It is amazing to me that the cutest, most adorable baby animals on earth come from some of the toughest looking parents. For example, take a look at this lion pride and their current dominant male father. The lion cubs are absolutely adorable. The father? Well, let’s just say his better days are behind him. This guy has a broken tooth and a droopy lower gum line that looks like it was torn in a recent fight.
We photographed this pride of lion in the central Serengeti just after they had killed a wildebeest. All the lions were resting lazily in the deep grass, so capturing clear shots of the group was difficult, even with our long lenses.
When I talk to people about what it is like on an African photo safari, one of their first questions is wanting to know how close the animals get to the vehicles.
The thrill of having a leopard walk by your front bumper or a lion lean up against your door is undeniably cool. The first time you get that close to a big, beautiful, dangerous animal is absolutely amazing and you never forget the surge of adrenaline.
Here are some shots from our last safari in Tanzania that show how close the animals frequently come to our Land Cruisers.
At the northern end of the Serengeti in Tanzania lies the Mara River. The annual wildebeest migration crosses over the Mara river as it heads to the Southern grasslands in Tanzania. The Mara River is an intriguing place because over 1 million animals have to cross the river, and there is a huge predator population lying in wait for tmeals. In November 2010, there was drought in the Southern Serengeti, so many of the wildebeest and zebra were still north near the Mara river. In fact, there were large herds of wildebeest that still hadn’t crossed the river.
It is incredibly fascinating to watch a herd of wildebeest survey the crossing and decide whether or not it should cross. We watched a large herd for quite a few hours and finally gave up since it never decided to cross. They were looking for crocodiles!
When the urge to cross becomes too great, one wildebeest will jump and then the rest of the herd will come surging through. Most make it, but a few unlucky animals don’t.
Below are a number of other photographs from the Mara River. The captions tell the rest of the story.
Just finished up writing a new article on photo safaris for the Nikonians eZine. Check it out!