Most of the time photographing wildlife is done at some distance. Depending on the animal and the environment that may be as close as a few feet, but more likely twenty feet would be considered close and 50 to 300 feet not unreasonable. While most of the animals we photographed were free running on game preserves, there were some that were captive and allowed for closer shots. The male White Lion above is at Shambala and is fenced in at the owners property along with two females. They’re fed and cared for, but are certainly not pets. Their human interaction consists of being fed from a distance and being hopeful that one of those tasty looking photographers will fall into the enclosure.
This Nyala was wandering around the Ukutula property and approached to within 10 feet while crossing to the pond for a drink. I was a little concerned that it would become crocodile chow in the process, but it kept its distance.
This Cheetah is also part of the Ukutula breeding program and is kept with one other in a large enclosure. They’re fascinating animals that display a territorial warning, but tend to run rather than fight if pressed.
The Waterbuck was one of many we saw at Pilanesberg. I was impressed with the way the park balanced accessibility with the number of visitors they have. The animals mostly ignore the vehicles and as a result sightings are plentiful.
Ukutula breeds animals to provide to other preserves and zoos, and while they concentrate on Lions they also have a variety of others like the Spotted Hyena. This one is a pregnant female.
No, Bengal Tigers are not naturally occurring in Africa. But this one was on display and I love the close up picture.
To be honest, I’m somewhat ambivalent about captive breeding programs. In a perfect world, it would be unnecessary, but the sad fact is that when the animals’ natural range is reduced to the point that it threatens extinction, it helps keep the genetic diversity high enough to give the breed a fighting chance. I would like to think game management and preservation efforts are improving with time, but the decreasing population trends of many of the larger animals still haven’t turned around. Until they do captive breeding may be the tool that helps prevent extinction.