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Following the Herds - Mkomazi, Tarangire, Serengeti and Manyara Ranch Conservancy - February 2015


Safaridude

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Tom Kellie

@@Tom Kellie

 

That's interesting, because I load the images to the gallery first. Hmmm...

 

No, I don't mind if anyone looks at the metadata… there is no secret sauce to all this, so to speak.

 

I find that in the aperture priority mode, I have the most control over the kinds of shots I want to take.

 

~ @Safaridude:

 

Really? That's unexpected and very useful to know.

That indicates that there must be a difference in each photographer's images before they upload to a Safaritalk gallery.

What many are doing is essentially stripping out the metadata. For example, if I made a screenshot of one of your photos, it might look the same but there'd be no EXIF file.

As a photographer still coming to grips with the rudiments, the metadata is highly useful to know. I'm especially interested in shutter speed and f/stop.

The rich dark blue sky with tree silhouettes in your pre-dinner photo was a knockout for me, especially considering the slow shutter speed.

I'm grateful that you don't mind my looking over the metadata. I'm not at all looking to steal, but rather to educate myself. It's another form of due diligence, for a would-be amateur nature photographer.

I wish that most Safaritalk images had the EXIF files, as that would facilitate greater appreciation of their work.

Tom K.

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February 15 (Continued)   4:33pm – We luck into a cheetah mother and three cubs resting on the side of the road in the Ndutu woodland. We follow them for the next two hours as the mother searches f

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Safaridude

February 16

 

6:40am – That haunting first light…

 

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6:49am – An elephant family marches right through us on the way to water.

 

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7:09am – A mist hangs over the Ndutu woodland.

 

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7:31am – Patterns in the grass (with apologies to the Jouberts).

 

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7:55am – Still a misty morning.

 

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8:36am – Two lions (a male and a female) are found resting out on the plains. They are undoubtedly a mating pair, but they appear to have finished their two-three day mating process. They are fast asleep and not getting up.

 

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8:46am – The undertakers

 

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9:13am – The Ndutu area is excellent for bat-eared fox.

 

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10:46am – Cheetah kill sequence…

 

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10:57am – While the mother cheetah takes down a Thomson’s gazelle, her four cubs attack a Tommie fawn. The cubs do not yet know how to kill it. The mother watches but does not intervene to help kill it.

 

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In all, a breathtaking morning – but marred by bad behavior of tourist vehicles. At the moment the mother cheetah successfully pounces on the gazelle, people in the vehicle next to us let out a raucous cheer in celebration, disturbing the purity of the moment. Vehicles then begin surrounding the cheetah. As the cubs begin to attack the Tommie fawn, all the vehicles converge on the cubs now, and the mother cheetah follows. 13 vehicles in all surround the cubs, the fawn and the mother cheetah. The circle made by the vehicles is too constrictive. The drivers yell at each other God knows what. In the mean time, the adult Tommie that was taken down by the mother cheetah miraculously gets to its feet and begins wobbling away! The mother cheetah, however, is unable to see her zombie prey escape because she is screened in by the vehicles. The cheetah family is relegated to the much smaller kill. Bad tourist behavior prevents this cheetah family from feeding properly this morning.

Edited by Safaridude
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Safaridude

February 16 (Continued)

 

11:49am – Certain parts of the Ndutu area are still very dry. A zebra family heads toward Hidden Valley for water.

 

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11:56am – A tremendous number of zebras are gathered at Hidden Valley.

 

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11:59am – An eland herd of perhaps 500 (!) at Hidden Valley.

 

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3:11pm – A storm approaching the grounds of the historic Ndutu Lodge.

 

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4:52pm – Clouds and sunlight on the endless plain.

 

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5:52pm – A shower has messed up this dude’s hairdo. Looking a bit disheveled…

 

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5:53pm – A domestic dog moment.

 

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Tom Kellie

February 16

 

 

In all, a breathtaking morning – but marred by bad behavior of tourist vehicles. At the moment the mother cheetah successfully pounces on the gazelle, people in the vehicle next to us let out a raucous cheer in celebration, disturbing the purity of the moment. Vehicles then begin surrounding the cheetah. As the cubs begin to attack the Tommie fawn, all the vehicles converge on the cubs now, and the mother cheetah follows. 13 vehicles in all surround the cubs, the fawn and the mother cheetah. The circle made by the vehicles is too constrictive. The drivers yell at each other God knows what. In the mean time, the adult Tommie that was taken down by the mother cheetah miraculously gets to its feet and begins wobbling away! The mother cheetah, however, is unable to see her zombie prey escape because she is screened in by the vehicles. The cheetah family is relegated to the much smaller kill. Bad tourist behavior prevents this cheetah family from feeding properly this morning.

 

~ @@Safaridude:

 

Any comment will be banal in light of the photography and commentary quality.

Will ‘WOW!’ do? All of it's terrific, with the cheetah kill sequence and related comments being of special interest.

To date, the only places I've ever seen other vehicles in any number have been Masai Mara and Samburu.

Visitor and guide behavior in Masai Mara was mixed, in Samburu, about 80% fine.

I'm sorry that the cheetah kill was thrown out of kilter by actions which need not have happened.

One wonders if there are safaris for first-time visitors where the guides and any attending staff overlook explaining the basic courtesies and restraints necessary when arriving as guests in the animal's habitat?

@@Safaridude, I especially liked your experimentation with different types of shots, some of which seem like the filtered film shots of decades past.

For example the first image of the zebra family, the later image of a storm approaching — were those effects achieved in-camera or in subsequent post-processing.

I ask as I'm wholly unfamiliar with anyone doing so with safari images and like your results.

As busy as you must be, many thanks for taking part of your weekend to write and share such fine quality images.

Tom K.

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graceland

WOW -an amazing, beautifully shot sequence of mother cheetah and her cubs. It is so disturbing to hear of vehicles' and their inhabitants interrupting the course of nature; and the guides allow this to happen!! I wish someone would write the names down of the camps; I'd avoid them at all costs.

 

I remember our time in February of watching a cheetah, its' cubs tucked in brush while mum is going for the chase. Our guide hung back; harder to see -but that is what binos and zooms are all about! Other camp vehicles racing off to follow, dust everywhere; probably confusing both the prey and its' predator. And of course we lose her in the lens with the clouds of dust cropping over the chase.

 

Love the trees, clouds and the lion "shaking" like a dog. Beautifully photographed.

 

I am still shaking my head at the obnoxious behavior of tourists.

 

No matter you had a great time with your cousin. Nomad did look quite inviting.

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Safaridude

@@Tom Kellie

 

I use no filters. The zebra family photo and the shot of the zebra herd (titled,"clouds and sunlight…") were "post-processed. The first one of the approaching storm was simply put in B&W and the contrast adjusted. The second one was untouched.

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Safaridude

@@graceland

 

Fortunately, there are several guides and tourists actively reporting bad behavior to the authorities and to the tour companies directly. Just this morning, believe it or not, I found out that one tour company actually suspended one of its drivers (not involved in the incident I witnessed but involved in a separate cheetah incident).

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Tom Kellie

@@Tom Kellie

 

I use no filters. The zebra family photo and the shot of the zebra herd (titled,"clouds and sunlight…") were "post-processed. The first one of the approaching storm was simply put in B&W and the contrast adjusted. The second one was untouched.

 

~ @Safaridude:

 

That's useful to know.

I've never yet tried filters as there's been no compelling need. However I remain open to the possibility if a significant advantage is demonstrated.

My own post-processing, such as it is, consists of the lightest touch possible with selective lightening or brightening, although with most safari images there's seldom any call for that.

I crop as needed, sometimes to increase image size, especially of birds, occasionally to remove a visual element which detracts from whatever it is that I like about the image in question.

Aside from what's mentioned above, nothing.

With time, that may change.

BTW: That's surprising to me that a guide was actually suspended over a cheetah incident.

I haven't been around enough to know anything about such incidents, but have repeatedly winced when seeing firsthand cluster sightings of safari vehicles in Masai Mara. What that does to wildlife, chiefly predators, isn't pleasant to contemplate.

My experience is limited to only a few short safaris in Kenya. Therefore I have no idea what happens elsewhere.

I've recently been musing about the possibility of a mini-safari, a getaway really, in Sabi Sands. Nothing definite yet, without even reaching the threshold for planning. At this stage it's little more than reading through dozens of reviews from past clients, getting a feel for their experiences.

I mention that because one point which stood out was that a number of clients specifically noted that during their game drives their rangers had strictly complied with a ‘3 vehicle limit’ for any sighting. That's a step up. I was happy to now that the guidelines were being respected there, which serves to further attract me.

Enough of this.

Greatly enjoying your photography and writing, as always.

Tom K.

Edited by Tom Kellie
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Exceptional cheetah hunt/kill sequence. It's very hard to capture sharp images of any kill sequence, especially very fast moving cheetahs, a testament to @@Safaridude's photographic skills. Sorry that the end was marred by bad behavior from other vehicles. The immediate aftermath of witnessing a kill in the wild, is to syllogize the astonishing circle of life, a moment when one should be left with one's thoughts in peace.

 

"“sunrise doesn’t last all morning, a cloudburst doesn’t last all day.

All things must Pass"

- George Harrison

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SafariChick

Psyched to see a @@Safaridude report! Gorgeous photos - especially love the lion having a bad hair day and the cheetahs - and great to hear about your experiences as always. What a shame about the bad behavior of other vehicles. Oh and being of a certain age, I totally got the Tommie/Tommy reference - brilliant!

 

@@Tom Kellie I think if I recall correctly that Sabi Sands has a rule about no more than 3 vehicles at a sighting.

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Tom Kellie

@@Tom Kellie I think if I recall correctly that Sabi Sands has a rule about no more than 3 vehicles at a sighting.

 

~ @SafariChick:

 

Ah, I see.

That's why.

It's good to know that visitors there report that their rangers are respecting the rule you've mentioned.

Thanks for letting me know.

Tom K.

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Geoff

Cheetah images are excellent.

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Geoff

13 vehicles in all surround the cubs, the fawn and the mother cheetah. The circle made by the vehicles is too constrictive. Bad tourist behavior prevents this cheetah family from feeding properly this morning.

 

@@Safaridude This sort of behaviour occurred on my first ever safari to East Africa 29 years ago and I was appalled. It seems it is never going to cease. It is one of the reasons I have stuck to southern Africa ever since.

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Tom Kellie

 

13 vehicles in all surround the cubs, the fawn and the mother cheetah. The circle made by the vehicles is too constrictive. Bad tourist behavior prevents this cheetah family from feeding properly this morning.

 

@@Safaridude This sort of behaviour occurred on my first ever safari to East Africa 29 years ago and I was appalled. It seems it is never going to cease. It is one of the reasons I have stuck to southern Africa ever since.

 

 

~ @Geoff:

 

That's useful to know.

I didn't realize that there was any noticeable regional differences between how wildlife was treated by safari vehicles.

Thanks for that.

I agree...@@Safaridude's cheetah series is one for all time.

Tom K.

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Bush dog

The 4:52pm picture is superb!

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pault

So dusty and then so stormy looking. You were really there for the changing of the seasons. And the reason I know that is because your beautiful photos tell me so of course. Not sure whether you have been unlucky or actually very lucky here.

 

The amazingly large herd of Eland and the African Wildcat would have excited me the most so far - although of course finding a cheetah and Cubs like that is very special..... the cheetah hunt would have been exciting in another way.

 

Great start and I wish my wife would send me off to Africa on my own with her blessings... fat chance!

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Safaridude

 

 

"“sunrise doesn’t last all morning, a cloudburst doesn’t last all day.

All things must Pass"

- George Harrison

 

Love it! @@AKR1

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Safaridude

So dusty and then so stormy looking. You were really there for the changing of the seasons. And the reason I know that is because your beautiful photos tell me so of course. Not sure whether you have been unlucky or actually very lucky here.

 

 

 

Lucky for sure! @@pault

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Safaridude

 

 

13 vehicles in all surround the cubs, the fawn and the mother cheetah. The circle made by the vehicles is too constrictive. Bad tourist behavior prevents this cheetah family from feeding properly this morning.

 

@@Safaridude This sort of behaviour occurred on my first ever safari to East Africa 29 years ago and I was appalled. It seems it is never going to cease. It is one of the reasons I have stuck to southern Africa ever since.

 

 

~ @Geoff:

 

That's useful to know.

I didn't realize that there was any noticeable regional differences between how wildlife was treated by safari vehicles.

Thanks for that.

 

 

@@Tom Kellie

 

Actually, it all depends on where you go. There are places in southern Africa that are just as crowded (certain areas of Chobe, Moremi or Kruger, for instance). In Tanzania, if you go to Ruaha, Katavi or the southern section of Tarangire, you won't see too many others. In Kenya, the private conservancies and ranches in Laikipia and further north are very private. Even in the Mara, if you stay at one of the conservancies adjacent to the Reserve, it will be superbly quiet. In Mara North, they have a three vehicle per sighting rule that is closely followed. Other Mara conservancies probably have the same rules.

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Tom Kellie

 

 

 

13 vehicles in all surround the cubs, the fawn and the mother cheetah. The circle made by the vehicles is too constrictive. Bad tourist behavior prevents this cheetah family from feeding properly this morning.

 

@@Safaridude This sort of behaviour occurred on my first ever safari to East Africa 29 years ago and I was appalled. It seems it is never going to cease. It is one of the reasons I have stuck to southern Africa ever since.

 

 

~ @Geoff:

 

That's useful to know.

I didn't realize that there was any noticeable regional differences between how wildlife was treated by safari vehicles.

Thanks for that.

 

 

@@Tom Kellie

 

Actually, it all depends on where you go. There are places in southern Africa that are just as crowded (certain areas of Chobe, Moremi or Kruger, for instance). In Tanzania, if you go to Ruaha, Katavi or the southern section of Tarangire, you won't see too many others. In Kenya, the private conservancies and ranches in Laikipia and further north are very private. Even in the Mara, if you stay at one of the conservancies adjacent to the Reserve, it will be superbly quiet. In Mara North, they have a three vehicle per sighting rule that is closely followed. Other Mara conservancies probably have the same rules.

 

 

~ @Safaridude:

 

That's very useful to know. It sorts out something which has confused me, which was what motivated visits to conservancies.

This is why I'm enjoying Safaritalk — it's clearing up my misconceptions and misperceptions, one by one.

Thank you for that.

BTW: You, @@Game Warden and others have written positively about the Emakoko.

Several minutes ago I received an e-mail confirming a reservation for me three weeks hence. Without Safaritalk, I wouldn't have known about it.

Thank you for the above!

Tom K.

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Kitsafari

@@Safaridude superb pictures as usual.

 

in the second pix of the elephants, the tusk of the elephant at the extreme right looks really curved in?

 

and wow, the herds of elands on the horizon, and then the cheetah hunt - fabulous!

 

it seems that guides carrying loud conversations to each other across animals seem pervasive in serengeti - we experienced this behaviour only in Tanzania. I'm not sure if this happens in other crowded places like in Kruger. I wonder if it's to do with the official training or lack of it for the guides?

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Safaridude

@@Safaridude superb pictures as usual.

 

in the second pix of the elephants, the tusk of the elephant at the extreme right looks really curved in?

 

and wow, the herds of elands on the horizon, and then the cheetah hunt - fabulous!

 

it seems that guides carrying loud conversations to each other across animals seem pervasive in serengeti - we experienced this behaviour only in Tanzania. I'm not sure if this happens in other crowded places like in Kruger. I wonder if it's to do with the official training or lack of it for the guides?

@@Kitsafari

 

Indeed that tusk is crooked.

 

Tanzania is, believe it or not, still in its infancy in terms of tourism. Prior to, say, the late '90s, Serengeti was empty, for instance. The guiding standards have not caught up yet. The quality varies. You have fantastic guides and the truly terrible. And the fact that the entire northern circuit can be done by vehicle means that there are lots of operators from Arusha who think with a vehicle and a driver they are in business. Of course, this will change over time.

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Swahealy 43

 

@@Safaridude superb pictures as usual.

 

in the second pix of the elephants, the tusk of the elephant at the extreme right looks really curved in?

 

and wow, the herds of elands on the horizon, and then the cheetah hunt - fabulous!

 

it seems that guides carrying loud conversations to each other across animals seem pervasive in serengeti - we experienced this behaviour only in Tanzania. I'm not sure if this happens in other crowded places like in Kruger. I wonder if it's to do with the official training or lack of it for the guides?

@@Kitsafari

 

Indeed that tusk is crooked.

 

Tanzania is, believe it or not, still in its infancy in terms of tourism. Prior to, say, the late '90s, Serengeti was empty, for instance. The guiding standards have not caught up yet. The quality varies. You have fantastic guides and the truly terrible. And the fact that the entire northern circuit can be done by vehicle means that there are lots of operators from Arusha who think with a vehicle and a driver they are in business. Of course, this will change over time.

 

Good point well made. As you have said, as anyone can get a safari vehicle they can then "do" the Northern circuit. They all have radios to contact each other with often no guiding skills to spot game. Hence lots of trucks around animals in high season...But you can have a great experience of these places in the low season. No migration but still plenty of big cats especially at Ndutu which is my spiritual home in Tanzania in either May or September. Always have great safaris based at Ndutu lodge and you nearly always get the sightings to yourself. And as you no doubt know, as Ndutu is in the NCAA you can drive offroad. Will be going at the end of May for 14 nights and cannot wait. They have had a very unseasonal dry period up to the end of March and the migration is spread out everywhere!!! Some already crossing the Mara river to the north, some in the west at Grumeti, some still in Lobo to the north, some at Seronera in the central Serengeti and some at Ndutu and Moru!!! Ya takes ya pick on where they will go!! Just had plenty of rain all over the Serengeti and NCAA so it will be hard to tell where they do go. I am not going there to see that though. Just 14 days of trundling all around Ndutu woodlands, Big marsh pride always seem to be about to start off with, then all over to the Matiti hills, small marsh, lake masek and Ndutu, Makao and Kusini plains....always something to see and I may just get a decent Caracal shot!!!!! As I have said, the rains are late so should still be green at the end of May. Usually go in November during the end of the dry season when the game is easier to spot with the lack of foliage and may have to work harder this time!! Loved the trip report and it is lovely to see one of an area I know of and am captivated by.....

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FlyTraveler

Fabulous trip report and photos, as usual @@Safaridude! The cheetah kill sequence is awesome! Love also the wide shots with the morning fog. Looking forward to seeing the rest of the report!

 

...and those cheetah images on page one are so crisp and sharp that I feel ashamed posting my images here :)

Edited by FlyTraveler
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Marks

Looks like a great safari. Eland in "action" is something I have yet to see - impressive!

The cheetah hunt sequence is gorgeously photographed; it's a shame to have your memories tarnished by badly-behaved vehicles. On the other hand, it's good to hear that there is some accountability being held, and you certainly made the best of the situation with some great captures.

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