2011 – March – African Photo Safari Newsletter

Renner Safaris
Dream, Explore, Discover!

It was early morning in the Mara and the heavens seemed to be littered with twinkling stars. It was February 2011, and were on an African photo safari. As we drove, the sky beyond the horizon was beginning to lighten, changing from orange to gold, when almost as if on cue, an elephant and her baby, moved to the crest of the ridge on our right creating wonderful silhouettes against the golden sky.

Dawn of a New Day
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2011

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Newsletter Highlights:

Botswana May 27 – June 8,2011 Had been sold out since last April but space for 1 man willing to share a room with me to save the single supplement has become available.
Kenya and Tanzania – August 29 – September 14, 2011 (New Itinerary this year)
Rwanda Gorilla Trek – September 14 -19, 2011
Photos with stories from our February safari to Kenya and Tanzania
2012 Safari dates – New find them below in the newsletter.
Migration Story

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I overheard one of our guides on the radio speaking in Swahili. He reported he had found a pair of lions on their “wedding”. It was a polite way of saying he had found a pair of mating lions.

We had just arrived at the lions when a herd of elephants suddenly came crashing out of the bushes and charged the lions. What a rude wake up call!

The King Gives Way
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2011

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The lions ran off a few yards and laid down. They were soon confronted by a young elephant who let them know, in no uncertain terms, that they were not welcome to stay near the elephants and their baby.

Elephant Charging Lions
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2011

The elephant made one last threatening charge with his ears out, trunk raised and trumpeting loudly forcing the lions to move farther away before they settled down again. What a wild way for the lions to begin their day and the sun hadn’t even made it over the horizon yet! . The lions were just looking for a quiet place to proceed with their mating ritual. We watched them for a while but it appeared that they were nearing the end of their “wedding” and seemed content to just sleep. I guess it’s a cat thing.

Elephant Charging Lions
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2011

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We heard that there was another couple nearby so we went to investigate the photo possibilities. The sun had finally come up and the early morning light was spreading beautifully on the landscape. We had just left the lions when I heard a guide on the radio speaking Swahili again. This time his voice sounded more excited. He said that two large male lions had just come out of the bushes at the bottom the ravine. They were making their way up the hill to challenge the lone male for his pride. There could be a serious fight for life between the lions. We made a quick U turn and headed back to the scene.

Marauding Lions
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2011

It was obvious by their aggressive behavior that this was going to be a serious challenge for the single male. They were approximately a hundred yards from the pair when the female got up and moved into the nearby bushes. The male followed her. The two males continued to approach until they were about twenty yards away when they abruptly laid down in a show of bold confidence. We watched while they waited.

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There had originally been another lioness near the area of the mating pair, but she was not welcome to stay near the couple. In fact the male had growled, snarled and slapped at her to make sure she kept her distance from them.

We all watched and waited to see what would happen next. Then suddenly the unwelcomed lioness appeared in the bushes next to the couple. Again, the male snarled, growled and slapped at her sending her away! As she was driven away, she caught sight of the two extremely handsome males lying nearby and quickly ran over to the largest and best looking one and immediately began flirting with him.

Flirtatious Female
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2011

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She quickly captured his interest and then started teasing him. She circled around him and occasionally wrapped her tail around his head. To continue teasing him, she laid down in front of him and rolled seductively back in forth just out of his reach, captivating his attention. When he became interested, she got up and walked away. Of course, the big male followed her. She had mastered the dating game and continued to seduce him!

Playing Hard To Get
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2011

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Eventually they settled down and began their mating ritual. They would mate about every twenty minutes for the next seventy two hours without even stopping to eat. Between mating they would lie and sleep. I will always wonder if the female knew she had probably saved the life of the male that had repeatedly driven her away whenever she got close to the couple. He would certainly have been no match for these two powerful, handsome young males in the prime of their lives.


Mating Lions
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2011

A note here about photography: Just because you might get excited about what you are photographing, don’t forget to include the whole subject in the photo. I am quite embarrassed about having cut this male lion off at the knee!

It will be exciting to return in July because as a result of all of the lions mating, there will hopefully, be many little cubs. Cubs are a favorite while on safari and everyone loves them!

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After our morning meal, we went back on another game drive during which one of our guides spotted this leopard up in the tree with it’s kill . The Mara is great for photography because the wildlife is use to the safari vehicles and not bothered by our presence.

Leopard With Kill
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2011

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Where Is My Floss?
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2011

Don’t miss the thrill of being on one of my safaris just because you aren’t a photographer or you don’t use a “great camera.” If you enjoy wildlife you will love these safaris. Most likely you will come home with some great photos too!

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African Photo Safaris In 2012

Tanzania and Kenya – 17 Days Birthing Season for Migration Jan. 28 – Feb.13, 2012 Itinerary and Pricing
Botswana and Zambia 16 Days May 10 – 22, 2012 Itinerary and Pricing
Tanzania and Kenya – 18 Days Season for Mara River Crossings July 18 Aug.4, 2012 Itinerary and Pricing
Tanzania and Kenya – 17 Days Season for Mara River Crossings Aug. 27 – Sept. 12, 2012 Itinerary and Pricing
Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Trek Sept. 12 – 17, 2012 Itinerary and pricing coming Soon*

*To keep our prices competitive, we wait until we get the actual costs from the lodges and airlines, before setting the trip costs. We prefer not to increase the costs by guessing high. The prices for our 2012 safaris are set after we receive the trip costs early in May. We appreciate your patience. Our safaris are an outstanding value and at competitive prices.

On our safaris we stay in first class luxury lodges or luxury permanent tented camps. In Kenya and Tanzania we have a maximum of three passengers per vehicle. This allows plenty of space for you and your equipment during game drives and also the advantage of being able to watch and/or photograph the animals until you are satisfied.

There are only a few spaces available on each of this year’s safaris. To avoid disappointment, make your reservations today. To reserve your space on our photo safaris, please call Paul Renner at (949) 295-3136, or email him at: paulrenner3@cox.net.
You can also call Prem Sharma at Somak Safaris (800) 757- 6625.

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Important information about our African photo safaris:

Prices for our safaris to Kenya and Tanzania include airfare from LAX – most other companies do not include airfare.
• We have only three passengers per nine passenger safari vehicle. You will enjoy
plenty of space for you and your equipment!
• We stay in luxury safari lodges.
• You do not have to be a photographer but you must enjoy watching the wildlife
because that is what we do!
• I will be there to photograph with you and available to answer your questions.
Parks we visit on our African safaris.
I hope you will join me for an African Safari; your adventure of a lifetime! For more information, prices and itineraries click here.

To reserve your space on a safari, please call
Paul Renner at (949) 295-3136, or
email him at paulrenner3@cox.net
or call Prem Sharma at Somak Safaris (800) 757-6625

 

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On our Safaris we stay in luxury lodges and permanent tented camps.
For information and photos of the lodges and accommodations click here.

 

More Important Safari Information:

We have only three passengers per nine passenger vehicle giving you plenty of space for you and your photo equipment. You can photograph through windows on BOTH sides of the vehicle and also from the top, which pops up to create shade so you are protected from the hot, equatorial sun. Compared to other tours that pack the vans with up to eight people, this is a huge deal! Our African photo safaris are limited to eighteen people, including the leaders.

As we leave the lodges, the vehicles separate and spread out. This allows us to have up to six guides out looking for wildlife. They each have radios to share what they find. This way no one misses out on seeing the wildlife! With six great guides, you can hardly believe all of the wildlife they find. We have trained them to understand lighting, composition and what we are trying to achieve. Our guides are awesome!

Our safaris are designed for the ultimate photographic experience, however please don’t be intimidated out enjoying one my photo safaris just because you are not a photographer or you don’t use a “great camera.” If you enjoy wildlife you will love these safaris and more than likely you’ll come home with some great photos too!

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Migration story:

The migration is very much about wildebeest on the move. When this small herd came to Lake Ndutu just before sunrise, instead of going safely around the lake, they opted to cut straight through the shallow water. The danger for them here is the mud. The animals often get mired down in the mud and are unable to escape. Many die each year this way. One would think that because they are already covering over 750 miles during their migration, that they would simply go around the lake for the sake of safety. Fortunately they all crossed safely.

Wildebeest Reflection
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2011

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The heart of the migration is a wonderful vantage point for watching the behavior and listening to the sounds of the animals. Here two males fight while unimpressed onlookers rest calmly from their own daily life struggles.

Boys Will Be Boys
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2011

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Late January and early February is the birthing season in Tanzania for the migration. At this time of year millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle make their way to the southern sector of the Serengeti Plains to give birth. The grass in that area is particularly rich in nutrients which give the babies a good healthy start to life.

We watched this baby as it was born. One of our guides spotted the mother in the herd and recognized that she was in labor. She stood, laid down for a few moments, stood up again and gave birth. The baby dropped about three feet to the ground after which the mother turned around and licked off the embryonic sack . This also helps to create the bond between mother and baby.

Newborn Wildebeest
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2011

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Within a minute or two of its birth, the baby was tried to stand. The newborn’s legs looked as if they were made of rubber and standing was difficult. Within five minutes the baby was standing quite well and ten minutes after it’s birth it was walking well.

First Step
Canon 7D, Lens: EF100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2011

Within a couple of minutes of the newborn standing, the mother started trotting away. To our amazement the baby was able to run and kept up with her. It wasn’t even fifteen minutes old and already running! On the plains, it is survival of the fittest!

Born to Run
Canon 7D, Lens: EF100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2011

 

Don’t miss the thrill of going on one of my safaris just because you aren’t a photographer or you don’t use a “great camera.” If you enjoy wildlife you will love these safaris and more than likely you will come home with some great photos too!

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The bird life in Africa stands on its own! Most people go to Africa to see the animals, but the birds are equally wonderful and many would say, more beautiful.

Grey Crowned Cranes
Canon 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2010

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We found this proud Kori Bustard in Ngorongoro Crater doing his best to impress a female that was somewhere nearby. We were impressed by his show but don’t know if she was impressed or not because we never saw her.

Kori Bustard
Canon 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2010

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We were driving along in the Mara and came on a good sized flock of these Yellow Throated Sandgrouse. I don’t recall having seen them before. I was fascinated at how after we stopped, they stayed on the ground right near our vehicle and continued talking and cooing to each other the whole time we stayed there.

Yellow Throated Sandgrouse
Canon 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2010

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At Lion Hill Sarova Lodge at Lake Nakuru, there was a Maasai man who was extremely knowledgeable about birds. He had created a natural bird feeder from an Acacia branch. He simply cut a trough in a branch, hung it up in an Acacia tree and filled the trough with food the birds would like. I had never seen so many beautiful birds of all colors and species flock to a feeder. These were just a few Greater Blue-eared Starlings. There was also an assortment of Weavers, Mousebirds, Bulbuls, Chats, Widowbirds and many more. It made for some fun photography!

Greater Blue-eared Starlings
Canon 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2010

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Secretary Birds are fascinating to watch as they walk through the grass hunting for food. When they find lizards, snakes, rodents or rabbits, they quickly use their foot to stomp on their prey to kill it. They are very effective hunters.

Secretary Bird
Canon 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2011

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We were almost back to camp one evening, when we spotted this Dark Chanting Goshawk eating a lizard. The sun had already set and it was almost dark. Thanks to digital cameras with their high ISO capabilities, we were still able to get interesting photos.

Dark Chanting Goshawk
Canon 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2011

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If you have dreamed of going on an African safari or would like to see nature at her finest, then consider joining one of my safaris for the experience of a lifetime! Why not turn your dreams into reality this year? Don’t miss out on the opportunity.

Giraffe in Serengeti
Canon 7D, Lens: EF 100-400mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2010

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Africa is well known for spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Each day we begin our morning game drive before sunrise. On our afternoon game drives, we return to the lodge just after sunset. This gives us the best opportunities to photograph this breathtaking beauty.

An Evening in the Serengeti
Canon 7D, Lens: 18 -135mm, f4.5/5.6 ISL USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2010

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Our African photo safaris are the trip of a lifetime! I am so thankful to have been born and grown up in East Africa. Now that I am able to take people with me and share what I know about photography along with my personal experiences of Africa, I am thrilled so many clients return and say to me “that was the best trip I have ever been on” or “thank you for the vacation of a lifetime! I want to go again soon!”

I hope you will be able to join me on an African photo safari soon. It will be your trip of a lifetime! Why not in sign up now?

For more information, prices and itineraries click here.

Enjoy each day.
Paul

Paul Renner
paulrenner3@cox.net
www.rennersafaris.com

 

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