Tales from the Nairobi National Park… by Dave McKelvie

Posted on March 30th, 2011
Categories: News

Things don’t always go to plan and sometimes we are all duped.     You have the best spot, only for it to turn into a “lion stump” or a “rhino bush”, but never despair one day one of these spots may turn into the real thing.

I cant stress it enough, if you see something different just stop and check it out.

Then we have “Murphy’s Law” ….  This happens to us all, without exception.   I remember having a pride of lions posing on a sign post, I shot off over a hundred frames, digital is so much better, I have camera set to multi shot, you can edit later and delete all the ones that are useless, but in this mode it ensures you don’t miss the “money shot”… I digress…back to the sign post, I got what I thought were best shots I have ever taken, I couldn’t wait to get to a computer to download, all excited, I attached the camera, it came up with an error message, I fiddled nervously and yes managed to delete them all………….camera was nearly thrown across the room.

In Nairobi Park we have around 20 Leopard.   I have been lucky, over the years, I have managed to have seen maybe 10, 3 in one day,  most too far away, but one day I managed to get the “money shot” as you can see.

But even with leopard you have damn Murphy turn up, many a time I have left the house in a rush only to find I have left my camera at home, at that time not even a camera on my phone, I drove through the park silently wishing “please don’t let me see anything, please don’t let me see anything”, but it never works and I had that little fellow with horns and a pointy tail sitting on my shoulder chuckling away.  But as I turned the corner I had a leopard sitting in the middle of the road, the words “oh deary me, don’t have my camera” sprang to mind. He walked off the side of the road and sat, I would have had some wonderful shots.

No photo no claim !!!!

This has happened on more than one occasion, very frustrating I can tell you.

Another evening, I was driving in the forest to Langata gate, spotted a zebra looking intently into a bush, at first I thought it was me he was watching, I drove forward, I reversed, but no he was definitely looking in the bush, I stopped and scanned with my binoculars, eventually I spotted an ear flick and made out the leopard, I had my camera and took a few shots, I carefully opened the roof to get a better angle, the leopard spooked, if I had just waited I would have had a shot of the cat running across the road, right behind the car, I got greedy and was to busy trying to get back into my seat to reverse…… Murphy strikes again!

It also pays to switch to manual focus, as having set camera to auto sometimes it ruins the shot, the lens focuses on anything in front of the subject, including a blade of grass. It can be a hard lesson.

You can, at times, be very frustrated by the battery in your camera deciding its needing recharged, right in the middle of the action.

Moral of all this, all be prepared!