Memorable Moments: Wildlife Photography Safari

By Nelis Wolmarans

Nelis Wolmarans is a born and bred South African wildlife photographer, whose images have covered the pages of numerous publications across the globe. Currently, as a private guide, it allows him to explore with and introduce his clients to some of the most iconic safari destinations on the African continent. 

Professional Photographers venture on an African Safari

It was day 15 of a 21-day African safari which combined the vast grass plains of both the Maasai Mara in Kenya and the Serengeti in Tanzania. I am thrilled to be on safari with one of my absolute favorite photographer couples, Owen and Rona.

Their wildlife photography interests vary quite drastically with Owen purely focused on bird species and Rona more drawn towards the larger mammal species.  Sharing a vehicle with photographers who are focused on vastly different photography subjects often leads to several interesting discussions, humorous incidents and in Rona’s case, witty remarks.  

One such incident took place on a morning drive when we found a Brown Snake Eagle beautifully perched on a dead tree, the golden morning light bouncing off its feathers and a clear blue-sky background.  Owen desperately wanted to capture the Eagle taking off in flight and we decided to wait it out.  After roughly 30-minutes of waiting, Owens’ enthusiasm for the subject was not entirely felt by all in the vehicle, but Rona, being the supportive and patient wife that she is, indulged the making of this epic in-flight image.  Eventually and to everyone’s delight (for various reasons), the eagle took to the skies and Owen was gratified with the shot that he had envisioned.

Rona’s Quest for Wildlife Photography

Another fantastic capture and we were once again bumbling on our way to off-set the time spent on the bird photography with some other wildlife photography for Rona.  As the vehicle crested the rise, right next to the road was a large male Ostrich in full breeding plumage.  Our driver-guide who by now knew not to pass by any bird photography opportunities, hit the brakes hard.  The sudden stop caused us all to slide forward in our seats, not unlike the contestants participating in a game of musical chairs.  Owen jumped up first with camera in hand whilst both Rona and I were still trying to compose ourselves.  

Rona spotted the Ostrich and in true form, her sharp wit and incredible sense of humor very much intact, immediately said to Owen, “I take it that we are going to have to wait for this one to take off also”, she flashed me a sly grin. Owen looked back at Rona and then at me, very much less amused by the comment than the rest of the occupants on the vehicle.  I could not keep it together and tears of laughter were rolling down my cheeks. Owen did manage to photograph the Ostrich but once again and as only she can, Rona had provided the comedic element to our morning drive.  

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