Paul Slyer's Photography blog

A blog all about photography, travel and wildlife

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In the lion of fire

Recently while on a field guiding course in Karongwe Game reserve I had an encounter that will stay with me for the rest of my life…

We were out on our usual afternoon game drive looking for the resident pride of lions.  I was the designated tracker on this afternoon, perched on the end of our open safari vehicle.  For those of you who don’t know what being the tracker entails, it usually means sitting on a tiny chair which is bolted onto the front left hand side of the bonnet with your feet dangling over the edge resting on the bumper with two handles to hold onto to avoid falling off whilst driving along bumpy roads or speeding to an animal sighting. It is the tracker’s job to look for tracks on the dusty sand roads and to help the guide look for interesting sights on a game drive. 

One of Zeros Cubs

One of Zeros Cubs

Well back to the story…as we were crossing a dry river bed I spotted the resident pride of lions making their way down the river bed towards us.  I signalled to my guide, who switched off the engine not to scare the lions.  The were was made up of a magnificent male lion called Zero who was the leader, his 2 females and 2 younger males which were last years offspring.  The river bed was dry apart from 2 small puddles that had formed in tyre ruts.  Zero was about 20 metres in front of the rest of the pride and was walking directly towards me.  He stopped approximately 6 metres away from our vehicle stared into my eyes thought for a moment whether I would make a tasty meal then walked towards me…this is when I became really nervous!

 My guide and trainer at the time warned me not to move, not even to breath as this could spark an attack.  Zero got to within 1.5 metres of me, lay down at my feet and started drinking water out of the puddle looking up at me the whole time.  Now let me tell you I have done a fair few adrenalin sports in my life like bungee jumping, white water rafting and motocross, but nothing gets the heart pumping more than a fully grown wild lion at your feet!

Zero coming towards me taken by Robin Gilbert

Zero coming towards me taken by Robin Gilbert

After a few moments of composing myself I started appreciating the situation I was in.  To-date most of the adrenalin pumping activities I have participated in seemed dangerous at the time, but in reality have been pretty safe.  The chances of a rope breaking doing a bungee jump over a 100m gorge are pretty slim, but if Zero had decided that I looked like a tasty meal he would’ve had me between his jaws in seconds.  Luckily for me lions don’t associate trackers as food, but rather as part of the vehicle, which of course is alot bigger than they are.  

After about 15 minutes Zero got up and walked back to the rest of his family who where lying about 30 metres away, which gave me a chance to grab my camera and start getting shots of them.  Zero’s sons lay perfectly in parallel of each other and I got some good shots with one being in focus and the other out of focus.  Zero lay down facing one of his lionesses and gave her a nudge as males do when they what something more before getting up and mounting her.  She must not have been in the mood as a split second later she swung around and took a swipe at him. Obviously he was not impressed and let out a huge roar and wondered off sulking. These turned out to be great shots of lion interactions.

Zero drinking taken by Kim Carpenter

Zero drinking taken by Kim Carpenter

Well I think my close encounter with Zero has been engraved in my memory forever and I don’t think I will ever forget him and his pride for as long as I live.  I’m sure I will have plenty more encounters with lions in the future, but as they say “the first cut is the deepest”.

Cubs in a line

Cubs in a line

Having a tiff just after mating

Having a tiff just after mating

Posted 8 years, 3 months ago at 6:27 pm.

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My first post

Welcome to the first post of my blog. It has been an interesting week building it and trying to work out all this webpage design stuff but I must admit I am pretty happy with the end result even though it has frustrated me a fair bit and the hard stuff starts now writing articles, reviews and anything else that’s on my mind. Writing has never been a strong point for me so we will have to wait and see how this blog turns out.

 

This blog is about my passions in life that I hope will be of interest to you and if I succeed in teaching my readers something new then that will be even more rewarding. I have been lucky enough to have visited a lot of countries in my life and had the opportunity to photograph and experience some amazing places and wildlife, from kissing a giraffe in Kenya to being 1.5 metres away from a wild fully grown male lion with nothing between us to protect me or him as I properly would have soiled my pants if he had come for me, but being able to capture these experiences on a camera is a wonderful way to keep that memory fresh and show your adventures to your friends and family.  

 

Kissing a giraffe (well actually feeding it with my mouth)

Kissing a giraffe (well actually feeding it with my mouth)

I have taken to photography like a duck takes to water. Over the last two years I have tried to learn as much as possible on the subject and to better myself bringing my passion and love for wildlife out in my photographs. Trying to photograph a wild animal and composing it in favourable light can be frustrating especially when your subject has not read the script!  However, the amazing feeling you get when it all comes together and you capture something special in perfect light or in an unusual pose, is something only a photographer knows and that’s the feeling that drives us forward to keep taking pictures hoping one day to get an award winning shot.

 

On top of a mountain in Parc National Adringitra, Madagascar

On top of a mountain in Parc National Adringitra, Madagascar

I think my parents gave me the travel bug as they took me around Asia when I was 18 months old, they say it was a waste of money as I was too young to remember it now but something must have stuck as since flying the nest I have carried on my travelling ways.  For some reason I am not interested in cities or built up areas, for me the more wild the place the more I feel at home, much to my Mum’s despair as she is terrified I will get killed by a wild animal or some unknown tribe.  I think that’s the excitement of wild places, they get your heart pumping and you never quite know what to expect,  but so far I am still alive and kicking and apart from a dislocated knee I have returned from all my travelling adventures in one piece.

 

So what to expect in the upcoming months in this blog…I will be doing a few articles on Madagascar, Eastern and Southern Africa. I will be doing a few reviews on camera equipment and some articles on photography.

 

Stay tuned and enjoy the show.

Posted 8 years, 3 months ago at 9:40 pm.

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