Lion: Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda, August 2022 — The sharp eyes of Moses, our driver/guide for our Uganda safari, picked out the mother lion in the shade of a bush near the cub from yesterday’s post. Some maneuvering with the Land Cruiser and we found a spot on the road with a decent view through the long grasses. As I mentioned yesterday, she has worn a tracking collar for many years now, so this is a well known and well studied lion…with many successful litters of cubs over the years. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 100 @ f4 @ 1/640th.
On our first pass by this spot, the lions were there, or were presumed to be there, as they had been seen a few moments before…but we could not find them in the long grasses. On our way back out, our driver/guide Moses spotted this cub, maybe two years old (practically a teenager in lion terms)…just a set of ears twitching above the grasses…and we watched as it eventually got up and moved around and gave us better views…still in the long grass…but better. The lions of Queen Elizabeth are well studied and monitored. The mom in this small pride wears a radio collar, so the rangers pretty much know where the pride is on a day to day basis. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 100 @ f4 @ 1/800th.
Our guide, Moses, knew every tree in the Ishasha Sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park where the famous Tree Climbing Lions of the sector hang out, and on our first evening there, he took us to every one of them. The lions of Ishasha have developed the habit, over many generations now, of resting on the lower limbs of the big Acacia trees in the park. No one had seen one in a tree for several days when we visited, according to the rangers at the entrance gates, but we still made the round of all the trees. We had given up and were headed back to the lodge when Moses spotted this pride of 5 lions resting under brush 70 yards from the road. We are thankful for Moses’ sharp eyes. We could have easily driven right by. It was getting dark fast, and I used the Sony’s Anti-motion Blur mode to make the most of what little light remained. As we had seen two radio collared lions in the northern sector that morning, these made for a 7 lion day! Not bad. I posted the last photo on Facebook from the lodge that night but it deserves another showing here.
At dinner at our lodge on the high escarpment overlooking Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, our driver, Moses, promised us a “special treat” for the next day. Honestly, we hand already had so many “special treats”, so many wonderful and unexpected encounters, on our Birds and Wildlife Safari with #Epic_Uganda_Vacations that we were hard pressed to guess what he might have in mind. The next morning we lined up at the gate to check into the wildlife drive in the northern sector of QENP, and witnessed a lengthy negotiation at the check in building. It turned out that Moses was trying to secure a place for us in the “Experiential Safari Group” for the morning. Up to 4 vehicles are allowed to go out, each with a ranger, in convoy, following the research vehicle with the tracker who keeps track of the radio collared lions in the park, and going “off-road” to find them…providing a pretty much guaranteed close encounter with lions…and perhaps with leopards as well. Indeed a special treat, and one that we were not expecting. We followed the radio vehicle for well over an hour across the untracked savanna, before we finally located the lions…two females resting in the shade of a large thorny clump of bush. The rangers kept us at a respectable distance, but we were close enough so that I never got above 600mm on camera’s zoom, even for the portraits. Queen Elizabeth National Park is part of larger complex of parks that make up a Lion Research Area, and the Carnivore Project at QENP monitors the largest number of Lions of any park in Uganda. A special treat indeed.
Two of the young lions from the pride at Tshakudu Game Reserve, recovering from what seeded like it might have been a hard fought kill of a young giraffe. All the lions were somewhat worse for wear and the adult female was limping badly. You might be able to see how gorged these lions are.
Sony RX10iii in Amti-Motion Blur Mode. Processed in Lightroom.
We found a medium sized pride of lions basking in the shade near a waterhole in Kruger National Park in South Africa. There were a dozen of what looked like adult females (a few of those might have been young males), and cubs of at least 4 different ages. This was the smallest, seen here having a rub along its mother’s flank as it moved to find a new spot among it’s larger cousins.
Sony RX10iii at 1200mm equivalent field of view (2x Clear Image Zoom). 1/320th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed and cropped from the top for effect in Lightroom.
I have mixed feelings about zoo photography and zoos in general. I enjoy both, when they are well done, but it is a guilty pleasure. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly the San Diego Wild Animal Park) is certainly well done…one of the best places for non-zoo-looking zoo photography, and one of the zoos I enjoy most. Most of the animals have ample space…in natural settings…and many are free to roam in mixed enclosures covering up to 100 acres.
We had a great day there yesterday. Excellent light and cool enough so most of the animals were more active than usual. This large male lion actually seems interested in what he might find while exploring his enclosure.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom. 264mm equivalent. ISO 800 @ 1/800th @ f5.6. Processed in Snapseed on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014.