Nkurru Cam – Weekly Update #3

Hi,

Welcome to the third weekly Nkurru Cam update!

Last week Nkurru Cam caught a bunch of  Vervet Monkeys raiding a Spurfowl nest and photographed a lioness with cubs at the lodge waterhole. Yeah, pretty cool stuff but this last few days have made all of that look pretty tame.  Boring actually.

So, what could have happened this week that beats that?   Well, apart from all the buffalo, hyenas and general game we had lions.  Lots and lots of lions.

You see, I think that my childish fascination with the Bushnell camera trip has turned to obsession and based on the feedback from shareholders and guests who visit Nkurru I am not alone.  Come one, how can you not enjoy it?  Photography, wildlife, technology.  It rocks!

That being said, I am bleak.  Very very bleak!

After all the great things Nkurru Cam photographed this last month something happened a few days ago that, apart from having us completely in hysterics while it happened, got me pissed off at a pair of male lions.  Seriously pissed off but let’s not jump the gun.

Before we discuss these delinquent, aberrant, antisocial, felonious felines let’s start with some Nkurru Cam images from the last few days.

Follow along, this one makes for an interesting ride! 😉

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We get a lot of these.  Stunning little Blue Waxbills at the water’s edge.

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This one is more about the photography.  I am quite chuffed with what the Bushnell Camera Trap can do with birds in flight.

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Zebra having a late afternoon drink.

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Don’t what spooked him but I reckon that’s called ‘haulin ass’!

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This is what these Bushnell Camera traps are all about.  Getting close.  Really close.

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This is the same youngster that we photographed last week.  Great to know they are hanging around the area.

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Mom having another drink.  And all of this with no guests in the lodge!

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Nervous of the water.

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Now let’s try snarling at the water! 🙂

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The lioness with both her youngsters.

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The hyena activity at Nkurru is unreal!  Both spotted and brown.

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This Dikkop must now be one of the most photographed birds in Madikwe.  Thanks to Nkurru Cam.

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This old boy and his mates come down to the water every evening.

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Walking past to watering hole.  Eventually we figured out there was a zebra kill close by and that’s why these guys were patrolling yup and down the watterhole.

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This brown hyena also a regular visitor.  These Bushnell camera traps is perfect for research and nocturnal species.

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This is the last image we got of the brown hyena before he knocked the camera over.

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This is, I think, the brown hyena knocking the camera.  I had it tied to a large rock so no damage but now the camera was pointing at the sky.

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Interesting low angle shot of the spotted hyena as the return from feeding on the zerba kill close by.  I was pretty chuffed the upturned camera picked anything up.  But there was more to come.

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Early the next morning this young lion stopped in for a drink of water right next to our camera.

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Look at his face.  Rememeber his face.  Yes, he is one of the delinquent, aberrant, antisocial, felonious felines I mentioned earlier.

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Having a drink and probably planning his evil plans for later that day.

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This is one of the last images taken by Nkuru Cam.  Ever.

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What?  The last image?

Yeah, I ‘m afraid so and with that we have arrived at the discussion of the delinquent, aberrant, antisocial, felonious felines.

So, after posing for his early morning mug shot the young male lion returned for a drink of water later that day.  Eating zebra is thirsty work.   The great thing is that we were all on the deck at the lodge getting ready for game drive.

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At this point I was stoked as the two large cats were drinking right next to Nkurru Cam.  Think of the pics we are getting!  As a good friend of mine says “Gerry, get your tuxedo ready.  National Geographic will be phoning shortly!”

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The nice thing about Nkurru Cam is that we can strap it up anywhere and over the last few weeks I have found some awesome spots.  The one I had now, shown above, was my favorite and produced some amazing water level pics of animals drinking.  I mean, the close up of the lion drinking would have been perfect!!

Would have been?

Yeah, unfortunately.

Out of nowhere the darker male looked up.

Snarled at the camera.

Leaned forward.

And then…

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Yeah, that’s the *&@#& lion running away with Nkurru Cam!!!

We sat watching, in complete disbelief, as the large cat ripped the camera of the large rock it was tied to and walk away with.  We hurled all kinds of abuse, and some very colorful language, at him but he could not care less.  He simply strolled away to a shady tree and proceeded to chew on the camera strap.

Right, still time to same the camera!

I jumped in the game viewer with a few of the kids and we raced around to the waterhole to see of we could save the camera!

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As we got there the younger brother stolled towards his brother who was laying in the shade of a tree just to the left of the frame.

I decided to push the vehicle’s nose into the big cat to try and push him off of our camera.

It worked!!  But then the blonde guy, mister mug shot from earlier on, ran towards the camera, grabbed it and dashed off into a thicket.

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Now what?

At this point I was not quite sure what to do, probably visible on my face above, and as I heard a sickening crack I took a quite moment to myself as I paid my last respects to Nkurru Cam.  Surely we will never see it again.

When we got back from game drive that evening the delinquent, aberrant, antisocial, felonious felines were still sleeping around the waterhole but there was no sign of the camera.

So, first thing the next morning I decided to go and check things out and I walked into the thickets were I heard the lion chewing on our camera trap.  I did not have much hope but as I crawled udner another thorn tree… there it was!!!

Initially the camera looked in pretty decent shape and I had fleeting fantasies of strapping it up around the waterhole that evening but, after picking it up I saw that it’s not gonna happen!

This is what I found…

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Not too bad.

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Umm, still ok-ish!?

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Umm, ouch?

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Yeah, ouch!!!!

Brandon Flowers

Right through the batteries as well!!  Two of them were torn to shreds.

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Nkurru Cam – a shadow of it’s former self.

So you see why I’m bleak?

Of all the animals out in the bush I was worried that an elephant might bump it or step on it.  Never in a million years would I have guessed a lion will eat our camera!!!

Did I get the images of the camera?  Eish, not yet.

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This is the 16 GB SD card that was in the camera when the lions snacked on it.  On my computer I could get the card reader to recognize the card but I could not get any images of it.  I am off to Johannesburg in just over a week and I will most definitely be looking for some sort of specialist to see if we cannot get the last images of the lions of the card.  There has gotta be some great shots on there!

I will also be looking for a new Nkurru Cam as it is just to nice a piece of equipment to not have at the lodge!  Simon, I’ll be coming to see you as well with the chewed up camera and memory card! 🙂

So, depending on how things go I will be posting a few wildlife images on the site when I do the monthly newsletter next week and hopefully, if things work out, I’ll be bringing a new Nkurru Cam with me when I return to Madikwe around 25 March!  Anybody from Bushnell wanting to sponsor a new camera or two to the lodge? 🙂

Eish, these bloody lions!! 😉

Untill next time!

Gerry van der Walt