, that whole Mana Pools trip changed the way I see wildlife photography, to be honest). 

Nikon D3s  |  Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II  |  f5.6  |  1/400 SS  |  ISO-2500

To make such a direct connection with our subject was a revelation to myself and to Marlon.
We came back and vowed to share the "Mana Magic" with others.
On Friday I am going back to do just that...and hopefully the Dogs will be obliging again!

If you want to join us on our adventures in Mana Pools in 2015, then check out the details HERE.

Thanks, as always, for reading my ramblings. I'll catch you on the flipside!

Morkel Erasmus

Monday, 25 August 2014

WILDpaper - Free Desktop Wallpaper for August 2014

I know. I'm lazy - I've been holding out on you. I skipped July when it comes to releasing new WILDpaper images for your desktops/laptops/tablets...

I hope you can forgive me...and accept this month's image as a peace offering! :)

This young Giraffe was photographed at sunset, ambling away from the Gemsbokvlakte waterhole in Etosha National Park in Namibia.

This month's cheesy quote:

"“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step...” 
- Lao Tzu


You can download your free high resolution version HERE.




Feel free to share this post with anyone whom you feel would love to download this wallpaper!
Also, take note that you are welcome to contact me for any fine art prints that you desire from my portfolio - you can mail me directly using morkel(at)morkelerasmus.com


Thanks, as always, for your support.

Morkel Erasmus

Sabi Sands: February 2010 (Part 3)

This is the 3rd episode of a way overdue trip report from February 2010. If you need to catch up, check out PART 1 and PART 2 before carrying on with this post...

My lovely wife and I had a pleasant afternoon lounging around our room at Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve with its private plunge pool (summer months in the Lowveld are hot and humid). She took this photo of me looking out over the bush...



This photo shows the inside of our luxurious room - what comfort!



Soon enough, after stuffing ourselves with lovely teatime treats, we were off on our afternoon drive as the clouds were building for storms overhead. This photo shows Marius Coetzee driving us around the roads of the Sabi Sands - do yourself a favour and check out his website for some amazing photography...


Our first notable sighting of the afternoon was a journey of Giraffe (that's what a group of them is called) underneath a stunning rainbow (what is it with this trip and rainbows?)...

One of the bulls obliged me by going to stand in the perfect spot - how kind of him!




We then received word of a nice lion sighting, and proceeded there immediately. The Ximungwe pride was relaxing in a riverbed, and the sole surviving cub of that year's litter was playing with his mother. This little one had been dubbed "Supercub" due to the hardships he endured up to then, and the fact that he somehow kept up when the pride was on the move - which they did without consideration of a cub's presence in their midst.






As you can see, it was a fruitful sighting as far as photography goes. The mother was not very impressed with her cub's incessant playfulness, but she bore it like any good patient mother would. Shortly after leaving this sighting the heavens opened up and we got properly drenched!! Thanks goodness for the parkas in the vehicle (which I used to cover my gear which was on loan from Nikon South Africa)!!!

I hope you enjoyed this trip report thus far. More to follow in the 3rd episode...
Have a great week!

Morkel Erasmus

Monday, 18 August 2014

Ghostly Duo

A moment of magic in the bush as a Black Rhino cow and her calf approach the nearby waterhole. A storm is brewing and the day is drawing to a close. Every step is weary, and every sound is carefully tuned into with their amazing hearing. We sat very still in our vehicle and watched for more than 30 minutes as they carefully emerged from the thickets, quenched their thirst, nearly charged some impala that were also on their way to have a drink, and slowly disappear into the fading light...

To view the photos at their optimal sharpness and resolution, merely click on one and cycle through them using your left and right keys.



Moments like these are getting harder and harder to experience...
Rhinos in Southern Africa are being decimated at higher and higher rates by the day...
The Black Rhino is the least populous of the species found in Southern Africa...
Please check out the following initiative: www.breakingthebrand.org

I hope you like this image. The monochrome conversion I created really spoke to me in a way the colour version could not do...I always like to show my before and after versions (colour and monochrome) - so here they are.

Techs:
Nikon D800
Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II
f5.6 | 1/500 SS | ISO-3200



Thanks for having a look! Have a great week...

Morkel Erasmus