Cheetah Chase Captures Photo Contest
The second winner of the Adventure Collection’s Adventures of a Lifetime photo competition has been selected! Kathleen Rice’s photo of a cheetah chasing a Thomson’s gazelle in Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve was chosen from among more than 100 entries as our August winner. Rice’s grand prize is a trip for two to view polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba with Natural Habitat Adventures. After her photo was chosen, I spoke with Rice about her prize-winning shot and her travel adventures.
A native of upstate New York who has lived in Staten Island for 20 years. Kathleen Rice started her career as a professor of psychology and is now a clinical researcher in the area of sleep disorders. When not traveling, she likes to spend time on photography, hiking, and bird-watching. “Since my dream of retirement is running a small eco-lodge somewhere in Central America,” she adds, “I’m also studying Spanish!”
Can you describe the situation – location, month, time of day, and kind of camera – of your spectacular photo?
The cheetah photo was taken in July 2007 in the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya. It was about 7 am and we were leaving for the airstrip. Our guide spotted the cheetah sitting fairly close to the road looking intently at a nearby single Thomson’s gazelle. We sat watching, wondering why the cheetah didn’t make a move and amazed that the gazelle was so nonchalant, as only about 50 feet separated them. All the while, I was thinking that when the action finally did unfold I would have to get the shot, and I was praying that I could track a racing cheetah. When the cheetah finally sprang, I fired off about 5 shots in a few seconds. To my great relief, I had gotten some good photos! (Incidentally, the gazelle escaped.)
The camera I used was a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT, with a Canon L IS 100-400 mm zoom lens.
What was your goal in taking this shot?
Coming across that cheetah was such an unexpected, serendipitous situation that my only goal at the time was to take a decent photo. I didn’t think that I would ever have the opportunity to get a good wildlife action shot — and so close to the action! — and I was just hoping that everything I knew as an amateur photographer would come together in a nice photograph.
Do you always take photos when you travel?
I’ve only been seriously interested in photography for about 5 years. So although I’ve always taken photos when I’ve traveled, I’ve only made a concerted effort to improve my knowledge of photography and my skills in the last few years.
What are some other destinations that you have found especially good for photography?
Well, my interest is primarily in wildlife photography, so anywhere there are opportunities for observing wildlife appeals to me. So far, the best destinations I’ve experienced have been in Africa, for the sheer abundance of wildlife and the ability to see so much of it up-close.
Was this your first trip to Africa?
This was my second trip to Africa; on my first trip I traveled to Botswana for about 2 weeks followed by a couple of days at Victoria Falls.
How long were you there on this trip and where did you visit?
On this trip I spent 8 days in Kenya and 4 days in Rwanda.
What have you especially liked or found especially moving about Africa?
On my first night in the Okavango delta in Botswana, a lion walked through camp while we watched from around the campfire. That experience sold me on traveling to Africa. I have just found the colors, the light, and the sounds of the bush to be extraordinary. Nothing can beat falling asleep to the roar of lions!
Traveling in Rwanda was a real eye-opener. The main purpose of going there was to see the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. The experience of being within several feet of a mountain gorilla family is impossible to adequately describe. But I was also stunned by the spectacular beauty of the country and the resilience of the people. I would have liked to spend more time there.
What other adventurous trips have you taken?
In addition to Africa, I’ve travelled quite a lot in Central and South America (Costa Rica, Honduras, Belize, Panama, Galapagos, Brazil, Peru, Patagonia). I’ve also traveled in mainland Australia and Tasmania.
Your prize is a polar bear-viewing expedition in Canada. What is it that especially excites and attracts you about this destination and trip?
I’m really excited about the polar bear trip because it’s been on my wish-list! I’ve never been on any Arctic trips and the polar bear expedition is really the pinnacle of Arctic wildlife experiences. I can’t imagine another trip where the opportunities for photography could be better.
What other places are on your must-visit list?
The question might be “What other places are NOT on your must-visit list?” If I had to give a dream destination, it would be Gabon, since the national parks are supposed to be wonderful and the country is still relatively undiscovered as an ecotourism destination (and I’d love to come back with photos of the “surfing” hippos). I’m also dying to visit Borneo and Papua New Guinea. Of, course, Antarctica is a top choice, both for the wildlife and to see the glaciers before they disappear.
What’s the pleasure and purpose of adventure travel for you?
Experiencing new things and meeting very different people brings me a lot of happiness. There is just so much to see in the world — fascinating cultures, beautiful landscapes, and amazing animals. And I really have found that traveling is a journey of self-discovery.