Trip report (Part 2) – Mashatu tented camp, The Cheetah family of Six

This was an experience of a life time and it started late the Saturday afternoon. We’ve just finished shooting the leopard in perfect light (golden hour) and Dan decided to go and look for the cheetahs. They were  on the move (apparently). When we arrived on the scene, there were already two other vehicles and the six cheetahs (mother and five cubs (not so young anymore)) were having a ball (or is it a feast). However, they were very nervous as it was already late and they were just looking around – probably for the hyenas. Also looking at us:

Nikon D700, Nikon 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor = 850mm, ISO1600, f6.3, 1/200, exposure = -1.33, Aperture mode, 21 meters from subject

_____________________________

We left them with just the last bit of meat on the bones.

Sunday morning we decided not to go to the hide at the waterhole – rather go and look for the cheetahs again. We drove around trying to find their tracks and then we got a radio call informing Dan that they were spotted kilometers away from where they were the previous evening (on the other side of the park). Arriving at the scene, they were just finishing another Impala carcass caught in the early morning. We watched them having their feast, chasing a jackal away at full speed that irritated them (almost caught it), playing around and left the carcass (almost just the bones).

Nikon D700, Nikon 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO640, f6.3, 1/1250, exposure = -0.33, Aperture mode, 32 meters from subject

____________________________________

Nikon D700, Nikon 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO640, f5.6, 1/1250, exposure = -0.67, Aperture mode, 15 meters from subject

__________________________________

Nikon D7000, Nikon 70 x 200mmf2.8 lens, ISO640, f5, 1/4000, exposure = -0.67, Aperture mode, 33 meters from subject

They started moving away (playing and chasing each other) from the kill and we followed them for an hour or so. They posed for some photos on the higher ground and then started to move away towards a bushy area.

Nikon D700, Nikon 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO320, f4, 1/3200, exposure = -0.33, Aperture mode, 32 meters from object.

__________________________________

We stayed on the hill to see what are they up to. I saw an Impala entering the same bushy area but from the other side and I though to myself – here is trouble and I got my camera ready; just for in case. We saw the cubs staying behind and mother moving into the busy area. Then all of a sudden – Impala exit the bushes on the other side (wrong side) and one Impala and a cheetah coming out of the bushes on our side running towards. And here are some of the action:

Nikon D7000, Nikon 70 x 200mmf2.8 lens @300mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/2500, exposure = +0.33, Aperture mode.

____________________________________

Nikon D7000, Nikon 70 x 200mmf2.8 lens @300mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/2500, exposure = +0.33, Aperture mode.

___________________________________

Nikon D7000, Nikon 70 x 200mmf2.8 lens @300mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/2000, exposure = +0.33, Aperture mode.

____________________________________

It took the cheetah mom 15 seconds to chase and caught the Impala – we were just shooting and shooting. She caught the impala a few hunderd meters from us and after she caught it, Dan rushed to the kill. When we arrived on the scene, the impala was dead. Interesting to see how quickly she caught it and how quick she killed the Impala.  Only a matter of seconds.

Nikon D700, Nikon 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO320, f4, 1/3200, exposure = -0.33, Aperture mode, 21 meters from subject.

___________________________

Afterwards I realised (once again) – anticipation is the key to wildlife photography as I anticipated the chase and got my camera ready in case there was a chase – and there was a chase.

Message:

Practice makes perfect – like the great Gary Player said: “The more I practise, the luckier I get”. Do not underestimate practising a few shots every day on the birds in your back garden. You won’t be sorry afterwards when you travel in a game reserve and you need a quick eye, focus, finger and reactions.

Advertisements

  1. #1 by hogsbackphotos on July 25, 2012 - 3:07 pm

    Julle was bepaald baie bevoorreg Willem. Ek kan my voorstel dat nie baie fotograwe sulke unieke fotogeleenthede kry nie.

  2. #2 by Abraham Joffe on August 22, 2012 - 9:15 am

    Wonderful article and images! What a magic sighting. Dan is the best! We were there in June. Mashatu is a truly special place. Here’s a film I just posted that we shot on the hide.. Hope you enjoy it – http://vimeo.com/47983114

  3. #3 by whk139 on August 22, 2012 - 1:09 pm

    Thanks Abraham – excellent video. I did enjoy it very much and now I just want to go back. A real unique experience and a must for any serious wildlife photographer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: