A few weeks ago I wrote a guest blog for Wild Eye on my experience in Madikwe searching for wild dogs. When Gerry asked me to write the blog, we discussed the fact that my experience was an example of how lucky I was to see those wild dogs and to never take any sighting in the field for granted. In that blog I talked about how I'd stacked the odds in my favour, but even by doing that, I only got to see wild dogs on my very last drive of the trip. A close call.
Today I am sharing an image with you. It is not a wildlife image. When I took this shot I had one purpose in mind. To make a point!
Look at the photo. What do you see?
If you look very closely you can just see the outline of a young leopard. But he is really hard to spot right? He almost perfectly blends in to his surroundings.
We had been tracking two sibling leopards who's mother had left them to go and hunt. And after some time in the open, this young male finally had enough of us following him. He decided to retreat into the bush and hole up. We were some distance away and I used the full reach of my 200mm lens with a 1.4X converter on to take this shot.
Finding animals in game reserves is no easy task.
Think about it...
This is one leopard who we had been fortunate to track and we were off road. But if we had been on the nearest track with no clue he was there, what are the chances we would have spotted him driving at 20 MPH tops?
The probability that we would have spotted him would have been very low. Yes, guides and trackers have their eyes well trained and do an incredible job spotting wildlife that we mere visitors don't have the experience to spot. But at the end of the day, if any one animal doesn't want to be found, they will do their upmost to hide themselves from view. And they are experts at doing it.
So next time you go out in the field, ask yourself "what are my expectations?"
If it is to see an abundance of Lion, Leopard, Cheetah and so on...you might want to temper your expectations a little. When you finally come across them, be grateful, enjoy the sighting and realise it might be some time before you get to see them again. And when you see a herd of impala around every corner, enjoy them too. Realise that the bush has the odds stacked in its favour and not ours, so enjoy every minute of your drive, no matter what sightings it may bring.