A mother’s devotion

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Here we go: my first photographic story after my return to blogging!In January of 2018, we headed to one of our favourite safari destinations: The Transfrontier Park.

This is where a great deal of our time in the bush is spent, and we have been making a tradition of returning every summer for the past few years. This specific sighting unfolded in the perennial Auob riverbed, not too far south of the Mata-Mata campsite.

After spending the better part of the morning with a large pride of lions who had occupied the Craig Lockhart waterhole, we came across this sight:

A ewe had given birth, one of the first fawns dropping in this year’s summer! Still frail and weak, the fawn was not able to get up yet. The mother was grazing close by, and eventually moved in closer to give some encouragement to get up. My little daughter of nearly 7 years old, who was in the vehicle with us, was very excited by seeing this for the very first time.

The little fawn did not even seem to want to try to get up. There were a couple of black-backed jackals milling about, and they are very opportunistic, eager to grab any easy meal. The next few minutes would determine whether this little springbok had a chance to live.

Mom would meander away and graze to divert attention away from the fawn when she saw the jackals watching from a distance. Every so often she would return to try and nudge it into action.

It did not take long for the jackals to notice that the little fawn was not making much effort to get up and start walking … and so the game of cat and mouse began …

The first jackal approached from behind the mother, and she turned to face him!

She was not going to let these scoundrels take her baby without a valiant fight…

The jackals were very sneaky, though, and it was apparent that they had a strategy to “outfox” (excuse the pun) the mother of the little one.

While she was fending off once jackal, another would come from behind and grab the fawn.

But mom was doing her best to fight for her little fawn. She charged in again, and forced this jackal to also drop his bounty and scoot away…

The drama kept unfolding. With mom’s attention now on the newest attacker, another subversive scavenger could sneak in from a different angle and try its luck…

Mom noticed, and gave a valiant chase…but alas, this was the end of the line. Just as she was catching up on the newest thief, the jackal dove into a thorny shrub to start consuming his prize.

We surmised the fawn had succumbed at the bite of the first jackal already.

Needless to say the vehicle was silent for a while, and then my daughter burst into tears. She is not a fan of black-backed jackals to this day!

Let me know what you think. Not the nicest story, but part of the drama of being on safari for sure.

 

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Morkel Erasmus

Morkel Erasmus

I used to relish writing these kinds of “bio” pieces and would flaunt the odd impressive word and use dashing grammar to make it sound like I am a boundary-shifting photographer. These days I prefer stating it in much simpler ways, much more relatable ways, much more believable ways… The fact of the matter is this: I love Africa. I love its people, its wild places and its wildlife. I love being immersed in these places, observing and photographing the fall of light on the land and the daily lives of the creatures that call it home, and presenting the results to whoever will take a look. To me, nature photography is all about being in the moment, and capturing that moment in a way that can relate to someone who didn’t have the privilege of being there with me. Sometimes I am able to capture a unique vision of the scene before me, and sometimes I just capture it the way most folks would according to classical photographic guidelines. Yet I always enjoy sharing the images and experiences and imparting the knowledge I have, both in-the-field and later online or in presentations, workshops and courses. I also just simply enjoy capturing and sharing the beauty of God's creation! The greatest thing I’ve found about wildlife and nature photography in Southern Africa is the unity and familiarity of the community of people that share this passion. We come from all walks of life and all cultures and backgrounds, yet our passion for our natural heritage and our dream to see it preserved for future generations binds strangers together and fuels conversations around campfires long after other people have run out of conversation and energy. Join me on a WildEye adventure to experience this sharing community spirit and learn to anticipate that fleeting moment and be ready for it, learn to immerse yourself in the experience without losing focus of your photographic goals…and above all, learn to see Africa anew… because there are none as blind as those who look but do not see!

Morkel Erasmus

Morkel Erasmus

Since picking up a DSLR camera for the first time, a little over 3 years ago, Morkel has been invigorated with an unbridled passion for the photographic art form. He has grown at a tremendous pace and put immense energy into the creation of his images. He absolutely loves spending time in the wild places of his native Southern Africa. From a young age he has been visiting legendary wildlife and outdoor locations, including the Kruger Park National Park and the Drakensberg Mountains, with his family. Now that he has found a way to share the natural beauty of his homeland with the rest of the world he is regularly out on photography trips. An Industrial Engineer by profession, and an accomplished artist in genres like music and poetry, Morkel has always enjoyed whatever allows him to express his creativity to the fullest. Photography turned out to be the perfect "marriage" between his engineering brain and artistic soul. "I hope that in some way I can raise awareness through my imagery of the plight of not only our wildlife but also the fragility of the last remaining wilderness areas that they call home.” Morkel was recently honoured for his commitment to his craft by receiving a "Highly Commended" for one of his images in the 2010 BBC Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. He is based in Mpumalanga, South Africa and even though he prefers going on safari with his family and friends, Morkel also leads the odd photographic safari and has recently begun presenting workshops in post-processing techniques.

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