Soggy Sambonani, lazy leopards and baboon porn

December 14 2010

Baboon porn, or a very relaxed alpha male. His enormous... family was right behind

As I’ve been fond of pointing out to people prior to this trip, there may not be snow in Africa at Christmas, but there’s a hell of a lot of rain south of the equator this time of year. The day we arrived in Sambonani, a lodge just outside of Kruger Park where we’re spending a few days, it’s was to a full on monsoon. In the dark, with the power constantly failing, the lightning storms that illumated the first two nights here were staggeringly beautiful.

Apparently, we have a family of hippos and a crocodile living in the river opposite us. I haven’t seen them yet, but I do hope there’s a backup generator for the very fragile looking electric fence keeping the crocs out.

There was a zebra crossing behind us he should have used.

One lesson I have learned is that the old adage about the the most important camera being the camera you have with you is very true. My trusty GF1 is a lovely piece of kit, but without a powerful zoom and a reliance on contrast-based auto-focus, it’s not the best for taking pictures of game. Fortunately, we also have Tamsin’s Nikon, with my 300mm VR lens on it. Which is perfect.

We’ve been very lucky in our first two days in the park. We’ve seen rhino, a huge herd of elephants, hippos, nearly every type of buck and possibly a wildcat or caracal or two as well. The most impressive spot so far though was this one.

Napping off a big lunch, one assumes.

A leopard – the last of the Big Five I haven’t photographed in the park. Asleep in a tree in the late muggy afternoon. These cats look lazy, but they’re incredibly hard to spot – they hunt at night and hide during the day. Seeing one is a rare and unusual privilege.

This would, however, be the point that Tamsin’s battery dies, and we discover the charger is back in Joburg. Hence the rather disappointing blur-o-vision above, cropped in from the maximum range of my GF1.

Sigh. I love my GF1, but it does have it’s limitations. If anyone wants to buy me one of these for Christmas, don’t hold back.

Still, it’s hard to get too upset. I’ve been waiting years to see a leopard, and come close twice in the past. And look at the position he’s in, all four legs hanging down like he just doesn’t care about cameras and all the cars jostling for position at the base of the tree.

He probably doesn’t.

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