8 March 2011

True Confessions of a Naturalist/Photographer

I am supposed to earn my living from photography and writing but sometimes the naturalist in me takes over. Driving in a small municipal nature reserve along a fence I saw a small antelope and managed to switch off the engine and coast to a silent stop, grab a camera and fall silently out of the car. The small antelope continued feeding along the fence and eventually passed me.

Watching I realised it was a Blue Duiker, the smallest antelope found in Southern Africa. You seldom see them and in some 35 years of photography the only ones I have seen were dead alongside the road or dead in a snare. My camera sounded like a machine gun in the quiet of the morning and the antelope quickly realised it was not alone. It nervously approached the road and hesitatingly stepped over to the other side. Still using a slow almost ponderous walk it went to a track leading into thick bush and in a blink skipped down the path and disappeared.

Wonder how long it will take before I see another. Interesting how large the hooves seem, an expert (thanks Ayesha)(will tell the world to visit the Kragga Kamma Game Park!) told me that it was the result of the soft sandy habitat it lives in. If the surfaces it walks on are not abrasive the hooves will grow. They are not rare but are seldom seen because of their secretive habits and dense habitat of dense coastal dunes. They are most active early in the morning and late at night.

Sadly they make good eating and are easily snared. Crossing roads is also not their forte and I chose this picture because it shows how secretive they are and how hard they try to avoid being seen. This antelope walked back to the shadow across the road and crossed in the shadow. Good camouflage but not good road sense.

I do like the white edged tail which makes identification easy. It is almost like a little flag that identifies it. Next time I will remember that I am a professional photographer and will take more than just a few pictures. I might never see another one.

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