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RedLeopard

Hi all,

Its been a while since I posted but I thought I would share some experiences from a game count I recently participated in at Limpopo-Lipadi in Botswana. Partly due to the serendipitous situation of being in the right place (ie on the reserve) at the right time (ie when the permits were granted), partly due to being relatively small (so helping offset my weightier co-counters) and partly due to being able to tell the difference between a steenbok and a duiker from 200 feet up, I was offered the chance to participate.

Now when I say participate that perhaps understates the amount of work involved and how tiring it is, but at the same time it also hugely underestimates the immense enjoyment and thrill realised. Basically the plan was to conduct an aerial game count of 32,500 hectares of bush, varying from riverine forest through thick mopane to syringa woodland and plains areas, as well as numerous koppies and a large hill. This entailed spending three and a half days flying in an open-sided tiny helicopter from dawn until dusk every day constantly watching out the sides for any animal and calling it out when seen. Then you get to hold on to your stomach as the pilot spirals in on herds to count them closely as you can pretty much guarantee that there are more animals hiding there than you initially see. It is absolutely incredible how 6 or 8 impala can be hidden underneath a single acacia bush. So its not something for the faint hearted, airsick or for a quick view of the bush from above - it was a full-on few days with very tired eyes, numb limbs, shivering as we buzzed along at 100 knots through the morning mist and roasting as you touch down in 40 degree heat. But, as I imagine it will, if that excites you I would say grab any opportunity to do this kind of thing with both hands and don't let go!!

I wrote up a short story on the experience for an online magazine that you can find here:

http://www.joomag.com/magazine/international-lifestyle-magazine-oct-2012/0717408001352131495

The article is on pages 20-23. The images were mostly captured by our GM; I'm still to get to editing some of the video footage but will share once done.

Hope you enjoy the read.


Magnus

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Hanging out the side of a tiny helicopter with doors removed and a rather large lens on a monopod (and clammy hands) is one of the fonder memories I have of visiting the Okavango Delta. Unlike you, I cannot tell a duiker from a steenbok from 2 feet, let alone 200 so ... :P

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twaffle

I've had a few scary moments shooting aerials from a plane, not sure I'd try this caper at all.

 

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RedLeopard

I have respect for both of you taking pictures - both my hands spent most of the first day with white knuckles gripping on to something :-)

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..both my hands spent most of the first day with white knuckles gripping on to something :-)

I assume this is not being ghost written, so it ought to be safe to surmise it was not your pilot's neck that was the subject of your attentions :P

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for the posting (and for the link to your magazine story). It must have been an amazing experience and one I would love to experience, except for the fact that I get airsick on the best of flights. We will be visiting Africa again in September 2013 and your posting has made it just that much harder to wait.

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Super LEEDS

Thank you for sharing, RL! Very intersting - sounds very tiring yet exciting at the same time.

 

That magazine even has an article on our Golden Temple in Amritsar with regard to it's communal kitchen :) right before your article.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Atravelynn

Great magazine article. I wouldn't think you'd be able to see the snakes from the air. What a different perspective, watching leopards appear and disappear from the rock crevices. You could easily miss that on the ground. Thanks for the aerial view.

 

For photographers hanging out of helicopters and such, don't they strap you in?

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