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Brendon Cremer

Leopards on our Farewell Drive at Chitabe, Lions on Arrival at Little Vumbura…

By Okavango Photo Safari No Comments

Brendon’s Update News from the Okavango Photo Safari:

We left Chitabe Camp before sunrise again and went in search of tracks. Although we found lion tracks, we were still following them when we received a call about the female leopard with her cub. The two had been located, and it was a joy to see them again.

The cub was particularly playful, and together with mother climbed trees, jumped down, played on termite mounds, ran around, chased each other – and stalked anything that moved – like squirrels, birds, and even insects. The two kept us entertained us for much of the morning as our collection of photographs grew. The interaction between mother and cub was quite heart-warming and beautiful to watch.

When the two wandered off into a dense thicket, we moved on. We saw many herds of elephants, some very large herds of buffalos, and spent time with an active pod of hippos that cavorted and splashed.

When we saw a water hole that has partially dried up we stopped to photograph the birds there. Numerous Pink-backed Pelicans and Yellow-billed Storks had a very easy time fishing for catfish that crowded together in the diminished amount of water. The birds really had a feast.

When we returned to the camp it was time to pack up and leave for the airstrip for our flight to Little Vumbura. We landed and after a short drive to a beautiful setting in the bush under a large spreading tree we enjoyed an exceptional high tea. Then we set off on a short game drive to the Lodge.

On the drive we saw two handsome male lions accompanied by a number of lionesses and their cubs. The light was just right for evening photography and then it was time to check in at the superb camp. The area is beautiful with plenty of water everywhere. We have much to look forward to here …

Hyenas Try to Climb a Tree …

By Elephant Plains No Comments

Brendon’s Report from Elephant Plains on the Tusk Sabi Sand Photo Safari:

The morning dawned dull and drizzly … not the most ideal weather for most photography. But undeterred, we set out and headed straight to the female leopard with her kill in the tree. We sat there for some time and actually collected some pretty good photos – especially when the leopard jumped out of the tree.

Hyenas were still gathered under the tree, trying repeatedly to reach up to the kill that was way out of their reach. You could just see them wishing that they could climb and when the leopard climbed back into the tree they vainly redoubled their attempts in an effort to emulate her.

The leopard then gave us exactly what everyone hoped for – she descended from the tree to enjoy a leisurely drink at the nearby waterhole. Our spotlights works really well in that dim overcast light.

When we left the leopard we soon bumped into a lone bull elephant. Although young he is very large looked healthy. He was relaxed and carried on eating peacefully as we snapped away.

A call alerted us that another female leopard could be seen. It was the mother of the two cubs but the little ones were stashed somewhere out of sight. On the way to the leopard we stopped very briefly to photograph two Rhinos.

When we reached the Leopard she was sprawled on a termite mound – but not for long. Not having eaten for a few days she was looking lean and hungry, and sure enough, it wasn’t long before she was up and searching for something to hunt. She climbed a few trees and looked around in all directions to check for a meal. We had a while to add to our collection of leopard images before it was time to return to the Lodge.

We left the Lodge for the afternoon game drive in an optimistic mood. The weather worsened by the minute, and although we returned to the leopard in the tree we moved on as we felt that our morning sighting had been far better.

Instead we moved on to the large male leopard when we heard that he was around. We remained with him for the remainder of the afternoon because was he ever on a mission! A young male leopard was spotted in this males’ territory earlier and every scrap of dominance emerged, making the ‘boss’ of his territory very indignant. He could smell the scent of the young interloper and he followed this from bush to bush, up and down termite mounds and fallen branches. He checked every inch of his territory, ensuring that the trespasser was nowhere in his area. We collected great images of the handsome cat, and enjoyed patrolling his territory with him.

So in spite of the weather we had yet another eventful, stunning day here at Elephant Plains. More in the morning …

Predator Interactions…

By Sabi Sand Photo Safari No Comments

Brendon’s News from Elephant Plains on the Tusk Sabi Sand Photo Tour:

Not long after leaving the Lodge we heard that large male leopard tracks had been found towards the south – eastern section of Sabi Sand. We headed there and located the tracks which we followed and were rewarded when we found a strapping, large male leopard. We actually spent the remainder of the morning with him. The cat was really busy … we followed him as he patrolled his territory. He scent-marked, sniffed the vegetation, walked through the bushes, strolled down the road, climbed termite mounds and other vantage points, and being very relaxed with our presence we enjoyed a wonderful morning of photography with him.

When the handsome cat eventually disappeared into a neighbouring area we took a break for a quick welcome cup of coffee and then continued our game drive.

We passed a few herds of elephants, where we had to stop for photos. Then everyone’s excitement increased when we were informed about a pack of Wild Dogs. We shot off in that direction and caught up with them moments after they made a kill – probably a Bushbuck. Wild Dog kills are invariably chaotic, with plenty of noise, yips and snarls, running back and forth, dashing after each other and running and chasing when any of the dogs snagged a chunk of the kill and made off with it. It was difficult to decide which of the fifteen frenetic dogs to photograph next. Cameras pointed here, there, and everywhere. What an experience!

We then headed to a female leopard with a kill in a tree, but she did not come down from her comfortable resting place way up on a sturdy branch, so we returned to her as soon as we could in the afternoon. On the way back to her we saw the Wild Dogs again. They spent the afternoon trying to sleep while a nearby group of hyenas approached them from time to time. Each time the hyenas came close the dogs leaped up and chased them. The dogs tried to settle down again and again to sleep, but the persistent hyenas really gave them little chance to rest. It was fantastic to watch!

When we returned to the leopard there was so much action there as well! Hyenas again! They everywhere, adults and pups milled around. Because the kill was next to a dam, some of the hyenas chose the coolness of the water to rest, while others prowled around and youngsters chased each other.

Even Rhinos arrived for a drink at the dam. They ignored the hyenas, and after having a long drink they ambled off back into the bush.

Meanwhile the leopard woke up, and came down from the tree. Before long she was up again, then down and up a couple of times more – and again after dark! Who could ask for more!

So after yet another eventful, exciting day we returned to the Lodge, and as always, looking forward to tomorrow …

A Day of Leopards, Leopards, and Leopard Cubs …

By Sabi Sand Photo Safari No Comments

Brendon’s News from Elephant Plains on the Tusk Sabi Sand Photo Tour:

We were in the reserve before sunrise hoping to find a leopard with a cub, and as there are two at the moment in Sabi Sand, we thought our chances were doubled. But first we went in search of one of the females from our first game drive but she was nowhere in sight.

We slowly made our way towards an area where one of the mother leopards recently stashed her cubs. On the way we encountered two four month old cubs on their own. The mother was not around, so we didn’t linger, but rather quickly grabbed some super images of the duo on a termite mound. One was a little shy, but the other was curious and as it watched with interest we snapped away.

From there we moved on and before long we found the other mother with her smaller cub – about three months old. They lay next to a woodpile and now again the two climbed a nearby small tree, and mom regularly walked around to check the area. When the mother decided to move to an open area in a riverbed our photographic opportunities were endless.

We next saw a large elephant bull and spent a short time with him before a call came through about very fresh leopard tracks. We turned in that direction and found another female leopard. She had recently killed a Scrub Hare and was feeding in shortish grass.

By this was time to return to the Lodge, and almost unbelievably on our return trip we saw another leopard – the large dominant male from the area. He walked around for a while but as the day was warming rapidly he found a cool spot under some bushes and settled down for his midday sleep.

So, having seen six different leopards during one morning, we are feeling as lucky as you can imagine. The grass may be long but wow! What sightings!

The afternoon found us back in search of the male leopard. And obligingly, he found us before we even reached the spot where we left him earlier. He walked towards us, then strolled around, lay in an open area, moved to a dry river bed, then strolled further through the bush. He was so fabulous that we stuck with him for the entire game drive. The afternoon passed to evening, when flashes were needed and after dark our spotlights came out. He stalked impala, searched around, checked his territory, climbed a dam wall, and gave us every possible opportunity for superb photos. Another amazing, memorable experience – to spend an entire afternoon with this dominant male was privilege!

He finally disappeared into a thicket, but by then it was time to return to the Lodge, delighted with a truly successful day!

Can tomorrow also deliver? …

Cheetahs and Lions Keep us Very Busy …

By Ndutu & Serengeti Photo Safari: No Comments

Brendon Reports from the Serengeti on the Ndutu and Serengeti Photo Safari:

We headed out very early for our first full day safari. Before we left we decided that it would be superb to see and of the predators – especially the cats like lions or cheetahs. And any other animals would also be great to see.

Well, our wishes came true in abundance. As we headed on to the open plains for our morning drive we could see different animals. And in all we saw thirteen different cheetahs during the course of the day. We found a mother cheetah with four cubs that were a few months old, and then we spotted another mother with three tiny two month old cubs. The little ones are so very adorable and playful, and their curiosity brought them close enough to us for some excellent shots.

The mother with four cubs was actively hunting and we stuck with them for a while. However, they had no luck and as the day warmed up they found a shady spot to flop down and rest.

We spotted the mother with the three cubs in the late afternoon. They headed towards a thicket where we surmised they would spend the night. But before they disappeared we managed to get some lovely images.

So although we didn’t actually get to see any serious hunts it was a treat to watch the different cats as they walked around, climbed on termite mounds for a good look around, and explored fallen trees and branches.

We saw many lions as well. First we spotted two males together, followed by a single lioness. It wasn’t long before we found another lioness on her own, and then during the afternoon we came across a smallish pride. Most of the lions were doing what lions do best during the heat of the day. Yes, sleeping in a shady spot.

We travelled from one koppie to another, checking outcrops or any likely spot for more big cats. Those that we found were close to koppies, but there were none actually on the rocks as we had hoped. Still, it was a treat to see them, and as always our cameras worked overtime.

And after such a fantastic day with many cheetahs, everyone is delighted and thrilled with their photographs – and we look forward to an early start in the morning for another promising day …

Our Picturesque Travels to Serengeti …

By Ndutu & Serengeti Photo Safari: No Comments

Brendon Reports from the Serengeti on the Ndutu & Serengeti Photo Safari:

Greetings from a magnificent setting in the beautiful legendary Serengeti. We arrived here today, excited and looking forward to exciting, photographically rewarding days ahead.

Our flight left Johannesburg at 02:00 bound for Nairobi. From there we boarded a small plane for a very scenic flight to Kilimanjaro. The views to the majestic mountain were breathtaking and our cameras were very busy indeed. It was an exceptionally bright, clear day with none of the usual cloud coverings and we had magnificent views of the mountain peak.

From the tiny airport at Kilimanjaro we flew on to the Serengeti, and finally, after very beautiful sightseeing, we jumped into our vehicles to transport us to the Lodge – well, actually it turned out to be a fabulous first game drive through the reserve. The area teemed with general game and again our cameras did not stop. Zebra, Cokes Hartebeest (Kongoni), Thomson Gazelles, and Grant’s Gazelles grazed peacefully.

The bird life was equally rich and among many others we saw Pygmy Falcons and beautiful Sunbirds that are unique to this area.

Then we spotted two lions – a male with a lioness. They rested in the shade of a bush, and although it wasn’t the clearest sighting, it was fabulous to see predators before we even arrived at the camp.

When we finally arrived, everyone was tired and thoroughly enjoyed our evening sundowners and dinner. In the morning we would like to be out before sunrise to go in search of the predators that are busy during those hours …

A Cheetah Kill for her Cub …

By Masai Mara Predator Photo Safari No Comments

Brendon Reports from the Masai Mara Predator Photo Safari:

When we first arrived at the Lodge at Masai Mara it was rather late, but we were able to fit in a quick game drive before sunset.

We headed to where there were reports of lions, and we found them close to that spot. A smallish pride of about eight lions basked in the late afternoon sun. One or two were more energetic and played around.

It started to drizzle lightly, and the afternoon became quite grey because of the overcast sky. When a lioness went to lie on a termite mound we used flash to compensate for the light. The gloomy light also helped us to get some really super moody shots of the lions in the rain.

The lions then moved into a bushy area. We followed them and saw what attracted their attention – a lone buffalo bull. The lions immediately started to stalk the buffalo. They circled around and crept close to their prey. They were meters away when they broke cover and chased the buffalo around. They chased for a fair distance, but the lions are still young and inexperienced and probably have neither the power nor the technique to take down a large animal.

But the whole experience was absolutely amazing, and although we were wet, we wouldn’t have missed one moment of that incredible encounter. We arrived back at the Lodge rather soaked, and totally delighted with our first game drive back at the reserve.

At the Lodge we heard about a cheetah with a very small cub and the next morning we decided to try and find them. While we searched we heard that she had been spotted and when we arrived, there she was with her tiny cub. The cub was in longish grass, but fairly visible, while mom checked the vicinity from the top of a termite mound.

Suddenly the cheetah spotted something, leaped down from the mound and headed off quickly. Then we saw that she was headed to a single impala mother with a baby.

The cheetah crept close to the impala and broke into a sprint. We witnessed the most amazing chase! It ended when the cat grabbed the baby impala, leaving us with very mixed feelings. It was sad for the impala, but of course the cheetah has herself and her cub to consider. We felt privileged to have witnessed the entire episode from beginning to end.

Mom dragged the impala back towards her little cub, and about half way back she started to call. The next minute the little cub jumped up and bounced over the grass to reach mom. It was the most endearing sight. The little cub is about a month old, still with a whitish furry back, and only just learning to eat meat. The two sat on a termite mound for a while before they started to feed. Unfortunately, the kill was in longish grass and we could get a very clear enough view for good photos, but it was great to watch them.

Meanwhile, a herd of elephants arrived and made their way towards the cheetahs. We practised different lighting techniques and with the dramatic sky in the background, we had plenty of scope for fabulous shots.

We heard that two lions were not too far away. As it had started to drizzle again we hoped that their manes would get wet and that they would give them a good shake, sending spray and droplets in a halo around their heads. That looks so good in photographs.

We found one of the males alone. And he did shake his mane for us, so we got exactly what we hoped for. And then we bumped into the other male lion a short distance away. He was with a female and they were mating, giving us even more images to amass.

We spent the remainder of the day with the lions. When the light faded towards sunset, we used flash to supplement the dim light and with a very dark, dramatic sky behind them, our photography could only be successful.

On the way back to the Lodge we saw four little jackal pups. They ran around, chased each other, and fell around clumsily – they are also just about four weeks old. They were so entertaining, and again the photography was outstanding.

Whew! After such a full, exciting time here, one can only imagine what the next days will bring …

Honeymooning Leopards …

By Sabi Sand Photo Safari No Comments

Brendon’s News from Elephant Plains on the Tusk Sabi Sand Photo Tour:

Just before bedtime last night we heard that one of the guides had seen three leopards together. So, hoping that the three would still be together or in close proximity to each other we headed straight there before dawn this morning. We realised that with two females and a male, the likelihood of confrontations, disagreements, and scraps would be high, accompanied by plenty of territorial calling.

As we approached the area where they had been seen we found the male walking alone down the road towards us. Out came our cameras and we photographed the healthy, handsome fellow as he went along on his mission.

Soon he veered off the road and headed into the veld. And appearing as if from thin air, a female materialised, and the two started mating immediately. We surmised that the male had moved away for a few minutes while the female lay down. As soon as he returned their amorous behaviour resumed.

We remained with the two leopards for almost the entire morning. The light was crisp and bright after sunrise and we were able to really capitalise on that for memory cards filled with successful images. We couldn’t have asked for more.

Besides the leopards we saw three different rhinos and plenty of elephants. Then we heard about a lion not far away. We found a good looking, strong male that is an infrequent visitor to this area. He was lying down with his head up, looking around. He has joined a coalition with two other lions and together they seem intent on taking over and asserting their dominance in northern section of the Sabi Sand Reserve.

On the way back to the Lodge we found six lionesses together. They are a part of the pride that has become separated, with fragments of the pride scattered throughout the reserve. The lionesses were asleep, with very full bellies. They had definitely eaten well during the night and showed no desire to move or even stir when we approached.

When we headed towards the mating leopards on our afternoon drive, we passed the six lionesses again. They were still quite comatosed, so we left them to sleep and carried on to the leopards.

At first the leopards were also resting in the heat of the day, but as the afternoon wore on, and the temperature dropped a little they became more active and resumed mating again. We spent the remainder of the game drive with them, except now and again when we left to scout around before we returned to the leopards.

While away from the leopards we saw rhino again, and when we found a hyena lying in a pool of water to get some relief from the heat of the day we just had to stop for photographs. The brilliant blue sky reflected beautifully in the water and the light on the leopard was fabulous.

Before we returned to the Lodge we returned to the leopards yet again.

By now we needed spotlights to photograph them mating, or individually when they walked around.

After another very full day here at the Sabi Sand Reserve we are ready for our our sumptuous dinner under the stars, with the music of the nighttime bush all around. In the morning we would like to visit both the lionesses and the leopards again …

A Leopard With Her Kill on the Ground …

By Sabi Sand Photo Safari No Comments

Brendon’s News from Elephant Plains on the Tusk Sabi Sand Photo Tour:

When we set out we wanted to find leopard tracks, but there were simply none at first. So we popped in to the hyena den. There were a few adults and subadults lounging around in the early morning sun. They were clearly not keen to move, but we were able to get a number of lovely portrait shots. We know that there are tiny pups at the den, but they were nowhere in sight.

We carried on and found soon found very fresh leopard tracks. The tracks belonged to a female leopard and when we caught up with her we found her walking around, busily marking her territory, and when she ventured into some thick bush we decided to move on. But just then she climbed onto a termite mound in full view, and in the beautiful bright golden morning light, she looked absolutely wonderful. The scene was very lovely and our memory cards filled quickly.

We left her and looked around to see what else we could photograph. We photographed a rhino, and stopped again for elephants and then giraffes. The impala are looking very healthy and many are pregnant.

Then we heard that another female leopard had been spotted. She had an impala kill that she had caught during night and had it under a tree. She had fed, but not very much at this stage. We waited, and hoped that she would take her kill into the large Marula tree next to her. She didn’t do that, but at one stage she decided decided to have a good look at her surroundings and climbed a termite mound to do this. She looked superb on the mound as she gazed around intently.

After our break back at the Lodge we headed back to the leopard. We found her lying in the shade a short distance from her kill that was still on the ground. We really hoped that she would take her kill up into the tree, so we waited patiently again, and when she got up and went to the carcass our cameras were ready. But all she did was to move the remains to a new position, and then settled to eat again. As there were no hyenas or other scavengers around she clearly felt more comfortable feeding on the ground.

We had to leave to allow another vehicle to the sighting. It didn’t take long before we found a set of male leopard tracks that we followed. We found a large male leopard, but unfortunately the sighting wasn’t great as he was partially obscured by vegetation. He rested comfortably in a cool thicket next to the river, and we decided to return later.

We returned to the leopard with the kill. She moved towards a waterhole, and as it was getting dark our flashes and spotlights came out. Her reflections when she lapped at the water were perfect.

We returned to the male leopard – and just in time. He was starting to get going and he moved along for some time before he disappeared into the night. As our time was up we headed back to the Lodge. During the afternoon we photographed rhino again, and were pleased to find buffalo as well. Tomorrow we will probable start at the female leopard again …

A Dramatic Lion Hunt Chase Heads Directly Towards Us …

By Masai Mara Migration Photo Safari No Comments

Brendon’s Bulletin from the Masai Mara Migration Photo Safari:

On Sunday morning we woke up to two factors – lions roaring, as they had through most of the night, and a light drizzle.

We went in search of the roaring sounds and found a mating couple. This was right at the end of their lengthy ritual, and they were clearly about to separate. The male set off, and when he spotted a herd of zebras, his interest was focussed on his next meal.

The handsome lion headed towards the zebra herd with care and determination. He reached the herd at a clearing where they were gazing and relaxing, but then his interest seemed to wane and he lay down in a nearby bushy area.

We waited for a while to see if the lion would change his mind. While we waited a small herd of giraffe arrived and walked across a nearby plain where they were silhouetted beautifully against the early glowering sky. They looked wonderful and we filled our cameras with superb images.

When we heard that a large pride of lions were moving and possibly on the hunt, we immediately dashed there. We found about thirteen lions (lionesses with subadult females and males) that looked quite hungry and were very much out on an early morning hunt. We looped around them continuously to get photographs from all angles. Suddenly one of the lions broke away from the others and went into a full stalking mode. We made our way surreptitiously around the hunting lioness, and then saw what she was stalking. We could just identify a pair of warthog ears in the long grass. The lions closed in, creeping closer, closer, closer. Everything was quiet as we held our breath. For a moment the whole scene seemed to freeze, and within a split second chaos erupted when the lioness broke cover and dashed after the warthog, with other lionesses appearing as if from thin air. They chased the warthog down, but as always, one cannot predict the outcome of events with certainty. We knew that the lionesses had the warthog when suddenly it reached a small riverine and disappeared from sight, leaving the lions staring incredulously at each another and at the spot where their prey disappeared as if by magic. We could hardly believe that the warthog had been so lucky …

And we had been in the best possible position for photography, with the warthog and lions hurtling full-tilt towards us. It was an amazing chase and we could not ask for better excitement and circumstances.

After breakfast under the trees we found five cheetahs. The morning was warm, and the Five relaxed in the heat of the advancing day.

We traveled on towards the Talek River and saw that massive herds of zebra, wildebeest, and topi were massing everywhere. Because they were not actually beginning to gather and push towards the river, we spent a few hours using different photographic techniques for impactful shots. Panning, high-key, different lighting modes all produced the kind of different shots we really like to collect.

Clouds were building up, with light and heavy showers dotted around. The magenta sky looked so dramatic with the beautiful trees, Plains and animals in the foreground.

Tomorrow we think we may follow up on that hungry pride of lions – maybe they will hunt again as they certainly are hungry …