Dec 05 2012

What Future for the Lion?

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Breaking News for all Big Cat fans – check out this link for the latest on how Lions are struggling to hold there own in the face of massive loss of habitat. It was passed on to us from our friends at the Cat Specialist Group who publish ‘CATnews’ – a great magazine for all Big and Little cat enthusiasts – check them out online. Here is the link to the latest on the Lion :

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Nov 19 2012

Editing your Digital Images – and getting them Sharp!

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Just been chatting with Camilla who was with us in Zambia for our Mfuwe Lodge safari. It was such fun and we all came away with some cracking images!


One of the things that I now do is to get rid of the ‘crap’ shots right away in the field. But you need to be prudent – and this may not suit everyone particularly if you are not taking photographs all the time like us. Be careful not to Delete anything that you are not 100% sure of – remember the Screen on the back of your Camera is not a sure fire way of knowing just how good or bad your shot is. Takes a bit of experience to judge that – but we all recognise the shot that really did not work – horribly out of focus, lousy composition, etc. But as I say better safe that sorry – if you are not sure and it was a one-off of the only leopard you saw then keep it!!


Camilla was in my vehicle when we had some good hippo action – a couple of bulls weighing each other up – lot of handbags and bravado with some water flying around and mouths-ajar. My advice to Camilla for those images was: Re Editing – really get to the nitty gritty of what worked with your images – water splashing/flying around with the hippos were the shots that really counted.


Then there was the young male leopard we spent some time with on our last evening game drive. He was gradually getting active with lots of bouts of  yawning. Problem was – there was a lot of irritating grass stems all over the place. So Camilla needed to check carefully each of her shots for the cleanest background and the sharpest images would be my advice.


As Angie reviews our as yet unedited Picture Library in Lightroom she is coming across a number that are not quite crisp/sharp enough. Guess whose those are??? Yup – Jonny’s!


I have got better at knowing what speed I need to shoot in any given circumstance – and to rest the heavy/wobbly lenses whenever possible – even the Image Stabilised ones – but check to see if you need to turn your IS off if using a tripod or other rock-steady device.


Now here comes the killer! One thing I have a tendency to do is to try and tweak the focus manually when using the Auto Focus in One Shot mode – it allows you to override the auto focus system in One Shot something you cannot do when the Auto Focus is set to AI Servo – tracking mode – for obvious reasons. Trouble is that my eyes are not as good as they used to be and I often get the ‘tweaking’ wrong! So……Better to get really good at moving/shifting your Auto Focus Points around Manually to get the focus pin sharp where you want it to be.


With the new generation of Canon cameras the ISO capability and noise/grain reduction is a massive help in allowing you to shoot faster speeds even when the light levels are low. So push the ISO higher when you have to to get that 1/500th or 1/1000 sec you need for those killer shots. But also remember that when the opportunity arises to be a bit more creative then SLOWER SPEEDS can create the most wonderful surreal mood/motion shots.


But get the crisp ones sorted first before moving on to that!


If we have confused you – let us know!

21 responses so far

Nov 17 2012

Celebrating Mfuwe Lodge in South Luangwa NP, Zambia

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I have just returned from another epic week-long safari based at Mfuwe Lodge in the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia in the company of old friends Phil Berry and Babette Alfieri, and our stunning guides Peter and Manda.

I have fond memories of touring Zambia in 1978 – not on safari, but playing rugby for Kenya’s Presidents XV. You can always be assured of a friendly welcome in Zambia even when you win! And after the tragedy of the 1993 air crash that robbed the nation of the majority of its soccer team we were delighted when Zambia won the Africa Cup of Nations in Feb 2012!

Mfuwe Lodge and the Bushcamp Company are a one-off. I don’t think I know another safari operation that is quite so genuinely engaged on so many different levels with the community, the wildlife/conservation elements and their visitors. To achieve this without in any way compromising the clients’ stay is masterful. Andy Hogg’s influence (he heads up the Lodge and the Bushcamp operation from behind the scenes) can be felt throughout. And the way the Mfuwe/Bushcamp team rise to the challenge year after year is quite spectacular to witness. It works from Top-Down and from Bottom-Up.  Simply brilliant!

Just too many other exciting things happening in Oct/Nov next year (but not yet pencilled in on the Calendar) to be able to visit Mfuwe in 2013. But we love the place and will be back in November 2014 for more leopards, carmine bee eaters, elephants wandering through reception and much more besides. You should think about joining us then!

The new website is almost ready to Go Live! Any day now – David working on it as we speak!

Now for some international rugby – so many great games to chose from today!

6 responses so far

Nov 02 2012

Bishop Simeon Nkoane: The Bishop Simeon Trust

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Hi Everyone

I spent time in South Africa in 1975 at the end of my Overland trip from London to Johburg. The reality of South Africa in those days was a shock – even though I knew something of what to expect. I still remember trying to have a cup of coffee in a Johburg coffee house with black friends from Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) and being told that I would cause trouble for everyone and to move on with my friends! Thankfully those days are now gone. But I have never forgotten the debt of gratitude that I felt for being able to spend time at St Peter’s Priory with friends like Simeon Nkoane at a time when it was forbidden for blacks and whites to sleep over under the same roof – unless you were staying as I was at a Priory. I was not religious in a conventionally formal way but was interested in connecting to my ‘spiritual’ side in whatever way that might be – and the sense of peace and quiet of life at St Peter Priory was truly liberating and food for thought. Angie has been a huge influence in my life on that front and our affinity with the Buddhist way of life and their reverence of all of life has a strong resonance for us.

Here is a little piece I just wrote for the Bishop Simeon Trust as one of their UK Patrons. Simeon was an amazing man and if you have the time and inclination please check out the work of the Trust:


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Oct 30 2012

The Leopard’s Tale (2012)

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Hi Everyone – need your help! Bradt Publishers are going to re-issue The Leopard’s Tale (1985) with a new Intro and Epilogue including Half-Tail’s story and Zawadi’s too.

I have good records of all litters of cubs born to Zawadi up to 2002. What I would love is to hear from you of any records you might have of litters born post 2002 to Zawadi. Ideally I need:

Date cubs seen.

Approx age of cubs.

Number of cubs

Sex of cubs.

Survival of cubs – did they disperse and reach maturity.

Now I know that Pepe Puy is going to be of huge help in this respect given his amazing archive of data on all things ‘big cat’. So would really appreciate hearing from all of you.

Top tip. Hot off the newstands – the latest issue of National Geographic magazine with an article on cheetahs by our good friends Frans Lanting and his wife Chris Ekstrom. We worked with Frans and Chris last year in the Mara when they brought a couple of groups of friends on safari and visited them at home in the States too.

Just landed in the Mara for the Canon Middle East and Africa EOS Adventure safari at Il Moran (Governor’s Camp) – the two Kenyan prize winners are both ladies Minal Peshavaria and Helen Kinuthia – great work from them!! So proud to be hosting Minal and Helen for a couple of days. Only regret is that they won’t get to meet Angie who would really have inspired them on their trip of a lifetime. Next time!

Angie is still recovering at home in Nairobi – she is meant to be taking it easy but any of you who know Angie will know that isn’t possible! She is photographing at every opportunity in the garden with Little Cat and Simba and the pack but would so love to be here right now! She sends love to you all!

7 responses so far

Oct 28 2012

Where have we been – What’s Happening!!

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Been flat out with developing the new website with son David. Should be ready in November – that will give us the chance to communicate with you all much more efficiently and much more fun and images from us too!


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Aug 29 2012

Join The Big Cat People in September: Choice of 3 venues in the UK

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Great News for all Big Cat Diary Live fans!!

Kate Silverton our co-presenter in 2008 on BCD Live has agreed to Introduce Angie and myself for our illustrated talk at the Royal Geographical Society in London on the 19th Sept.

Kate is one of our all time favourite people and passionate about conservation – and big cats.

The RGS talk will be about our work with Big Cats particularly Leopards and

 will be in aid of Leopard Guardians an initiative that we have put in place with our friends in Sri Lanka – Chitral Jayatilake leading the way. Should be a great night and we will show some video clips on leopards as well as Angie’s stunning still images. We will be signing copies of the new Edition of The Marsh Lions (2012, Bradt Publishers) on the night.

Ticket enquiries for the 19th Sept to Amanda Beasley:

And you can also see/hear us at the Garrick Theatre on the 18th Sept: or Box Office Tel: 01543-412121

Or at Droitwich Spa on the 24th or Tel: 01905-774557

So plenty of reason to come along and meet up!

23 responses so far

Aug 17 2012

The British Bird Fair: This Sat/Sunday at Rutland Water: Not to Missed!!

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Wow – could I have forgotten what an amazing event the British Bird Fair is? Every August the BBF opens its doors to upwards of 30,000 people and all in aid of raising money for great ‘Bird Causes’ – this year to help for migration highways in East Asia. The mix of great stalls selling everything wildlife and photography and kit – and such a wonderful family event too – something for everyone – lo

ts of great talks too. Tomorrow I will be chatting with Mark Carwardine reviewing the audiences pictures at 1.00pm and then at 4.45 to 5.15 I will be showing lots of Angie’s amazing images from India, Bhutan and Namibia. Hope to see you there! And if you are into ‘scopes’ as in telescopes for birding or wildlife watching then come and check out Swarovski’s latest offering in their aerial hide – its a cracker. And their binocs are to die for. I’ll be signing copies of The Marsh Lions throughout Sat and Sunday.

10 responses so far

Aug 15 2012

Join us on 19th Sept at the Royal Geographical Society in London: Leopard Guardians Spectacular

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Hi Everyone. Hope that as many of you as possible can join us at the Royal Geographical Society in London on the evening of 19th Sept. We will be showing images of Leopards – my all time favorite big cat – from both Mara and Sri Lanka. Should be a great night. Hoping that Simon King will be able to Introduce us on the night!! We are launching Leopard Guardians with our friends from Sri Lanka and need all the support we can get!

Please contact Amanda Beasley of Friends of Conservation for tickets:

Look forward to seeing you all then and celebrating Angie’s wonderful images of all our favorite leopards – Half-Tail, Zawadi, Bahati, Olive……!!

5 responses so far

Aug 12 2012

Ban on Tiger Tourism in India: Who Wins?

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Not sure how banning tourist’s from India’s core game viewing areas in its fabled Tiger Reserves is going to help protect tigers. What is the idea behind this? Is it that the authorities believe that tourism is impacting negatively on the tiger population – and if that is the case then is there any data to show that this is born out by lowered reproductive success?

In Kenya the fact that we have so many tourists visiting places like the Masai Mara helps to protect the wild animals. The revenue from park entrance fees pays salaries for rangers and funds conservation. And the sheer presence of so many visitors makes it much harder for poachers to operate undetected. Tourism also helps to focus peoples attention on wild places like the Mara. I don’t think that keeping tourists away from India’s wild places is going to help solve problems with law enforcement and anti-poaching. It is that along with the seemingly unquenchable demand for tiger products for use in traditional medicine in places like China – or for their beautiful skins – that is killing the tiger. Not tourism. Yes, lets clean up the tourism industry and make it accountable. Lets regulate the number of vehicles allowed in to the parks and monitor their behavior to try and lessen the impact on the tigers. But banning tourism is more likely to harm conservation in India than to enhance it. You only have to look at what happened to Tanzania’s rhinos and elephants when Tanzania closed its border with Kenya in 1977. Yes, Tanzania had a genuine gripe to express with their larger neighbor – Kenya dominated Tanzania’s tourism industry in the old days and pocketed much of the profits. But the decline in the number of visitors to Tanzania’s parks and reserves caused a massive loss in revenue to those same wildlife areas – poaching went through the roof.

8 responses so far

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