Christa Van Eerde risks life and limb to photograph some of Africa’s most beautiful animals

This past summer I embarked on a month long adventure through Sub-Saharan Africa. As I set out with my Nikon D60 camera, bug spray and sun screen, I was unsure of what to expect. I was nervous about camping in the bush and being out of my comfort zone, anxious and excited about seeing animals in their natural habitat and thrilled to be beginning an adventure.

"Monkey" by Christa Van Eerde. Taken August, 2011.

While driving through parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, one is truly engulfed by nature. The minute you step out of your car, you are unprotected. There are no enclosures separating you and the animals. This results in being constantly on guard, and for me personally, dehydrating myself so I would not have to step out of the car to relieve myself. There are times though when even inside the car, one does not feel entirely safe. This is how I felt when I realised a lion was lurking behind the branches of a tree at the side of the road, right next to the car I was a passenger in, staring directly at me! On another occasion, the car I was in had to reverse quickly and suddenly. I was yelled at for hanging out of the window trying to get a photograph of an elephant charging the car.

"Lion" by Christa Van Eerde. Taken September, 2011.

Out of the numerous animals I saw, giraffes became my favourite. For such large creatures, I thought they moved extremely elegantly and gracefully. I enjoyed looking into the trees and seeing a curious giraffe stick its head out from the top of the branches. The animal I liked the least was the monkey. Initially I thought monkeys were adorable, however, after one launched itself at me and attempted to bite my leg while I was eating lunch one day, my opinion of them changed.

"Giraffe" by Christa Van Eerde. Taken August, 2011.

I visited a tiger-breeding centre, and was fascinated by the ferocious, playful nature of the five-month-old tigers. Their playfulness contrasted strongly with the majority of lions I saw, who preferred to sleep all day and mate all evening (an interesting soundtrack as one is trying to fall asleep in a tent). While I was ecstatic about seeing the tigers, the thrill was really seeing animals in the wild, not constrained in any way, shape or form and simply going about their daily business.

"Tiger" by Christa Van Eerde. Taken September, 2011.

Africa exceeded all of my expectations. I could never have predicted the adrenaline rush I would feel seeing zebras grazing and hyenas on the prowl. Now that I am back in St Andrews, Africa could not feel further away, even when I listen to Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)”. I survived camping, thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in a culture so different from my own, and have wonderful memories, which I will forever treasure.

Christa Van Eerde

Image credit – Christa Van Eerde