The Nutcracker Badger

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It’s 6 January 2016…early in the morning. The sun has just risen, and we spent its rising with a lioness close to the Rooiputs waterhole in the

Kalahari desert, more specifically, the that straddles the borders of and Botswana.

South Africa is experiencing a heat wave of sweaty proportions – normal summer temperatures here average around 45C, and this week it’s been up to 54C most days…in the shade. As we drove out of camp it was already 26C, pre-dawn.

Suddenly I spot a dark shape moving purposefully along the dry Nossob riverbed. Honey !!

If you don’t know what honey badgers are, they are pretty much the roughest, toughest buggers in the African bush.

Anyhow, finding a honey badger on a trip to the Kalahari is a special treat, and this early in the morning! We follow him as he scrounges around, digging for grub in the loose Kalahari sand. “Nothing here…”

“How about here? I smell something!”

Promptly the badger dug up a small leopard ! Right next to our vehicle (and we were the only people there).

The prey in itself brought its own set of challenges – how to break through the shell? A tough nut to crack…

What followed is a lengthy process of the dexterous badger working his prey until he was able to pierce the shell of the tortoise, and get to the good stuff inside. Yes, it’s sad for the tortoise, but it’s the circle of life and it was fascinating to get to watch this “nutcracker” at work.

Suffice to say that the badger eventually got through the carapace of the tortoise.

That wasn’t the end of the morning’s activity, though!As we are watching the badger feeding, my wife notices that there are two lionesses and two cubs walking by behind the badger…talk about a Kalahari double whammy!

Let’s leave the lions for another day – as they kept us busy for the rest of the morning.I hope you enjoyed seeing these photos!We have some video too – might edit and release it soon.Keep well.

 

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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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