When Magic happens

Johan van Zyl All Authors, Johan Leave a Comment

How often have you watched a documentary on wildlife and thought to yourself “Wow how long did this take to film.”  When you spend a lot of time in the bush you realise just how much work, patience and even frustration and disappointment goes into creating a documentary or great wildlife images.  More often than not there is always something that is not right i.e. the light is bad, the subjects are in thick bush, the subject is not doing anything etc etc.  But every now and then, magic just happens in front of you…


I am using an example of a sighting we had on our recent Wildlife photography seminar held in the Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve.  It was our last morning and like all the other mornings, we headed out at first light, before all the other game viewers.  Not even 20 minutes into our drive we came across a male Lion busy patrolling his territory.  We knew this particular Male moved with his brother, so it was only a matter of time before the two of them will meet up and greet each other, which could make for some interesting images…


Our patience was rewarded as the two males met up, scent marking as they moved past a few bushes, not in any hurry to get anywhere.  At this stage most vehicles/people would have moved on to look for something else, as it really seemed like these two males were not up to much.

All of a sudden some of the Females from a Pride starting roaring.  Immediately this caught the attention of both Males as they froze, trying to determine the exact location of the call…  Without hesitation both Males went full tilt ahead to where the sound was coming from.  Here we go, I remember thinking to myself, this is gonna be good!!




Once the Lions met, they greeted each other by rubbing their faces together, showing affection towards each other.


All went well until one of the Males (the one with the hanging tooth) showed some aggression towards the Cubs.  What followed was probably only a couple of minutes but felt like hours of utter chaos.  The sound was deafening as the Females and Males were having a full on go at each other.




Shortly after things had settled down, we were surprised again as 4 White Rhino’s made their way straight towards the pride of Lions.  As the Rhino’s got to within a few metres, the Lions got up and started having a full go at each other for the second time!!  Like the first time the sounds were deafening!!


Eventually things finally settled down and whatever differences the Females and Males had, seemed to be sorted out, from our perspective anyway.

We see it time and time again when on Safari how vehicles often get to a sighting, stop to take a few images, and then within a few minutes move on again to look for something else.

Photography and Game viewing is about patience.  The more time you spend with your subject, the more you are going to see different behaviour, the better your chances for great images.

So next time when you are on Safari and thinking about leaving that sighting, maybe give it just a couple more minutes, you never know, this could be your magical wildlife moment.


About the Author

Johan van Zyl


The opportunity of visiting some of the wildest, undisturbed areas and sharing my passion for wildlife, conservation and photography with like minded people is a privilege that I am forever grateful.

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