Owl, Turtle and Duck!

Today I got quite a few interesting shots during my morning walk at Radnor Lake (Nashville, Tennessee, USA).

Enjoy the Owl, the Turtles and the Duck 🙂

South Africa 100 – Invitation

Invitation to the First Saturday Gallery Crawl

At my last event at the April First Saturday Gallery Crawl I will show one hundred of my best African wildlife images at the Arcade in downtown Nashville. These images were taken during my 20 trips to Southern Africa over the last ten years.

A reception with drinks and “nibbles” will be held from 2p.m. to 6.pm. for all of you receiving this invitation :-). The offical gallery crawl will start at 6p.m. and last until 9p.m.

When: Saturday, April 7, 2012 from 2p.m. to 9p.m.
Where: Christian Sperka Photography / Animal Art Photography Gallery at the Arcade [Downtown Nashville in the block between Church and Union Streets and 4th and 5th Avenues]

My gallery will close on April 8, 2012.  Amiee Stubbs, the new Official Nashville Zoo Photographer, will open her new gallery at the same location during the June First Saturday Gallery Crawl.  See amieestubbs.com.

PS: A few people have asked me what they could get me as a good-bye present for my move to South Africa. As I will have stringent luggage and shipment restrcitions I suggest for those who want, that they could contribute to my “African Vehicle Fund” = small contributions to buy my first vehicle in SA. But, the best gift would be for you to come on Saturday, April 7, and enjoy the afternoon and evening with me!

Coveted by lions ?

Coveted by Lions! ?

That’s how many of my friends see me once I am in Africa, including a cartoonist many years ago :-).   Well, I will try to stay off the lunch menu of these beautiful cats at Thanda, my new home and place of work in South Africa.

Over the last few weeks I got asked many times where exactly is Thanda?  So here is some more information:

Thanda is situated approximately 220 km north of Durban. The closest commercial airport is Richards Bay and the closest international airport is King Shaka Airport, Durban.

Coordinates – Base Camp: 27° 48′ 23″ South, 32° 06′ 33″ East (View using Google Maps)

It is located in northern Kwazulu Natal, in a sub-tropical, semi-arid area and the climate is very warm with average daily temperatures spanning 20°C – 30°C. Because Thanda is situated so close to the Indian Ocean, warmed by the Agulhas sea current, the summers are not as short as Mpumalanga and the winters are not as cold.

Reserve size: ~14,000 hectare / ~140 square kilometers /~35,000 acres

Thanda hosts the magnificent seven – Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Cape Hunting Dog, Black and White Rhino, Cape Buffalo and African Elephants – as well as a large variety of general game species (Giraffe, Zebra, Kudu, Impala, Nyala, Wildebeest ….) and many different birds species.

I have started my preparations for the move to South Africa, if everything goes well I will arrive at Thanda on June 7, 2012!

Six feet and taller :-)

If you are six feet or taller you can take great water level shots of Alligators at Nashville Zoo at Grassmere 🙂

And don’t feel too bad if you are not that tall, you can still get some awesome shots from the upper viewing point at the exhibit.

This is one of my favorite images I took at the Nashville Zoo.

For Alligator shots from all viewpoint (including inside the exhibit :-)) go to http://www.sperka.biz/alligator

Three days old!

This video shows two litters of Clouded Leopard cubs, which were born in February and March this year at Nashville Zoo at Grassmere.

Two of them were 3 days old and the other two were one month old at the time I recorded this video. Enjoy the cubs!

For more images of Clouded Leopards at Nashville Zoo at Gassmere go to http://www.sperka.biz/cloudedleopard

From the Nashville Zoo Press Release:

Nashville Zoo is proud to announce the births of two litters of clouded leopards. On Feb. 13, Lom Choy and her mate Luk welcomed two cubs, one male and one female. On March 11, Jing Jai and her mate Arun also welcomed a male and female pair. Both sets of parents are housed off-exhibit, and the cubs are being hand-reared together. In the coming weeks, a female clouded leopard cub born March 8 at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. will arrive to join Nashville’s four. The Zoo plans to place all five on public exhibit this summer. A specific date will be announced soon.

Introducing clouded leopards to potential mates is difficult due to the cat’s reclusive disposition. Male clouded leopards are often aggressive and have been known to attack and kill potential female partners. To reduce fatal attacks, cubs are hand-raised and introduced to mates at a young age. Since 2009, 11 cubs have been born at Nashville Zoo’s off-exhibit facility.


[View all Pictures of the Week 2012]

I took this Dwarf Mongoose picture many years ago at Ngala Private Game Reserve, South Africa. It gave me a curious look before disappearing in the bush.

More about Dwarf Mongoose:

The Dwarf Mongoose (Helogale parvula) is a small African carnivore belonging to the mongoose family (Herpestidae).  It is the smallest mongoose and it is Africa’s smallest Carnivore. The soft fur is very variable in color, ranging from yellowish red to very dark brown.

The Dwarf Mongoose is primarily found in dry grassland, open forests, and bush land, up to 2,000 meters in altitude. It is especially common in areas with many termite mounds, their favorite sleeping place. The species avoids dense forests and deserts. It ranges from East to southern Central Africa, from Eritrea and Ethiopia to the Transvaal in South Africa.

Time to say goodbye …

I enjoyed my last two years working at Nashville Zoo at Grassmere very much. As I will be moving to South Africa soon, Amiee Stubbs will take over as the new official Nashville Zoo Photographer as of April 1, 2012.

With her experience working and teaching with me in the last year as assistant at the zoo, her outgoing personality, her degree in photography (she graduates early May from MTSU in Photography as Bachelor of Science) and the trust she earned from the zoo staff, Amiee is the ideal person to take over in both my roles as Official Zoo Photographer and as Photography Teacher at the zoo.

I will still teach all classes and lessons at the zoo until end of May, and Amiee will start teaching all photography programs at the zoo as of June 1, 2012.

I am also very happy to announce that Amiee will take over my gallery space at the downtown Nashville Arcade. She will reopen the Amiee Stubbs Photography Gallery at the First Saturday Gallery Crawl on June 2, 2012.

Thanks again to everyone at the Nashville Zoo. It is time to say goodbye …

… but I hope I will be back for visits!

For more information about Amiee go to http://www.amieestubbs.com

For the schedule and-or to book the Nashville zoo photography classes go to http://www.nashvillezoo.org/education/photography-classes

For more information about my move to South Africa go to https://christiansperka.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/a-dream-come-true/

Picture of the Week 12 – Surprise!

[View all Pictures of the Week 2012]

I was very surprised when, on one of my first game drives at Thanda Private Game Reserve in 2010, this male Leopard crossed our path just as we left the lodge.

In Kwazulu Natal Leopards are usually very shy and are very hard to view, as they are still prosecuted by humans in many areas. Unlike in the Kruger National Park and the surrounding game reserves the Leopards in this part of South Africa have not be habituated to “non-threatening” human presence over many decades.

For more leopard images from my various trips to southern Africa go to www.sperka.biz/leopard.

I will start working at Thanda Private Game Reserve in June 2012.

Thanks a lot & Photo Class Schedule at Nashville Zoo at Grassmere

Thanks a lot for the over 200 congratulation message for my upcoming move to South Africa.

Quite a few people have asked my what classes I will teach at the Nashville Zoo in the time before I leave on May 28. Here they are:

Kids Photography Class (KPC) – Wed 4-Apr –
Teen Photography Class (TPC) – Thu 5-Apr
Adult Photography Class (AAP1) – Sat 14-Apr
Advanced Adult Photography Class II (AAP2) – Sat 19-May
Adult Photography Class (AAP1) – Tue 22-May
Advanced Adult Photography Class II (AAP2) – Wed 23-May

You can book the classes directly at http://www.nashvillezoo.org/education/photography-classes


A dream come true!

A personal message

As many of you know I love South Africa and it has been my goal for many years to be able to live and work in this magnificent place.

Well, the dream has come true. I have been offered and accepted a position as Photography Specialist Guide and resident Wildlife Photographer at Thanda Private Game Reserve, one of my favorite places in Kwazulu Natal. On Tuesday this week the South African Consulate in New York approved my work permit and I will be moving to South Africa at the beginning of June 2012.

This means that I will close my gallery in the Arcade in Nashville (the Gallery Crawl on Saturday, April 7, will be the last day the gallery will be open – with a big party 🙂 and I will teach my last photography class at the Nashville Zoo on May 23. I enjoyed my time at the Nashville Zoo very much, first as docent and then as the official photographer and photography teacher. I will miss all my friends at the zoo and all over the USA very much (and I hope that many of them will visit me in South Africa).

My blog, my web-gallery and web-store as well as my website will remain unchanged. In the future the “Picture of the Week” will come directly from the South African bush!

I am looking forward to working with my friends at Thanda, one of the most beautiful private game reserves in South African (http:/www.thanda.com). I will have to learn a lot of new skills, as I am new to the field guiding part of my job, but I will enjoy that very much. And if you wonder where I will be living: In the middle of a game reserve, in between Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Buffalos, Rhinos, Cheetahs and Wild Dogs!

Thanks for the support from all of you who helped me in changing my life from an being an IT Executive to becoming a South African Field Guide and Wildlife Photographer.

See you in South Africa!