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First time DSLR Camera Trap Location

Monday, April 17, 2017 posted by Bruce 3:01 PM

‘Tiger, leopard, tapir, gaur, elephant, sambar and barking deer visit a Nikon D90 camera trap…!

Tiger1 hotspring HKK-web

A female Indochinese tiger camera trapped near a ‘hot spring’ in the ‘Western Forest Complex’ of Thailand…(image cropped)…!

For some twenty years, I have been visiting a natural seep in the Western Forest Complex of Thailand to photograph wildlife that come for important minerals flowing from a rocky formation. It has been extremely rewarding over the years, and I finally decided to set a DSLR camera trap just above the natural hot springs.

Tiger2 hotspring HKK-web

In one frame, this female stepped forward and turned its head because of the flash…!

I knew that tiger and leopard visited this place hunting prey species like muntjac (barking deer), sambar, wild pig and tapir plus other animals such as gaur, banteng and elephant. I chose a trail that is about 4 meters away from the hot spring. I left the cam for almost two months and it was still working when I returned, but flash power had long drained away.

Tiger3 hotspring HKK

Same female tiger back again 2-weeks later at night…!

A female tiger visited first at night on Feb. 14, 2017. She then came back past the cam three times on Feb. 21, again at night passing the camera several times. Then a leopard came by during the daytime on Feb 26th. Other creatures like sambar, muntjac, tapir, gaur and elephant tripped the camera many times during the two-month soak.

Tiger4 hotspring HKK.web

The female once again that night…need to move the cam for future head-on shots…!

Tiger5 hotspring HKK-web

And again making for a very good record of her visit to this cam…!

However, most shots are all butt shots. It looks like they have come to the spring and then walked past my camera going up-hill hence mostly rear-end shots.

Leopard male HKK-web

A male leopard walking past in the morning. Daytime shots of carnivores are rare here…!

I hope to go back here in a week or so where I will be moving the camera with a wide-angle lens for more on-coming shots.

Tapir 1 hotspring HKK

A female tapir in mid-afternoon passing the cam.

Tapir pair hotspring HKK-web

Tapir pair with the male on the left…

I’m also after a black leopard that I have seen here almost twenty years ago and then again recently about two years ago.

Gaur hotspring HKK-web

A young female gaur on the way down to the hot-spring…!

Elephant trunk, tail and legs HKK

Elephant trunk, tail and legs…! These giants always test my ‘elephant proof’ cameras…!

Scruffy sambar yearling HKK

A scruffy sambar yearling at night…!

I was delighted to get this amount of wildlife traffic and look forward to future set-ups’ here…!

Tiger hunter testing Nikon D90 cam

Tiger hunter testing D90

Tiger Hunter testing his Nikon D90 DSLR camera trap…!

PLEASE NOTE: Recently, an American so-called ‘Wildlife NGO’ stole one of my tiger images, cut my name and copyright off the image and published it on their website without any permission to use said image and credit to me. At this time, I’m not sure what course of action I should take. However because of this, I will now be ‘water marking’ through the subject on all of my images for the future with my name as follows: © L. Bruce Kekulé

I thought that an American NGO would be honest and sincere about © copyright…but that is not the case as proof of theft has been recorded and action is being taken against this NGO and its CEO. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Camera trap blues plus a close encounter…!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 posted by Bruce 6:58 PM

Two stolen cams and a female elephant in the dense bush on Dec. 30, 2016…!!

An Indochinese tiger passes my Nikon D700 DSLR camera trap on 8/13/2016 – 6:24 AM…!

As most of my friends know, I went to the USA back in September 2016 to do a road trip and my first ‘bucket list’ visiting the Grand Canyon, Zion, Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks respectively, and then up into Canada. It was a great trip and I was able to tick those items off my list. I returned to Thailand on Nov. 15th and it took me sometime before I could get into the forest to check my camera traps.

bull-elephant-d700

A young bull elephant taking in minerals…!

Before I left, I set four DSLR traps, and three video cams where I usually work in the ‘Western Forest Complex’ northwest of Bangkok. Over the years, this place has proven very productive capturing photos of tigers and other cryptic creatures in the wild forests found here. Thailand’s natural legacy is still thriving and I have some remarkable images of nature on file.

banteng-bull-bolting-d700

A banteng bull bolts as the cam’s flashes go off…!

Unfortunately, lady luck decided to look the other way. Two videos (a Bushnell Trophy Cam and a ‘Fireman Jim’ DXG 125-day only cam) were stolen by poachers (or some other dishonest and very undesirable people) which of course was a shock to me…I’ve been working in this sanctuary for more than 20 years and never lost anything…I was proud of this fact and record. So it’s back to the drawing board to improve the possibility of theft. I have ‘elephant proofing’ down pat but a new design to double-up the security of all my cams is needed (extra work for me) and I will post this at a later date.

banteng-bolting-d700

A pair of banteng cows bolt from the mineral deposit…!

So I decided to move out of the area and not set any camera traps here for now. But there is a hot-spring close by with a blind set up to facilitate photography through the lens. This natural place has tiger and leopard that roam around and it is here 18 years ago, that I photographed a black leopard up at the mineral deposit. I got my Nikon D4s with a 200-400mm lens and tripod, and a Nikon D3000 with a Tamron 70-200mm lens ready plus some snacks, water, camo material plus my pistol (remember elephant country) and hiked in about a kilometer to the blind. On the way in, I bumped into a wild elephant camp with fresh tracks and poop all over the place. A big herd was nearby…!

sambar-stag-d700

A young sambar stag in the morning…!

As usual, I just moved through and then sat in the blind that afternoon collecting some nice shots of barking deer and a young male peafowl shown here. Around 6pm, I packed-up for the walk back to the truck. About 100 meters down the track, I saw a big elephant on the trail…oh poop, my trail back to the truck was blocked and I certainly was not going to put my life in jeopardy (mother’s with small baby elephants or big tusk-less bulls means certain death). I turned back towards the blind and there was another smaller jumbo behind me.

sambar-does-d700

A pair of sambar does late at night…!

This was serious as it seemed I was surrounded by the herd. So the only thing was to pop-off a round in the air with my Colt Government .38 Super Auto which brought out a roar from the big one down on the trail but the little one fled into the bush. I rushed back to the blind and threw down my chair and some trash in a plastic bag, and then hauled butt up another hill with a trail back to my parked truck. Up I went and it was rough going but I continued on. After about 20 minutes of thrashing around, it turned dark. With my headlamp on, I still struggled to find a trail. I got the shock of my life when I bumped into a huge female elephant not more than 6 meters away. She snorted at me and made a short mock charge but some small trees and saplings stopped her short. My pistol was out again and I let off another round in the air, and then yelled for her to Go, Go, Go as loud as I could.

old-tapir-d700

A very old tapir taking in minerals…!

I was lucky as she was alone, and squealed high-tailing it in the opposite direction. I let out a sigh of relief and took stock…I had my iPhone and turned on the compass and went west. I then found a worn path back to a mineral deposit at the front near the road and eventually my truck. Now that was a close call and one that I do not want to repeat.

muntjac-pair

Muntjac (barking deer) pair at the hot-springs in mid-afternoon…!

It was about 8pm before I got going. About 10 kilometers down the track back to camp, I took a wrong turn and ran over a huge bolder getting stuck. Had to winch myself over it (just replaced a broken cable a few days before – lucky). I got back to camp arriving about 9pm. At the station, had a few sundowners to calm my nerves and then it was straight to bed. I had to go back to the blind the next morning to pick-up my camp chair and that rubbish I had left behind the night before. As I went through the mineral deposit, the elephants had retreated to the deep bush and I passed through without incident..!

muntjac-and-peafowl

A female muntjac jumping in front of a young male peafowl in display…!

I then left the area and went to where I had set the four DSLRs. During the time I was in the States, my D700 performed extremely well. Got a tiger a few days after I set the cam in late Aug. 2016. Also, got banteng (wild cattle), elephant and sambar and barking deer plus an old tapir. The other three cams did not work at all and I got nothing (primarily battery problems). One of the D700’s flashes and the sensor got ripped up by elephants as I did not have a sturdy tree to attached them to and just laid them on the ground (big mistake). The other flash and the D700 were fine having attached with lag bolts to a tree. I will be setting this D700 nearby at another deposit with a bigger tree…!!

stolen-video-cam-1

All that’s left of a Bushnell Trophy Cam…!

All in all, getting the tiger was a plus even though it’s not a very nice photograph with leaf shadow on its face from the flash on the ground. As soon as time permits, I’ll be setting more DSLRs at my favorite places before a scheduled trip to India in late-February…! Finally, I want everyone to know that I carry a pistol for protection, and as a noise-maker when necessary as in this case. I might not have made it back on the 30th December if I did not have my sidearm…!!

stolen-video-cam-2

All that’s what is left of a ‘Fireman Jim’ DXG 125 video cam: Opened by humans and then bent by elephants…!

Following is a gallery of elephants by camera trap and through the lens…!!

tuskless-bull

This is what they call a ‘Tuskless Bull’…taller and bigger than a tusker…!

Elephant family unit in HKK Feb. 2016

A family unit has just left the hot-spring close to where I was sitting….they were about 100-yards away…!

Elephants in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, western Thailand.

Bumping into one of these guys or gals at night can be scary…!

Elephants in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, western Thailand.

And they can ring your neck and that’s be all she wrote…!

 

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A youngish elephant at the old ‘tiger log’…!

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Elephants camera trapped by the river…!

Elephants in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, western Thailand.

A young tusker and female on a trail in the bush at night…!

Baby tusker elephant in Klong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary in Surat Thani, southern Thailand

Even a very young bull could wreck havoc if you bumped into him deep in the bush…!

SONY DSC

The ‘tiger hunter’ setting one of his cams in the ‘Western Forest Complex’…!

For the most part, wild elephants will flee at the first sight or smell of humans. However, there are exceptions and many a trekker, poacher and ranger has met their fate with a mother and infant, or an old mean bull. The best option is to climb a tree but this is not always possible. Running uphill is another way to escape these beasts if they are determined to stomp you…I always pray to the forest spirits not to bump into the jumbos period….life is too short…!!

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My favorite Asian leopard shot…!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 posted by Bruce 8:43 PM

After several years of working my Nikon D700 trail cam, this shot stands out as my best overall leopard shot. These carnivores are quite common where I work in the ‘Western Forest Complex’ of Thailand but daytime shots are rare. Unfortunately,  the ‘tiger log’ is now gone (burnt-up in the last ‘fire’ season) and I’m still looking for a good replacement…but I have a few in mind….!! He’s a big mature male Asian wild cat…Enjoy…!

Asian leopard crossing 'tiger log'

 

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After a few years of DSLR camera trapping in the Western Forest Complex of Thailand, I have finally chosen an image of a male Indochinese tiger caught one afternoon at 4.41pm that is my all-time favorite. For this location, I built a Canon 600D with an old Nikon 50mm manual lens incorporating an adapter (Nikon to Canon) in a Pelican 1150 case with an external Snapshotsniper SS II sensor on a 10-meter hardwire, and two SB28s in Tupperware® style boxes also on 10-meter hardwires. This mature tiger was out hunting when he passed the cam and the manual settings were ISO 400; ƒ8; 1/100 sec. and this shot was the last in a string of six. Enjoy…!

indochinese tiger male - Canon 600D

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Nikon D3000 travel cam catches a palm civet, jackals, wild boar, langur monkey and a semi-feral cat…!

Common Palm civet at Ken River Lodge in Panna Tiger Reserve

An Asian palm civet in a dry stream bed at the Ken River Lodge, Panna Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India…!

In March 2016, I made a trip to Panna Tiger Reserve in India after tigers. I was lucky catching two sisters, the offspring of T1, Panna’s first tiger reintroduced from near-by Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. Poachers completely wiped out the big cat in Panna in one year during 2008 but there are 32 tigers thriving now which is an amazing conservation success story.

Jackal at Ken River Lodge in Panna Tiger Reserve, India

Jackal shown here bolting from the flash…! These canidae usually travel in pairs…!

I stayed at the Ken River Lodge outside the reserve several kilometers from the front gate to the park. Pugpundee Safari Company manages this hotel plus others in Bandhavgarh, Pench, Kanha and Satpura tiger reserves in the State of Madhya Pradesh.

Wild boar at Ken River Lodge in Panna Tiger Lodge, India

A wild boar scavenging in the stream bed…!

The owner wanted to see what was roaming the grounds and invited me to set a camera trap in a dry stream bed not far from my room.  After two weeks, I came back through to check the Nikon D3000 with a Nikon 24mm manual lens, one Nikon SB-28 flash and a SSII external sensor.

Indian langur in the Ken River Lodge - Panna Tiger Reserve

A gray or ‘Hanuman’ langur leaf monkey during the day….!

The cam caught a palm civet, a pair of jackals, a wild boar and a langur monkey plus a semi-feral cat. Although not as glamorous as a tiger or leopard, these wild creatures are still just as important to the ecosystem excluding the cat. Leopard tracks have been found near the river..!

Feral cat at Ken River Lodge in Panna Tiger Reserve, India

A semi-feral cat; sometimes this feline was found sleeping up at the resort…!

Tiger Hunter testing Nikon D3000 at Ken River Lodge

The ‘tiger hunter’ with knee pads walk-testing the D3000…!

 

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A close call for my Nikon D700 DSLR trail cam…!

Friday, May 6, 2016 posted by Bruce 9:12 AM

The ‘Tiger Log’ is No More…!

D700 capture Indochinese tiger 2

An Indochinese tiger crossing ‘tiger log’ in the ‘Western Forest Complex’ of Thailand…!

Asian leopard crossing 'tiger log' in Huai Kha Khaeng, western Thailand

Asian leopard crossing ‘tiger log’ in the ‘daytime…!

Tiger log gone

‘Tiger Log’ is left in a long pile of ash after a serious forest fire in late-March, 2016…!

In early March of 2016 before my trip to India, I decided to move my old D700 trail cam as forest fire was edging closer and the fires this year were very intense due to serious drought conditions in Thailand.

Large Indian Civet in HKK, Western Thailand

A large Indian civet crossing the new log…!

This Nikon D700 full-frame DSLR with a 35mm Nikon manual lens in a Pelican 1150 case enclosed in an ‘elephant proof box’ has worked on the ‘tiger log’ in the Western Forest Complex for several years now.

black bear on new log in HKK, western Thailand

A black bear walking the log…!

In the past, I always moved my cameras out of the dryer deciduous areas (usually in March at the beginning of the dry season) to semi-evergreen forests that grow in profusion at higher elevations all year round. Due to moist conditions, these evergreen forests do not burn for the most part.

Male muntjac at the new log in HKK, Western Forest Complex, Thailand

A male muntjac (barking deer) about to cross….!

However, I did have a good run on the log and was lucky to get some really great tiger and leopard shots plus other creatures, big and small. Another location in the semi-evergreen forest was chosen where fires never reach and this year, it was a good thing that I moved my camera as disaster would have killed it on the ‘tiger log’.

Female Muntjac at log in HKK, Western Forest Complex, Thailand

A female muntjac sniffing some scent (Thai fish sauce)…!

When I got back from India, I made a trip into the forest and when I got to the ‘tiger log’, I was shocked. The dead tree had been completely burnt to the ground. All that was left was a long pile of gray ash. If I had left the cam, the old D700 would have been a goner of melted plastic, metal and glass.

Elephant trunk, foot and leg in HKK, Western Forest Complex, Thailand

A big elephant crossing the log…if not tightly secured, the trunk and foot can wreak havoc on cams…!

Here is a collection of images I got from the new log yet to be named. It was OK for a first set but I want to fine-tune the cam (only one flash was working) and also be on the lookout for other ‘log’ locations in the meantime. Fortunately, the first rains have come through and there is no more danger of fire this year. More to follow from the new log…!

Porcupine on New log in HKK

A lightweight porcupine on the log…!

me crossing the new tiger log in Huai Kha Khaeng W.S., western Thailand

A heavyweight ‘tiger hunter’ testing the D700…!

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A goral and a muntjac on the D3000 in India

Monday, April 18, 2016 posted by Bruce 8:39 PM

Two even-toed ungulates caught by my DSLR travel cam…!

Another two species captured on my Nikon D3000 travel cam was a goral (goat-antelope) and a muntjac male (barking deer). Even though these two even-toed ungulates are not as glamorous as the tiger, they are still an indication of the prey base found in Vanghat Wildlife Reserve (private land) in the Corbett Landscape. Hopefully sometime next year, I will be able to return to this place but earlier (about Feb.when it’s cooler). It was boiling hot this year and a bit of a fire hazard (many areas are now being razed by fire) and certainly if I had waited any longer, my camera may have been burnt to crisp)…!

Goral in Vanghat Wildlife Reserve

Goral (goat-antelopes) are found in Northern India in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains…!

Muntjac in Vanghat Wildlife Reserve

A muntjac male (barking deer) are found all over India and a main food source for the big cats…!

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Awhile back, I published a post on ‘my travel cam DSLRs’ on this forum and got some nice mongoose pics from that set last year. I have just wrapped up another trip to Northern India where I set one of my D3000s on a trail in a place called Vanghat resort and private wildlife reserve not far from Corbett Tiger Reserve in the State of Uttarakhand. After only two nights, a female tiger walked past the cam and tripped the sensor several times…this is the best shot from the series…Lady luck doing her magic once again…!!

Female tiger in Vanghat Private reserve

Nikon D3000 with a 24mm manual lens – 2 SB-28s set at 1/4 power..!

Settings: ƒ8; 1/250 sec; ISO 400.

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Creatures in Thailand’s Western Forest Complex – Part One

Friday, March 4, 2016 posted by Bruce 11:07 PM

Video footage of Thailand’s rare carnivores including tiger, leopard, bear and wild dog. Most of this footage is recent..!

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Nile crocodiles and a genet in Kenya

Monday, February 15, 2016 posted by Bruce 12:27 PM

In late December of 2012, I did my last safari to Samburu National Park in Northern Kenya. At the lodge I was staying at, big Nile crocodiles would come up at night into the hotel grounds next to the river (closed-off to people of course) and set-up one of my Sony S600 home-brews on the fence. It was more or less a tourist attraction as the staff fed the crocodiles with left-overs. That night, a slew of them came-up out of the river and the old 600 did its job. One frame shows a genet (little carnivore) caught taunting the crocs…it was one on those weird moments in nature where the little guy must have known it could out-run the fat reptiles…..Enjoy…!

Genet and nile crocodiles in Samburu NP, Kenya

 

 

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