Sorry I haven’t posted for a while, but its been a busy time. We’re getting ready for a trip to Antarctica and Patagonia so I’ve been preoccupied. That being said, when I saw this week’s challenge, I couldn’t ignore it. We spent some incredible time with some young (3 week old?) lion cubs and their mom back in October and it was sooooo cute and soooo sweet that I never get tired of perusing those photos. Here’s one I thought captured a quiet and curious moment with one of the youngsters as she came toward our vehicle…..
Hope you guys enjoyed this sweet moment – I loved being able to share it…….
There are many things that inspire me to take photographs – a dramatic sunset, a beautiful landscape, an iconic view of the world, an infectious smile, or just a scene of everyday life which captures the feelings of the moment. With all of that being said, the single reason that I got back into photography was to be able to capture nature at its best – through the amazing wildlife that we are privileged to share this planet with. On this week when there has been an overwhelming outcry against the senseless killing of Cecil the Lion, there was only one choice for this week’s challenge, “Inspiration.”
I’ll add my voice to those that are appalled by this act. While there are certainly greater evils in this world (poverty, hate, oppression, and many more), the killing of this noble beast (and the countless other killings of endangered animals in the name of “sport” or commerce) is a very poor reflection on our society. How can one look at a creature like this Lion from Tanzania and not worry that there are supposedly civilized human beings out there that could willfully deprive future generations from this incredible source of Inspiration and awe.
I was feeling strange that I hadn’t posted a wildlife photo for a week or so……so…..I thought I’d post a different lion cub interpretation. This was one of 3 young lions hanging with her mother in the North Serengeti. In looking through my photos I noticed one where she was looking directly at us – I processed it as an old style portrait which almost looks like a pencil drawing. I then restored the original color and tone of both the eyes and the nose. I kinda like the way it turned out…..
The National Geographic site puts out “photo assignments” as kind of a challenge and a means to collect and turn photos into stories. I have never submitted any photos before but this morning’s topic was Nature in Black and White. I took a quick look back through some of my Tanzania photos of the large lion pride that we saw on our first evening there. I hadn’t done a version of any of the single cubs in B&W so I thought I’d process this one. I’ll let you be the judge of how it turned out.
I was going through some of the Africa photos I hadn’t processed yet and found this one that I thought I’d do a little differently. I made it into sort of a dark black and white and then restored the natural color to the lions eye. This was one of the three male lions of the large pride that we spent some time with in the Northern Serengeti. He had just rolled over from part of his nap while the “women-folk” were out hunting. Happy Weds!
The day after the lion incident we again left our beautiful bungalow at the Kyambura game lodge where we were staying and got an early start in the Queen Elizabeth park.
We checked where the lions were the night before but no one was home. We did however, notice many kob getting agitated and running from something. Looking closer, we spotted numerous Hyena at the edges of the kob herd. We watched for quite a while as the hyena kept running with the herd in an attempt to wear down some of the younger, weaker animals. This first photo shows one of the hyena closing in on the herd.
We saw many other animals that morning but we also had our first extended encounter with a lion. As we were driving we spotted a single lion sitting up in a field at the top of a hill. Within a minute or two we saw another lion in the same place but the original cat started toward the road we were on. We positioned ourselves to get a good view as she passed by and then retired in the shadows of a nearby thicket.
As we were exiting the park from the morning drive, we also ran across two herds of elephants so Katherine was once again very happy.
In the afternoon we took a cruise on the Kazinga channel where there were Hippopotamus, Cape Buffalo, Elephants, and innumerable species of african birds. It was a great afternoon with new sights around every turn on the channel.
On our third day in Uganda, we proceeded to Queen Elizabeth National Park to continue our safari. We entered the park in the late afternoon and began to see many of the iconic animals of the African plains. Mike and Katherine (our friends, neighbors and traveling companions) had never seen many of these animals in the wild so it was wonderful to share their introduction to the safari experience.
In particular, Katherine has a special affection for elephants so it was wonderful to be able to share her reaction to seeing our first elephant of the trip. As African elephant sightings go, this one was not noteworthy – it was a single male and quite distant from the road we were on. That being said, Katherine was ecstatic and her enthusiasm excited us all. I thought I’d share a photo of that first elephant here so that maybe you can imagine seeing this majestic animal walking free for the first time.
We continued through the park enjoying the lovely afternoon/evening until we came upon a few safari vehicles stopped by the side of the road. We were told that there was a pride of lions about 100 yards off the road relaxing in the high grass. We could actually see a tail of one of the lions as it wagged above the grass. After waiting a while for the lions to stir, we continued on our way but returned a short while later to see if the lions would start their evening prowls. We watched patiently with numerous other safari vehicles for over an hour as the sun started going down but there was no movement. Then, all of a sudden, one of the vehicles decided to drive off the road and proceed directly at the lions who, of course, were roused from their sleep. To our astonishment, the vehicle then began to actually chase the lions around, rampaging through the grass at about 20 mph and circling to pursue the lions as they tried to avoid being run over.
After about 5 minutes the vehicle finally returned to the road and rejoined the other observers. As I said, we (and our guide) were incredulous at this behavior and we began to discuss what we could do to try and prevent this type of issue for the future. We finally decided to talk to the Uganda Wildlife Authority at one of the park entrances. They were very interested in the report (and my photos of the event) and they took down my contact information. A few days later I received a very nice email from the senior UWA officer informing us that the driver had been fined and that the incident would be used to deter other guides from harassing the animals. We were extremely impressed that the park officials had taken quick action and that they had taken the trouble to let us know that they took this situation seriously.
As dusk fell, we continued to hope to get a glimpse of the pride beginning their evening hunt but they may have been spooked by the encounter and never appeared. We were a little disappointed but we were treated to this scene as we departed – not a bad way to end a nice day……
I apologize for using this photo again as I think I posted it about a year ago. In any case, it is my most obvious choice for “Wrong”…. 🙂
Took this at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park this week. These kids were watching the lions through the glass but I thought it looked like they were actually touching them…..
Well, I’m having a minor (at least I hope so) hard disk problem today and I can’t access any of my recent pictures. This goes for the majority of my Africa photos and my recent images from Jackson Hole. As you might expect, I’m pretty bummed but I am waiting for troubleshooting help from the hard drive manufacturer….
On the other hand, its an opportunity to share one of my Africa photos that I stored in a different area which seems to reflect the title of this post…..
We got to watch a lion pride for a nice period of time so we got to see various behaviors including hunting, playing, and what they do best during the day – sitting under a tree avoiding the sun. One of the things that was a little surprising, at least to me, was that they use the trees just like a kitten’s scratching post. If you look closely at some of the trees you can see where they have clawed some large gashes in them. This photo was of two of the lions scratching at the same time – don’t you just want to take them home (and can you imagine what your furniture would look like)?
This is one of my favorite captures from our Africa trip. It was taken in early morning sunlight which gave the lion a great glint in the eye. Couldn’t think of a better picture to illustrate the forward look and promise of a brand new year. Best wishes to all for a Healthy and Happy 2012!
Sorry to resort to another Lion shot but I really liked the expression on this big guy’s face. I can’t look at it and not imagine that he is smiling. Who wouldn’t want to get up close and personal with such a happy creature…..unless you happen to be a wildebeest of course:-) Double click the photo to step right into the lions den!
So its almost Halloween, time for pumpkins, ghosts, and headless…..lions!?! While at the animal park the other day, I got one of those great opportunities where a picture just jumps out at you…..
I was “heading” over to watch the cheetah run, came around the corner to the lion area, and the first thing I saw was this image. Hope you enjoy!
A very large Puddy Tat during nap time. The Wild Animal Park has a very nice Lion exhibit where you can get unobstructed shots of the big cats. This was in the afternoon – I liked the shadows and the partial light on her eyes. I find Lions to be incredibly attractive and I can’t wait to get back to Africa in December to get some good photos in the wild. Until then, this one and some others I have to share will have to do. Click the photo to enlarge – click her face twice to look her in the eye.