Black and white rhinos, elephants and hippos: they are truly magnificent creatures, though quite a challenge to ban on film as the composition can easily get boring and static. Oftentimes, they may also look “classier” (more artsy?) in black and white. This said, I hope you enjoy this selection of coloured pictures as well. My personal favourite: the “turning hippos” (Ngorongoro Crater).
Weavers, bee-eaters, rollers, owls, kingfishers, hornbills, magpie shrikes, secretary birds, herons, ducks, storks, marabous, vultures, cranes, eagles, drongos, ibis, flamingoes, hamercops, champagne birds, kites, … Without exception they are all beautiful, elegant, and never boring. The pictures above were taken in Botswana (Okavango Delta), South Africa (Phinda, Ngala, Kirkmans), Namibia (Sossusvlei), and Tanzania (Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater). You may wonder what my favourite bird is? My honest answer: the African Hawk Eagle. Although the flamingo is a close second. What is yours?
African Wild Dogs – we did not see them for many years; they are indeed a rare sighting. But finally we lucked out and came across two large packs in Ngala, South Africa. One of them counting 19 individuals, the other about 10. We watched them tease elephants, ‘play’ with a group of buffalo bachelors, fight over a recent mini kill (a shrub hare) and scare off hyenas. They are fierce, fast, constantly on the move and highly successful predators. In short, absolutely stunning animals.
Lions are fascinating – and we were lucky enough to get a glimpse of them every time we went on safari. The result is that over the years we have had many interesting encounters with lions: some were scary, others just plain cute.
Among other things, we “stalked” a dominant male for hours into the night after watching him wake up at the side of his brother and witnessing how they groomed each other at length in an almost tenderly fashion. On another occasion we observed how a fairly aggressive lioness charged at a jeep full of safari guests, probably in an attempt to protect both her young and her kill. Thankfully, our jeep was parked a bit further away. Still, that very moment, I was so scared that I automatically stopped taking pictures. In hindsight, not the best reaction- but, I could not help it. The jeeps at that game reserve are open; that is, they don’t have a roof or windows …. Watching a couple of lion cubs popping out of the thicket to play in the wet grass is a sighting that makes your day. The same goes for tracking a huge pride on their way to a recent kill and witnessing from 4m away how they devour an enormous warthog in less than half an hour. Similarly cool is to see an apparently sleepy lioness erupt into action upon observing a clueless impala approaching the pride’s waterhole? Or what about a majestic lion stalking a cheetah female who uses her incredible speed to guide the big guy away from her three cubs.
Some pictures are simply better in black and white. Colour can distract from shape, pattern, texture and composition or may not be particularly attractive to start with (e.g. when photographing rhinos, elephants or hippos). Thus, usually a small portion of my pictures gets converted into black and whites. I simply love the resulting ‘artsy’ and timeless look.