Month: February 2015

Warthog MPila KwaZulu Natal Hluhluwe-IMfolozi South Africa

Warthog – Residential Wildlife

My third contribution in the 5 Days Black-and-White Challenge is an animal that is part of Africa’s notorious ‘ugly five’. I’m not sure if I would have posted this Warthog in colour, although we’ve got fond memories of her as the residential lawnmower of Mpila in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi. What stands out in this monochrome version is the incredible high contrasting texture of her hairy coat. And then those eyelashes – isn’t she pretty??! If there is anyone who could learn us more about black and White photography it has to be Leanne Cole in my opinion. Leanne is a professional photographer based in Melbourne with a wonderful blog that is absolutely worth visiting – don’t miss her Monochrome Madness episodes.

Steenbok Kruger Park South Africa

Steenbok – Just Magic

Welcome back to the second post of the 5 Day Black-and-White Challenge. Today I’ve chosen to feature a photo of a tiny Steenbok we encountered near the boulders of Masorini in Kruger National Park, a cute little antelope that always tries to look pretty on photographs. But that’s not the only reason why I decided to share it with you – the other reason is the emotion behind the photograph. Let me try to explain this. Being outdoors, hearing the sounds of the animals, smelling the bush, see and feel the wild, all of that evokes a sense of freedom and authenticity in me, a sense of being part of a much bigger scheme of things. Apart from being outdoors myself, I’ve always enjoyed the work from people who possess the gift of perfectly capturing those emotions into images or words. Artists as Peter Beard, Karen Blixen or Laurens van der Post still provide me with ample inspiration, as does the work from contemporary writers, photographers and fellow-bloggers – they all share the same passion …

Zebra skin monochrome

Black and White Challenge – Stripes

A few days ago we were honoured with an invitation from our dear friends at De Wets Wild to participate in the 5 Day Black-and-White Photo Challenge. If anyone has ever read their reports on South Africa’s incredible parks and wildlife it’s easy to understand we were absolutely delighted by their invite – which we eagerly accepted. Regarding our own blog I personally believe it’s more about storytelling than anything else, and although you might like some of our shots we never had any technical photography training  whatsoever. To do something different than usual is therefore the real challenge, however, I believe there are a few simple rules or tricks to master black and white photography. The most important of course is the subject, which has to be suitable for print in black and white. And what other animal than the zebra could that be? Although so common in any game reserve it’s often overlooked after the first few encounters,  I’ll always be fascinated by their unique stripy coat that offers camouflage to the zebra …

Shark Bay Western Australia

Gutharraguda – Colours of Shark Bay

In my previous posts I have written about some of our inspiring encounters with the magnificent wildlife of Shark Bay. The Malgana people used to call this land ‘Two Bays’ or Gutharraguda – referring to the shallow waters of Hamelin Pool between Peron Peninsula and the mainland in the North and Henri Freycinet Harbour between Peron Peninsula and Dirk Hartog Island in the South. The old map of French navigator Henri Freycinet shows this piece of remarkable Australian shoreline best. Shark Bay is a unique area with vast beds of seagrass, forming massive meadows in the shallow and warm waters. Seagrasses provide both food and shelter for the stunning array of marine life, but also bind sediments moved in through tides and currants. Accumulated sediments have formed the numerous banks, sills and channels that have turned some of the bay’s waters hyper saline – the area around Hamelin Pool is twice as salty as the open ocean! Although hostile to many animals, the extreme salinity of Hamelin Pool forms the perfect habitat for Stromatolites – single celled …

Australian Pelican – Jurruna

With so much fish around it doesn’t come as a surprise Australian Pelicans reside in Monkey Mia. Although some individuals are kept at bay with handouts during the dolphin interactions, most pelicans can be seen hunting throughout the rest of the day. They fly out to wherever food can be found, but mostly stay close to the shore to herd fish into shallow water – the same strategy as used by dolphins. Pelicans therefore like to shadow them and try to swim between the dolphins and the shore to capitalise on the dolphins efforts. Obviously not only dolphins are smart!

Emu foot Dromaius novaehollandiae Monkey Mia Shark Bay Western Australia

Yalibirri – Walking with Dinosaurs

When camping at Monkey Mia it is hard to miss the Emus wandering around the grounds looking for anything edible – or seemingly edible. Regarded by many as a nuisance, for nature lovers as us they offer the perfect opportunity to study them a bit better. What strikes me most about these big birds is their peculiar body structure that is considered by paleontologists as similar to theropods – giant three-toed dinosaurs that roamed the earth in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Their feet are very similar to dinosaur feet, and while looking at them walking it’s impossible not to think of their ancestors with toes curling back first and  spreading out again just before planting their foot –  no wonder Hollywood used emus when creating Tyrannosaurus Rex for Jurassic Park!

Green Sea Turtle Chelonia mydas Monkey Mia Shark Bay Western Australia

Green Sea Turtle – Buyungurra

Western Australia’s vast and remote Shark Bay is a unique region covering more than 2.2 million hectares of land and sea. It is home to a great diversity of plants and animals, some of them found nowhere else on earth. Unfortunately many of the species that live in this immense wilderness are vulnerable or even critically endangered. One of them is the Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas), a species that depends on the bay’s plentiful seagrass meadows – just as the more than 10,000 Dugongs (Dugong dugon) that graze in this World Heritage Area. Considering the high number of sightings of this massive turtle out in the water, it is hard to believe they are under serious threat. But although Green Sea Turtles are legally protected in Australia and hunting is restricted to traditional use by aboriginal people, they still face numerous challenges. Apart from crabs, goannas, birds and sharks that feed on hatchlings, the major threats are created by human activities. Each year thousands of turtles end up on baited longline hooks as bycatch, …

Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops Aduncus Monkey Mia Shark Bay Western Australia

Bottlenose Dolphin Puck – Leading Lady of Monkey Mia

When international dolphin research started in Western Australia’s Shark Bay in 1982, female Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) Puck would never have believed she’d become a true film star – but she did. Just before we left for a trip to this remote World Heritage area 850 kms north of Perth, we watched the 2009 BBC Documentary ‘The Dolphins of Shark Bay’. This documentary follows a family called ‘The Beachies’, named after their regular fishing expeditions in the shallow waters of Monkey Mia. As other dolphin families living in the vast Shark Bay area The Beachies form a tightly knit group led by adult females; matriarch Puck and her daughters Piccolo and Kiya. Together with their offspring they regularly visit the beach of Monkey Mia to hunt or to receive fish from Department of Parks and Wildlife rangers – the perfect chance to meet those big brained mammals up-close and personal! Interaction between humans and dolphins in Monkey Mia goes back long time. Aboriginal fishermen would use dolphins to chase fish close to the shore and share their …