Antee

Among Aardvarks and cats

48 posts in this topic

This will be a fairytale.

A story about two places. Far between. 

But connected in the way of wildlife and for some rare sightings. 

 

Part one will be a story about Marrick in South Africa and my search for the shy nocturnal animals who is roaming these lands. Was the reputation true? What did I find? 

Part two is a story about some characters in Okavango delta in the very high season when the flooding make the life easy for many animals. Not all, some of them will have a hard time. My story will tell... 
This part take place in Khwai Concession. 

In Marrick I stayed at Marrick lodge. Trevor Datnow and his crew make this to an exceptional place to stay.
In Khwai I used WalkBotswanaSafaris and Gareth Flemix as a guide. Wild camping. Very luxury though with an attached toilet and shower built in the back of my tent. Even a proper bed and staff who make excellent food all the way. 
This was the real deal. I was there for wildlife, not sitting around in a lodge and spend most of the time to find a sunset point for a Gin/Tonic. Such a waste of time for the most perfect conditions for wildlife and photography.
I can drink at home and I can hang around in a lodge at home. But I can definitely never ever photographing "African animals" in the sunset at home... 
WalkBotswanaSafaris fulfilled all my expectations.

So let me introduce the stars of the show. These characters is where the most action were. But there will be others as well... :) 

First out, Marrick. My most sought after creature here was of course Black footed cat and Aardvark.

5977ab34ae520_Blackfootedcat.thumb.jpg.295bdcc78ddb3d982417207b2539757d.jpg

 

 

Aardvark.thumb.jpg.551b060a7c534b84b2d1f05aaee5bbfb.jpg

 

We found alot of other things as well...
African wildcat!

 

5977ab1529b11_AfricanWildcat.thumb.jpg.00577818db768269193910c34feb2898.jpg
 

I will tell you more day by day in my next posts. I had three nightdrives and one daytrip to Mokala NP.

 

Oh hell... I almost forgot the Meerkats!
There are alot of them around Marrick and also Mokala NP.

Nice and cute family.

 

Meerkats.thumb.jpg.2e85f3ea0033a655fa544250b6ce4b76.jpg

 

Khwai Concession in Botswana is another story.
About a Leopard family...

 

5977ad986d984_DSC_2058(2).thumb.JPG.abe0e5a7753c57d14845ddfdaaabc98d.JPG

 

The cub is around 3 month old.

 

Leopard2.thumb.jpg.533ee35f29cc7f78ba6bdbdb8defd481.jpg

 

A Lion family...

 

Lion2.thumb.jpg.689964d5c5cb905198e58442f4dc2f1a.jpg

 

With cubs in most ranges...

 

Lion.thumb.jpg.9f3d74c213f1d087fe1cba3736fb4a68.jpg

 

A Wild dog family.

On the hunt...

 

5977aea63916c_Wilddogs.thumb.jpg.b466b2a5ac0c11eb75d643d981bb0a2b.jpg

 

And 12 days old puppies who sees the sky for the first time in their life. 

Especially one of them who got lost and a very rough start (and maybe end) of his life...

Here he is.

 

5977ae0d6b033_Wilddogs2.thumb.jpg.0c0cd31294944a5386c72184b8732e71.jpg

 

A story about very rare sightings...

 

Caracal.thumb.jpg.d3f6b8139640132800de63e56594021e.jpg

 

...and creatures who have some problem with all the water to collect food...

 

5977ade563a1d_Chacmababoon.thumb.jpg.09baeb59ecf5a7fb52f12827a5d1d55c.jpg

 

Leopard.thumb.jpg.8e01875d07504ae989510c8b98c17c3c.jpg

 

...while some others have more than enough and take full advantage of the pantry.
African darter and Dwarf bittern. 

 

5977adc1a59a1_Africandarter.thumb.jpg.23ff0ddda5d13b5e186e17c1a839eb60.jpg

 

5977ae18879bc_Dwarfbittern.thumb.jpg.6e7d6943fc508feddbc637b879b099aa.jpg

 

Now when the stars are introduced. We can start from the beginning in Marrick on day 1.

 

To be continued...

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this looks like its going to be an amazing report! In fact the first photos alone have me very excited. Can't wait for the details!

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Keep it coming, looks great already!

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It seems it was an absolutely amazing journey!!!! Your first pictures are perfect to launch the TR!

 

I send you a PM to ask you all the information about this agency.

 

 

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Ohhhh, what great photos!  An aardvark is on my list of sought after animals to see.  I just love your photo, @Antee  and meerkats!!!!  Love them!

 

Looking forward to reading more.

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@AnteeI'm very much looking forward to following your TR, as I will be at Marrick for 3 nights next July. Excellent teaser photos of the black-footed cat and aardvark!

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Okay, I admit it: I'm envious already. Great start, great sightings, great photos. Can't wait for more. 

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Wow - One word!!!

 

Welcome back @Antee

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Is that all? :D Where's the pangolin?

 

Seriiously, it looks like you made some really good choices for this trip and had some very good luck. I'm really looking forward to hearing about it.

 

 

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Oh hell... I almost forgot the Meerkats!   :o

 

Even all the birds have fish in their beaks.  This place can't be for real!

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Woohoo!

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you got it all - perfect! black footed cat, aardvark and hell - caracal?! all other safaris will pale after this. 

 

 

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Just in time, and what an attention-catching opening, @Antee! Great photos ... full size they are even better.

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Cracking start.

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Awesome sightings ... the Caracal tops it IMO. Looking forward to this one a lot.

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Love the little cats. The play-by-play should be something special!

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@Antee Nice sightings and pictures :)

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Thanx alot everybody.

 

Well, don´t expect to much... I maybe have already burnt my best gunpowder... :)

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3 minutes ago, Antee said:

Thanx alot everybody.

 

Well, don´t expect to much... I maybe have already burnt my best gunpowder... :)

 

I am assured that there are some "smokin' hot" photos left in your D500 :):)

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Posted (edited)

MARRICK DAY 1

 

After a 2 hour delayed flight between Johannesburg - Kimberley I was very much going from the airport right on my first nightdrive.

Trevor, the owner of Marrick safaris had of course prepared dinner for me on arrival and then I went straight out in the darkness.

 

My guide was Johnny. He knew this land like his pockets and is very very knowledge about where and when to find things.

But damn it was cold! Winter in Kimberley....Brrr... 

Gloves and hat on.

 

One of the targets here in Marrick is the Smith´s red rock hare. This species have a very narrow range with two different populations in Africa. Here in South Africa and also one in Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi. 

Here in Marrick it took Johnny 5 minutes to find them for me in a rocky outcrop close to the lodge. 

Sometimes they are very difficult to see though. This was not one of those days...

Very long distance though.

 

5979d9a8b0b92_Smithsredrockhare.thumb.jpg.fa06f42e3c74a5457b5777d22cd18574.jpg

 

 

5979d9d50be11_Smithsredrockhare5.thumb.jpg.205238b9e5b23d790bbc01f9012e2485.jpg

 

 

The other targets was of course Aardvark and the Black footed cat. This is probably the best place in Africa for them. But also Aardwolf was on my list. 

It didn´t take very long before Johnny spotted eyeshine from a very long distance in the high, dry grass. I have no idea how he managed to see this because i almost couldn´t see it even though I knew exactly where it was. 

 

He told me that he was almost certain that this is a Black footed cat...

 

...and YES, my 10th species of cat was now a fact! 

We waited some 15-20 minutes for the cat to move from the high grass and suddenly we could see him on a small termite mound or something. Quite far away but very clear. I was more than happy!

 

5979db27be5a4_Blackfootedcat2.thumb.jpg.c3572b2ae86f89368b6e5fa3d2e58a5b.jpg

 

 

Black footed cat is the second smallest cat in the world, only beaten by the Rusty-spotted cat in Asia. 

Very very small and cute. 

This is a big male...

 

5979db37ed66c_Blackfootedcat3.thumb.jpg.16ca0508a4c0b0c66f11ec2c15eb41f4.jpg

 

 

We continued on the grass plains and the next stop was a bit larger cat.

An African wildcat. 

Only the second time for me to see one and by far the best sighting of one.

 

He actually walked towards us and we just sat and waited in the car for the cat to come closer.

 

5979ddd9a8101_Africanwildcat4.thumb.jpg.d9ba15c5d252810f667c9a2b4eec5893.jpg

 

 

5979dded9a57e_Africanwildcat5.thumb.jpg.874039baf64cac704c153f605d1f91b9.jpg

 

 

Johhny told me that this was a pure wildcat, no crossbreed, 

Stripes all the way on the legs, the reddish color on the back of it´s ears and the size told him that this was a pure African wildcat.

 

5979ddfdebf13_Africanwildcat7.thumb.jpg.d8c9f131fda9e5bd5dc98d796e283651.jpg

 

 

Actually, after a few minutes when we had leaved this cat we come across a hybrid. 

The difference was quite clear. Even for me. 

They should take them away, kill them if you ask me. 

 

Next animal was my other main target, Aardvark!

They have no eyeshine so no reflection in the light. This means you have to look for movements. For like a "rock who moves" in the dark. 

Johnny was an expert in this. 

 

So, there it was!

I lifer for me and the very sought after, Aardvark! 

I threw up my camera just to get the proof. You all know this feeling when you see something new and all that you care about is to get it in your camera. No matter how bad the picture is. Like a proof or something :) 

 

This was mine...

 

Aardvark2.thumb.jpg.d2d982b5a461479aeec1d6a646372327.jpg

 

 

He was quite shy and walked away in the grass. 

After 1 ½ hour I had already both of my targets which was an overwhelming feeling.

 

Some Red crested Korhaan´s in the grass as well.

 

5979e0d65d259_Redcrestedkorhaan.thumb.jpg.4b24d412fbee73b62dee30a16c851b7b.jpg

 

 

Later on we came across another Aardvark.

This one stayed much longer in the spotlight and posed quite well for us. 

I couldn´t believe this place. The reputation was really true!

 

Aardvark3.thumb.jpg.e14e362577752694839388039ffcba58.jpg

 

Bad eyesight makes them sniffing in the air.

 

Aardvark4.thumb.jpg.3c5e9449a67cdeb5f44d49c6713927c3.jpg

 

 

This night we also saw around 10 Bat eared foxes. They are very common here.

One of them decided to come really close. 

 

5979e1d11be3e_Batearedfox.thumb.jpg.ad79658ab15c2f9f65af0ce6e0b9cbb9.jpg

 

 

5979e1e11099b_Batearedfox3.thumb.jpg.77f8c07811fe917c6038cfd310e343ca.jpg

 

 

Another very, very common creature here is the Springhare. A funny rodent. I think we saw like 30-50 of them every night. They are everywhere.

 

 

5979e28f4398e_SouthafricanSpringhare.thumb.jpg.73cc6e2ffa2e5adc8941ba4fe004bcfd.jpg

 

 

5979e29e7b792_SouthafricanSpringhare5.thumb.jpg.581685198f80f7aeed4dc631580e9309.jpg

 

 

5979e2b7a9635_SouthafricanSpringhare6.thumb.jpg.c1624963fa933403d6d9d6b06ece8993.jpg

 

 

Just before coming back home we saw another two Smith´s red rock hare on a different rocky outcrop. Totally 4 of them tonight which was unusually good.

 

5979d9e210ac5_Smithsredrockhare6.thumb.jpg.f1c54fde80f24e65c58782d9fec4ff2c.jpg

 

 

I was more than satisfied with my first nightdrive. 

The only missing target, Aardwolf fooled us this night. But a new chance tomorrow.

Where I will also visit Mokala NP in the morning and daytime.

 

More of Mokala NP in the next post.

 

Summary first nightdrive:

 

4 Smith´s red rock hare

1 Black footed cat (male)

2 Aardvark

10 Bat eared fox

1 African Wildcat

1 Hybrid cat

30-50 South african Springhare

1 Scrub hare

Edited by Antee
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WOW! Amazing for one drive! Now I have to get to this place!

 

I'm really impressed at how well the D500 did at these super-high ISOs (I see one cat image at 51,200!)  Did you do any noise reduction?

 

Also, are you using the Sigma or the Tamron 150-600? And I noticed that for some (like the first cat and first Aardvark) you weren't all the way zoomed to 600, was this just because you were too excited to zoom all the way and in a hurry to grab anything first (I've done that!)?

 

I'll be (hopefully) doing a lot of night photos in Zambia so just interested in how well you did with the D500 for these type of shots!

 

 

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Outstanding first night drive!

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Fantastic!  Can't wait to see more!

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I was so looking forward to this report then came across your advocacy for killing hybrid species. Sorry Antee- that did it for me....your desire for purity is loathsome to me.

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I think it's a more complex subject and not necessarily a "desire for purity".

 

I completely agree that feral cats - felis domesticus - are an invasive species that should be removed from the ecosystem.  Lethally if necessary.  

 

"Half a feral cat" is something I had not considered before - it's not really something we have in North America. 

 

I would need to consider the subject at length to make a decision - but perhaps trying to humanely trap and remove them from the ecosystem before seeking a terminal solution would be best.

 

What to do with the "half-an-invasive species" after that becomes a moral minefield that is another debate beyond "should it be removed from the ecosystem or not".  To which I think the answer is at least a qualified "yes".

 

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