WILD4 AFRICAN PHOTO SAFARIS & PHOTOGRAPHY | Big Cats and KRUGER explorer photo safari OCTOBER 2014 - South Africa

Big Cats and KRUGER explorer photo safari OCTOBER 2014 - South Africa

October 10, 2014  •  Leave a Comment
The end of the dry season in South Africa's Kruger National Park rarely disappoints as far as action goes. The herbivores are really feeling the pressure from the lack of food and the predators take advantage of the weaker animals.

We had amazing Lion sightings on the trip and were so fortunate to see some amazing behaviour. On our very first day driving down from Orpen Gate to Lower Sabie we stopped briefly at Mazithi Dam just north of Tshokwane picnic site and found a few of the regulars resting in the afternoon sun. A Fish Eagle took off, the Hippos grunted and a single Impala Ram grazed close to the edge of the Southern end of the dam.

From out of nowhere, a Lioness emerged near the Northern end of the dam and proceeded to walk through the long grass towards the Impala. The Lioness showed she was keen on a stalk and before long she had ended up near the Impala, still well concealed by the long grass.

We watched the entire scene and could not believe our luck when she managed to stalk right up to the Impala, charge in and grab it right on the edge of the water. It was all over in 20 mins and we continued on to Lower Sabie where our Lion encounters continued.

Below are a set of images taken by the clients on the safari, everyone had a great view of the entire stalk, chase and kill, on their first day in Kruger they really did not expect this and we were all extremely fortunate to see such a sighting. Well done to everyone for capturing the story, the shots are excellent and not commonly captured.

Enjoy !

The Lioness peeking over the long grass to locate her prey - Photo by James Smith

This wider shot taken by Maria Ricciardi sets the scene - the Lioness is well hidden on the right of the frame - try to spot her !

Everytime the Impala turned its head away from the Lioness she took the opportunity to creep a little bit closer - Photo by James Smith

It is amazing to watch a large cat in stalk mode - here she creeps forward again - 
Photo by Logan Gelik

The Impala was totally unaware the entire time, here the Lioness got ready for the charge
Photo by Maria Ricciardi

Off she went, it was all so quick, camera buffers were straining !!
Photo by Maria Ricciardi

A fast shutter speed of 1/4000 sec was used here to freeze the Cat in full flight
Photo by James Smith

The two Saddlebilled Storks did not panic too much once they realised the Impala was on the Lions menu and not them. Lucky they were not a pair of Egyptian Geese security guards who would have certainly let the Impala know of the impending danger.
Photo by James Smith

It always amazes me how quickly these animals react in these lightning fast situations. Here the Lioness forces the Impala back towards the water which would have been a mental barrier in the Impala's mind
Photo by Maria Ricciardi

One bad move and its all over, the Impala ends up in the deep mud at the edge of the water. Its sharp hooves and skinny legs dig straight into the soft mud and he lost all his speed.
Photo by Ulhas Mayekar

The Lion moves in swiftly and leaps for the doomed Impala
Photo by Ulhas Mayekar

The giant paws fan out to the size of dinner plates and out come the sharp retractable claws, the poor Impala had no chance of getting away at this point.
Photo by James Smith

After a very brief struggle the Lioness dragged the Impala back into the long grass away from the water where a Crocodile had shown interest in the commotion.
Photo by Logan Gelik

From the Northern end of the dam two more Lionesses emerged and ran towards the site of the kill
Photo by Maria Ricciardi

What an amazing sighting this was for all of us to observe - literally once in a lifetime stuff !

5 Members of the Lion pride that we saw every day near Lubyelubye bridge just north of Lower Sabie Camp. Here they are watching a herd of Impala approach the river to drink. The adult Lioness ended up catching one down near the river, just out of our view.

Lions had caught a Zebra near the Duke waterhole south of Lower Sabie. This rare White Headed vulture was one of 4 that responded to the Kill

One of the Lionesses near the Zebra Kill

Lion in a tunnel. This section of the road has a lot of Many Stemmed Albizia growing on either side. Shooting wide open at 2.8 helped to create this tunnel effect

Back with the Lion pride on our final morning just north of Lower Sabie. Another Impala victim

As we headed up to Satara in central Kruger for our final 3 nights, we came across 3 beautiful male Lions following a female. This was taken near the Sweni waterhole.

Kumana Dam provided yet more Lions, here a pride of 11 had taken down a big male Cape Buffalo. Over the next few days we returned to the site and watched at how efficient nature is, there was nothing but a rib cage left after the Lions, Hyaenas and Vultures had finished.

We had a great sighting of a young Pearl Spotted Owlet peeking out of its nest hole. This was on the Nwanetsi Tar road

He did fly out and perch rather nicely on a nearby log for a few quick photos

The S125 had a surprise for us, apparently a young elephant had got his leg caught in a tree and had died. Four large Male Lions had found the carcass and begun to feed. This was another rare sighting - right next to the road

The fourth member of the coalition of male Lions approaches the Elephant carcass. These were some of the most relaxed male Lions I have ever seen in Kruger - feeding on the carcass which was right next to the road without a care in the world for the close onlookers.

A sign that the season is about to change, the return of the migrant birds is well under way, here an African Cuckoo was photographed just north of Kumana Dam


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