I had some amazing encounters with Cheetahs on foot during my stay at this reserve. On one occasion, Charl Senekal (the manager of the reserve which is owned by his family) took me and my young daughter up to within 7 meters of a female he’s named Scarlet as she was resting under a tree on a hill after making a kill early that morning. She was very relaxed in our presence and needless to say my daughter was thrilled with the experience.
This photo was taken a day or two later, when we released the oldest male on the reserve (called Kalahari) from a boma in which he was recuperating from a small surgical procedure he’d been subject to. We followed him on foot as the boma was opened and he started patrolling his territory again. These cheetahs are wild and hunt for themselves, and have been habituated to Charl’s presence since they first came onto the reserve.
In this photo, he had jumped onto a fallen tree and took in the scent of a rival male who passed through here the previous day. I crouched down and framed my shot to have the curious Giraffe in the background as well (he just happened to walk by at this point in time).
The fact that I was shooting with at 112mm focal length should give you an idea of how close I was…
Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 VR @ 112mm
f4.0 | 1/1000 SS | ISO-200
Encounters with the predators of Africa on foot are special and to be recommended – provided you do it in the company of guides who know the animals of the region and are trained to handle dangerous encounters on foot.
Have a great day, folks.Keep your eyes on the Wild Eye website as we should be releasing a Zimanga-based package soon!
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!
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.