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Timbavati - 4 nights at Kambaku River Sands


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Really like the snarling little hyena.



I wonder if animal suffer any ill effects from drinking chlorinated water out of the pools, or if humans could get ill from swimming in a pool where animals drink from)?


I've wondered this, too.

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Yes, pearl-spotted owlet, and great job on the bushbaby. Those things are just impossible, and a longstanding photographic goal of mine.


Timbavati has a special place in my heart, as it was the scene of my introduction to Africa -- albeit at a different concession. The toll that the drought is taking is concerning. Looking forward to more.

Edited by Alexander33
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Nice shots of the African Wild Cat.

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@@pomkiwi, enjoying your "take" on The Timbavati. We were there in March, with the drought really biting now, I wonder how some of the animals we saw are faring. A baby Rhino born into a bad drought really has a grim outlook. Seeing an adult Rhino sedated, blindfolded and vulnerable is a confronting sight indeed. Can only hope it makes a difference. Love the Hyenas, they seem to be doing well out of the drought, cutest little thing peeping out.

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Day 2


The day dawned clear but high cloud rapidly built with a red sunrise, this and a quick look at the weather forecast brought the English saying, ‘Red sky in the evening – shepherd’s delight; red sky in the morning – shepherd’s warning’ to mind and sure enough the cloud built rapidly with rain by lunchtime.


We drove past a waterhole with a lone rhino (lots of rhino to follow in the next instalment) but soon came across a small family group of elephants who browsed contentedly around the vehicle. It was a lovely 20 minutes or so just watching the dexterity with which they used their trunks.












Then we spent some time with a small group of giraffes. The youngster was sitting but then got up and gave us a quizzical glance.






The clouds settled in for the day and we chanced upon a very relaxed steenbok.








Then an imperial looking impala.




It was then our turn to meet up with the morning leopard.








This female has a distinctive pink nose and has been named ‘Marula’. It was impressive just to watch her stalking some impala and then moving as they did. In the end she gave up but it was a superb 20 minutes or so.



















Next up - rhino tagging



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Really nice leopard photos.

Agree about ele trunks - fascinating to watch what they can do with them.

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@@Marks Thank-you. I was very lucky on this trip with 4 leopard sightings in 8 drives (3 separate animals). They were all moving and 2 were as darkness fell. I felt very fortunate to see so much behaviour and enjoyed exploring some of the camera's capability. I was impressed by the speed of focus acquisition and the ability to (mostly) hold focus through vegetation. Although not demonstrated in the shots above (all at ISO 400) I am on the point of being amazed at the images produced at high ISO values - I have usable images at 12800 - to be posted later on.


However... I've still not got my classical portrait of the leopard draped across a large bough - one more excuse to return :D

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A wildcat! Really good photos taken in the almost dark - the bush baby is very cute.

A beautiful leopard - and I am impressed to see the leopard in focus and the branches out of focus!

I love the hyena photos (I am a fan). The babies are particularly cute - I think they are "exciting" sightings, though I understand that many people do not!

I am very much enjoying your report

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@@TonyQ Thank-you for your kind comments. There were of course some excellent images of sharp branches and a blurred leopard!

The hyena den was a good place to visit (we stopped there on a couple of occasions when waitig for our turn with a leopard). For me they were interesting sightings as the youngsters were busy exploring and as such there was always some behaviour to observe.

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Day 2

Up close with Rhinos.
On the day of arrival, I had been asked if I wanted to go and see rhino having microchips fitted and being tagged the following afternoon. The cost was R1000 which would be paid to the organisation working with the rhinos as a donation. This seemed to be fair and I happily agreed. As all of the guests in the vehicle has signed up we ended up extending the afternoon drive by leaving at 2pm in fairly steady rain. A mix up meant that we drove for around 90 minutes before arriving fairly wet at the meeting point.
The project involves using a helicopter to spot untagged rhino and the darting them from the air with a sedative agent. Once the rhino falls the ground team are directed from the air and once it is confirmed the animal is sedated they move in.
The rhino’s eyes are covered by a towel and measurements are taken of the horn. Blood samples are taken for DNA analysis and two microchips are inserted to allow identification of the animal and the horn if either are found at a later date.
The animal then has notches and holes cut inti the ears so that it can be identified in the future. Following this the areas of the implants and notching are sprayed with antiseptic along with any obvious deep scratches and a water soluble dye spayed on the back to remove the chance of accidental redarting the same day. The towel is removed and the rhino seemed to wake up very quickly – after a certain amount of confused running around normal grazing resumed promptly!
It was an interesting afternoon and an opportunity to see one approach to conservation. It was fascinating to be able to touch a rhino (and yes the skin is like sandpaper) and be in close proximity. One thing I found a little troubling was that a few people were posing with the rhino in a way I thought rather reminiscent of the trophy photos beloved of hunters.
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What a fascinating and memorable experience to have been on the rhino tagging expedition. It's not something I would have thought I'd be motivated to do, but after seeing your photos, I'd now jump at the chance if it ever presents itself. Thanks for the insight.

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@@Alexander33 The trip didn't take any organising - it was offered as an easy extra. There have been companies that have offered this as specialist safari (albeit this was in 2015): http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/tripnotes/86198.pdf


It was worth doing for an afternoon but there were a lot of people there (a number of lodges sent vehicles) and as such it was almost impossible to talk with the vets and get a real understanding of the project. I did pick up that they have now chipped about 350 rhino which is a fair effort. I'm not sure how the impact on rhino poaching can be measured.

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microchipping the rhino sounds like a great experience to take part in and the charges go to a noble cause.


Great captures of the AWC and bushbaby! and those hyena cubs are cute while that snarling hyena looks like a good contender to be a leading member of the clan one day.

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  • 2 weeks later...

After the Rhinos


We left the rhino tagging just before it got dark. We had a short drive as the weather gradually improved.


A bateleur took flight at our approach.








We came across a small family group of elephants (this truly was a safari of elephants) and the youngsters took it turns to attempt some intimidation.








Everything remained quiet and night drew in.




We were treated to a lovely sighting of a southern white faced owl and I got to play with high ISO settings again.







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These Owl photos are top class - Check out the beautiful eyes.

Edited by Hads
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@@Hads Thank-you very much. The subject was very obliging! I am also very impressed by the low light / high ISO performance of the D7200.

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Great nighttime photos of the owl! Would you be so kind and share the settings on this one? Was there a spot light involved? Myself I am also very impressed with D7200 low light/highISO capabilities.

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Another vote for the Owls - excellent!

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Wow, the owl pictures are fantastic! Those eyes...

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@@TonyQ @@xyz99 Thank-you both - right time, right place and right subject I feel.


@@xelas All were with the D7200 at ISO 8000 and f/5.6. All using the 80-400mm lens. Top was @175mm 1/10sec, middle 400mm at 1/25 sec and bottom the same. All hand held (so I must have been very relaxed :D )


They have been lightly post-processed using lightroom - exposure increased, white bought up a bit and black down rather more, dehaze tool used as well. No noise reduction used for this purpose.

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@@xelas Sorry - yes there was a spotlight from the vehicle.

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Another vote for the owl - what a cool-looking bird! Great shots.

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The owl also had an impressive moustache!



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Day 3


Day 3 was busy looking back through the photos has brought back to me just how much we got to see. I'm not sure how best to sort it all out so I will break the day into some smaller chunks.


The day was fine and the darkness gave way gradually as I huddled over a mug of coffee.




We left passing underneath a rather unimpressed looking stork.




Next up was a small group of buffalo with a curious but not very brave calf.






A stately kudu wandered gently past.








A couple of young elephants were acting out like teenagers.










Zebra nicely illustrated the confusion of a dazzle as well as providing some lovely oportunities to use the backlighting of the rising sun.













Finally some record shots of birds on sticks. A fish eagle and lilac beasted roller - neither wanted to move until they had warmed up.









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