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The Dangers of Distraction

November 7, 2016

The Dangers of Distraction

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Jonathan C. Slaght Jonathan C. Slaght

In the Eastern Cape of South Africa, not far from where Nelson Mandela was born, I watched as a dog nearly killed and ate an endangered species in front of me. If it had, it probably would have been my fault.

Only moments earlier, I’d watched a small flock of grey crowned cranes from the car. These visually stunning birds—an endangered species—foraged about 55 yards from the road. Then, spying a straggler close by, I slowed the car to a stop for a better look. This single crane, nervous from the attention, stopped pecking at the grass and stared back. Then, a flurry of activity. The crane saw the dog before I did, and this elegant bird became decidedly inelegant; a thrashing mass of legs and wings struggling to become airborne—not a simple feat for a bird this large. The dog was a bolting shot of black that took advantage of the bird’s focus on me to gamble on a possible meal.

The whole thing was so unexpected, I barely had time to get the camera up and snap a few shots. I squeezed off nine photos; of those this was the only one in focus. The dog got within a few yards of the crane before the bird pulled sufficiently free of gravity to sail off. The dog sat silently as he watched the crane become smaller in the distance, then turned and trotted back in the direction from which it had come.

Canon Rebel XTI


, South Africa Map It

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1 comment

Judith Willey
December 13, 2016 at 2:07 am

I understand the desire for the perfect picture , but I find it disturbing, with all the experience and research you have , to mention numerous situations and are able to justify by faulting others to minimize your role in posing a threat to these birds .