Our sweet Bella

Goodnight sweet Bella

18th August 2005 – 26th March 2015

 

They say memories are special, maybe it is true, but I never wanted memories, I only wanted you. A million times I needed you, a million times I cried, if love alone could have saved you, you never would have died. I wish I’d once more hear you, with your softly, rumbling purr, to hold you in my arms again, and stroke your kitten soft fur. If tears could build a stairway and heartache make a lane, I’d walk the path to heaven and bring you back again.

Goodnight our sweetest baby Belle. Know that you were loved and our hearts are broken that you left us so soon. We know you tried hard to stay with us but were just too tired to stay. We will miss you forever.

I write this post with tears pouring down my face. Last night, Bella crossed the rainbow bridge after suffering two heart attacks and respiratory failure after having a mass removed from her chest. The mass was discovered on 3rd March 2015 but sadly, the specialists to whom we entrusted our beloved girl waited too long to remove the mass that was compressing her lungs.

From the moment she entered our lives, we have been Bella’s adoring slaves.  When she climbed into my arms and looked up at me trustingly, she had my heart. Bella gave us unconditional love and brought us comfort when we were down. Knowing that I will never hear her squeaky meow, have her sit on my chest at night expectantly waiting for her treats or to be able to bury my face in her fur, the pain is almost too much for me to bear.

I wanted to share some new, never seen before, photos of our Bella as a celebration of her life. I take comfort that she is no longer suffering but David and I miss her more than I can express in words.   She was taken far too soon from us and I don’t know how I will cope without her. Good night my baby girl, you are free….

Highly commended in the Joan Paddick Photography Awards 2013 - Reflections by Pui Hang Miles

Photo Competition Winners

It’s been a while since I last updated my blog. Apologies for that – it’s been a hectic 12 months or so!  I decided it was time to enter my images into photography competitions to see how I would fare. 2013 turned out to be a lucky year for me as it produced 2 photo competition winners and a highly commended.

Perhaps the highlight of the last 12 months was being chosen as one of the final 12 in the BBC Countryfile Photo Competition 2013 with an image of a red squirrel, now known as “Dinner for One”.  This image now graces the month of October in the BBC Countryfile 2014 calendar which was sold to raise money for Children in Need.

Dinner for One by Pui Hang Miles from BBC Countryfile Photo Competition 2013

BBC Countryfile Photo Competition 2013 – Dinner for One

Equally exciting was winning the worldwide wildlife category in the Scottish Seabird Centre’s 8th annual nature photography awards with “The Dive”, an image of a kingfisher in mid dive.

The Dive by Pui Hang Miles, winner of Worldwide Wildlife in Scottish Seabird Centre's Nature Photography Awards 2013

Worldwide Wildlife winner of the Scottish Seabird Centre’s 8th annual Nature Photography Awards – The Dive

I’ve had a few requests for prints of both images so I’m now making them available in A4 and A3. The prints will be double mounted onto card ready for you to frame. If you would like to purchase either image whether it is for yourself or as a gift for someone else, please feel free to drop me a line!

Horns and Hooves

Kenya – The Great Migration

The Great Migration. Sir David Attenborough calls it “The Greatest Show on Earth” – he’s not wrong.  If you think it looks amazing on TV, seeing it for real is a once in a lifetime experience.  Nothing could have prepared David or I for what we were going to see.

When we heard that an enormous herd was gathering at the Mara River, we literally inhaled our breakfast because we wanted to get to a prime spot as soon as possible.  As we headed towards the river, we could see the great line of wildebeest heading to the river.

Wildebeest line

When we arrived, there were already 4 or 5 cars there.  We all stayed a healthy distance from the riverbank – the reason for this was not just to give the herds space to get to the river, but also because if the cars get too close, the herds will not cross.

We asked James what the likelihood of seeing a crossing was as there didn’t seem to be many animals at the riverbank.  His reply was that if there were enough zebras there, the herds would cross provided they were not disturbed by predators or cars.  It was now a waiting game.

A Lone Impala

We waited and we waited.  The hot African sun beating down on our heads made the wait very uncomfortable.  We were wearing hats but this did not stop the sun from burning our arms and legs and through our hats.  Worse, even our cameras were getting too hot to hold.  We looked enviously at one lady who had had the foresight to bring an umbrella to protect herself from the sun.  The numbers of the herd swelled to epic proportions – surely they must cross soon.

Zebras and Wildebeest

Much to our frustration, there were multiple false starts – zebra would climb down to the riverbank which was out of view only to come back up on the same side.  Then the wildebeest started to do the same.  “Aaaargh! Cross already!!” was voiced frequently in our car.

Black and White Zebras

I occupied my time by taking photos of the herds but always with one eye on what was happening at the riverbank.

Zebra Headshots

There were so many zebras in the herd that all the guides were convinced that there would be a crossing that day.

After two hours, some cars gave up and left, only to be replaced by other cars.  We were given the option to leave and look for something else to photograph but we opted to stay.  The herd was still growing so we were pretty hopeful that they must cross and soon.

I don’t recall what happened but suddenly, everyone was starting up their engines – the great migration had begun!  It was like being in the F1.  The dust was so thick we could not see where we were going.  I wondered idly if James would know when to stop or whether we would end up in the river, participating IN the migration rather than photographing it.

Wildebeest Havoc

We arrived too late to get to the front.  It was utter chaos.  The air was full of dust and the deafening thunder of a million hooves.  Photographers everywhere, hanging out of windows and the tops of their cars, all vying to get a space to shoot the grand spectacle.

The Great Wildebeest Crossing

David got out of the jeep – our location allowed him to stay hidden from the rangers so he could shoot from the ground over the bonnet of our car.  I couldn’t do this as I was too short.  So I took off, with James’ help, moving through the jeeps to get to the Kicheche car that had an unobstructed view of the river near the front.  This was not an easy thing to do as I was carrying two camera bodies with enormous lenses attached to each!

Churning river of Wildebeest

People started to shout – the crocodiles were coming down the river, looking for their next meal.  Hippos were going into the river too.

Crossing to Safety

This was singularly the most stressful and yet exhilarating photo shoot I had ever done.  I tried to concentrate on the shots I wanted to get but it was impossible  because there was just so much going on and I wanted to capture it all.

Wildebeest Splash

“Oh my god! Look! The crocodile has got a wildebeest!  Don’t go into the river little zebra! There’s a croc lurking!”  So many people shouting running commentaries, thundering hooves, zebras braying, the roar of the river, I thought I was going to explode, trying to stay calm and focussed in the cacophony of noise.

Dangerous Waters

And then I saw him – the lone wildebeest sitting in the river as the rest of the herd swam or ran past him.  His head was barely above water.  To my right, I saw another wildebeest, also “stuck” in the river, unmoving.

Wildebeest and Zebra running

The crossing was relentless.  Wave upon wave of wildebeest and zebras jumping into the river, swimming for their lives to get to the other side.  It was just incredible.

Race for Life

Suddenly, my camera stopped shooting.  WTF?!?!  Unbelievably, my 32Gb card was full and my cards were back in the car!  Thank god I had my spare camera body on me.  But I knew it only had a 16Gb card in it – I hoped to god it would be enough.

I wondered where the herd went when it go to the other side but it was just a fleeting thought.  There was more drama unfolding before my eyes which required my immediate attention.

Running to Safety

I spied a zebra family with a foal.  They wanted to cross but directly below them lurked a crocodile and it was clear he wanted the baby.

Waiting to cross

The crocodile eventually left to help the crocodile who was still struggling to bring down the wildebeest.  The zebras took the opportunity to jump in and swim to the other side.

Zebra Crossing

Zebra Line

Zebra Crossing in numbers

But the currents were very strong and the foal panicked and turned around, followed by his mother.  He and his mum were now stranded on our side of the river with the rest of the family on the opposite bank.  Zebras are herd animals and the family tie amongst zebras is such that they will not abandon their own.  They cross together or not at all.  You could hear their distress as they called to the foal and his mother but they would not/could not make the crossing.  The zebras had no choice but to come back for them.

Zebras in water

The zebras braved the river once more and came back to help the mother and her baby.

Zebra Magic

My heart was in my mouth as the family attempted the crossing for the second time.

Zebra Swimming

This time they were accompanied by some wildebeest.

Follow the Leader

Had the crocodiles not been pre-occupied with the wildebeest already in their jaws, I am sure that this zebra family would not have escaped unscathed.  When they all made it safely to the other side, I breathed a sigh of relief as did many others who were also watching.

I now turned my attention to the drama unfolding close to the opposite side of the bank.

The wildebeest had been caught early on in the crossing but he was still fighting for his life.  Time and time again he would drag himself out of the water, with many of us shouting encouragement, taking the crocodile with him.  But whenever we thought he would succeed, his back end would go crashing back into the water as the crocodile hung on to his victim.

Fight for Life

The crocodile who had been hanging out for the zebra foal decided that he wanted easier prey, so went to assist his fellow crocodile with the wildebeest.  We honestly thought that would be the end of him but the wildebeest was strong and clearly wanted to live.

Prey versus Predators

Against all odds, he dragged the two crocodiles with him towards the riverbank. “Come on! You can do it!!” we all screamed.  We willed this wildebeest to win this monumental battle, to escape, to live.  But it was not to be.  A third crocodile came gliding down the river , grabbed the wildebeest by it’s horn and between the three of them, they dragged this mighty wildebeest down into the murky depths of the river.

A Battle Royale

It was over.  And as tragic as it was, his death meant that the other wildebeest and the little zebra foal lived.

The great migration was also over.  It had lasted 30 minutes but the herd had made it.  With the exception of a couple of hippos, the Mara River was empty again.

Hippo in Mara River

Our tour guide has been visiting Kenya for over 10 years and in that time, he has witnessed many crossings.  The crossing we had just witnessed rated in his top five crossings – I’ll take that as it was a pretty good one then.

For those of you who would like to see the Great Migration, here are a few tips.

  • Allow yourselves at least a week in the Mara.  Crossings do not occur everyday so if you go for just three days, be prepared to be disappointed.
  • On the day you go to the river, depending on where you are staying, it is most likely to be a very long day i.e. you will leave your lodge before dawn and you will not return until early evening.  Take a hat and an umbrella to give you protection from the sun.  If you are lucky, the crossing will occur very quickly but be prepared to be sat out in the sun for anything up to six hours.
  • Think about the sort of photos you would like to take – do you want to tell a story?  Are you after specific shots?  Are you looking for interesting shapes?  This is never more important than when you are photographing the Crossing.  It really will help you to keep your focus in all the chaos.
  • Last but not least, make sure you have plenty of memory cards on your person!

Mbuni tent

Kenya – Our African Safari

After the huge disappointment of our South African safari last year, I couldn’t wait to get back to Kenya.  In order to maximise our chances of seeing game, David and I timed our visit to coincide with the Great Migration.

From the moment we left Ol Kiombo airport for Bush Camp I could barely contain my excitement at being back in Africa again. It had been far too long, in fact, the last time we had visited Kenya was our honeymoon back in 2001.  The drive from the airport afforded us our first sighting – a cheetah and her 11 month old cub.  A good omen for the start of our African Safari!

The jeeps at Bush Camp have been specially adapted with platforms off each window and there were plenty of beanbags in the cars for steadying our cameras. Our driver, James, was known for his uncanny ability to anticipate the movements of the animals.  A handy skill to have when ferrying around photographers looking for the best photographic positions.

As the harsh light of the first game drive of our african safari finally turned into beautiful golden light, we came across a pride of lions just waking up from their nap. At 22 strong, the Monaco pride is the dominant pride within the conservancy. I literally did not know where to point my camera because there were so many lions and cubs around us.

A son of the Monaco pride taken during our african safari holiday

Incidentally, the camera and lens combo I was using on this trip was a Canon EOS 7D teamed up with my trusty Canon 100-400mm lens. I know there are noise issues with the Canon 7D but provided the subject and main focus is sharp, I personally think that a bit of noise in the background is ok.

We stayed with the pride until there was no light left before reluctantly leaving to find somewhere to enjoy our sundowner. What an excellent way to start our safari!

Over the course of the next few days, we bore witness to some incredible sightings: African Wild Dogs (also known as painted dogs) that have not been seen in the Mara for over a decade and have the ability to run great distances. This pack more than lived up to their reputation as we followed them for over half an hour and covered miles.

African Wild Dog (lycaon pictus)

We also met Narasia the Cheetah and her two young cubs who were just 10 weeks old. The cubs kept us highly entertained with their antics but my favourite memory of them was when they interacted with their mother. The bond of love between them was just so beautiful to see and I feel privileged to have been able to capture the sequence below.

Cheetah cub jumping onto his mother

Cheetah cub playing with his mother

Cheetah mother and cub love

Perhaps our most adorable encounter was with a small herd of elephants that contained a tiny baby calf snuggling with her older sibling. We were thoroughly enchanted by this baby elephant and her sister who was still a young elephant herself.

We were mindful not to get too close to the young ones as we didn’t want to be charged by the adults in the group. However, they seemed relatively relaxed about our presence which gave us the opportunity to watch and photograph the gorgeous baby elephant as she explored the area.

Elephant calf snuggling with her older sibling

The morning we were due to enter the Masai Mara, we encountered the famous Marsh Pride, well, some of them anyway. The cubs were 10 weeks old and had not long been re-introduced to the rest of the pride. There was a third lioness but her cubs were very young so she had taken them away from the pride for now to keep them safe. In time, she would rejoin her sisters.

Marsh Pride with cubs

A rare opportunity to capture hippo with their young out of the water.

Adult hippo with a young hippo by the river's edge

I had hoped to capture an iconic animal under an acacia tree but it just never happened so I settled for a Topi on a mound with the acacia tree in the distance.

Topi on a mound on the mara plains

Our best sighting of a leopard came during the magical golden hour. We had hired one of the brand new Canon 300mm f/2.8 lenses for the trip but I had been reluctant to use it simply because it didn’t have the range of my 100-400mm. I can’t say that I loved the lens on first using it, mainly because I am used to telephoto lens and not primes but I can see that I could grow to like this lens.

Leopard in golden light

I also marvelled at the fact that we had not seen any hyenas. It turned out that not many hyenas hang out at the conservancy due to the high density of lions in the area. Ironically, the lack of hyenas meant that cheetahs thrived in Olare Orok since it meant one less scavenger trying to steal their food.

Hyena in the brush

One of the reasons I love Africa so much is because there are so many opportunities to capture images that are made so much more interesting because of their backstories.

I mentioned earlier that the dominant pride in the conservancy was the Monaco pride. For some reason, two of the lionesses have split from the pride to form their own little family. On our penultimate day in Africa, the bulk of the Monaco pride came across the two lionesses who had young cubs with them. The talk at dinner that night was of the annihilation of this small pride and our hearts ached at the thought of the cubs being killed. The following morning we travelled to the last known resting place of the small pride, looking for signs of survival. We found one of the lionesses alone.

Lioness at dawn sat in long grass

She got up and left as we approached and we noticed that she was wounded – her hindquarter had a particularly nasty gash on it. James surmised that she must have stayed to fight off the Monaco pride, allowing her sister to take the cubs to safety. We found her sister eventually but with just two of the cubs and they were terrified. We left them alone as we didn’t want to draw attention to the traumatised group but our concern for the missing cub grew. We eventually found the first lioness again and to our relief, the last cub was with her.

Lioness with her cub

I think the whole group was glad that the little pride was safe as it would have cast a pall over the end of our african safari had the pride been lost.

There was also good news on the cheetah front in that the coalition of brothers had managed to make a kill and it had been a good one of a wildebeest. We didn’t see the actual kill but we witnessed them feeding and then clean each other. I was also impressed with how they expertly extracted the stomach and laid it to one side of the carcass, completely intact! It seems they don’t like to eat the stomach so leave it for others to feed on.

Cheetahs cleaning each other

Our african safari ended on a high with what felt like the entire Monaco pride coming out to bid us farewell. It had been a fantastic trip and I think it will be a while yet before I get through all the photos I took. Farewell Africa, we will be back!

Golden Jackal

Kestrel stalling

Kestrels of Pool Bridge Farm

Pool Bridge Farm near York is a well established fishery, boasting five picturesque lakes stocked with a variety of fish. What you may not know is that the farm is also a haven for wildlife such as owls, kestrels and foxes to name just a few.

Kestrel on broken gate

When we heard that Mike, the owner of Pool Bridge Farm had wild kestrels on his land, we contacted him and asked if we could pop down and photograph them. He and his father have built a hide specifically for photographers to enable them to photograph the kestrels at close quarters, on feature posts with clean backgrounds.

Wild Kestrel in flight

We were met by Mike’s father at 8am. He took us down to the hide, gave us a quick briefing and then handed us a pair of tongs and a tupperware container full of pig’s heart and left us to get on.

Gliding Kestrel

For anyone who is thinking of photographing wild kestrels, I really can’t recommend Pool Bridge Farm enough.  The set up is just perfect and the fact that we were left with the meat meant we were able to bait whichever post(s) we liked,  to get the shots that we wanted.

Kestrel coming in to land on a broken gate

During our day in the hide, we got to learn a lot about kestrels, their behaviour and to even recognise their calls.

Kestrel skimming the grass

We were also fortunate enough to be able to photograph a fledgling kestrel who was easily identifiable due to the fact that he was still fluffy and slightly lighter in colour than his parents.

Female kestrel feeding her fledgling

As you can see from my images, the photo opportunities were simply amazing.  For those of you who have never been in a hide before, if you are planning on spending the day in one, it’s best to take some food and drink with you as patience will be key.  Also, depending on the weather, you might want to consider warm clothing and a cushion is a definite must!

Kestrel posing on a post

It was a fabulous day and I for one can’t wait to go back next year, hopefully to photograph some kestrel chicks!  For those of you considering true wildlife bird photography, you really can’t go wrong if you make Pool Bridge Farm your first port of call.  Mike and his father couldn’t be friendlier or more helpful.

Kestrel coming in to land

 

Osprey with fish

The Ospreys of Rothiemurchus

The return of ospreys to Scotland is one of the outstanding conservation good news stories in the UK. Since the first pair returned to breed at Loch Garten 50 years ago, ospreys have become an established part of the spring and summer scenery.

Osprey fishing in the fog at Rothiemurchus

Young ospreys need to eat a lot of fish to build the strength to survive the long migration to Africa. During this critical summer period, the male adults must feed both the chicks and their mothers.

The Getaway

The Rothiemurchus estate actively encourages the birds to fish at the lochs around the estate fish farm near Aviemore. This helps ensure the young birds always have enough to eat, even when fishing is difficult at other locations.

Take away fish at Rothiemurchus

A purpose built photography hide on a purpose built osprey pond at the Rothiemurchus Fishery is an excellent place to get spectacular shots of osprey fishing at close quarters.

Osprey rising from the lake

The hides are situated right on the water’s edge so no matter where an osprey dives, it will be in view of the camera lens. With this in mind, you probably won’t need anything bigger than a 70-200mm lens.  The pond is stocked with fish that are the correct size for osprey, providing an even stronger lure for them when they fly over the ponds.

White EJ fishing for fish

While we were in Scotland, we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to observe them at another location where fish is nailed to the perch, meaning that the osprey stays to eat the fish, rather than take it back to the nest.

Perched male Osprey looking over his shoulder

This was a wonderful opportunity to get some perched shots and also meant that we got more than just a fleeting glance of these amazing birds.

Perched Osprey with fish

Whilst the diving shots are dramatic, I personally prefer the perched shots where you get to see their talons and the wonderful detail in their plumage.

Male Osprey pre-flight

Most famous tree in the world

Yellowstone in Winter

Yellowstone in winter is a truly special place. The snow transforms the park into a mysterious, unearthly winter wonderland and whilst I was looking forward to visiting the national park, I was also dreading it. Our tour was to be conducted entirely by snowmobile and I was convinced that this was going to be hardcore. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Our snowmobiles were two seater affairs complete with heated seats and handgrips.  The back seats were for us to lash our camera gear to – just as well really because driving a snowmobile is so much fun that I could see rows ensuing every morning as to who would drive.

Bison walking along the river edge

Our first day out was also my birthday and what a magical day it was!  Not only did it snow, but we saw bison and even a wild bobcat. The bobcat was particularly special because sightings of them are so very rare.

Bobcat on the prowl

I watched, enchanted as the bobcat hunted along the river’s edge and successfully caught a vole. I didn’t want to leave the bobcat but the light was fading fast and we had to leave the park.

We were also lucky enough to spot trumpeter swans.  These swans were once thought to be extinct as no one realised that they wintered in the park.

Trumpeter Swans taking flight

I had hoped to photograph a Great Grey Owl in the snow.  Sadly, we arrived too late and all the owls had already migrated elsewhere. However, coyote sightings more than made up for the disappointment.

Coyote in yellowstone in winter

Yellowstone in winter is such a beautiful and unearthly place. I’m not normally into landscapes but Yellowstone is so much more than just the wildlife that call the park home.

Exploding geyser in yellowstone

On our last day, we visited Two Tops, a favourite site for snowmobilers and home to some of the most fantastic snow sculptures created by snow, wind and cold.  The landscape is utterly alien.  It really was like we were on a different planet.

Alien snow landscape

If you want to do a photographic tour of Yellowstone in winter, snowmobile is the way to do it because you can get to places that the snowcoaches can’t take you.  Also, your cameras will fare better in the constant cold temperature than the see saw of cold outside and warm inside the snowcoach.

Surveying her domain

Snow Photography

My first attempt at snow photography would be in the US and would be like no other trip we had ever done. Snow and sub zero temperatures would be the norm but we would be fulfilling another dream – to photograph wildlife in ice and snow.

Mountain Lion in snow

I was so excited because our target species would be big cats, my favourite mammal.

Staring through the snow

I mean, where else would I get the opportunity to photograph an amur tiger running towards me in snow?

Tiger running in the snow

The snow gave us clean backgrounds which made our subjects simply pop.

Bobcat in wintry snow

Although, maybe not so much when the subject happened to be a siberian lynx in its winter coat.

Looking over my shoulder

The canadian lynx was easier as her pelt was grey/brown in colour.

Canadian Lynx stare

The black panther was less than pleased to be out in the snow. She proved to be a challenge due to her colouring but we simply exposed for her and this seemed to work well.

Run

For the gorgeous black fox, I decided to turn the image black and white to keep the image clean. Yes, I know the fox is not a cat but given the opportunity to do a spot of snow photography with other mammals, we jumped at the chance.

Black Fox in snow

There was also the opportunity to photograph other species such as bears and wolves.

Bears at play snow photography

The wolf pack proved to be a lot of fun and provided us with many opportunities to capture their natural behaviour.

Wolf Pack

But for me, the highlight was hearing the whole pack howl in response to the alpha female’s call. So hauntingly beautiful and such an honour to hear and witness.

Call of the wild

If you would like to see more images from this trip, please check out my gallery below.

Cute tiger cub

Kittens and cubs at WHF

There have been many kittens and cubs born at WHF and we have been lucky enough to photograph some of them. My favourite are the Pallas Cat kittens, specifically, Tula and Wei-Shand’s first litter, which consisted of two boys – Caspian and Aduva; and two girls – Pamir and Ulan Bator.  The boys eventually went to Jardin des Plantes, while Ulan Bator went to Parc de Felins and Pamir to the Rare Species Conservation Centre.

I have had the pleasure of watching Pamir grow up at the RSCC and have even visited Ulan Bator at Parc de Felins but haven’t quite made it to see the boys.

Pallas Cat Kitten

We were quite fortunate to be able to photograph the Pallas Cat kittens as they were off-show at the time but we were allowed to photograph them from a safe distance away. This was more for the kittens’ safety than ours since they are vulnerable to toxoplasmosis until they are 4 years old!

Pallas cat kitten sitting on a rock

Toba and Kubu, the Sumatran Tiger Cubs have given us some wonderful photographic opportunities since they were 10 weeks old.  Access to the kittens and cubs at WHF is a lot more limited than say the RSCC but we still managed to capture images of them at 10 weeks, 16 weeks and then at 1 year old. Here they are at 10 weeks old.

Sumatran Tiger Cub close-up

At 16 weeks, these Sumatran Tiger Cubs still looked cute but you could see their faces were already changing. It was just lovely, watching them playing together.

I love you bro - sumatran tiger cubs kissing

Playing and practising their stalking skills…

Stalking practice

I mean, how could you resist this face?

Soulful eyes

And those beautiful eyes.

Sumatran tiger cub - Endangered cat

As young sub adult tigers, Toba and Kubu they have lost all their cubbish looks and you can see what magnificent adults they are growing to be.

Sub adult male sumatran tigers

Xizi the Amur Leopard has also had two litter of cubs but we only managed to visit the second litter – a boy and a girl named Manchurian and Zeya respectively.

Amur leopard cubs at WHF having a discussion

Taking photos of the amur leopard cubs proved to be quite challenging as Xizi was an extremely protective mother and kept charging at the fence.

Amur Leopard Cub at WHF

Samia, the Serval cat was brought into WHF specifically to breed with Malawi. The result was also a boy, Mwazi and a girl named Jua.

Two month old serval cat kitten

These adorable kittens were just 2 months old when we visited them and as cute as a button. I look forward to having the opportunity to photograph them again as they get older.

A Study in Cute Kittens and Cubs at WHF

Tiger Yawn

Farewell B2

Much has changed since our last visit to Bandhavgarh last year.  Many of the tigers that we met and loved last year are gone.

One of Jhurjhura’s cubs died during the monsoon shortly after we left.  However, the remaining two are still alive and remain inaccessible to the public.

Chorbehra the Limping Tigress lost her life in a territorial battle against Kancutti Tigress.

Chorbehra Tigress emerging form the jungle

Her cubs have been driven out of the park and now reside in its outskirts.  Keen to protect them, the forest officials have set up a checkpoint in the area and the cubs can occasionally be seen sat on the side of the Highway Road.

Kallu, who we all thought was heir apparent to B2’s throne disappeared in October and to this day, no one knows what happened to him.

Kallu, son of B2

A new male has recently appeared in Zone 2 of Bandhavgarh and rumours are rife that it is Kallu but until facial recognition has been carried out, this cannot be confirmed.

Mirchani Tigress’s two sub adult male cubs have been taken from the park and imprisoned in Bhopal Zoo for the rest of their lives, having been accused of being man-eaters.

Mirchani tiger cubs crossing the road

But perhaps the biggest and saddest news is the death of B2, the King of Bandhavgarh, on 22nd November.

B2 Lord of Bandhavgarh deep in thought

B2 was gravely injured in a territorial fight against his son.  Severely weakened and unable to hunt, B2 killed cattle to survive but was shot during one of his raids.  When he was eventually found, there were maggots growing in his wounds and he was extremely weak.  The forest officials tried to save him by tranquillising him to take him to be treated, but sadly, B2 died en route.

The new Lord of Bandhavgarh is B2’s 6 year old son, Bhamera.  Just as B2 waited until his grandfather, Charger was too weak to defend himself before he struck, cunning Bhamera did the same.  Whilst he did not kill his father outright, the wounds that he dealt B2 were most certainly a contributory factor in his death.

When I left Bandhavgarh last year, I knew that there was a possibility that I would never see B2 again but it saddens me nonetheless.  Farewell B2, my friend.

B2, Lord of Bandhavgarh