Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres)

Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres)

The Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres) is endemic to Southern Africa and is classified as vulnerable on the 2010 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The main threats to this vulture are from bad farming practices by misinformed farmers who believe that vultures transmit diseases to their livestock.

The Cape Vulture’s body parts are still used for traditional medicine by Sangomas even though this custom illegal. Deaths due to electrical power lines in  are a further reason for its decline.

Whether this magnificent bird will survive or not is still in the balance. Its future lies in the hands of the farmers. Some have embraced this challenge by stopping the once widely used practice of poisoning to control perceived threats to livestock and instead creating vulture restaurants on their properties.

This image was taken at Giants castle, one of the major protected breeding sights in South Africa.

Location; Giants Castle, South Africa

Cape Vulture(Gyps coprotheres) landing with wings outspread onto rocky ledge (PETER DELANEY)

Kalahari Black Maned Lion

A magnificent Kalahari Lion walks towards photographer (Peter Delaney)

Kalahari Black Maned Lion; Heart of Darkness

When you are alone and in the presence of a Kalahari black mane lion, a primeval fear takes a hold of you. Even though you tell yourself “you’r safe” you can not totally shake this feeling. It’s there lodged in the back of your mind.

 

This majestic animal once was the bane of a forefathers who lived on this land. They created kraals around there dwellings to keep there families and livestock safe .

 

When you are a few meters from this killing machine and his  predatorily eyes lock with yours ,you will be chilled to the bone.

 

This male has murder on his mind for he hunts a female and cubs from another pride. A few minutes before I watched an anxious mother and cubs run towards and pass me . It was not until the male came in to view that I realized why the hurry . I followed for as far as I could . But then the lions went in to thick bush I will never know the real outcome. I assume the worse but hope for the best..

written by Peter Delaney

 

The Gladiator; White-backed Vulture emerged from dust

The Gladiator/Showdown. This award winning image of a White Back Vulture Emerging from Dust.This Fine Art print would make for wonderful wall art print for you home, office or lodge. (Peter Delaney)The Kalahari is a land of extremes: summer temperatures
soar whilst winter nights plummet to well below freezing,
a parched dusty landscape that can be transformed
overnight to a sea of green rolling dunes. The silence can
be deafening for those of us whose lives are consumed by
everyday noise. For the inhabitants of the Kalahari, life
is a constant struggle; their survival hangs by a single
thread – the arrival of the rains. If they are late this can
seal the fate of those who have struggled through a long
hard winter.
It’s October. For the visitor this is prime viewing time, as
the scarce vegetation and water means animals
congregate close to the man made waterholes. Birders
await the arrival of migrants such as Abdim’s Stork,
Yellow-billed Kite, Booted Eagle and Common Swift
from their long journeys. But the rains are late, the air is
thick with dust and the wind blows sand that bits at the
faces of the ungulates making their way to a nearby
waterhole. As the dust swirls settle down and the wind
drops an eerie sensation descends around the waterhole.
Soon it is apparent why – the place is littered with
carcasses of once magnificent Eland – patches of skin,
horns and pieces of bones from their huge frames lay
scattered.
At first they circle, in ones and twos, within minutes the
sky is full. Their descent is almost silent, landing on
the beautiful Camel thorns. Their powerful necks move in
arcs as they scan their surroundings. On the ground
they begin hissing and squawking noisily; chaos
ensues as they fight for best feeding position. They climb
over each other, pecking, biting and clawing their way
through the mayhem; fights breaking out as they vie for
dominance at the carcass. This is the way of the Whitebacked
Vulture.
I reposition myself, it’s close to midday and the light is
harsh – not ideal, but that doesn’t matter I have been
waiting a long time to capture images of these
magnificent raptors these vultures of the Kalahari. In
my minds eye I have the images I want to create. I click
away pausing now and again to get a better angle. In the
view finder I am composing and recomposing over and
over again. Watching and waiting for a particularly
aggressive vulture to attack.
Then he arrives. Walking across my viewfinder he
defines magnificence, he demands respect. He towers
above the white-backs. They part like the Sea of Galilee as
he moves towards the carcass. The Lappet-faced Vulture
has arrived. All action halts. Even the jackals pause to
look at the latest arrival, assesses the situation, then trot
off. The Lappet-face starts chewing and pulling at the
carcass, and the free-for-all starts again, but the Whitebacked
Vulture are careful to keep their distance. Every
now and again the Lappet-faced reminds them with a
hiss or a vicious bite of the pecking order at the carcass.
In truth these two rivals have different preferences at the
carcass the White-backed Vulture favours the softer parts
whilst the Lappet-faced Vulture is inclined to go for the
skin, tendons and ligaments – the parts that most other
vultures are not equipped to deal with.
Skirmishes start breaking out once again amongst the
White-backed scavengers. It is difficult to photograph as
the fighting vultures kick up so much dust. They are
totally engulfed. Now and again I can see a head, a
wing, a claw, as feathers and dirt fly in all directions. I
click away with more hope more than certainty. When
the dust settles the carcass is bare. Some vultures fly to
nearby trees but their takeoff is laboured due to full
crops. Those who have over indulged and are too heavy to
fly simply walk to the shade of the nearest tree.
I sit up and take my eye away from the view finder. I
count over 60 White-backed Vulture, 2 Lappet-faced
Vulture, a pair of Bateleur, Tawny Eagle and even a
Lanner Falcon. The demise of the Eland has become a
bounty for so many of these raptors and it has been a
privilege to witness and record this interaction.

Written by Peter Delaney

 

White-backed Vulture emerged from dust

Black Rhino and Calf charging

 

A charge by a Black Rhino and calf on the photographer.This Fine Art  print would make for wonderful wall art print for you home, office or lodge. (Peter Delaney)

Black Rhino and Calf charging, It is not every day that I get charged by two black rhino and escape unhurt with both vivid memories and an image. While on location at Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa. I was fortunate to come across a pride of lions in an active mood. My guide and I noticed that one of the lioness had spotted something on the tree line in the distance and had begun to stalk it. We decided to pre-empt the lioness and did a loop to watch the interaction. We had taken up position a hundred meters or so from the tree line when we saw two black rhino, mother and calf, browsing on some trees. They seemed unaware of us and the approaching lioness. After a few minutes the wind changed direction and without provocation the mother charged headlong in our direction, the calf following her. I have to be honest my immediate concern was to get the shot, so crouching as low as possible in the open 4×4 I began shooting. It was not until the rhino had totally filled the viewfinder that I realised the rhino had no intention of stopping until she had gored the side of our 4×4 and driver. With only meters between us the guide started shouting and banging his door furiously. Luckily this seem to startle the rhino and she skidded off to our right in a cloud of dust with calf behind her. It was a heart stopping experience that left us, and the lioness, somewhat perplexed.

 

Written by Peter Delaney

. #Black Rhino and Calf charging

The Godfather African Elephant dust bath

 

 

The Godfather. A magnificent African Bull Elephant dusting. This Award winning image available as a Fine Art Print. (Peter Delaney)

The godfather african elephant dust bath,

While he stands knee deep in the waterhole his eyes are closed as he dozes off. Now and again this giant will swish his tail or fill his trunk to spray his massive frame with the cool grey liquid. He is big – 4 meters tall and over 4 ton in weight, he is the “Godfather” as I affectionately call this giant elephant. It‚s two in the afternoon and the heat is relentless; over 30 degrees Celsius and no shade.

It’s been the same routine for weeks now.The Godfather and his two shadow bulls arrives early afternoon and commandeer the waterhole. This is the only water for 20 sq kms and the animals have travelled all day to drink this life saving water. But this “Trinity” will not give way or tolerate any other animal to drink in their presence.

A multitude of animals, springbok, gemsbok, zebra, ostrich, giraffe, even lion have waited hours for the elephants departure so that they may quench their thirst. From a photographer‚s point of view watching this action is like manna from the heavens‚ as there are attempted lion kills, sporadic jostles between herd males vying for dominance and occasional visits from black rhino that appear like specters as the sun fades below the horizon.

When the elephants do eventually leave my heart skips a beat as I prepare for the shot that has eluded me for so long. In my mind’s eye I have visualized this scene many times. But in order for this to happen I need them to walk towards me. But each day I groan inwardly and at another missed opportunity as the trinity head off to dust bath in the opposite direction .

Today however will be different as that morning I had seen the three bulls feeding from a camel thorn tree away from their usual feeding place. Soon it will be time for them to depart. I leave, anticipating their route, and wait silently for them to come in to view. I have checked and rechecked my equipment and decided upon the camera and lens combination. I now relax and control my breathing as they come in to view.

The next ten minutes are a bliss of forgetfulness as I zone in to the task at hand; only one moment stands out.

He stands still before me in all his magnificence, raising his trunk filled with the red Kalahari dust. In one fluid movement he sprays his forehead and for one brief moment he is covered in the magic of dust and light.

Written by Peter Delaney

#african elephant dust bath

Irish Examiner, BBC WPOTY 2012

Irishman scoops top wildlife photo award

By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith

Monday, October 24, 2011

HE turned a professional nightmare into an up close and personal insight into nature’s beauty, claiming a prestigious international wildlife photography award for his efforts.

Irish photographer Peter Delaney, who is based in Wicklow, received the accolade alongside colleagues in 17 categories during the Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 contest.

The award is specifically related to his Nature in Black and White image “Big Foot” — a rare close-up image of an elephant taken just when the opportunity seemed lost.

“Peter’s day didn’t start well. It was cold, he was sitting in a hide near a waterhole in South Africa’s Mapungubwe Game Reserve, Limpopo, and had forgotten not only his short lens but also his coffee flask,” the judging panel explained.

“The irritation magnified when a huge herd of elephants came to within 20 metres of the hide. ‘The elephants were playing and bathing, but the only thing I could do was shoot close-ups,’ he said. “Soon though, Peter became so engrossed in the detail of texture, tone and light that nothing else mattered. It made him realise that sometimes we can be spoilt by too much choice of equipment, and how creativity can often emerge from constraint.”

Among the other winners — whose work will be showcased at London’s Natural History Museum until March, before touring the world — were amateurs, professionals, youth awards and those for images focusing on the plight of endangered species.

This year’s overall winner was Daniel Beltrá of Spain, who was commended for his portrait of brown pelicans covered in crude oil after the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last year.

The prestigious contest has been running for 47 years and is organised by the Natural History Museum and BBC’s Wildlife Magazine. The competition receives thousands of entries from across the globe every year and is regarded as one of the highest accolades in wildlife photography.

* Professional and amateur photographers are encouraged to enter the 2012 competition from December 5. This year’s winning images, including Mr Delaney’s, can be viewed at nhm.ac.uk.

Read more: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/kfqlkfgbcwql/rss2/#ixzz1uAj2ESzC

 

Peter Delaney

BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 winner

Close up B&W image of an elephants foot.This image was winner of BB WPOTY 2011,Nature in B&W (Peter Delaney)

BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year  2011 winner

When I received an email in June informing me that I had won the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 Nature in Black and White. I was elated to say the least.

The worse part is that you cant tell anyone till the official announcement . Now this was tough ,it had been my dream for such a long time and now I had to keep it quiet for 3 months. I am Irish and we love to talk… so I just told my immediate family and really close friends and swore them to secrecy..I had to tell someone!!

The winning image was taken in a beautiful reserve in Limpopo, South Africa, called Mapunguwe.

SADLY THE DEMISE OF MAPUNGUBWE IS NOT FAR OFF … DUE TO MINING http://ecobuzz.co.za/2011/07/save-mapungubwe/

I was recently asked to write about the story behind the image for France GEO ,December issue.. so here is an extract from the magazine article

Mapungubwe game reserve. 6am ,Its very cold. The day has not started well.I am sitting at a hide hoping to get images of Mapungubwe s elusive wildlife.  I have forgotten  my flask of coffee and then a sudden realization that I also forgotten my short lens. To say I was a little irritated would be an understatement. Soon a big herd of elephants arrive within 20 meters of the hide. At my disposal is a 600mm telephoto lens. With this dilemma of too much lens .I decide to concentrate on getting close up shots of the elephants, the tusk, the eye, tail ,and this “Big foot”.

Sometimes as photographers we are spoilt by to much choice regarding equipment. Having just one camera and one lens may not have been ideal but it did make me think out of the box and capture images I may not have done if I had not forgotten some of my equipment.

Written by Peter Delaney