Namibia really is an amazing place for photographers. On this occasion, everything lined up, but as a photographer I was unfortunately not fully up to the task. Still, some amazing photos.
The location: Okonjima / Africat, where two organizations collaborate on a 22,000 hectare plot of African bush to rehabilitate injured carnivores. Africat has taken in nearly 1,000 large cats and released over 900 of them – to give you an idea of the scale. Most of them go back where they came from, but some stay at Okonjima. If I remember correctly, about 25 leopards, 4 cheetahs, 3 or 4 each spotted hyenas and wild dogs, and soon there will be lions.
Anyway, when you go to Okonjima, you can, for a very reasonable price, get welcomed in luxurious style and stay in a fantastic “view” room (which you’ll rarely see because there is so much to do!), and go on excursions to track the animals with your very own guide. The cheetahs and a few of the leopards are collared (to monitor their rehabilitation), and the guides use radio tracking equipment to find them in the bush – and in the case of the cheetahs (the leopards are too shy), get pretty close to them on foot.
So this is what we were doing, and we happened upon the group of three cheetahs in the evening. They were lying – as if posing – on top of a large mound of earth. With the setting sun to our backs, this is indicative of some of the amazing photos we were able to shoot:
And then, something really special happened. As the sun was setting in the west, giving us this great yellow light, the full moon rose in the east – directly behind the cheetahs! To top things off, this was no ordinary moon – it was a “super moon” or perigee moon – about 14% nearer and 30% brighter than most full moons, due to the moon being nearer the earth than usual. We had about 10 minutes to use the fading light to try and capture both the cheetahs and the moon with the right amount of exposure. While we did that, our guide took the opportunity to serve our “sundowner” drink.
These are only a few of the photos – WordPress and Namibian internet speeds don’t get along and the uploads kept timing out – but there are more photos at Photoshop.com.