There is nothing more wonderful than observing animals in their natural habitat. I have been privileged to observe two magnificent creatures of the Felidae species, as they mature, take their first steps into the wild together and learn to become formidable hunters. This photo journey documents my incredible time spent with them and the lessons I have learned.
Nothing can compare to the grace and beauty of the Felis Catus. When only a few months old they are already able to survive away from their mother. Observing them closely every day, I started to notice great differences in both their markings and their personalities. Although wild creatures I gave them the names Amber and Ginny so I could compare their development.
At a young age, these creatures show amazing adaptability for blending into their surroundings, a skill necessary for their survival in the wild. For now, they must hone their skills, leaping and pouncing on cotton reels and squeaky mice. These games, while fun, have a deadly serious purpose: to train them for hunting when they are older.
One of my greatest memories of my time spent with these animals was observing their first steps outside. Ginny, the more confident of the pair was off and away, into the wilderness before I could even take her picture. All I got was a flick of her tail as she vanished into the undergrowth. Amber, always the more cautious of the two, scanned the area before taking her first few steps away from the protective enclosure of their early days and into the wild.
These photos, taken just a few months apart, show the transition from kitten to adult. More confident and assured they know their place in the ecosystem. With innate navigation skills, they explore their territory, knowing the best places to hunt and where to find a drink or a shady spot to rest after a hard day.
See if you can spot Ginny in this undercover video footage shot earlier in the year.
**Warning: this might prove too scary for sensitive viewers.**
Although possessed of grace and balance the animals do have an endearing tendency to make mistakes while they learn. We placed a tracker on their collar for monitoring purposes and it clearly upset their natural balance as foreign objects are often found caught on its magnetic tag.
Witnessing the bond between the two sisters, it is clear these two share more than just parents. You can learn a lot from observing their interactions. While they fight for territory, they always greet each other with a display of affection.
These creatures are able to adapt to different temperatures. While most comfortable in the temperate climate of the West Midlands, the twins clearly thrived when temperatures dropped to below freezing earlier in the year.
Solitary by nature, the animals will investigate new arrivals in their territory to see whether they are a threat. Luckily this Nix Catus proved unthreatening. After a cursory circling, Amber soon maintained her usual stance of lofty indifference.
For the patient observer, you can also witness extraordinary feats of agility. A shot like this only comes once in a wildlife photographer’s life. Few have been able to observe the famed walking-on-air phenomenon of the Felis Catus and now finally I have finally got photographic proof. It took hours of painstaking reclining in my conservatory and several gallons of tea before I could capture this shot, but I’m sure you’ll agree it was worth it.
Often called the Queens and Kings of the Animal Kingdom, these regal animals like nothing better than relaxing in a palace. They live by the motto “If it fits, I sits”.
One of the most prized skills of the hunter is the ability to go unseen by their prey.
This photo shows the animal hiding in plain sight. You might struggle to see it through the camouflage (hint: at the bottom of the picture). Now a fearsome hunter the adult cat will bring its prey into less competent members of the pride. The twins have hunted mice, bees, flies, frogs and birds and lovingly display them as a gesture of their affection.
After a busy day hunting, they return to their favourite shady area to sleep undisturbed. The prone position exposing the soft fluffy tummy shows knowledge that no other creature would dare to disturb them. They really are top of the food chain.
This post is an entryintoo the Trips100/Audley Travel blogger challenge.
Win an African safari with Audley Travel by sharing your best wildlife photograph or video on your social media channels. To enter write #AudleySafari and @AudleyTravel on your Instagram or Twitter post or share directly on the Audley Travel Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/audleytravel/. To find out more or enter via the website, visit www.audleytravel.com/social. Entries must be posted between 20th August – 23rd September.
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