Sunday, 9 November 2014

Big Cat Photography Training Day.

Big Cat Wildlife Photography.

For my 21st Birthday, I got asked if I wanted to do a Jessops Big Cat Photography Course.. Of course I did!!! 

It's a day course based at the Cat Survival Trusts Sanctuary in Hertfordshire.  They have lots of cats, as well as a couple of owls. The cats there include the Snow Leopard, Servals, Eurasian Lynx, Amur Leopard, Puma and Jaguar as well as some others. 
The course was run by a handful of experienced, friendly, lovely people.  The beginning of the day started with introductions and a talk about how your camera works and how to use it properly for wildlife photography. You then got a chance to go out and photograph the cats with your new knowledge. Lunch and beverages were provided and then more short talks, including one on the conservation efforts of the Cat Survival Trust. Then you were let loose for the rest of the day able to take pictures of the cats with the staff there to be able to lend a hand and help out anyone who needed it. 

If your interested in doing this course head over to: Jessops Big Cats Course.

The Cats are beautiful! It is horrible to think that these are endangered species that people kill for their fur and bones. The Cat Survival Trust is a registered charity run solely on volunteer staff. The cats here are surplus, unwanted zoo cats and impounded cats from unlicensed private ownership. this allows the cats to be able to live in an improved stressless environment.

The Cat Survival Trust is not open to the public as of yet; however a personal guided tour can be arranged for members, as well as for educational groups such as schools, which they encourage to visit them. 
to find out more about the Cat Survival Trust and their vital work that they're doing abroad head over to: Cat Survival Trust's Website

None of these photos are edited apart from the last two, so theyre not as good as they could be if i had time at the moment to go through my 700+ photos I took there.... 

So now for A LOT of photos of Big Cats!!!

Snow Leopards

Amur Leopard


This jaguar was called Jagsy (not 100% sure on the spelling), the only cat there that responded to her name being called. 




These cuties were only 3 months old, They were even more adorable in real life. I just wanted to give them a big cuddle, although I don't think they'd be best pleased with the gesture.

The next two photos I have only edited the background to put more emphasis on the Puma, I had to edit this one as It was almost dusk and the light on her face was so warming, its my favourite by far.

Make sure you check out the Cat Survival Trust's website as the work they do really is vital to the conservation of these magnificent animals.

BALULE: Part One!


Balule is a dangerous game area, so we had to be extra careful and aware of our surroundings whilst doing work here. Balule Private Game Reserve is near Kruger National Park.
This was by far my favourite place as it was a lot warmer, our accommodation was better and the wildlife there was beautiful!

Lilac-Breasted Roller

This bird was beautiful. the top of its head was turquoise, its breast lilac and it's tummy light blue.  The pictures just don't show off how bold the colours were, especially when It was caught by the sun. 

White-Fronted Bee Eater

The bee eaters are richly colourful birds. They had a curved beak as well. They eat mainly bees (hense their name), however they also eat other insects too. We saw a few species of bee eaters however this one was most memorable to me. I wasn't expecting to see such brightly coloured birds.

Grey Go away Birds

Before we left I was really looking forward to seeing these birds. I thought the tufts on their heads were cute. How wrong could I have been. These birds were so very annoying. First of all their calls were really loud and annoying and not forgetting, you could hear them everywhere! Secondly, They were everywhere. Doing waterhole observation was when I really discovered how much they aggravated me. For the waterhole survey you have to record what animal is doing what at what time. Well, these birds, about 10-15 of them, were always at the waterhole and they would constantly be moving from tree to tree, which got tedious to write down, let alone going through it to write the results up. 


Impala are medium sized antelope. Theyre rather common and live in herds. 

Above is a female Impala and below are two males.

Vervet Monkeys

Vervet monkeys live in the trees in and around camp. They were extremely cute (especially the baby ones). They did however get very brave as they were always looking for food, or anything really that they found interesting enough to steal.
Whilst I was sorting out a mist net, a monkey decided to steal my orange I had left on my chair. My lecturer proceeded to chase it up the tree, by which point, the monkey had dropped the orange. It all happened so quickly that by the time I looked around all i could see was my orange on the floor and my lecture sat about 20m up a tree...

Olifants River

Olifants river was at the bottom of our camp. It was home to crocodiles as well as hippos, But more on hippos later...
Fortunately we only ever saw crocodiles on the other side of the river or on a sand bank in the middle.

The river was beautiful. Pictures cannot show how beautiful and peaceful it was. 

MANUHA: Part Two!

More Giraffes!

You can see how much smaller this juvenile giraffe is here. Again, they were rather close to us, but not nearly as close as before. 

Kudu Dung Games

Below, some of the guys are seeing who can balance a Kudu dropping on their nose for the longest. After they also had a contest for who could spit one the furthest.

My Favourite Antelope: Nyala

There were a herd of Nyala that would always pass through our camp. These are by far my favourite antelopes.  I love their markings and their little puffy tails that tuck between their legs. The males are even more lovely looking but I didn't get a snap of them until Balule...

Animal Behaviour: Giraffe.

I did my individual animal behaviour on an adult, female giraffe. This consists of basically watching a giraffe and writing down what its doing every minute for an hour. Giraffes don't really do much other than browse; eating leaves and just walking around. My giraffe went out of sight and so I then started observing the juvenile giraffe. I then could compare the two giraffes activities and see if they spent a similar amount of time doing each thing (eg. browsing).

Herd behaviour

Another  of our animal behaviour sutdies was 'Herd Behaviour'. We did this on a large herd of  Red Haartebeast. This was similar to the Individual behaviour with the giraffe, however its recordig what the herd was doing every minute. This included recording what percentages of the herd was doing what; running or grazing for example.

After we were done for the day we got a group photo of us in the truck!

... And on to Balule; the dangerous game area...