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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 10:04 am 
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Spooky leopard in Tsavo East National Park, Kenya, Africa

Sometimes, things happen that are unexplainable and eiry. That goes for the following story. I have just returned from Africa and while on safari, was able to slip two camera traps in the bush (a Sony S600 and W7) at several locations. But the weirdest setup was with the S600 in Tsavo East National Park in Southern Kenya not far from the infamous ‘Man-eaters of Tsavo’ site.

To get a perspective of how huge this place really is (Tsavo - East and West), it is the largest national park in the world at more than 43,000 square kilometers (the size of Wales, Israel and New Jersey). Finding a leopard is like finding the proverbial ‘needle in a haystack’.

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African wild cat and a black-backed jackal stashed in a tree by a leopard.

One morning as my companion, driver and guide Patrick Mjoroge and I were out on a game drive (as they are known), he spotted two leopard kills hanging in a tree by the side of the road. We stopped and saw a African wild cat wedged on top of a black-backed jackal in the branches, and both dead as door nails.

The big cat for a later meal stashed these two small predators and so we waited for a while but in vain. Then it dawned on me: why not just throw my S600/SSII/1010 on the ground in a hollow piece of dead wood pointed up at the big tree. It was worth a try! Later that day, we drove by several times but the leopard was no-where to be seen.

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Sony S600/1010/SSII on the ground in front of the leopard tree.

The carrion was still there so I decided to let it soak until the next morning thinking the carnivore might come at night to eat its prize. I took a few shots of the hanging dead and the set-up, and we departed quickly not wanting to hang around obviously. The leopard on the ground is extremely fast and I was not sure how close it might be waiting, and we might just turn into dinner.

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The leopard in the tree eating the jackal (full-size image).

Bright and early the next morning, we drove directly to the tree and found the two kills gone. A small tree branch had fallen right in front of the cam and I thought I had missed the cat for sure. As I scanned through the images, I could see nothing but a large leg in several frames. A giraffe had almost stepped on the cam before we arrived and I could see its head up close to where the kills had been. I was a bit disappointed.

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The giraffe at the leopard tree and almost stepping on the cam.

Then, I decided to scroll through again and noticed one frame was darker just before the giraffe shots. I zoomed in and almost jumped out of the truck. Low and behold, I saw spots in the crotch of the tree and then saw the leopard’s head looking down towards the cam with the jackal in its mouth. The big cat had visited early in the morning and the background sky was nice and blue. I was speechless for a few moments until I could talk again.

I began jumping up and down in the back until Patrick told me to calm down. I showed him the shot and we both began celebrating this remarkable camera trap event. It definitely was worth several rounds of drinks or ‘sundowners’ as they are known in Africa at the bar of the tented-camp later that evening.

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Leopard close-up eating the jackal in early morning

Weird is an under-statement and the ‘spirits of the wild’ had answered my wishes. I have cropped and enhanced the leopard shot so it can be seen quite clearly. Remarkable is all I can say and the little S600 did a herculean job of catching a ghost...!

More set-ups to follow: The S600 also traps hyena, baboon, impala, waterbuck, and the W7 catches elephant plus a bushbaby in a hotel bar getting the largest and one of the smallest mammals found in Africa. It was an amazing trip to the ‘Dark Continent’ as it was known in the old days, and hope everyone enjoys these camera trap photographs.

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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 10:27 am 
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Truly amazing Bruce. Great shots.

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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 10:55 am 
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Congrats on a great catch!

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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 11:37 am 
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Great picture and even better story

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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 12:54 pm 
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I really enjoyed the story as well as the pics.Congratulations.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 1:49 pm 
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Great story and Awesome catch Bruce!

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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 6:36 pm 
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Thanks guys. It was surreal and I get goose-bumps just thinking about it. I'm off to the forest this morning to check my cams in Huai Kha Khaeng and will be back in a few days...I'll post those other setups in Africa when I get back. They are pretty neat but pale in comparison to the leopard!

Oh, because of this one shot, I got the 'Big Five' once again (three years in a row). The leopard is the deciding factor in Africa: most people who go usually see only the 'Big Four' (elephant, rhino, buffalo and lion). Just lucky I guess. I'll also be posting a bunch of 'through the lens' shots (my favorite are a black-maned lion and a black rhino mother and calf) in Hand-held Camera Images. Thanks again and I really appreciate the response.

Bruce

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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 6:45 pm 
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Awesome!


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 7:11 pm 
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Bruce again I want to thank you for the amazing photos, your work is very inspiring, keep up the good work. Danno


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 7:24 pm 
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Wow! That's impressive and great story !!

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