Archive for the ‘African World’ Category



From Rags To Riches: An African Cheetah Story

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Privileged to be home to the highly endangered cheetah, Samara also hosts a remarkable individual. Her story embodies not only the plight of these incredible cats, but also the immense potential for successful conservation of a species on the precipice of extinction.

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Born a wild cheetah in South Africa’s North West province, Sibella’s life nearly ended at the hands of hunters. After being set upon by hunting dogs who tore away all the flesh on her hind legs, a rope was forced roughly into her mouth, and she was savagely beaten and locked in a cage. Lying at death’s door, fear and mistrust haunting her eyes, she was fortunate enough to be rescued by the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust. She owes her life to the five-hour surgery and dedicated rehabilitation that ensued.

In December 2003, Sibella began a new chapter when she was introduced onto Samara along with two male cheetah. From the moment of her release, all those involved in her rehabilitation waited anxiously to see whether she would be able to fend for herself. But we needn’t have worried. Eleven years on, Sibella has outlived most cheetah in the wild, proving herself to be a capable hunter despite the occasional twinge from her previous injuries.

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Successfully rearing an astonishing 20 cubs in four litters since her release, she has also been an exemplary mother – giving birth on steep mountain slopes to avoid potential predators and eating only after her young have had their fill.

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The unspoken bond she now shares with the humans in her new home is extraordinary – with the birth of each new litter, when the cubs are old enough to leave their den, this wild cat dutifully presents to her human guardians her latest bundles of fur, the very reason for her existence. The degree of trust she vests in human beings, walking to within just a few metres of them, is simply astounding – her past suffering at the hands of her tormentors all but forgotten.

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This exceptional cat has done more than merely touch our hearts and allow us to marvel at her beauty. She is also a record-breaker of note, being the first cheetah back in the Karoo in 125 years, contributing 3% to the wild cheetah population in South Africa through her various litters, and featuring in dozens of magazines, newspapers and television programs across the globe.

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Sibella, Sultaness of Samara, is a true ambassador for Samara’s ongoing conservation efforts and objectives.





A Photographic Tribute To Kenya’s Samburu People

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

A wonderful photographic tribute to Kenya’s lesser known Samburu People by Dirk Rees.

The Samburu are a Nilotic people, originally hailing from the plains alongside the Nile river. As part of a Maa speaking group, they moved under pressure from the Borana expansion in the late 16th century. The earliest settlement of the Maa was just south of Lake Turkana. This group became known as the Samburu, while another group moved further south eventually becoming known as the Maasai. Their languages and rites of passage remain closely related to one another, as do their rituals and spiritual beliefs.

In essence the Samburu are semi-nomadic pastoralists whereas the Maasai retained a completely nomadic lifestyle until recent colonization and land ownership confined both tribes to a more sedentary existence.

Living in a more remote area than than the Maasai, the Samburu remain a little more traditional in attitude than the Maasai who’s younger members in particular feel the call of the city and modern education. Because of the arid climate of the Samburu region, along with cattle and goats, camels make up part of the Samburu’s wealth.

Different Samburu clans can be identified by the color combinations of their clothing. A great deal of time is spent onpersonal decoration. Most distinct are the bird feathers men use in headdresses in combination with plastic flowers – a modern addition. Men wear elaborate beaded collars and their chests are criss-crossed with strings of beads. Women wear a large number of circular beaded necklaces and keep their hair short, unlike the men who will braid and color it with red ochre.

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5 Tips On Taking The Next Photo To Go Viral

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Janine Mare at African Geographic is the first to admit that she is no expert photographer, but during her time heading up the social media and marketing she has learned a thing or two about what makes a photo worth sharing.

1. A good photo shows the audience a pretty place or an interesting face but a winning photo evokes an emotional response in a viewer. The viewer must connect to the person, the animal or the place in a photo. Be it a glint in your subjects eye or an evocative mood in the photo – emotion is the key to share-ability. The below photo is not just a great capture at the perfect African wildlife moment but it stirs emotions in the viewer. I feel for both the lion and the wildebeest and am left both in shock and in awe at life in the wild.

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A fabulous shot by Jacques Matthysen


2. The emotions created in your photo should combine to make your image inspirational.  Audiences can take inspiration in different forms; they could be inspired to travel, to take action or to make a change – either way, a great photo should inspire the viewer in some way. I love the below image by Anton Crone, I immediately feel connected to the man in the image and not only does the image inspire me but so does the man in the image.

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A pineapple salesman on his way to a market in North-West Tanzania. Pic by Anton Crone


3. A great sighting does not a good image make. The most spectacular lion kill sighting doesn’t mean that any photo taken of the scene is a good one. Sometimes ordinary subject matter, such as zebras or meerkats, can make for extraordinary photos if you are prepared to wait for that perfect moment when luck and inspiration strikes. The below image of meerkats has so many dimensions to it that it is simply fantastic!

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You are never too young to start learning about photography! Image by Burrard-Lucas Photography.


4. Being self critical is vital. Audiences nowadays are inundated with visual content and you need to ensure you stand out from the crowd. My theory is to share one amazing image rather than 100 average ones that will go unnoticed. It is also important for photographers to set a standard for themselves and to focus on that “something special” when taking pictures. The below photo is simply fantastic. I also have no doubt the photographer probably has hundreds of images from this sighting but by choosing to share just this one, with the cheetah caught at the perfect moment, they have made a great decision for viral potential!

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Cat Fight: cheetah versus leopard! Image by Denisa Beatrice, Save The Wild Cats


5. With relation to the above – that “something special” is the IT factor that makes a photo go viral. Be on the lookout for things that will give your image something unique, be it unusual animal behaviour or a bizarre personal sighting while on your travels. Often the “IT” factor is something that is hard to describe, but when you see it, you just know - he below photo definitely just has “IT”!

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Bee-eaters cuddled up in Upington in the Northern Cape – Jaco Botha





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