I'm incredibly proud that Field Assistant Christin and Ronnie have been doing some vital outreach. I'm also delighted Christin has written a blog about it that is much better than I could do.
Over to Christin!
Focus, compose, shoot!
On the most recent adventurous Wild Shots Course, Elephants Alive and Wild Shots Educational Outreach gathered 7 eager learners in a beautiful camp provided by Bateleur Eco Safaris to teach them about wildlife photography and conservation. The learners were all children of the Umlani Bushcamp staff members. The camp was set up next to a river, hidden in the bush in the middle of the Timbavati. This camp served as our base for the next 2 days. After having inspected the accommodation for the next night, Prudence – one of the learners – turned to me and whispered: “This is so amazing!” And this is how the weekend started: amazingly. A shelter used as the dining area was quickly converted into the photography classroom. The children gathered around two laptops on which Mike displayed the sessions. Because looking at a picture of a camera isn’t going to teach anyone the skill of taking photographs, the children each got lend their own camera to play with. Having gone through the most important settings of the camera, the children felt comfortable to take the camera out on the first game drive to take professional photographs – after only 4 hours of practice!! Doc, Bateleurs top ranger, shared his knowledge about the bush and surviving skills with everyone while the children were testing their newly learned photography skills.
The team in camp ©Lucky
After a wonderful first day in the wilderness everyone went to sleep, listening to the enchanting sounds of the African bush – hyenas, pearl-spotted owlet, nightjars…
At 5:30 in the morning everyone was seated on the game viewer and off we go tracking one of Elephants Alive’s collared elephants: the magnificent Classic. With the help of our learners did we track the bull down and found him feeding peacefully in the company of a younger elephant bull. Classic’s sheer size and appearance was enough for the children to stay quite and watch in full admiration how this big animal slowly comes closer and closer. Click, click, click… Photography seems easy when you have such a handsome model posing in front of so many cameras. This encounter was brilliant and we used the opportunity to observe the elephant’s behaviour, learn about the interactions and their communications. I saw many happy and satisfied faces feeling encouraged to take photos throughout the full hour that we were able to spend with the elephants. We could have not wished for a better sighting and therefore I will thank Classic for his perfect cooperation.
Photos © Mike Kendrick
Almost back to base, Doc spotted the most elusive animal of the bush: a leopard. A few learners managed to get a picture of this shy animal before it vanished into the thicket. What a start of the day! Time flies by quickly when you have fun. In the afternoon Mike introduced the children to an even more advanced level of photography.
To prove that they understood what they have learnt we went on our last game drive of the course. The setting sun offered a beautiful light and highlighted a dozen vultures sitting on trees… Of course we were curious and after carefully checking the area we found a big male lion rolling on the ground – the belly full with meat from a buffalo he must have killed the previous night. As it couldn’t get any better we called it a day. With a hug and a proudly earned Wild Shots certificate the children said goodbye and went home, full with new impressions and knowledge.
We are saying THANK YOU to everyone who made this experience possible: Andreas and Melina Liebenburg, Doc Morake, Brad and Sophia Lehr from Bateleur Eco Safaris – Thank you for hosting us and caring for us! Marco Scheiss, Rouxle Jooste and Joana Matebula from Umlani Bushcamp – Thank you for cooperating and organising these amazing children for us! And last but not least, thank you to Mike who’s vision and passion for wildlife we share. “Conservation means there are safe places for the animals. We must give them shelter and love." – Britney (Wild Shots student).
The whole team ©Lucky