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Smaller Mammals Archives

African Wild Cat, Close-Up

African Wild Cat, close-up, Kruger National Park, South Africa Caption: African Wild Cat close-up showing the diagnostic red color behind the ears, Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Camera: Canon EOS 450D; Lens: Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM zoom; Focal Length: 252mm; Aperture: f/5.6; Shutter Speed: 1/60; ISO: 800.

This is not your common or garden domestic kitty, but rather a true African Wild Cat (Felis silvestris).

We know it’s a genuine wild cat because of the distinctive red hair on the back of the ears, which is not found in domestic or feral cats.

You can find out more and see additional pictures on our web page, African Wild Cat Standing Side-On.

Slender Mongoose on Tree Stump

Slender Mongoose perched on tree stump Caption: Slender Mongoose keeps an eye out for predators while perched on a tree stump, Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Camera: Canon EOS 450D; Lens: Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM telephoto; Shutter speed: 1/320; Aperture: f/8; ISO 400

The Slender Mongoose (Galerella sanguinea) is a small, short-legged, sinuous mongoose with a long, black-tipped tail. Total length, including the tail, is about 60 cm (24″).

It is diurnal, usually solitary, and feeds mainly on insects but will also eat small reptiles, mice, and birds. Depending on location, the color varies from a dark, reddish brown to grizzled gray. (Source: Land Mammals of Southern Africa by Reay HN Smithers)

Elephant and Baboons Crossing Channel

Elephant and baboons crossing river channel Caption: An elephant and group of baboons prepare to cross a channel of the Chobe River, Chobe National Park, Botswana.

Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Canon Rebel XSi 12.2MP); Lens: Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM telephoto zoom; Focal length: 300mm; Shutter speed: 1/500; Aperture: f/8; ISO: 400.

For an elephant, fording a shallow river channel means walking across and getting your feet wet. But for baboons, particularly mothers with babies, the crossing is a dangerous and unpleasant undertaking.

The baboons cross these channels within the Chobe River system to forage for food on the fertile “islands” before heading back to the mainland. But they’re also clever animals, very aware of the crocodiles that lurk along the river banks, so try to get across the water as fast as possible (below).

Baboons and elephant crossing river
While sympathetic to their plight and the dangers they face, it’s nevertheless fascinating to watch them scramble across the water. Those not carrying babies take a running jump from the bank and remain airborne as long as possible.

I’ve added a photo sequence of this to my Picture Stories – see Baboon in a Hurry to Cross River. If you enjoy the photos on that page, please hit the “Like” button or leave a comment.

Baboon Mother and Youngster in Morning Light

Baboon Mother and Youngster in Morning Light Caption: A baboon mother cuddles her youngster protectively as they huddle together in the early morning sun, Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Camera: Canon EOS 50D; Lens: Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Telephoto; Focal length: 200mm; Aperture: f/5.6; Shutter speed: 1/320; ISO: 800

While on a recent trip to the Kruger National Park, I was fortunate enough to borrow a brand new copy of Canon’s L series 70-300mm telephoto zoom. For some years I’ve used the older, much cheaper 70-300mm which, while image-stabilized, is not an L-series lens.

I was very interested to see how this lens would perform when used on a Canon EOS 50D with its APS-C sensor that gives an effective 1.6x magnification. I’ve always had fairly shaky hands, so hand-holding is a problem, even with IS lenses.

But I have to admit I was simply blown-away by many of the images taken with this very compact lens, specially when compared to my older 70-300mm.

In most cases I was in a vehicle, shooting through the back window. When I could, I used a bean-bag on the window as support, but there were also times where this was not possible, so I had to hand-hold.

The IS is incredibly effective and allowed me to get sharp photos at relatively slow shutter speeds, something I could never have done with my older lens and also not with the Canon 100-400 which I owned some years ago.

As one of the many positive reviewers on Amazon points out, the “4-stop image stabilization and focusing speed are far superior to the 100-400 …. overall, image quality is similar to the excellent 70-200f/4L IS, but the 70-300 is more compact with a longer reach. I think that when it comes to wildlife photography, this lens is especially well suited for a crop sensor camera where it provides a very useful 112-480mm range. I see no negatives with this superb lens except it’s a little pricey …”

Pity about the price, which right now is way out of my league. But if I had the bucks, I’d buy this lens without hesitation as find it superb for wildlife and definitely worth the money if you’re looking for a compact, lightweight, optically top-notch lens that’s also easy to hand-hold.

Spotted Hyena at Waterhole

Spotted hyena lying near waterhole, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana Caption: Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) lying on edge of waterhole, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana.

Camera: Canon EOS 450D; Lens: Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM zoom; Focal length: 140mm; Aperture: f/8; Shutter Speed: 1/200; ISO: 400

To see more photos of spotted hyena, please visit our hyena gallery page, Hyena Pictures, which has recently been revamped. A number of new images have been added while some of the older ones have been replaced with updated versions.

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