Good Evening Everyone
Although tonights Photographs are by no means stunning as far as Colours, Light, Depth of Field, etc etc.. are concerned. They are photographs that are so rare, that they are sometimes the only tick that is missing in the portfolios of Wildlife Photographers and and tourists alike.
Don't get me wrong, these photos are out there, but I would happily swop a thousand of my Leopard and Lion images for some of rare sightings, like Cheetahs mating, Pangolins in the day time, or in this case, Hyaenas Mating.
I was fortunate enough to have found these in 2004 in the Western Sector of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. We were watching a female leopard walking down a dry river bed, when up on the bank I noticed Hyaenas watching her. Expecting them to follow her, as they normally do in anticipation of a free meal should she make a kill, I continued following the Leopard sauntering down the dry river bed. Thankfully for me she stopped, and ascended into a large Sausage Tree and sniffed around. Putting 2 and 2 together it was obvious that she had had a kill, that had in all likelihood been dropped by one of her cubs, into the waiting jaws of the Hyaenas at the base of the tree. Thus their presence at 3pm. ( Usually quite nocturnal. )
Whilst watching the Leopard searching for meat scraps, we heard the sounds of aggression coming from behind us on the river bank. Expecting to find the Hyaenas to be feeding on the stolen kill, we went to investigate, and we were by no means dissapointed.
Getting to the sighting was quite difficult, as the steep, under cut banks were almost impossible to get up, and we had to drive about a kilometer down the river bed to find an exit point to get up the bank. Crashing through the scrub, I was only too happy to manage to find the Hyaena pair in the same spot, But, where was the meat they were fighting over, it was gone. Had we missed all the action, had we taken too long to get to them? These were all the questions that flashed through my head while trying to figure out what to tell my clients on the vehicle.
It was not long before the Hyaenas gave me something to talk about, but talk, no not in this sighting. I grabbed my camera when I saw the smaller male mount the large female (normal for those that do not know Hyaenas)and start mating with her in front of us in broad daylight. Pure bliss. The euphoria was short lived, as some of my guests saw the Leopard descend the tree, and insisted that we follow her as she was more beautiful than the "horrid" Hyaenas. Needing to put my interests last, and those of the paying customers first, I reluctantly left the sighting after only 5 minutes of seeing the Hyaenas mate. They had been in the scrub most of the sighting, and photography was limited.
The sun was still high, and the light very harsh, too harsh to expect beautiful images, but when I did get them back from being developed I was exstatic. Here I now reveal to you 2 of the images captured that day, seeing a process not often viewed, let alone photographed. in the wild. I hope you enjoy them, as much as I enjoyed watching them.
P.S. While I write this, the absolute splendour of the African Bush is overwhelming. Barely 200m from my house, down at the lodge, the 3 Mapogo males are roaring and advertising their presence. For the second night in a row we can hear Rhinos mating down in the river bed infront of the lodge. This sounds just like a fight between Lions, only 10 times louder and more powerful in their growls, and all around the house I can hear the snapping of trees and branches, as the Elephant herd numbering around 30 that I saw befor dark feed in the vicinity.
I am Blessed.