I am finally getting round to the last of the Akagera images.
First some giraffe images!
Another stunning sunrise,
My first ever Klipspringer image (think Jack Russell size with horns and longer legs!). Normally you see them high up on rocky outcrops but this little guy and his partner were down by the road and they refused to budge when we drove alongside them.
And my favourite, a female Bushbuck with incredible ears,
I was left breathless byAkagera National Park. Similarly to Uganda, Rwanda cannot match Kenya or Tanzania for the sheer wealth of game but what it cant match in quantity it certainly can in quality. For the entire 48 hours we spent in Akagera we saw only one other vehicle and we never found ourselves on the same animal throughout.
We managed to see elephant, giraffe, leopard, buffalo, all manner of antelope, hippo, crocodile and a great selection of birds in little less than two days. Another great weekend where moments appear almost unreal in their clarity whether watching a giraffe drink from a waterhole, a herd of impala being stalked by a leopard…or being assaulted by a baboon or charged by an extremely unhappy elephant!!!
So, on day two we drove past a large male baboon who seemed unconcerned by our vehicle. Sensing a great image in waiting i stopped the car and reversed to come back alongside him. What i didn’t see whilst i searched for reverse was the baboon promptly leaping over to the car. After screams from my companions i turned round to come face to face with the baboon, a matter of inches from my face. After a bit of a standoff and my repeated accusations that the baboon had no business in my car i got the car back into first gear and drove off with the baboon seemingly nonplussed.
Five minutes down the road we found a ranger on the roadside who appeared afraid of something further on down the road. Realising that there might be lions we invited him into the car and offered hm a lift. Through an English/Kiswahili/Kinyarwanda combination he lead us off track into a clearing beside a lake. And without warning we rounded a dense thicket to find a herd of about twenty elephants with a new born baby. Instantly the bull male faced us and got nervous.
I pride myself in respecting the distance between myself and the animals i capture on camera. If i think for a moment that the animals is uncomfortable i will pull back to a safer distance. With this in mind i stopped the car immediately and turned the engine off. This is the point where time slowed down and a number of things all happened at once.
The lead male decided my presence was not acceptable. At an alarming rate he began to charge the car. My companions became…well agitated. The ranger tried to get his weapon out the window to fire his weapon and scare the bull off. Luckily he didn’t have to and my hearing wasn’t ruined by the firing of a weapon in a confined space beside my ear. And thankfully I managed to get the car started and into reveres seamlessly and speed back through the bush the way we had come.
My lesson that day was that you should never assume that there is a standard distance you should take between yourself and your subjects. Often times the presence of a newborn baby or the hope of some left over sandwiches are enough for animals to make their own decisions about how close they would like to get to you. The key is to observe their behaviour as best you can and adapt your strategy to suit their dispositions. If you get this right you can often get much closer, and to a much more relaxed animal, than others can.
That’s all for now,
P.S. Just back from a photography assignment at one of the lodges on our safaris. Some great images to follow..but first Lake Mburo, Three-horned chameleons and the Virunga volcanoes as dusk.