Kenya – September 2017

I have just returned from our biennial trustees visit to my Charity, Hoopers Africa Trust Kenya in the Masai Mara. The Charity provides education to disadvantaged girls in Kenya. See www.hoopersafricatrust.org for more information.

Whilst there I was able to allocate some time to my photography. August is not renowned as being a time of rain, but we were subjected to some incredible down pours and storms. The rains very quickly raised the river levels which made the Wildebeest crossings more daunting than usual and stranded a pride of Lions on the bank, not wishing to risk the fast flowing waters.

Below is one of my favourite images from the trip. Click on the image below to view a gallery of further images…

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Kenya May/June 2017

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I have recently returned from a very productive visit to Kenya.  I spent time in the Masai Mara, and Samburu, somewhere I had not visited for many years.  In Samburu, located in central Kenya, it is possible to see a number of animals not seen further south.  These include the Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, the Gunther’s dik-dik, the Somali ostrich and the geranuk. The geranuk is an amazing antelope capable of standing erect on it’s hind legs to feed on bushes otherwise out of reach. You will see a picture of one doing this in the full gallery, which you can view by clicking on the image below.

I spent four days following a leopard known as Siri, who had lost her cub, after being chased away by lions.  Each morning and evening she returned to one of two trees and called plaintively for her cub.  Since I left and returned to the UK, I was delighted to hear that her cub had indeed retuned after five days missing.  A very happy ending. Below is a short video of Siri calling from a tree one evening. It was filmed from my phone so the sound and picture quality is not great, do put your volume up to maximum. You will at least be able to get a sense of the wonderful experience.  For those of you with a strong constitution there is another video of a family of lions trying to eat their kill, while fighting off 24 hyenas, that was an incredible spectacle.  Also below is an image, of Siri, silhouetted in the tree at sunset, click on that image to go to a full gallery. Some of these images will be included in my upcoming 10th Anniversary Exhibition at gallery@oxo next month, along with others from the past 10 years. I hope to see you then.

Roger

Roger Hooper, Leopard Kenya

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Kenya – January 2017

My latest trip to Kenya was a hot and very dusty one. The dry season is at its brutal peak and with diminishing water supplies the rivers have stopped running and the watering holes are rapidly turning into a crocodiles delight as the visitor numbers increase. But as always in the Mara, life goes on.

Click on the lion cub for a gallery of images…

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Kenya November 2016

I have recently returned from a fantastic trip to Kenya, where I spent time in Amboseli, Lake Naivasha, Lake Nakuru, Masai Mara, and Olare Motorogi Conservancy.  I was fortunate enough to get some good views of Kilimanjaro with fresh snowfall – always a spectacular experience when you are down on the lake bed with temperatures in the high thirties. Some elephants were kind enough to position themselves in front of the mountain, which gave me some great opportunities to capture those classic images that only Amboseli and Kilimanjaro can offer.

At Lakes Naivasha and Nakuru, I viewed great birdlife, and a rare crash of five white rhinos.

I had wonderful leopard sightings in the Masai Mara, including Lorian’s two-year old female cub sitting in a nice tree, Kaboso and her female cub, who is approximately one-year old, and Bahati’s male cub, who is about eighteen months old.  Lorain herself is pictured stretching on the front of my book Art in the Wild.

In Olare Motorogi Conservancy, I spent a few days with my friend Paul Goldstein, at his excellent Kicheche Bush Camp. There I photographed the leopard Tito with her two four months old cubs.

It was good to spend time with my friend and guide Paul Kirui, who is also Chairman of my Charity Hoopers Africa Trust in Kenya. Congratulations to Paul on winning The 2016 Eco Tourism Kenya, Safari Guide of the year, which was much deserved.

Here are a few images from the trip, which I hope you will enjoy. Please click on the link below for a larger selection of images.

Kenya November 2016 Gallery

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Kenya November 2016 Gallery

Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Mt Kenya, Mount Kilimanjaro & the Masai Mara – March 2016

On the 24th February, whilst at a “Save the Rhinos” fund raising dinner in London, I was fortunate to meet Richard Vigne, CEO of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia, Kenya. Ol Pejeta Conservancy is home to the last three surviving Northern White Rhinos on the planet. On the verge of being hunted to extinction, these three Rhinos; two females and one male, now live at Ol Pejeta Conservancy where they have 24 hour armed security, and a dedicated staff who care for all their needs.

With a trip to the Masai Mara planned for March, it presented an excellent opportunity to visit Ol Pejeta and catch up with Richard, see the fantastic work they are doing in their conservancy and to meet and photograph; what could very sadly be the last of these magnificent creatures.

I was honoured to be able to get up close to the Rhinos and get some amazing shots, what a truly magnificent and worthwhile project these people are running, it is so sad that the only male left (Sudan, 43) is now past breeding age. There is a glimmer of hope, with the help of San Diego Zoo scientists who are exploring alternatives (such as artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer) to develop northern white rhino embryos and implant them in female Southern white rhinos at the San Diego Zoo. Only time now will tell us if this species can be saved.

15 minutes from the Rhino residence and still part of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy is the Sweetwater Chimpanzee sanctuary that I have previously visited. The chimpanzees’ natural home range spans from Senegal on the West African coast, through the central forested belt of Africa, to Uganda. They are not native to Kenya, but when a rescue centre in Burundi had to be closed due to the civil war outbreak in 1993 – Ol Pejeta opened its doors.

The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary was established with an agreement between the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Jane Goodall Institute. The aim – to provide lifelong refuge to orphaned and abused chimpanzees from West and Central Africa.

I spent some beautiful days around Mount Kenya in the Amboseli National Park with my good friend and guide Paul Kirui, we saw Rhino, Elephant, Lion, Zebra, Giraffe and impala amongst others. It is a extremely wildlife-rich environment with the most stunning of backdrops (If low clouds will allow you to see it).

Of the Wild Dogs that we encountered, one particular pack that caught our attention consisted of a large family made up of 4 adult males, 4 adult females and 11 pups. Wild Dog packs are ruled by a female Matriarch and this packs leader and another boisterous female have radio collars for the rangers to track their movements and to monitor the pack. It is thought that the younger females behaviour is an early indicator of desires to break off to start her own pack and become an alpha female.

Below are a few images from this trip, I hope you enjoy them.

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November in the Masai Mara

November was a very wet month in the Mara, but fortunately as most of the storms occurred in the late afternoon and evenings, I was able to get out everyday. With swollen rivers it was not possible to access some areas, with most of the usual vehicle crossings being impassable. This did not prove a problem however, and I experienced some great sightings. The theme of this visit seems to have been cubs, the young with their mothers, child birth and sadly, experiencing the harsh circle of life in the Mara, with the loss of a cheetah cub.

Apart from her annoying habit of climbing on vehicles, one very special cheetah, Malaika, fourteen months ago gave birth to six cubs. She has subsequently lost three of those cubs, which is not unusual, but for the remaining three one would have hoped the worst was over. On November 26th Malaika decided to cross the swollen Talek River with her three cubs. With the fast flowing river they were not able to make the crossing as quickly as they normally would, and sadly one of her cubs was taken by a crocodile. I arrived at the river shortly after, so did not witness the attack, but was presented with the dreadful sight of the crocodile laying alongside the dead cheetah cub which it had lodged up against the river bank. I know these things are an everyday occurrence, but it is extremely hard not to be upset when a family you have followed for so long suffers a loss like this. Malaika spent the next few days waiting by the river for her missing cub, calling out to her, it was heart wrenching to witness. There was an air of sadness amongst all the guides and visitors in the Mara for the following days. Crocodiles suddenly became the most unpopular of creatures! For the brave there is a picture of the scene below.

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Moving on to happier things, I spent many wonderful hours with two leopard mothers, Fig with her one cub, and Bahati with her two cubs, along with a lioness with four young cubs and a cheetah, Nora with her two cubs. A first for me, I watched and photographed a topi giving birth and waited to see her newborn calf take its first steps. Within twenty minutes the calf had managed to stand and take its first unsteady steps, a remarkable experience which I feel privileged to have shared.

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  For larger selection of images click here:

Wetlands Centre Visit

This week I returned to The Wetlands Centre in Barnes, South West London, one of my favourite places to visit when I have new equipment to test, or am just in need of escaping to somewhere peaceful. It is hard to believe that it is so close to the hustle and bustle of Central London.

I recently got my hands on the new Canon EF 100-400mm USM MK2,  lens. The MK1 lens was one of the first I used for wildlife photography, before I could afford the 500mm, which then became my default lens for many years. The Canon 200-400 mm lens is now my favourite when in the field. However, there are times when the 200-400 or 500 lens is just too large and too heavy to carry. For times like that, the new 100-400 really is an excellent lens. With its 4 stop image stabiliser it can be hand held at far slower shutter speeds than would otherwise be possible. Its optics are better than the earlier model, and instead of the push/pull zoom of the MK1, it now rotates to zoom, which is far nicer to use. It combines well with the 1.4x converter, giving an effective 560 mm lens. I tested it with my Canon 1DX with and without the converter, at ISO speeds of up to 10,000 and the results were amazing.

These are a few images from my day:

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Masai Mara, Kenya, January 2015

I enjoyed great weather, special sightings and wonderful sunsets on my recent trip to the Mara. I was fortunate enough to spend time with Malaika the cheetah and her four six month old cubs (she gave birth to six, but has sadly lost two) and Siri the leopard, with her seven month old male cub. An old male lion worked hard to fight off a pack of twenty-three hyenas and four young lions, who were keen on his buffalo kill.

It was good to feel the Kenyan sun on my back again.  I am now starting to prepare for my summer exhibition at the Gallery@Oxo on London’s Southbank, which this year runs from July 24th to August 16th – more info nearer the time. Below are some images from the trip.

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Masai Mara March 2014

I have just returned from the Masai Mara where I was able to capture some interesting images, including a leopard who had an ingenious way of dealing with a ticklish ear. The leopard found a nice branch at a suitable height, stood up on her rear legs and rubbed her head against the branch with a very satisfied look on her face, see below.

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A white hare was also an unusual sight, it is surprising she manages to survive, standing out to the predators like a sore thumb.

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A few more images below, for a larger selection click here:

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For a larger selection of images click here: