I have never seen so much water at Mashatu in my life! Normally an arid environment, with dry riverbeds and dusty, open plains- the reserve has changed into a wonder of green on the plains and flowing rivers in every riverbed. It was a complete transformation. Grass, water, algae, waders, waterbirds, frogs and fish were all seen in the various pools and streams that ran through Mashatu.
Normally you would expect this to spread the animals out, but not here, the sweet grass around the rivierine areas attracts the numerous animals and the elephant make a daily “migration” to favoured feeding areas- meaning we could predict certain movements and be in the right place for the right shot.
We got our fair share of elephants, and other animals, but it was the wild dogs that were the star of the show this time round…
The19-22 March, was the first photo workshop I ran this year through my company, C4 Images and Safaris. As usual, we were happy with the varying subjects that Mashatu offers. When we got the call that the wild dogs were in the area though- my first question was “mobile or stationary…?” the reply was stationary and meant that we had a chance of at least photographing them when they are mobile, they are mobile! And photographing them is an exercise in holding onto a flying vehicle rather than getting the shot!
We headed off towards them, finding the pack of 16 just 20 minutes before sunset. It was a beautiful evening with even sunlight coming from a clear sky. Perfect for photography. And what photography it was. The dogs went from being very lazy, to slowly waking up and then to fully alert and playful within the 20 minutes while we were there. Everything added up. Great subjects- actually doing something, excellent light getting better and better every minute and a group of photographers capturing these active and inquisitive animals walking all around our vehicle! The angles and positions the photographers got into were probably what was attracting the dogs to our vehicle in the first place!
The sun set below the horizon and the day was over for us, photographically speaking, but not from an action point of view. Read the C4 Images and Safaris Blog to see what happened after dark.
The next afternoon, we tracked the dogs again and found them relaxing after their morning kill. This gave me an excellent opportunity to work on more specific images that I found I wanted after reviewing the previous days images. This is another benefit of digital- you can see exactly where you went wrong, and right. Luckily, we had an opportunity to spend another whole afternoon in great light with the dogs. Mashatu delivered once again. The photos were great and the company even better!