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:

Focus on the Wild – gallery@oxo 2015

Next month sees the return of my Focus on the Wild exhibition to the gallery@oxo, on London’s Southbank. All profits from sales go to WWF UK & Hoopers Arica Trust.

The exhibition will be open to the public daily 11:00 -18.00 from Friday July 24th until Sunday August 16th.

If you are not currently on my mailing list and wish to be updated of forthcoming exhibitions, please email me at info@rogerhooper.co.uk

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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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Largest printed image to date.

3x1.5m Lions in the Ebony GroveI have just taken delivery of my largest commissioned print which is to be hung in an outside space. My lions in the ebony grove, which I photographed in Zambia, has been produced using a new weather resistant direct to media printing process by Genesis Imaging. The image is 3m wide x 1.5m high on brushed aluminium.

Direct to Media UV Printing is a large format, full colour ultra-fine inkjet printing process which allows artwork to be printed directly on to virtually any flat surface up to up to 3m x 2m and up to 60mm in depth, and is suitable for both interior and exterior display.

The ultra-fine droplets of ink are deposited directly on to the printing media which is then almost instantly cured, or dried by UV (ultraviolet) light. The specially developed ink droplets are bonded to the surface of the chosen media – giving a smooth, stable, abrasion resistant and long-lasting image.

I have often been asked by clients for images suitable to be hung outside, I am pleased that this process means that I can now offer this service.

There is link to Genesis Imaging on the right hand column under useful links.

An example below of my lions in the ebony grove image in a garden setting.

Outdoor Finish

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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Art for Art’s Sake.

I am taking part in a joint Exhibition: Art for Art’s Sake, at Art Galleries Europe, 18 Maddox Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 1PL.

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The exhibition runs from Monday December 1st to Saturday December 6th from 11 am to 7 pm daily.

I hope to see you there.

Roger

Focus on the Wild – gallery@oxo

I am looking forward to my return to the gallery@oxo

The show will commence with a private viewing on Thursday 12th June at 18:30 – 20:30

The exhibition will be open to the public daily 11:00 -18.00 from Friday June 13th 2014 until Sunday July 6th 2014.

If you are not currently on my mailing list or have not yet received an invitation and would like to attend the private viewing, please email me at info@rogerhooper.co.uk for an invite.

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