Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mashatu Winter Bliss - By Isak Pretorius

The dry season in Mashatu usually means good game sightings. The dry conditions force animals to congregate at the last remaining waterholes. Our recent photographic workshop to Mashatu in June always had the prospect of good sightings, but nothing could have prepared us for what we were about to see. The sightings and photographic opportunities were not just good, they were phenomenal!

isak pretorius, c4 images and safaris, mashatu, photographic workshop,

isak pretorius, c4 images and safaris, mashatu, photographic workshop,

One of the highlights on our first afternoon drive was to try different lighting techniques on a pair of lions with the vehicles' spotlights. Everyone had fun mastering backlit/rim, side and front lighting. The next morning we were out early and found a hyena den close to camp - a big clan with lots of youngsters that were playing outside the den each morning until late. Mashatu also delivered the usual specials with large breeding herds of elephants, including a day-old baby still with a piece of its umbilical cord attached, good bird photographic opportunities and the normal plains game.

isak pretorius, c4 images and safaris, mashatu, photographic workshop,

isak pretorius, c4 images and safaris, mashatu, photographic workshop,

One afternoon we stumbled upon a small pan with about 30 foraging glossy ibises. These usually bland subjects looked spectacular in the late afternoon sun. That was exactly the type of photography that gets my heart racing - making ordinary subjects look spectacular. They were surprisingly accommodating and allowed us to get very close to them - out of the vehicle and onto the ground for that low angle perspective.

isak pretorius, c4 images and safaris, mashatu, photographic workshop,

isak pretorius, c4 images and safaris, mashatu, photographic workshop,

You know that a trip is going well when a sighting of lions fighting with hyenas are not even considered the highlight of the weekend. On the second morning's drive we followed the same male and female lion we saw on our first game drive and observed how they wandered too close to the hyena den. The whole clan of eight adult hyenas grouped together and started harassing the trespassers. The young male's temper flared up in a number of sequences that offered first class action photography opportunities as he defended himself.

isak pretorius, c4 images and safaris, mashatu, photographic workshop,



A female leopard with three cubs have been in the area for our entire stay and we were dying to get a good look at them. Small gaps through the thicket allowed us to get some record shots at various stages, but with such young cubs we knew our chances were slim of getting good leopard cub shots. On our fifth drive our patience were rewarded when the leopard and her cubs walked in a dry riverbed an even allowed us to observe them while drinking water. This was a special moment for us all. At the time we did not know however, that this was just an appetizer for things to come. That night she made a kill and dragged it into a nearby tree. We returned to this sighting on each of our last three game drives and felt privileged to observe and photograph an episode of these leopards' lives!

Once again Mashatu revealed to us some of its unique and spectacular treasures. We can not wait to return there soon.

Isak Pretorius Photography Blog.


isak pretorius, c4 images and safaris, mashatu, photographic workshop,

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