Wildlife and Nature Archives

African Buffalo Picture, Abstract View

Buffalo Bull close-up in thick vegetation

Caption: Abstract view of the head and horns of an African buffalo bull (Syncerus caffer) partially obscured by leaves and summer vegetation, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa.

Photo Details: Canon EOS 400D digital SLR with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6 L USM IS telephoto zoom lens; Focal Length: 400mm; Shutter speed: 1/320; Aperture: f5.6; ISO: 200.

The above photograph, showing just a portion of the huge head and horns of an African Buffalo bull partically hidden by vegetation, was taken from the safety of a safari game drive vehicle.

The word “safety” is used deliberately, because buffalo are known to be extremely dangerous — and even more so when they're old and ill-tempered. It’s not for nothing that the African buffalo is one of Africa’s wildlife “Big Five” — animals considered by hunters to be the most dangerous. The others are African elephant, lion, leopard, and rhinoceros.

The thought of walking in the bush and suddenly being confronted by that massive head, with the thick horns and gnarled “boss” only yards away in the dense green bush makes for nightmare material. If you’re ever on safari, don’t under-estimate African buffalo because they resemble domestic cattle! Take particular care when on foot that you don’t inadvertently stumble on an old, irritabale and bad-tempered bull lurking in the undergrowth.

Abstract Leopard Photograph

Leopard abstract

Caption: Male leopard (Panthera pardus) is the epitomy of feline stealth as it stalks silently through dense vegetation, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa.

The above photograph is unusual in that it’s a more abstract portrayal of this magnificent Big Cat, emphasising the leopard’s camouflage and predator behavior rather than the more conventional full-figure portrait of a leopard lounging languidly in a tree or lying gracefully on a rocky outcrop.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi); Lens: Canon EF70-200mm F2.8 IS USM; Focal Length: 70mm; Shutter speed: 1/4000; Aperture: f4; ISO: 400.

Location: Elephant Plains Game Lodge is a private, family-owned lodge situated within the 65,000-ha Sabi Sand Game Reserve.

Sabi Sand, adjacent to South Africa’s flagship reserve, the Kruger National Park, is possibly best known as home to a handful of the most luxurious private game reserves in southern Africa, including Mala Mala, Singita, and Londolozi.

There are no dividing fences between Sabi Sand and Kruger, allowing the prolific wildlife to roam freely between the two. The Sabi Sand area – and Elephant Plains in particular – has earned a reputation as one of the top spots in the world for viewing and photographing leopards in the wild.

Baby Impala Antelope Nuzzling

Impala babies nuzzling

Caption: Impala fawns (Aepyceros melampus) rub noses as they nuzzle each other, Kruger National Park, South Africa. The two were part of a nursery of about a dozen impala babies, born shortly before a visit to the Kruger Park during December.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D; Lens: Canon 100-400 IS Zoom; Focal Length: 320mm; Shutter speed: 1/400; Aperture: f5.6; ISO: 400.

Did you know? The Kruger National Park is the largest wildlife sanctuary in South Africa, covering an area of 18,989 square km (7,332 sq miles).

As such, it is home to an impressive diversity of flora and fauna, including 507 different birds and 147 types of mammal. In addition to the “Big Five” – elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino – there are also large numbers of giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, hippo, antelope, and hyena.

Check your safari knowledge by taking this light-hearted African Safari Quiz.

Wildlife art is nothing new – since humans first learnt to draw, animals have been a ready source of artistic inspiration. In southern Africa, rock paintings on datable stones and deposits have been found that are thousands of years old.

What is new is the accessibility and affordability of top-class wildlife art prints.

While modern man’s relationship with wild animals is very different to that of our hunter-gatherer ancestors for whom animals were a source of food and clothing, our interest in wildlife remains undimmed. In fact, as a burgeoning population uses ever more resources, encroaching on the remaining wildlife habitats, there is at the same time a growing realization of how critical it is to protect our planet’s endangered animals.

This conservation awareness is particularly evident among wildlife artists. They, after all, need to understand their subjects so are more attuned to issues like climate change and the impact this is having on nature and the ecology.

Artists are also conscious that a growing interest in conservation and wildlife means a larger audience for their work. A larger audience means more diverse tastes, which is good for the artists. Although fashion and taste have never remained static, a smaller pool of buyers did mean less scope for artistic expression. If the “in thing” was ultra-realistic paintings of waterfowl, then that’s what a wildlife artist had to produce to survive.

Nowdays, with more people interested in and exposed to wildlife art, there’s more room for diversity. From photo-realistic drawings to abstract paintings, the variety of wildlife art available is simply astounding.

The biggest advantage for the wildlife enthusiast is that so much that’s on offer is now affordable, thanks to advances in digital technology and modern printing methods.

Naturally everyone would love to own originals, but for those of us who can’t afford them, we’re fortunate that the quality of art reproductions has improved in leaps and bounds, making superb wildlife art prints available at low prices. Prints also come in a variety of sizes and print surfaces, from textured paper to cotton canvas, giving the buyer an even wider choice.

Wildlife prints by renowned artists like John Banovich, Robert Bateman and Ruane Manning can now be acquired and enjoyed by ordinary people.

And it’s not only artwork that’s more accessible to the man in the street. Wildlife photographs by many of the world’s leading photographers can also be purchased at reasonable prices. Photographs are digitally printed on archival photographic paper, producing vivid, pure colors and exceptional detail.

These photographic wildlife prints are readily available by big names like Art Wolfe, Steve Bloom, Beverly Joubert, and Michel and Christine Denis-Hout.

The net result is that both art lovers and wildlife enthusiasts have never had a greater selection of wildlife prints from which to choose, at prices most of us can afford.

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