A tale of two brothers

Text and photography by Teri Franzen

Life in the African bush is hard for prey animals and apex predators (those at the top of the food chain) alike.  Ungulates (hooved animals) such as zebras, gazelles and wildebeest are constantly wary and keeping watch to ensure they don’t fall victim as food for one of the countless predators that share their territory.  Predators fight among themselves over that same territory.  Lions will fight to take control of existing prides.  They will also fight to drive off other predators, like cheetahs, sharing the same space.  Very often these battles have grim results for the victims.

During my recent trip to Ndutu in northern Tanzania (eastern Africa) we saw many cheetah families living in the Makao plains.  Among them were two bachelor brothers that we had hoped to encounter during our journeys.  With a top speed approaching 70 miles per hour, cheetahs are the fastest land animals in the world.  They can maintain this speed for approximately 500 yards.  As a singular animal a cheetah is capable of chasing down and capturing smaller prey, a favorite being a Thomson’s gazelle.  Adult male cheetahs often form coalitions with siblings.  When teamed up they are capable of bringing down much larger prey, like wildebeest.  We wanted to see this two-male coalition in action.

On January 31, during our morning game drive we happened upon a lone cheetah that had climbed onto a fallen tree.  It started calling and before we identified the gender we suspected a female calling for her young.  As we looked more closely we realized it was a male and that it was injured.  His mouth was wounded and his elbows rubbed raw.   This was one of the brothers, only his sibling was nowhere in sight.  Our best guess was that the two cheetahs had been victims of a lion attack during the night.  Either the second male had been killed or severely injured, or he escaped and ran in another direction.

Injured cheetah searching for his brother.

A closer look at his mouth injury.

The wounded cheetah wandered from tree to tree, sniffing for signs of his brother and then sending a stream of his own urine toward the tree.  Like all cats, cheetahs have a keen sense of smell and can identify an individual by its unique scent.  During this time he called continuously with a forlorn cry, presumably with the hope of vocally contacting his sibling.  Occasionally he would leap onto a fallen tree to search and call from a higher vantage point.  Allowing enough distance to avoid interference we followed the lone male for over an hour.  During that time his pace was constant, his conviction never faltered. Continue reading

NANPA Weekly Wow: July 17-23

“Polar ice fog sunrise, Hudson Bay, Canada” ©Rick Beldegreen

Each week www.nanpa.org highlights 7 images from the top 100 submissions of the 2017 NANPA Showcase competition. This week’s images are by:

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Your Gift in Action

2017 High School Program Participant Hannah Mirando photographs a damselfly during this week’s program. Photo by Andrew Snyder.

You made it happen! The 2017 NANPA High School Scholarship Program concludes today in the Smoky Mountains thanks to your gift to the NANPA Foundation supporting the program. Ten high school students had an intensive week learning about nature, nature photography and the natural history of the Smoky Mountains at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont in Tremont, Tennessee. The students’ best work from the week will be shown at a reception today. Instructors Kika Tuff, Morgan Heim, Andrew Snyder and Don Carter led discussions and presentations on topics for the student participants on topics including:

  • Wildlife and ethics
  • Lightroom and editing courses
  • Shutterspeed and camera settings
  • Rules of composition
  • Ethics of manipulation
  • Camera trapping
  • Insect trapping
  • Editing a portfolio

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Nature Photography Day Photo Contest Winners

On June 15, the world celebrated Nature Photography Day numerous ways. NANPA encouraged people everywhere to enjoy the day by using a camera to explore the natural world. Thousands of people tagged their nature images #naturephotoday or #naturephotographyday or #naturephotocontest on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Almost 2,000 images were submitted for the Nature Photography Day Photo Contest. We are proud to announce the winners along with a special thanks to the prize donors: Olympus, Cognisys, McKenna, Mindshift Gear, Tamron, Wimberley & Samy’s Camera.

1st Place- Douglas Croft

© Douglas Croft – The last of a coalition of four cheetahs crossing the plain in Kruger National Park with Wild4 Photo Safaris. He fell behind and was racing to catch up.

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NANPA Weekly Wow: June 26 – July 2

“Ram-ping Up” – Dall Sheep/Rams, Denali National Park, Alaska, USA © Dee Ann Pederson

Each week www.nanpa.org highlights 7 images from the top 100 submissions of the 2017 NANPA Showcase competition. This week’s images are by:

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NANPA Weekly Wow: June 19-25

River of Silence, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA © Rodney Lough

Each week www.nanpa.org highlights 7 images from the top 100 submissions of the 2017 NANPA Showcase competition. This week’s images are by:

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In nature photography is the preservation of the world

Text by Gordon Illg. Photography by Cathy and Gordon Illg.

.NANPA recently posted a blog, “The 6 Myths That Frustrate Aspiring Photographers” by Tom Horton that offered advice to new nature photographers. The post reiterated advice I’ve heard from established pros many times over the decades, and every point he made was valid. Following his guidelines will almost certainly help neophytes augment their craft and become more noticed. But there are other issues that were not considered, quite possibly because there’s just not enough room in a blog.

Mesa Arch frames Washer Woman Arch, Arches National Park, Utah. You can’t blame people for wanting to photograph icons like Mesa Arch. Canon EOS 40D, 28-135mm @ 30mm, f14, 1/15 sec, ISO 800, -2/3. ©Cathy & Gordon Illg

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NANPA Weekly Wow: June 12-18

Oystercatcher Feeding Time, Fort Myers Beach, FL © Ursula Dubrick

Each week www.nanpa.org highlights 7 images from the top 100 submissions of the 2017 NANPA Showcase competition. This week’s images are by:

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NANPA Weekly Wow: June 5-11

Hot Spring Terrace at Sunset, Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, USA © Tom Horton

Hot Spring Terrace at Sunset, Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, USA © Tom Horton

Each week www.nanpa.org highlights 7 images from the top 100 submissions of the 2017 NANPA Showcase competition. This week’s images are by:

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NANPA Weekly Wow: May 29 – June 4

Sandhill Crane sunrise over frozen pond, Bosque New Mexico © Stan Bysshe

Sandhill Crane sunrise over frozen pond, Bosque New Mexico © Stan Bysshe

Each week www.nanpa.org highlights 7 images from the top 100 submissions of the 2017 NANPA Showcase competition. This week’s images are by:

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