With the threat of drought and the presence of its unforgiving hand, the reserve is stuck in the middle of a transformation. The early rains in September have conned the trees into prematurely using up vital energy, and the contrast of the barren soil lying lifeless beneath a canopy of sprouting leaves has created drama on Mashatu.
Dynamics have shifted to adapt to drier times and the scarcity of water is putting pressure in dwindling pockets of life across the reserve. The threat of rain is present, but the joy of its power has only been unforgiving. Life has carried on and birds abound competing for nest sites, or protecting ones that have already been in occupation. Impala ewes are heavy bellied awaiting the signal of rain to lamb, predators constrict in ambush near the remaining pools of water and elephants cover the breadth of ancient valleys in search of valuable resources.
Harsh and unforgiving, this unique time of year and its present circumstances is rare and special on its own terms. Life abounds yet around the next corner it merely hangs on with only faith for rain.
The 6 days during our last C4 Photo Workshop and Private Photo Vehicle extension for the year has been nothing but diverse and truly spectacular. Some of the highlights have been:
. Incredibly productive hide sessions
. Elephants at the hide with cloud formations as the backdrop
. Mating pair of leopards
. 2 cheetah kills in the same day
. A huge but brief dust storm followed by a spout of rain whilst out on drive
. Multiple Jackal den sites
. A nest of little bee eaters
. The milky way over an ancient Baobab tree
. An exceptional group of guests who walked away with exceptional images
As I post this, the rains have fallen heavily leaving the dry riverbeds swelling and bursting their banks with water. The time of struggle and drought has passed and may saplings sprout and grass seeds germinate to transform the reserve into true summer full of life.
Photographs and text by Kyle de Nobrega