Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Brown Hyena Release

Seconds after the drug Zoletil takes effect the Moholoholo vetirinarian monitors the animal to ensure a safe procedure.

Threats to wildlife and habitats are very real. These have many different faces and range from topsoil erosion and alien invasive species competing with local ones to direct poaching. In much of Africa snaring for meat is the prevailing method and is targeted at animals that can provide meat. Poaching in itself a topic with deeper socio economic roots but we’ll keep that one for another discussion. The problem with snaring is that it is indiscriminate and may capture non-target animals. Because the large predators are at the apex of the food chain, they are at most risk and their disappearance indicates the collapse of the system. This brown Hyena was snared a while ago in the lowveld region (an area I would never have thought they occur) and brought to Moholoholo Rehabilitation centre near Hoedspruit to be treated under renowned conservationist Brian Jones and his team.

Often overlooked, the Brown hyena is a secretive species with a minimum global population of around 5 000 to 8 000 animals and possibly does not exceed 10 000 in total.

The snare, deeply cut into the animal’s neck as it tried to free itself and subsequently broken off, was removed and after carefully nursing the animal back to health the animal was ready to be released. I was invited by Moholoholo to document this procedure. Indeed a wonderful success story to see this top predator returned to the wild.

Eyedrops are applied to prevent the eyes from drying out.

A collar is fitted that will allow the hyena to be tracked by both telemetry and satelite readings.

Measure ments are taking. The volunteers at Moholoholo get unbelievable experience and are involved during all stages of the procedure.

This photo shows how the wound has healed.

The dedicated Moholoholo team.

Once recovered from the drugs the hyena is released into a holding boma where it will be monitored before final release back into the wilds.
To view more of the remarkable conservation work at Moholoholo or to book accomodation at some of their stunning camps click on the image above.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Serious about Safari

Cheetah at Karongwe

Here are a few images of what happens behind the great images and adventures. Many of these are donated by guest Markus Eichelberg. For more of of his work please click here to go to his blog or visit his website http://www.mae-fotodesign.de/
Serious about Safari?

Follow these guidelines!

To all serious photographers...

...your best angle is vital.

Take time to smell the wild sage.

Meditate in the ancient African way.

Always maintain a balanced approach.

Dont forget to eat healthy (even if it is made of Elephant dung!)

And ... smile every once in a while.

Cheers to a great Safari!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Day in the bush

Some more images from our time in Pafuri.

Crested Francolin shout at the breaking day and their raucous duets replace the ever present, prolonged churring sound of Square tailed nightjars and the distant hoots of African Wood Owls that kept us company throughout the night. Smoke blows in from Zimbabwe to the north and filters the suns first rays.

Night time holds numerous dangers. Glad to survive the darkness an Eland calf keeps a low profile in its unusually open hideaway where its mother had left it for the night.

Pafuri is elephant country where numerous breeding herds and mature old bulls make their home. In the woodland adjacent to the Limpopo floodplain we find this majestic bull as he fed in the last rays of light.

Even though this is early spring, midday temperatures soar into the mid-thirties. All but the baboon troop at the waterhole take refuge in the shade until the sun sets to a more tolerable angle.

As the sun sets again the night is reclaimed by the predators. A Spotted Hyena voices its claim to darkness from the nearby den as a full moon rise behind the familiar shape of a Lala Palm.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pafuri - Land of Legends

Iconic Boababs Tower over the Landscape

I have just returned from co instructing an Ecoquest Course. Eco Training, the leader in field guide training in South Africa has designed this course based on the FGASA level 1 syllabus for anyone interested in gaining deeper insights into the functioning of ecosystems without having the stress of formal exams. The first part of the course was held at the Pafuri region in the far northern wilderness of Kruger on the banks of the Limpopo. What a place! Ancient Baobab’s tower over the tropical landscape where hunters, traders, poachers and other eccentrics (including the infamous Bvekenya Barnard) followed the Ivory Trail from their headquarters at Crook’s Corner where Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa meet.

Elephant Cows Sparring on the Limpopo Floodplain.

This time of the year Kipling’s immortal Great Grey- green Greasy Limpopo has been transformed into a sandy stretch of almost a kilometre in width at certain places and the once mighty current now reduced to a trickle. Even though September is a dry month, it still remains a spectacular area and wildlife and birdlife are abundant. Amongst the wide variety of antelope, large herds of Buffalo and Elephant are around. Even though the migrants have not arrived back from the wintering grounds, birds were equally spectacular. Specials includes Meves’s Starling, African Yellow White Eye, Black Throated Wattle Eye and Bohms Spinetail. During the next few days I will add more snippets about our time there.

A wonderful group of enthusiastic guests made the course so much fun.