Harriet Smith Photography


"For The Love of Africa"

AFRICAN SAFARIS - Trips Of A Lifetime

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Country: South Africa
Province: Mpumalanga
Location: The Sabi Sand Reserve
Lodge: Singita Boulders Lodge


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This picture shows a young adult's eyes staring right through the camera, maybe licking his lips at the thought of lunch being so close.  The detail of his beautiful face is indicative of not yet having engaged in battles for supremacy to gain himself a pride -- no battle scars yet.
His golden eyes are proportionately larger than in other comparable-sized animals. Lions, like most cats, are visual animals. Lion eyes are well-adapted for use under very low light, containing a special reflective coating that will reflect even moonlight. This coating increases the lion's visual acuity in very low light by ensuring that every possible photon of light makes it to the cells in the retina. Their eyes are effective even by starlight. The  white circles just below the eyes help reflect light into the eyes to further improve night vision. Lions, like most cats, have limited ability to move their eyes side-to-side, and must turn the head to look in a different direction.

These golden eyes represent the soul of wild Africa.  Lions are dying off rapidly across Africa. These cats once ranged across the continent and into Syria, Israel, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, and even India; According to National Geographic in the 1800's more than a million lions roamed the Earth. Since the 1940s, when lions numbered an estimated 450,000, lion populations have blinked out across the continent. Now they may total as few as 20,000 animals, and some scientists predict the lion will be gone by 2050.

The Sabi Sand Reserve is the birthplace of sustainable wildlife tourism in Southern Africa, and is the oldest of all the private reserves in South Africa. Forever, it has been a wilderness area and home to a vast wildlife population. The name comes from the Sabie and Sand Rivers that flow through the reserve. Situated near to the Kruger Gate, the reserve shares a common 30+ mile unfenced boundary with the Kruger National Park to the east.

The two rivers supply the game reserve with a valuable water source. The Sand River flows through the reserve for 31 miles and the Sabie River flows on the southern boundary. The sustenance of these rivers ensures that this area enjoys one of the highest and most bio-diverse wildlife populations of any area in Africa. Over two hundred different species live in abundance, as the ever changing bird life provides even the most experienced ornithologist with rare finds. Such is the environment that the wildlife, save for the migratory birds, remain in their territories all year round.

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve, with its legendary viewing leopard is the best known of the game reserves in the Kruger National Park area.

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