The majority of photos coming from people who were fortunate to visit Zimanga leading up to their official opening in July 2014 have shown the fabulous photos obtainable from the bird hides currently in operation on the reserve. If you follow the reserve's Facebook Page, though, you would have seen that there's more to Zimanga than just birds. Charl Senekal has built up a gem of a reserve over the years where there's a wonderful immersive bush experience to be had. For me - a wildlife nut who enjoys to photograph birds now and again - being on foot with the resident Cheetahs and local pack of African Wild Dogs was an even better prospect.
I captured this photo one morning after we were relentlessly tracking the pack of "Painted Wolves" as they were hunting in the thickets and valleys of the reserve. These animals are the most endangered of Africa's predators. We eventually caught up with them as they finished a small kill. We approached them on foot, and as they came out onto the road I was able to lie flat down on my side and capture an image that framed them with the natural dense foliage of the area they were in, complemented by the morning light filtering through the tree canopy as well as the very low angle I was able to achieve. I can't wait to get back there and spend more time with this pack of impressive canines!
I left the collar on the one on the left...easy to clone out though if that's your thing. This pack is monitored by the reserve management and the Wildlife ACT volunteers - adults from this pack have been used to successfully repopulate various reserves across South Africa at no cost, also adding valuable genetic variation to regions with limited genetic variation - a good beacon of hope for Africa's most endangered predator. I have tremendous respect and appreciation for the way in which Charl is managing his wild dogs and using them to aid in bolstering the genetic pool of Wild Dogs in other reserves in South Africa.
Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II
f4.0 | 1/640 SS | ISO-400
|click on the photo to display at optimal resolution and sharpness
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