Welcome to my new blog on my adventures working, living, and enjoying my life as an African Wildlife and Landscape Photographer!
I am here in South Africa, with four award winning professionals working in film and photography. Byron Goggin is a 13-time Emmy winning Director of Photography, currently creating programming for National Geographic, Discovery Channel, The History Channel, and the BBC, as well as other well known networks. Susu Hauser is a cinematographer and a producer/shooter. Elle Pollard is an award winning photojournalist and portrait photographer, and Trevor Sims is a professional macro photographer, specializing in plants and flowers.
We are working on the African Wild Dog Project under Wildlife ACT, www.wildlifeact.com. Their mission is to “help save our planet’s endangered wildlife and wild places from extinction. Wildlife ACT runs important conservation projects in Africa.” They focus on “cheetah, African Wild Dog, Rhino, Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Vulture and Turtles.” Through our photographic and filming efforts of the African Wild Dog we hope to help Wildlife ACT further their mission.
By 4:00 a.m. (our daily schedule 7 days a week) the truck with us in the back was loaded up and off we went in search of the resident African wild dog pack residing here on this private reserve. This pack was released onto this reserve Some of the African wild dogs on this reserve have radio collars to enable the researchers and us to track them. Each day we hopefully find them, observe their behavior with each other, and their movements throughout the reserve.
Using a telemetry device (ancient pre-historic antenna and radio) we scan the area, listening for tiny beeps, hoping to hear something which will let us know if we are “hot or cold” on the African wild dogs trail. After two days of searching unsuccessfully we finally found them this morning! There are 6 African wild dogs in one pack, and another two males off on their own who were displaced out of the pack recently. Two younger males showed up of their own accord onto this reserve and dynamically altered the pack’s leadership and hierarchy. Interestingly the two new males were from another private reserve adjacent to this one, and one was also wearing a collar which allows him to be tracked here. The reserve is protected using an electrical fence so how exactly these two younger African wild dogs came to get inside is still an unsolved mystery.
Our first exciting sighting was from high above a river, on a sunny bluff overlooking valleys and mountains, under a bright sky. The 6 African wild dogs were sunning themselves on a sandbar below, their calico coats standing out. They are also known as Painted wild dogs and when you first see them it is like looking at splotches of bright golds, tawny beiges, deep and rich blacks, and brown here and there all in a perfect splendor of camouflage and beauty.
This first encounter was brief and from afar, but we photographed them until they one by one trotted away on the other side of the river up a steep mountainside and out of our view.