Youngsters!

These three Wildebeest youngster were playing hard, but as soon as I got close enough to take pictures they just posed for the camera!

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More about Blue Wildebeest:
The gestation period is about eight and a half months and between 80 and 90% of the calves are born within a three-week time period. Female wildebeest give birth in the middle of a herd rather than alone, and typically in the middle of the day. This allows time for the newborn to become steady on its feet before night falls and the predators become more active. Calves weigh about 19 kg (42 lb) at birth, and can usually stand on their own within a few minutes of birth. To escape predation, calves remain close to their mothers for a significant time, and may continue suckling until the next year’s calf is nearly due.

And the answer is …

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Dried Mozambique Spitting Cobra Venom!

Congratulations to everyone who got the correct answer and thanks for all the other “inventive” guesses.

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When I release captured snakes I usually place them in front of my GoPro to record the event. This small Cobra mistook the camera lens for an eye and targeted its venom accordingly (The picture shows her in “mid-spit”). Full marks for hitting the target 🙂 This was an excellent demonstration why it is very important to always wear protective goggles when dealing with a Spitting Cobra or any “unidentified” snake. Better safe than sorry.

These snakes are generally nervous and highly strung. When confronted at close quarters they spread their long narrow hoods and will readily “spit” in defense. By doing this the venom can be ejected at a distance of 2–3 metres (6½-10 feet), with remarkable accuracy. When in a confined area like a tube these reptiles might bite instead of spit.

What substance?

When I picked up my GoPro camera after a “wildlife photo shoot” there was a strange substance on the lens. Can you guess what it is?

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What a feeling!

I enjoyed that sighting!

Thanda Safari

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My guests from Sweden had very mixed feelings about this Thanda Elephant sighting. But all of them agreed that the encounter with the young Elephant bull was one of the most extraordinary experiences they ever had.

Trackers and guides are used to the ways of these gentle giants and therefore can react accordingly. This young male was just walking down the road and gave just us a few interested looks before he moved into the bush. He was neither aggressive nor agitated but my first-time-safari-guests experienced the very special thrill of being close to one of the big five.

What a feeling!

Picture by Christian Sperka – Specialist Photography Guide and Resident Wildlife Photographer – Thanda Private Game Reserve

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What do you do all day?

Recently one of my US friends asked me what am I doing all day?

So I thought I describe one of my days on Thanda Private Game Reserve; with a bit of text and some images! This is quite a busy one, but not unusually so!

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6:45 Wake-up
Allowed to sleep in today as I am not driving guests this morning. Slept 2.5 hours more than on driving days 🙂 The weather is hot and dry at Thanda House!

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7:23 The Call
Before I even get a chance to take a morning shower I get a text message that there is a spitting cobra near the entrance to Thanda’s base camp office. Lets move!

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7:45 Catch and Release
Catch the snake and release it again at one of Thanda’s waterholes. It spits venom at my GoPro camera 😦
(Watch out for another blog about this snake release!)

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8:45 Exercising with Elephants
Back at my office walking on the treadmill for an hour; while watching Elephants having a morning bath at the nearby waterhole.

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9:45 Delayed Morning Routine
Watching Giraffes during a short breakfast of yogurt and fruit, mango&mandarin juice. A bit later than usual = snake delay!

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10:00 Social Media
Preparing a Thanda blog message, as well as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ posts. Schedule them to be released tomorrow between 14:00 and 16:30 (2:00pm – 4:30pm for my friends across the sea :-))

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10:20 Backup
Looking at my email inbox. Nothing urgent! Starting weekly backup procedures on all my PCs before heading out again.

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10:30 Drive
Have to take a short drive across the reserve to the Thanda Tented Camp to give a Rhino lecture. Dealing with local traffic (Warthogs and Zebras).

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11:00 All about Rhinos
Talking to a group of guests about the threat to the world’s Rhino population. They are quite interested and ask a lot of good questions.

Rhino Poaching Stats

12:00 Photography Lesson
Teaching “Motion Photography” in the Tented Camp dining area (too hot outside). Great response from the 90 minute session!

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14:00 Lunch
Back at Thanda house having lunch. A rocket and watercress salad with olive oil, balsamico (a nice old one!) and some parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes and a freshly baked ciabatta roll. A bit of fresh fruit for desert. Grape juice and mineral water to drink. Listening to a “Lord Peter Wimsey” audio book by Dorothy L. Sayers –  Enjoy that very much!

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15:00 A Contradiction in Terms!
Email and rest time, they do not really go together. Lots of emails to answer and no rest!

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15:45 Prepare the Game Viewer
Meeting Bheki (my tracker) at base camp to drive to the Thanda Safari Lodge to pick up a family for a Bush Safari Session (this is a photography lesson in the bush, hands-on!)

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16:30 Into the Bush, again!
Great sightings on this photography drive. Relaxed Black Rhinos and Cheetahs at sunset.

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18:20 Drinks at Sundown
Having fun during our sundown drinks stop. Explain to the young guests some more photo stuff.

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18:45 Good bye
Say good-bye to the guests at the Thanda Safari Lodge just after sunset and then head back home. Having a quick dinner  of soup (Butternut) and salad (garden greens with tomatoes and carrots) with another ciabatta roll. A Coke Zero on ice with lots of lemon juice 🙂 – my reward for a busy day.

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20:00 Back to the office
For a bit of image editing work on the PC while listing to some music (today it is Gilbert & Sullivan). That editing job is never done = current backlog ~2,000 images!

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20:02 Power out
Have to switch to my small generator. Due to “load shedding” there is no electrical power for 2-3 hours. That happens on most days. South Africa has huge power problems!

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22:23 Power back and good night!
Power is back, air conditioners are working again and I am off to bed to regain energy for another …

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Good day in Africa!

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Selfie in my office at the end of the day 🙂

Christian Sperka | Resident Wildlife Photographer and Specialist Photography Guide | Thanda Private Game Reserve

Early Dinner!

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This small Hippo started its dinner early. It began eating reeds even before nightfall, when it would be climbing with its family out of the water for a night of grazing!

Yesterday and today I took two cruises on the St.Lucia Estuary, taking mainly bird images (watch out for future posts!) and quite a few interesting hippo shots.