Kapama Blog

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The Basics of Wildlife Photography

The Basics of Wildlife Photography

Almost everyone who has and will visit Kapama Private Game Reserve for a Big Five safari has a camera, whether it is an entry level DSLR, a smart phone, a bridge camera or a mirrorless system. Going on safari is an incredible experience and many of us want to document and remember it by taking photos. So, I decided to put together a small piece on the basics of wildlife photography for those of you who are new to the world of photography and want to leave Kapama with great memories.

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The Basics of Wildlife Photography

Almost everyone who has and will visit Kapama Private Game Reserve for a Big Five safari has a camera, whether it is an entry level DSLR, a smart phone, a bridge camera or a mirrorless system. Going on safari is an incredible experience and many of us want to document and remember it by taking photos. So, I decided to put together a small piece on the basics of wildlife photography for those of you who are new to the world of photography and want to leave Kapama with great memories.

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Most Wanted

From all my guest that I take on safari, one of the most asked question I get is:
Would it be possible to see the one eyed lion of Kapama?
There is no doubt that he is the most famous and an absolute icon – Our one-eyed lion. However, it’s extremely difficult to answer this question.

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Seeing Spots

Of all the African animals, it seems the poor spotted hyena has the worst reputation. Various films and a place in the “Ugly 5” have only made this worse. One of the common defamations is that they are scavengers, stealing most of their food from more honourable species like Lions. Some claims have even been made that they dig up graves in search of human corpses. It’s high time someone stood up for these incredibly social and intelligent beings.

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Use Your Senses

We moved into the area we thought the Impalas were making their distinctive alarm, in the hopes of catching a glimpse at what they themselves had caught sight of. They only alarm if they have seen a predator, so to see which direction they are looking will help us know which way to move forward on our drive. We didn’t see the Impala though. I became a bit worried that we had lost this opportunity.

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Brothers In Arms

The next noise we heard was a bit closer. It was a small bello from an African Buffalo. This sparked a lot of interest in the Lions as they immediately got up and slowly started approaching the direction of the bellow.

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The Circle of Life

, I almost drove straight past a female giraffe. You might not think this very exciting, but what I did not notice at first was that she had a small calf with her. As we got closer I noticed it was possibly the smallest calf I had ever seen. It was so small in comparison to his mom it barely came to the height of her belly to suckle.

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An Elephant Parade

They came to a small ridge that they needed to cross to continue with their march. A few of the older and bigger elephants causally and gracefully stepped up over ridge with ease and agility.

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Taking Flight

It was not long after discovering this wonderful nest hat we noticed there were 3 small eggs inside. This Dark-Capped Bulbul was getting ready to experience motherhood and her perfectly weaved nest would be home for her little ones for 2 weeks at least.

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Leopard Cubs Spotted

The Leopard is probably the most desired animal to be seen when out on a game drive but yet is the most difficult animal to find. They can be incredibly elusive at times and hide very well with extremely good camouflage. Not to mention they love to keep to themselves. We left Buffalo Camp for our morning safari, which in the summer time starts at around 6 am. We were extremely lucky and came across a female Leopard with her 2 cubs shortly into our drive.

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The Little Jackal that Could

The black-backed jackal is an opportunistic scavenger and predator. It will take food that is both abundant and easy to acquire, but it can also hunt for its own prey. On this particular day, I think the jackal thought Christmas had come early, with the huge carcass of this giraffe lying there for the taking, just for him. Or so he thought…!

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Growing Up Wild

But now we are beginning to experience a spectacular change of seasons, with temperatures already soaring into the high 30’s. The rain has teased us with a few scattered showers and babies can be seen around almost every corner!

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Family Time

We were driving past some open plains when I noticed something small out of the corner of my eye. I stopped to get out my binoculars, and sure enough, there were three little jackal puppies with just their heads peeking out of a very small termite mound.

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Battle Scars

This young bull appeared to have been in several fights already as he was covered in lacerations and scars all over his body. This is an easy way to identify him as a male, as females don’t have as many reasons to actively fight one another.

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Interesting Facts about Baby Elephants

The reason I’m pointing this out is if young elephants are feeling uncomfortable with the presence of a vehicle they can often give out a cry of distress which will alert the bigger relatives who will often rush in and try and defend the little one.

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Kapama’s One-Eyed King

They all grouped up and starting to run straight towards the Lions, trying to chase them off, because the Buffalos had a few young caves amongst the herd. The Lions suddenly bolted trying to get away from this massive herd of Buffalo right on their tales.

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A Morning of Lions

We love and appreciate the time that guests take to thank us and share their memories through stories, photos and videos. One such story was shared by Kapama Karula guest Melanie Jones.  We trust you will enjoy it as much as we did.

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Gentle Ghostly Giants

We decided to go to a dam close by. As we haven’t had much rain, the bushveld is extremely dry. The elephants seemed to have moved in the direction of one of the few dams which still holds some water. We stopped at the dam…but nothing. Had we missed them again?

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