Wildlife In Nature | Sabi Sabi

A nature safari at Sabi Sabi, South Africa during winter.

The Inhabitants of Sabi Sabi

This rich land, located in the Sabi Sand Private Reserve on the South Western tip of the Kruger National Park, is a true conservation area.  The animals occur naturally. Unlike many other private game parks in South Africa where the animals are often tended to, cared for and/or 'assisted', here it is truly survival of the fittest.

I visited Sabi Sabi as winter fell upon them (in late June) and as evidenced by these photos, it's not the green, lush scenery that many are familiar with.  The vegetation is sparse and the lands themselves wreak of death and despair.  Many of the animals (including the Big Five) appear malnourished, often injured, struggling to survive and awaiting their next kill. 

This was my first experience photographing wildlife, and as anyone who's done it will attest to...it's all about skill, patience and a little old-fashioned luck. 
This journey was one that I will never forget...and a true reminder of the power, majesty and often shocking realities of life in the wild.
The first sunrise, captured with a 200-400mm f/4 lens.
The fearless Tracker.
A rhino feeds in morning light. We were less than 3 metres away from this gigantic creature.
The iconic Hornbill.
A pensive buffalo rests in the bush.
A leopard is spotted at night in the bush. A single point light illuminates his presence as he continues to sleep...
The sound of the jeep awakens him. We dim our lights as another approaches, causing this beautifully backlit silhouette.
Now awake, a quick shift in position has this amazing creature staring right at me...and it was only in this very brief moment (before he would get up and walk away to a more concealed area) that I noticed the corneal injury* over his right eye. *special thanks to Jeff Carpenter for the clarification.
This image speaks to the amazing skill of the tracker. This tiny chameleon was spotted in total darkness whilst driving in our jeep at a fairly high speed. I had one chance to snap a photo before he disappeared. A single flashlight provided illumination.
Baby & mother elephant, approaching sundown. Clearing his trunk, you can see dust and debris emanating below.
Wild dog. Lots of these present this time of year, scurrying around in packs. It was a treat to catch this one solo.
One of the most amazing sunrises I've ever seen. This was actually taken with the same 200-400mm lens + extender, handheld. How I managed to get this shot at all, I don't know. Next time, I'll bring a tripod.
A male lion breathes in the morning air. This particular male had many scars and fresh bruises, apparently from a recent altercation with another pack of males moving in on his territory. According to the tracker, his 'turf' was relinquished.
Another rhino, another day, masked behind a small population of leaves.
Another male spotted solo, resting in the bush. Evidently, his lethargic nature would indicate that he'd recently fed.
Another very rare sighting...a lioness and her two cubs (one shown here) out in the open of a vast, barren field. This female had a badly atrophied leg, and hobbled as she escorted her cubs to look for shade. Sadly, it was communicated to me that both the lioness and her cubs fell victim to the new pack that moved in, only a few weeks later.
Sunrise, sunset.
Lastly, here's a rough-cut of a video I put together from footage captured on my Nikon D800 and D4. This video also includes an instrumental mix of a song I composed as a tribute to this incredible place.
Back to Top