The well-known phrase “Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints” is Journey’s Discovering Africa’s unofficial mantra.
Born and raised in Kenya, CEO of Journey’s Discovering Africa, Patrick Shah, is no stranger to safaris. When he’s not using his experience to create bespoke safari experiences for clients, he’s out and about in the African bush, filling up his camera memory card with stunning wildlife photos.
After Patrick’s recent safari to the Maasai Mara to see the migration, he returned with a portfolio of photographs. Eager to know the story behind them all, we’ve asked Patrick to share the tales behind a few of his recent shots:
Patrick: My wife has an uncanny ability to spot lion, and is known in our family as the lion-whisperer. This male lion was mating with a female by the side of the road in the heat of the day and hunting was furthest from his mind. He broke off from his exertions to take a perfunctory glance at the distant herds of zebra and wildebeest that in turn, had the pair well within sight, smell and sound. He soon lost interest and returned to his mate to recommence their marathon session.
Lions always create a frisson of excitement when spotted. Not for nothing are they masters of all they rule, and whether active or resting, they exude a sense of power that very few other animals do. Mara lions are particularly plentiful, and the prolific plains game supports large prides that are easy to see.
Patrick: “An early morning game drive saw me idling through a sea of wildebeest in the Mara Triangle. I circled around onto this ridge which gave me the perfect viewpoint back over the valley. The Mara ecosystem is the northern extremity of the Great Migration, and in July 2016, the herds had emphatically arrived. Within the wider drama of the herd there are always entertaining vignettes as family groups engage in their own dynamics. Some male wildebeest do stand out as particularly magnificent specimens – a function of body language, condition, size and boldness, and I wanted this shot to capture something of that.
I respect wildebeest both for their physical abilities and their incredible survival strategy – what an incredibly successful animal. Also, their antics when relaxed never fail to make me laugh.”
Patrick: “A family group of elephants amble across a seasonal swamp. Although this family group had a couple of small babies with them, they calmly made their way across the plain, stopping occasionally to reach their trunks around and rip up bunches of the sweet grass, tucking them up inside their mouths. I couldn’t think of a more perfect location for them…plenty of food and water made for a content family.
Like many other safari-addicts, I enjoy photographing elephants, and spending hours absorbed in their intimate interactions. Always shadowing any elephant experience is a poignancy – the realisation that these animals are under threat across Africa, and that they represent the frontline in the battle for the preservation of Africa’s wild places.”
Patrick: “A male warthog sees off two spotted hyena. The hyena had either just made their own kill or were scavenging something else’s. We couldn’t tell what the dead animal was, it might have been a warthog as well. Because of this, or because the hyenas were in such close proximity to the warthog’s hole, the adult male took exception to them and stared them down. They gave him a wide berth, but in true hyena fashion, were never in any danger of dropping their booty.
Warthogs conjure up entertaining adjectives for me: doughty, bellicose, indomitable. They are certainly tough, able to handle themselves against most predators, and always make great subjects.
Despite their misrepresentation in popular culture as being cowards, I love hyenas, and will often park off near a den for hours to watch the clan interplay. I’ve seen hyena pack hunt, and at full tilt, an adult hyena is a pretty formidable animal.”
It’s always exciting when Patrick returns from his safaris with new stories and photographs to share. Find out how you can be a part of all the action on a tailor-made safari tour with Journeys Discovering Africa here.