Image Of The Month logo
June 2009 "Scratch That Itch"
Giraffe Scratching Ear
Male Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis)

What do you do when you have long legs and a very long neck, and you have an itch in your ear? Can't exactly stick your pinky finger in, can you? (provided you even have one!)

Animals must take advantage of what they find--here a branch from a fallen tree provides a pointed 'finger', and should the tree trunk be substantial enough, zebras will rub their rump against it. Larger plains animals will straddle a low bush and use the spines for a brush.

Canon 5D camera, EF 100-400mm f4.5L lens at 400mm, exposure of 1/200 at f8 (ISO 200), hand held with Image Stabilization.

May 2009 "My, What Big Teeth You Have"
Warthog Snout
Male Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)

Another example of The 38th Frame--rediscovered partial film ends (first example and explanation here). This is a close-up of a male warthog snout, showing the "tusks".

The tusks are actually modified canine teeth, which have evolved for digging and defence. The upper set may look more impressive because of their upward curve and length, but the sharper lower pair are the most dangerous to other warthogs and predators.

These upper tusks are somewhat unique, since most pairs are symetrical. Warthog tusks are commonly sold to tourists as "ivory"--mini versions of elephant tusks, often carved or as keyrings.

Since the film was Fuji Sensia 100 Professional, the image was probably taken in the early 1990's, somewhere in Southern Africa, using Nikon equipment.

April 2009 "This Can't Be Comfortable"
Leopard In Tree
Leopard In Acacia Tree, Samburu Reserve, Kenya

When on safari, you always are alert for congregations of other safari vehicles--since there must be a reason. We spotted a line of vehicles on a distant hillside, so decided to investigate. Joining the line of trucks, we slowly inched ahead until it was our turn to see the reason for the traffic jam--a female leopard, mostly hidden, in a small acacia tree. Acacia trees are a favored resting spot for leopards, but because of the altitude on the hillside, the selection of available trees was limited. Unfortunately this tree was rather scrawny, so her perch sure looked uncomfortable!

Canon 5D camera, EF 100-400mm f4.5L lens at 390mm, exposure of 1/100 at f6.3 (ISO 640), hand held with Image Stabilization. The quality of the lighting was terrible.

March 2009 "Out Of Habit"
Wildebeest Under Tree
Wildebeest Under Acacia Tree, Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya

As the rainy season approaches, the need for animals to seek shade under the sparse selection of trees on the Serengeti Plains diminishes. These migrating wildebeest have gathered under the only tree available, expecting relief from the relentless sunshine, except the day is very cloudy and wet and basically sunless! Creatures of habit...

Canon 5D camera, EF 100-400mm f4.5L lens at 220mm, at ISO 125, exposure of 1/400 at f8, hand held with Image Stabilization.

February 2009 "What Do We Have Here?"
Lion & Tortoise
The Lion And The Tortoise, Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya

An afternoon downpour brought the sleeping lions and a small Leopard Tortoise to life, and the movement of the tortoise caught the eye of a pride male. After a thorough inspection, being too small and too difficult to eat saved the little guy from further harassment.

Canon 5D camera, EF 100-400mm f4.5L lens at 170mm, at ISO 500, exposure of 1/60 at f5.6, hand held with Image Stabilization (which saved the picture under such poor lighting conditions).

January 2009 "Front Row Seats"
Wildebeest Crossing River
Wildebeest Crossing The Mara River, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

The Paradise Crossing in the Masai Mara is probably the most used crossing when the wildebeest return south to the Serengeti Plains of Tanzania. We were fortunate to catch the 'tail end' (groan) of the 2008 migration this past October, including this crossing that lasted about 1 3/4 hours.

Many believe this spectacle to be one of the 7 Natural Wonders Of The World, so thousands of people choose this time of the year to visit Kenya. Crossings are sporadic, and as the herds congregate on the banks of the Mara River, the word quickly spreads and safari vehicles race to the crossing for a good viewing spot. The opposite bank, from where this picture was taken, was even more jammed with vehicles.

Canon 5D camera, EF 100-400mm f4.5L lens at 115mm, exposure of 1/640 at f8, hand held.