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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 9:40 pm 
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The 'Big Cats' caught by W55/1020/SSII/3 AAs

On May 19th (my birthday) 2012, I decided to celebrate in the forest after returning to Thailand from a two-week photographic safari in Africa. It was once again a great trip to the Dark Continent and I managed to photograph the 'Big Five' (three times now) plus a multitude of other animals including some rare species like the leopard, black-mane lion, black rhino, striped hyena, sable antelope and a bush baby. I also got many other common animals like elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, warthogs and antelopes. I also managed to catch Mount Kilimanjaro when the clouds lifted. Kenya is absolutely one of the greatest natural spectacles on the planet and I look forward to returning next year.

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A male leopard caught by a Sony W55 homebrew trail camera trap

However, there are still a few wild places in Thailand that harbor many magnificent Asian creatures such as tiger, leopard, elephant, gaur, banteng plus many other mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and plant species. Huai Kha Khaeng is one of the top wildlife sanctuaries in Southeast Asia, and the world for that matter.

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Leopard caught again checking out the camera

To get there, it takes about five hours by vehicle from Bangkok and is tucked away in the forested mountains of central-western Thailand in Uthai Thani province. I have written many stories about this place and its wildlife, and it never fails to live up to its status as a 'World Heritage Site' but this time it turned out even better than my wildest dreams.

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A young female tiger caught by the Sony w55 trail cam

My birthday wish to catch a tiger and leopard up-close with one of my camera traps was granted by the ‘spirits of the forest’ and all the hard work building the cams, setting them up, waiting while they soaked and then the pain-staking collection was truly worthwhile.

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My favorite shot of this young tiger

Arriving early in the morning, I got everything ready and went out to check the cams. One location has been extremely productive and I have been very lucky catching tiger and leopard almost every time (three months in a row). When I went through the photos on my new Sony W55/SSII/1020/3 AA externals, I could not resist shouting out loud with one big hurrah. A leopard stopped at the cam for a few shots and a night later, a tiger posed for a whole series of close-ups from the low-down set-up. I was speechless for a few seconds.

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Check-out the ticks and markings on the right ear
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Remember this tiger eye and ear

This game trail is situated deep in the protected area and many animals use it to get to a mineral lick and waterhole. The balance of nature is in full force here and ‘eat or be eaten’ carries on everyday. There is a fallen tree right across the trail about 500 meters from the dirt road some 15 kilometers in the sanctuary.

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More ticks and note the wound on the left shoulder

Both of these big cats jump this log as they hunt for prey but usually a few days or two apart. The leopard is a very mature male but the tiger is a young female that seems to may have finally left her mother. I have a close-up shot of this same cat captured together in March and identified it as the same one by the markings on the right ear. What a coincidence!

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Stripe-pattern on right side used to identify this cat

All I can say is: this has been the best birthday in many moons and I know that my prayers are really answered from time to time. It is hoped this young tiger will continue to live out its life in safety and carry on its legacy as the world’s largest cat. Huai Kha Khaeng is truly a remarkable place and I have not even scratched the surface of this amazing wilderness!

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 9:47 pm 
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Great shots...I really like that first leopard pic and the broadside of the tiger(even if he's not looking at the cam) - seems they really don't mind the cam or flash at all.

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 10:02 pm 
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wolvenkinde wrote:
Great shots...I really like that first leopard pic and the broadside of the tiger(even if he's not looking at the cam) - seems they really don't mind the cam or flash at all.


wolvenkinde,

I think these two are use to the cams by now and I really look forward to get some jumping shots over a log later this year. The rains are about to let loose and it becomes almost impossible to get in except on foot and I don't like mosquitos, they can really kill you with a deadly virus called 'cerebral malaria' or Plasmodium falciparum. Glad you have enjoyed this post as much as I have.

Bruce

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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 6:45 am 
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Awesome. :10 :thanks


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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 6:47 am 
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Very nice Bruce and happy birthday


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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 10:40 pm 
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To Bluesman and Kdornski,

Thanks guys, it was a great birthday wish....I really plan on doing loads of work on this trail and waterhole as soon as I get back to Thailand in mid-July. I'll be putting those two big Nikon cameras (F5 and D2x with modified Nikon ML-3 active infrared controllers and a few SB600 flashes each) on this trail. I'll have to hardwire a flash to each with a sync-chord. Should be interesting and of course will post any good stuff. Thanks again.

Bruce

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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 5:28 am 
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:awesome

Great shots Bruce!

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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 5:44 am 
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Awesome shots. Do you get nervous about the cats when you are out there?


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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 6:04 am 
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Enjoyed as always!


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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 10:25 pm 
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egbertdavis wrote:
Awesome shots. Do you get nervous about the cats when you are out there?


Not really, they are scared of humans and flee at any sign of man. It's the elephants with babies and the old tusk less bulls that are a worry.

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