<< Previous Next >>

Don't You Dare Come Any Closer!

Don't You Dare Come Any Closer!
Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-10-19
Categories: Mammals, Savannah
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC H9, Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 15x Optical zoom, Digital ISO 100
Exposure: f/4, 1/320 seconds
Details: (Fill) Flash: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Travelogue: Kruger National Park - 2007
Theme(s): Baby Animals 2, Wild Life, 70-79 Puntos (chapter 2), Wildlife of Africa, Mammals of Africa, Mammals of Southern Africa II, A study in Mammalogy (mammals) 1, Kruger National Park 1, Family Matters 1 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-11-27 14:06
Viewed: 10821
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 76
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Savanna buffalo - Syncerus caffer

Mothers of most species are rather dangerous! If you, in any way, threaten their young, offspring, progeny, brood, litter, or children (even if it's only in their imagination) you are stepping on hazardous ground. Their natural protective instincts make them totally unpredictable and a threatened animal is a potential volatile animal. Elephant with babies can sometimes look so docile or calm, but come in-between the mother and her baby and within an instant you could have an episode that might remind you of the destruction and carnage of a category 5 hurricane. Buffalo are no exception to this scenario…

On 4 separate occasions, during our Kruger visit, we encountered large herds of buffalo numbering several hundreds (400-600 individual animals). On this occasion (a cloudy day as can be seen by the lack of shadows) we travelled from Lower Sabie northwards along the tarred H-10 main road when we met up with one such large herd of these gregarious animals. They were grazing on the savanna grassland just to the west of Muntshe hill. While we steadily approached, with due caution not to disturb or scatter the animals, we suddenly found ourselves right in the middle of the herd being surrounded by hordes of these imposing animals. This was an awesome sight and a justly humbling experience. At that stage we really started to feel incredibly vulnerable and we became acutely aware of the myriad of mulling bodies, the noise of trampling hooves, the clattering sound of horns against horns, and the squalid smell of dung in the air.

Because we were in such close proximity to the animals I could not make use of the 500mm lens so I once again had to opt for the Sony. From our previous encounters with other buffalo I knew that if I wanted to photograph a young calf I would not have much time before they would disappear to hide behind the cows. So, I quickly shot this mother and her juvenile calf before the next phase of the encounter began. As we have witnessed this interesting behaviour before, we were quite prepared for what where to happen next. At first all the buffalos would slowly move a distance away from the vehicle, and all the calves then moved to the back to position themselves behind the cows. Once the calves were safe and protected the cows turned around, faced-, and actually approach the vehicle. They formed a laager circling the vehicle, locking horns in a united front, baring their teeth at us, screwing their eyes into slits whilst angrily glaring at us, and hissing their breath through exposed teeth. Perhaps now you might understand why I previously said that "This was an awesome sight and a justly humbling experience".

Now you all know how courageous we men always "pretend" to be and surely this time it could not be any different. As those buffalos continued to approach the vehicle, in that intimidating fashion, there came a moment when the little voice inside my head started to scream that it is an appropriate time to get out of the situation. But what does one do to remain cool headed and still keep the pose in front of your wife, who is depending on your better judgement, experience, and bravery? Fortunately, while all this was happening, I left the car idling and in an inspirational moment I abruptly revved up the engine which immediately had the anticipated effect. My car doesn't roar like a lion, but judging by the result it might well have been the case. To my surprised delight the buffalos turned around as one and skedaddled into all wind directions, as long as it was as far away as possible from my roaring monstrous Nissan Tiida.

Maybe it was only my imagination, but during the ensuing mini-stampede the grunts and growls they uttered sounded pretty much like unmentionable expletives. Unfortunately it seemed like they did not hear my whimpering "Sorry guys, I didn't mean to startle you like that".

As suggested by my good friend Mario da Cruz (oscarromulus) I include this link to the almost unbelievable video of the "Battle at Kruger". This extraordinary footage show in graphic detail the protective behaviour I described and just how dangerous these buffalos realy are.

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop CS2

earthtraveler, marhowie, eqshannon, ralfsworld, Aaltjie, red45, smitha, manyee, ellis49, Dyker, Alex99, snowfalken, Rehanna, haraprasan, peter_stoeckl, SunToucher, Debz, oscarromulus, pablominto, hester, Miss_Piggy, waylim, betsie, boreocypriensis has marked this note useful
Only registered TrekNature members may rate photo notes.
Add Critique [Critiquing Guidelines] 
Only registered TrekNature members may write critiques.
You must be logged in to start a discussion.

Critiques [Translate]

very good focus, sharpness, fine details
both watching you, very good :)

Hello Loot,
Always nice to compare...
I've been in the middle of a buffalo herd as well and yes, the adrenaline was there.
Could not photograph 'mother and cow' so well as you did though...
Well done!
Was in Letaba, thought I didn't rain that day; either cloudy or sunny.

Hi Loot,
Great capture of mama and young one
Fine composition, focus details, POV and color
Talk about eye contact!
Super job

  • Great 
  • Evelynn Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2025 W: 741 N: 3285] (14454)
  • [2007-11-27 19:13]
  • [2]

The overcast allowed for some really nice color saturation. Sharpness and depth of focus on the two is perfect. I love the composition with the two in such different positions but interlocked and both looking straight at you.

Evelynn : )

Your story reminds me of a German tourist in Kariba, Zimbabwe who wanted to get a close up photo of these moo-cows so he got out of his car and walked up to them. Suffice it to say that he was more than badly injured (but luckily not killed).
Superb photo with great colour saturation, focus, and composition.

  • Great 
  • jhm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 893 W: 0 N: 507] (1853)
  • [2007-11-27 23:38]

Hello Loot,

Fine composition, focus details, POV and colour.
I love the composition with the two in such different positions, great picture.

Best regards,

Hi Loot - Kon 'n "scary" ondervinding gewees het, maar dit moes ongelooflik wees om so naby hulle te wees!! Ek het nog nooit 'n buffel baba in lewende lywe gesien nie, so ek dink julle was baie gelukkig om so naby aan hierdie trop te kon kom. Wat jy sê oor hulle gedrag is baie waar. Hulle kan baie opstandig raak en sal selfs 'n leeu aanvat. Ek het dit al gesien in 'n video clip. Hierdie is 'n baie goeie foto Loot!

Hi Loot
This is really good one with excellent details. Well composed with nice colours and DOF. Like expression of both animals.
Well done and TFS

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2007-11-28 3:55]

Perfectly titled photo.
I love the way Buffalo's ears are positioned really low-down on the side of their head... almost human-like!
Excellent sharpness, detail and clarity.
Great eye-level POV and a decent composition :)
Well done my friend,

Nou wat kan ek sê, behalwe gedoriewaar dit is goed.

I think if I would have come in a situation like you have described in your notes, I would be the one that would have skedaddled. You have taken me on a adventurous journey and I experienced the same thrill you have while watching and photographing this group of buffalos and its entire “ca-to-ti”. Just glad my family is not as big as these groups. This image is not something we come across often on Trek Nature. I actually checked and could not see anything similar to this one of the mother with her offspring. I think most of the photographers aim to place photos with sunshine, flowers, butterflies and beautiful coloured birds as theme, and these thumbnails tend to draw more attention, and are checked out first, and this way really miss out on beauties like this Syncerus caffer.
The detail of this photo is first-class and sharp. If you take time (like I always do) and scrutinize with attention you can see many things that stands out on this photo. The fine hair on the cows ears, the frown on the calf’s forehead, the mud clots on the animals, the teat below the cow’s stomach, the greenery which is proof that the rain was good to the earth, etc etc. Like always you have outdone yourself and this image just one again proofs your capability as a talented photographer. Congratulations and well done.
Warmest regards

  • Great 
  • red45 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2636 W: 74 N: 9091] (31094)
  • [2007-11-28 5:06]

Hi Loot!

Nice to see good African picture on TN again. These animals are for us, Europeans, definitelly one of symbols of your continent. Very good details on buffalo's skin, good colours and great pose. Coming closer? No, thanks :-)

Ouch...what kind of "car" were you in? Certainly not a Ford Focus:-) That is what I drive now. You surely were in a "rig" as the mountain folk called...well they call rigs, rigs..as in 4x4 with heavy metal...like one of the much older and better built Land Rovers. I had a 76 GMC 1 ton K5. That would help only a bit in this case.
Your notes are superb. I felt as though I were reading a chapter in an upcoming suspense thriller. And of course the photo serves as your TN soap box as well as good evidence!

  • Great 
  • Nilson Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 488 W: 0 N: 566] (4423)
  • [2007-11-28 15:31]

Exelente foto exelente imagem e composição meus parabéns.

  • Great 
  • smitha Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 348 W: 73 N: 1165] (4409)
  • [2007-11-28 21:57]
  • [2]

Hello Loot,
Another beautiful picture of the mother and her young from you.:)
Excellent clarity, colours and details. It's really amusing to watch the expressions on their face with the mother eying you with suspicion and caution and the young looking at you with curiosity and confidence of its mother's protection. The background also looks lovely. I really enjoyed reading your notes. I could easily picture your dilemma when the herd started cornering you. It's true that we wives depend on your better decisions in such situations and may be we even tend to have higher expectations.:0 well, now I have decided to be more understanding of Anil if we ever come across a similar situation.
Thanks for the picture and the notes,

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2007-11-28 23:10]

I consider myself warned.
These buffalo certainly look like they mean business.
Amazing POV of these two and their united front.
The no-nonsense stare sure is intimidating.
Perfect sharpness and exposure, as usual.
I really enjoyed your story.
TFS. ; )

  • Great 
  • Dyker Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 136 W: 0 N: 57] (170)
  • [2007-11-29 7:38]
  • [2]

Hello Loot
It all start with that perfect title and end with another exciting one of your real life adventure stories. Story book stuff. It is all there; the action, the drama, the suspense, and the final escape to freedom. The notes made for excellent reading and I could almost experience the scenario as if I was there with you. Well done on a fabulous photo as well. The interaction of the animals with each other and towards you is clear on the photo. The calf obviously ran towards its mum and when it noticed she did not fled it turned around to look you straight in the eye with the typical curiosity and bravado of youth. She (the cow) on the other hand, gave you the all over stare and the rest is history as it is captured in your notes. Once again it was a fulfilling and pleasing encounter to come and view one of your postings.

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2007-11-29 8:38]

Hi Loot.
Your note is terrific (as always) and shot is simply great. I see in your skill hands every camera work perfectly. Quality of the picture is superb but the key point is charming scene. Contact with cute animals is great. I like all components of photo skill which has been demonstrated by you. My best wishes and kind regards.

Hello Loot,

I really enjoyed your notes! This is a very interesting story! Do you think the herd would have eventually attacked your car if you would have stand there? Or would you have been safe inside the car? I've heard buffaloes and hippos kill more humans in Africa than lions do!
You captured a fine picture of these magnificent animals! You surely had all their attention! I like the warm and saturated colors and the soft shadows! It's interesting to see the different shapes of the horns in juveniles and adults! Thank you for sharing!

With Friendly Regards,

  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2007-11-30 12:34]
  • [2]

Kia ora Loot. You big brave photo hunter!! I have heard that these animals are quite aggressive to humans, especially with their babes in tow.
I love the expressions here - dear mother and child. I have never compared the shape of the young one's horns to it's mothers either - they certainly change as they age.
Great shot MF

Hi Loot,
An optimized image, very good post processing work. The composition works very well, as does the title. Great eye contact, we have their attention :)
Very well done!

Hello Loot

Nogmaals 'n pragtige foto en jou bekwame notas vertel 'n baie interessante verhaal van matriargale sorg en gedrag. Dit is waar dat baie mense dink buffels is niks meer as net 'n klomp skadelose wilde beeste, maar hierdie is uiters gevaarlike diere en ek ril om te dink wat so 'n trop wyfies werklik kan doen indien hulle bedreigd sou voel oor die veiligheid van hul kalfies. Dit lyk hoeka of sy jou met sulke skrefies oë aan gluur.


hello loot,
wow, this is the third in a row, where you have captured special moment of the mother and the kid, excellent pov, nice expressions , liked the composition, precise pov,
well done once again,
tfs & regards

Hi Loot,
A splendid capture of these buffalos. Excellent composition and details. Nice capture of moods. Good notes. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Hi Loot,

This is a stunning shot, and the depth of field is spot on. I haven't seen these animals close up before, so this is an amazing shot for me. I love the way you have mother and calf looking at you, and you they look pretty dangerous.

Kind regards,


Hi dear Loot .
great details and nice composition.
thanks for sharing
my best wishes

Hello Loot,
powerful, simple, and clear. An iconic image of great intensity and perfect harmony of composition. Not that peaceful and in harmony are the buffalos' expressions. There is a lot of tension built up in that encounter. Thank you my dear courageous friend for getting that close to report so clearly. My best regards,

Hi Loot,
Good to see you back in action again. You have been missed. Reading your note almost gives me the feeling that I was sitting next to you and hearing the noise and smelling the dung. It all gives such an extra touch to this wonderful photo. A photo of a great moment, but as you mentioned a potential dangerous moment.
I am sure that your better camera would have created an ever higher quality photo, but the quality of this photo is already amazing. Such great details and such a good DOF. The overcast really helped as well and gave you the nice soft light to work with and no huge contrast between the lighter and darker areas.
Thanks for sharing this beauty.

  • Great 
  • Debz Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 505 W: 0 N: 847] (3307)
  • [2007-12-12 1:42]

Hi Loot, very nice pov of this family moment, mum certainly has you in focus! The Buffallos are nice ans sharp with good detail and colour, good exposure and an excellent composition. Great note!

great family pic, TFS Ori

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2007-12-17 19:59]

Hello Loot

There is a commercial over here for underarm deodorant that uses the slogan,"never let them see you sweat".I guess they were referring to run ins with buffaloes and wives.
You have captured some intense eye contact here,and the focus and sharpness is excellent.
Nicely composed the pose you have captured is very good.The watchful eye definitely is conveyed.
The POV is excellent.


There is no doubt in my mind, and in my, yes, in "MY" opinion you are the BEAST OF THE BEST on TN.
Just a small sugestion:
It would, possibly, have been appropriate to insert the U-Tube movie you once sent me, in keeping with the title: "Dont You Dare Come Any Closer" so the TN world could "see" EXACTLY what you meant.
It's here: Battle at Krugar.

Merry X-Mas my "VERY" dear fiend & a wonderul 2008 to you and your loved ones.
Mario from COLD COLD Calgary Canada with warm greetings.

Hi Loot, lovely family composition with wonderful sharpness, very well done, ciao Silvio

Hello Loot,
An interesting family situation is captured so well!
The calf seeks protection from the mother, and she is ready to act upon the slightest increase in the threat situation...
Well balanced composition, good colour and details; the chosen DOF makes the animals stand out well!
Pablo -

  • Great 
  • hester Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1515 W: 18 N: 3165] (11638)
  • [2008-01-05 13:34]

Hi Loot

They do look a bit defensive. I love the hard stares. Lovely mum and child captured. Wonderful sharp details, great poses and nice POV. Lovely shot



Hallo Loot
I don't think anybody can agree with the contents of your story until they have had the same experience. Driving through or alongside a herd of buffalo is no joke. You might think you’re ok, until they start to "gear" up and bellow and roar. As child I thought buffalos were male cows, and could only laugh at myself afterwards for this silly thought. Being in the car with you a few times, and coming close to these animals on several occasions, I was thinking back and could not for one moment think why I had these weird beliefs that buffalos being male cows. Anyway…… The expression on the faces of both mom and her youngster are priceless. They are really "checking" you out. A fantastic capture that, like most of your posts, display wildlife in the wilderness, something that many members don't have the privilege of witnessing or experiencing. Your story was most entertaining as well. Enjoy your day.

In Kruger Park you cannot pose your subjects, you take what you get and make the most of it. In this case, you cannot pose them better if you tried! And once again, that incredible sharpness! Is it you or the camera, lol.Thanks also for the detailed note.

I enjoyed your story very much, and have experienced similar in my Kenya, Tanzania trip. I have witness of the calf being born, just coming out and started walking right away follwoing it mother. Amazing experience I could never forget.
You got yourself here a great image and wonderful story to go with it.

Hi and good Morning MF Loot,

Utterly impressive capture of a beutiful mom and her baby buffalo from great POV with perfect focus, soft lighting, impeccable details and delightful composition. Great eye-contact with tem MF. i love their facial expression here.
TFS and Cheers,


Calibration Check