Northern Kenya Kirk's long-snouted Dik Dik.The Samburu Game Reserve, which lies north of Isiolo township in the northern province of Kenya, can be easily reached either by road or air. The Reserve covers an area of 40 square miles on the northern bank of the Uaso Nyiro River with a river frontage of l0 miles teeming with game and bird life in season.
In addition to the rugged splendor of its landscape, the very name "Northern Frontier Province" conjures up an atmosphere of mystery and adventure. Forty-five years ago, the only accommodations were wooden huts or one's own tent, but today the Northern Frontier Province supports five-star hotels with swimming pools and luxury accommodations and cuisine.
It is this location one ventures to in order to see the tribal customs of the Samburu Tribe, abundant bird life and a vast variety of game, such as the Reticulated Giraffe giraffe, African ruminant mammal, Giraffa camelopardalis, living in open savanna S of the Sahara. The tallest of animals, giraffes browse in treetops at heights inaccessible to other leaf-eaters. A male may be 18 ft (5.5 m) from hoof to crown. , Grevy's Zebra, Beisa beisa: see oryx. Oryx oryx (ôr`ĭks), name for several small, horselike antelopes, genus Oryx, found in deserts and arid scrublands of Africa and Arabia. They feed on grasses and scrub and can go without water for long periods. , crocodiles and elephants in abundance along the river banks. The main purpose of this visit was to study the smallest of East Africa's antelopes: the Kirk's Long-Snouted Dik Dik (Rhynchotragus kirki).
The Kirk's Long-Snouted Dik Dik weighs a mere 11 pounds (approximately) and grows to a height of around 15 inches at the shoulder. It is the smallest of the antelope species. Its features are different from other antelopes with a moderately elongated nose, forming a proboscis proboscis
elongated, flexible feeding apparatus, formed of the fused mouthparts, in some insects. of medium size that twitches. This strange, trunk-like snout snout
the upper lip and the apex of the nose, especially of the pig. Called also rostrum. Has a specialized skin to survive the rigors of rooting, is supported by a separate bone (the os rostri), and also has a few sensory hairs. is an adaptation to a semi-arid environment, serving as bellows to cool blood flowing through the nasal passages to the brain. The evolutionary device allows the Dik Dik to be completely independent of drinking water, as it gets all the moisture it requires from its food. The Kirk's Dik Dik is a selective browser of low scrub, feeding on leaves, shoots (acacias are their favorite) and fruits. While drinking is not necessary, salt is an important item. Their coloration is a grizzled grey to brown above with a whitish ring around the eye and tiny hooves.
The small horns are 5 to 6 inches long, widely separated and inclined backwards. Females are similar to the male; they are slightly larger without horns. The intensity of the Dik Dik's coloration depends largely on the humidity of the habitat and in Northern Kenya, they are found to be paler due to desert conditions.
Photographing the small Dik Dik is no easy task because one has to consider so many factors when shooting from a vehicle. First of all, one is not permitted to drive "off road" in National Parks or the Nature Reserve. Therefore, the antelope is often observed at some distance away, possibly out of range for your lens, which makes it difficult to get a suitable image.
Other factors play an important part in this equation, too. For example, one should ensure that the antelope is illuminated using oblique lighting for the maximum advantage in capturing the sheen of its fur, which adds to the sharpness. Avoid direct, flat light, which kills the image.
Secondly, avoid filming the antelope close to its natural habitat; the Acacia bush is not attractive with its twisted branches and is often in heavy shadow. Additionally, it is not easy to throw the bush out of focus.
Third, avoid flash, even fill-in flash, whenever possible because it will disturb this very timid animal and may affect the color of the eyes. Where possible, use the natural light source to illuminate the highlights--especially the eyes and other important features.
The Kirk's Dik Dik is unlike the larger mammals that move slowly; therefore, one has to be observant and able to operate a camera quickly with the right lens at hand and loaded with a fast film, using lighting to get the best result.
The main factor when photographing wildlife is always LUCK and being at the right place at the right time. I was very lucky to find the antelope in the open and not moving, as its temperament is both shy and elusive. It is mostly crepuscular crepuscular
active at twilight or just before dawn; said of animals or birds. and nocturnal, and is best seen and photographed at sunrise in the early morning light, generally before 9:00 a.m., when the antelope is gathering moisture instead of drinking water; late afternoon light is usually too warm in tone. Move slowly and quietly because this antelope, when startled, dashes away in a series of zig-zag leaps and out of sight. Where possible, one should use a 500-600mm lens to obtain a reasonable image size.
If visiting the Samburu Game Reserve to photograph the Kirk's Long-Snouted Dik Dik, my final words for you are "patience" and "good luck."
Derek M. Slattery APSA APSA American Political Science Association
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