Welcome to Week 5’s images, the penultimate edition of my “Top 60 wildlife images of 2013″…..I hope that you have enjoyed the first 40 photographs so far and have picked your personal favourites….here’s the second last ten images. I not only used photographic elements like light, colour and composition, but I also looked at my subject matter and the difficulty of getting a good shot of that specific species in it’s natural habitat. Not to overwhelm you, the viewer, I decided to upload only 10 images per week for a period of six weeks….this is week #5 (part 5/6, images #11 to #20). Enjoy!

13. SpottedHyena2859_650px72ppiWimVorster

11. SPOTTED HYENA FEEDING INSIDE A RHINO CARCASS.

It’s not nice finding a rhino carcass in the bush, especially with the current poaching crisis in South Africa, but to my relief this bull died from a natural cause…..a territorial fight with another. I immediately knew that we’re going to see some very interesting activity in-and-around this carcass. It didn’t take long before the first vulture arrived and a variety of other scavengers, including lions, often keep their eye on the sky for vultures as they are excellent indicators of a possible ‘free meal’. It took the scavengers 3 days to polish this massive carcass to just skin and bone. It was fantastic to see this young and opportunistic spotted hyena climbing into the rhino’s abdominal cavity to feed on the soft internal organs and available meat. Spotted hyenas are usually very nervous when feeding because they know that lions are also opportunistic and can arrive on the scene at any moment. This young hyena often stuck his head out of the carcass to scan the surroundings before leisurely continue feeding from the inside. Nikon D700 with a Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8VRII lens at 1/1000, f5.6 & ISO 2500.

12. Lion4465_650px72ppiWimVorster

12. AN ADULT MALE LIONS’ GENTLE SIDE.

We returned early one evening to two adult male lions that were sleeping the whole day very close to where we left them that morning. Lions usually don’t move far during the heat of the day. Soon after we arrived one of the males got up and started moving towards the dry river bed, occasionally roaring as he walked away. The other male, to my surprise, didn’t join his brother and stayed in the same area, often replying with his own roaring. Big cats often groom themselves before they become active and I managed to photograph this beautiful male with his tongue visible as he was grooming himself that evening.  I also love the ambience that can be created when making use of back or side lighting; here I used the spotlight of the game viewing vehicle that was positioned to my left. Nikon D700 with a Nikkor 200-400mm f4VR lens at 1/30, f4 & ISO 3200.

13. SociableWeavers611_650px72ppiWimVorster

13. SOCIABLE WEAVERS NEST AT SUNSET.

One evening In January I saw that the sun was setting exactly behind this massive communal nest of a sociable weaver colony. Sociable weavers are co-operative breeders and up to 500 birds build and maintain these enormous structures in trees, on telephone poles and sometimes on windmills. The nests are built entirely of grass and each pair builds its own nest chamber within the structure, used either for roosting or breeding. I wanted to capture the weavers’ silhouettes whilst in mid-air as they were busy with their final preparations before nightfall. Nikon D700 with a Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8VRII lens at 1/4000, f7.1 & ISO 1600.

14. CarmineBeeEaters3303_650px72ppiWimVorster

14. CARMINE BEE-EATERS IN FLIGHT.

To see so many Carmine bee-eaters together in one area was really impressive. Our guide in South Luangwa took us to a specific area next to the river were these Carmines were breeding and my aim was to get a photograph of one in flight….very challenging because they are extremely maneuverable in mid-air. It was also difficult to quickly choose one bird, follow it with my lens when it took off, get focus and take the shot….I was very happy when I got this result. The out-of-focus bee-eater in the background adds depth but is also an indication of how quick they are. Nikon D700 with a Nikkor 200-400mm f4VR lens at 1/2500, f7.1 & ISO 800.

15. HippoMonochrome3169_650px72ppiWimVorster

15. A LONE HIPPO BULL HEADING BACK TO THE SAFETY OF THE  RIVER.

Late in the year Luangwa gets dry and the various herbivores start to struggle for food, especially a bulk feeder like a hippo. Hippos that predominantly feed during the cooler darkness of night earlier in the year now need to adapt and they start leaving the river before sunset and return in the mornings well after sunrise. We encountered this hippo on the river sand as he was returning back to the river after a long night of foraging. Nikon D700 with a Nikkor 200-400mm f4VR lens at 1/500, f5.6 & ISO 800.

16. YellowBaboon3334_650px72ppiWimVorster

16. A FEMALE YELLOW BABOON LOOKING  UP INTO THE TREE.

South Luangwa National Park in Zambia has a few unique animal species that I was really hoping to see during my stay. One of them was the Yellow baboon, a primate that does not occur in southern Africa. We encountered various troops and they definitely reminded me of our Chacma baboons, the only two differences I could see was the slightly smaller body size and a light yellow tinge in their fur. Nikon D700 with a Nikkor 200-400mm f4VR lens at 1/1000, f5.6 & ISO 640.

17. Elephant4291_650px72ppiWimVorster

17. TEXTURE OF A TUSK.

As mentioned with a previous image when photographing the big grey mammals I choose to shoot either a wide angle shot or a very close-up. We had a nice relaxed herd of elephants feeding in front of us and within 10 minutes the herd slowly but surely moved closer and closer…..getting too close for my zoom lens. Instead of changing lenses I immediately started looking for potential close-up shots that would be unique to elephants and this one’s’ tusk with interesting textures and small cracks caught my eye. Nikon D700 with a Nikkor 200-400mm f4VR lens at 1/500, f4 & ISO 1600.

18. WhiteFacedOwl4357_630px72ppiWimVorster

18. THE ORANGE EYES OF A SOUTHERN WHITE-FACED OWL.

The white-faced owl, my favourite of all the small owl species in southern Africa. I just love their characteristic white facial disc, large ‘ear’ tufts and striking orange eyes. One evening, after spending some time with a pride of lions, we started heading back to camp. When driving in the bush at night there are a lot of other interesting creatures to search for that are usually not seen during daylight hours. A sudden flash of movement across the road caught my eye; we quickly and quietly stopped and slowly reversed, keeping our eyes to the right. To our surprise and amazement there was a beautiful white-faced owl sitting on a small dead tree not 5 meters away. I always change my camera settings as soon as it gets dark for situations like this, because nocturnal animals are usually very shy and you don’t have much time to get your shot. Nikon D700 with a Nikkor 200-400mm f4VR lens at 1/100, f4 & ISO 3200.

19. Meerkat274_650px72ppiWimVorster

19. BACK LIGHTING A FORAGING MEERKAT.

It was great spending six months with a family of meerkats in the southern Kalahari. What I found very interesting was how their diet changed as time went by and the seasons changed. Late one afternoon I photographed this adult meerkat digging in the Kalahari sand for something to eat before bedtime. I went down on my stomach and made use of the sun’s backlighting to capture the meerkats digging action as well as the dust cloud that was created. Nikon D700 with a Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8VRII lens at 1/5000, f4.5 & ISO 1600.

20. Landscape783_650px72ppiWimVorster

20. LATE AFTERNOON RAIN IN THE SOUTHERN KALAHARI.

Late afternoon rain falling on the Koranna mountains in the southern Kalahari, South Africa. Nikon D700 with a Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8VRII lens at 1/250, f11 & ISO 800.

 

I hope you all enjoyed viewing the second last addition of images to my 2013 collection as much as I enjoy sharing them with you all. The last 10 images (#1-10) of my “Top 60 of 2013” will be uploaded soon.

“One life, photograph it!!!”

Till next time,

Wim.