Monday, August 27, 2018

The " Big 5", or the "Magnificent 7". Should game drives be so focused on these species?


It seems to me that many people who climb onto a game drive vehicle,
be they local or International visitors always request to see "The Big 5"
I often wonder if they know why these specific species have be elevated
 to a place of such prominence.
Originally they were deemed to be the most dangerous African animals to hunt on foot.
Nowadays, I hope that the visitors are shooting with cameras...
Perhaps it is time to start educating visitors about the total experience
that a game drive has to offer?
That being said, I do understand that some visitors to our lodges and reserves
save up for years to enjoy what, for them,
 is often a once-off bucket list experience.

Top of the list, as far as I am concerned...
The African Buffalo.
Not a bovine on steroids, but more like a ton of aggression and attitude with horns.
These have been known to circle back on hunters who have injured them and attack.
In a recently posted video, a lone male actually charges 
a game vehicle for no apparent reason.

One of most elusive, The Leopard.
 Still one of the predators that gets my adrenaline racing
when I see one during a game drive.
This particular female seems to have a rather interesting expression on her face.

King (in waiting) of the jungle...
Interesting that the male of the species is referred to as such,
while the lionesses are never give the title of Queen...
A strange turn of phrase considering the fact 
that we don't ACTUALLY have a jungle in Africa.
I suppose the experts might be alluding to the Asian lion,
where they are found in the jungle.
When they are this size they are considered "cute".
And then they grow up. 

This elderly female was not really keen to have her picture taken.

However this male was prepared to show us his business end.
It is spine-chilling sitting this close to a male while he vocalizes. 
Both the vehicle and those on board vibrate.

Both species of Rhino are part of the Big 5.
This is a female White Rhino and her calf.

The far more elusive Black Rhino.
Both have become the ongoing target for poachers,
who continue to plunder both species in order to appease certain Asian markets.
When will the end users learn that the horn has NO medicinal or aphrodisiac properties at all.
I see that certain African countries are looking to reintroduce
 the death penalty for those caught poaching.

If it is not rhino horn that the poachers are after,
then they also take elephant tusks...
Again, they have no properties of any sort bar the fact that 
they utilized for ornaments and jewelry.

When looking UP at a large male Elephant,
one tends to get a better perspective on their size.
Or just how small WE actually are!

Not one of the "Big 5" because it was never hunted as a trophy,
the Cheetah is now one of the two species that will turn a "Big 5" experience
into the "Magnificent 7" adventure

The other is the African Wild Dog...often referred to as a Painted Wolf.
It was also called the Cape Hunting Dog at one point.
These packs are often the most elusive of all the animals in this posting.
But spending time with a (smelly) pack can be extremely rewarding encounter.

I suppose that the "Big 5" cannot be mentioned in isolation.
Seeing that the Hyena is a presence at almost every kill,
it needs to be incorporated...even if only peripherally.
This is the Spotted Hyena, the more common of the Hyena species.
Although African myths and legends about this creature abound,
not all of them positive, 
I find that their pack structure is both interesting and educational.

And, of course, our vegetation would be littered with rotting carcasses
were it not for the variety of Vulture species that come in to clean up
 after all the predators have left. 

International travelers seem to be in awe of the giraffe.
Given that it is the tallest animal on the planet, that sentiment is understandable.
Given their size they are not often preyed on,
but there are lion prides that will hunt them.
They are at their most vulnerable when drinking water. 

Another favourite, the Burchells or Plains Zebra,
one of the two Zebra species found in South Africa.
(The other is the Mountain Zebra).
Found, as the name suggests in the more mountainous regions
 of South Africa, Namibia and parts of Angola.
 It is also one of the prey species enjoyed by lions.
The adult Zebra are too big for both cheetah and leopards,
but that being said, neither of those cat species are averse 
to taking foals or sick animals if the opportunity presents itself.

But game drives should not be ONLY about the animals...
What about the landscape and the MANY species of trees that abound in South Africa?
Take time on your game drive to observe and enjoy what nature provides.
One of my favourites...a Shepherds Tree.


And never ignore the iconic beauty of either
 an African sunrise or sunset.

 
My camera brand of choice for more than 4 decades!
Photo:

Photo:
When it is time to print out my special images,
this is the company that I rely on to do that.

Bush gear to make me blend in...
in comfort and style.

I have worn these shoes in the jungles of India
and on the beaches of Croatia.
Not to mention, many game reserves in Africa.
They are probably the most comfortable pair of shoes
that I have ever owned.

Photo:
When I get home. I rely on this ISP
to provide me with high speed fibre connectivity 
to enable me to get my postings published in record time.

Photo:
This powerbank is my constant companion
 while I am travelling.
It can do up to 4 full re-charges of my phone before
needing to be charged.
Supplied by...

When offered an option...
ALWAYS be Batman.
The newest of my travelling companions.
To find out more about the collectable Funko range of figurines,
visit:

My new addition, this awesome laptop bag from Solo.
Padded for protection and with enough pockets to keep
almost everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink in,
this is definitely an stylish addition to any business presentation.
Be it in the boardroom or the bush.
This bag can also be worn as a backpack. 
There are straps in a hidden compartment that can be deployed
when you need both hands for other purposes.
To find out more about the stylish Solo range,
visit:


A new "tool" in my camera bag.
This locally made product was indispensable when using a long lens.
The ball and socket might look simple...and it is, 
which is why it should be in the gear bag of every serious photographer.
This locally made, deceptively simple device is ideal 
for tracking birds in flight or animals in motion.
The base can be used on a beanbag or a tripod,
with the ball being fitted to the camera.
The simplicity of the device allows to to move from supported
to hand held in a fluid motion.
There is also a version that can be used on a car window.
To see more about the product, 
visit their Facebook page:
Or order directly from:





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