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Category Archives: Wild Picha
We would like to thank you for being our fans during the last 6 years! We loved making the twikga books, but the time has come to start something new. Keep on following our wilderness adventures on wildpicha.com
Those of you who like their daily cup(s) of the dark brew know about the coffee moment. Even on safari I would not want to miss it. Being out the whole day to get the perfect shot can be tiring. So a coffee stop now and then is more than welcome. At home we are quite picky about the coffee we drink. Freshly roasted beans are ground and brewed into a perfect espresso by a serious espresso machine. Topped with freshly foamed milk it is turned into the perfect latte for our coffee break(s). On safari the ritual and the ingredients are somewhat different. At first you have to find the perfect spot: scenic, shady and not too windy. Then you hope that all the necessary items have made it into the picnic bag at four o’clock in the morning. Mostly the choice of coffee is: from the thermos, instant, plunger or espresso cooker. Milk can be powdered or fresh, sometimes even frothed. Whatever you choose, it tastes great. The coffee moment is magic, because you are in the middle of a wide open plain, having a bush latte, accompanied by freshly baked cookies (or dutch stroopwafels). We are looking forward to our next safari!
The Great Wildebeest Migration, is one of the most impressive events in the natural world, whereas more than two million animals migrate back and forth from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya in order to find fresh grass to eat. On their trek their path is cut several times by rivers. Watching the frantic herds crossing can be very spectacular; there are often scenes of great panic and confusion. The wildebeest fear the water and the creatures that may hide in or near it. Sometimes tens of thousands gather and wait to cross and for no apparent reason, they turn and wander away from the water’s edge. Other times herds may cross back and forth, because they see others of their kind either in the process of crossing the river or grazing on the lush grass on the far side. Hence a lot of people call them “bewildered beest”.
Home again from a two week trip to the Mara, Kenya. The rains have turned the planes into a green meadow, resembling a golf course. Although the big migration has moved on to the Serengeti, there was plenty of game left to see. We had some great sightings. A cheetah with four cubs, amazing lions, beautiful sunsets and massive thunderstorms. One afternoon we saw The Big Five within 30 minutes after leaving the camp. And the good thing was that we did not have to share what we saw with lots of other cars. The advantage of being in the Mara off-season. We took some great pictures, some of which we will post on the Wild Picha Facebook page and on our website in the coming weeks.
Driving through the Namib desert was a great experience, an art which we as “town clowns” do not master. It does not always bring out the best in people, but when you do succeed to cross this sea of sand as a team, after getting stuck many times, it feels like quite an accomplishment. To begin with you have to be patient and take your time to decide which route to take or you might end up in a sink hole. In the glaring light it is difficult to judge depth of field. To drive up a dune in sugary soft sand can take more than a few attempts. But if you stay in the same track and prevent the wheels from spinning, every run compacts the sand further and finally you reach the top. Then comes the drive down over nearly vertical slopes. The first time I refused to stay in the car. I walked down and watched from below. My heart nearly stopped when I saw the car going over the edge. But the sand seemed to carry it down. It made a muffled sound, like driving through fresh snow, though the temperatures were far from that. The days could be hot with more then 40 degrees Celsius and the nights cold from the winds and the fog being carried in from the ocean. The stunning landscape with its beautiful colors and shapes is full of life with creatures who have adapted to this harsh climate. Little beatles, toktoks, lizards, snakes, scorpions, they all leave their tracks to tell their story. We even spotted a few oryx and a brown hyena walked past our camp on an early morning patrol, hoping to find a few scrapes of our food, just like the crows who kept on following us.
During our recent trip to Namibia we drove up all the way to Angola, along the Skeleton Coast. Due to the cold Benguela Current, the coastline was blanketed by mist most of the time, making the remains of the ships of the poor souls who stranded there even more eerie. Although the area is desolate, the wildlife is amazing. We saw seal colonies and predators, like jackals and brown hyena. We even spotted one of the famous desert lions who had managed to kill a porcupine. Not an easy prey, but in this environment you can’t be choosy. Some of the desert lions are monitored and are known to cover hundreds of miles to find their prey. Camping on the beach was quite an experience and the nights sleepless because of the wind and the harmless but noisy crabs trying to find a way into our tent.
We just returned from a great trip to Namibia. Our first stop was Desert Rhino Camp in Damaraland, where they have the largest free-ranging population of black rhino in Africa. The rhinos are well protected due to a unique conservation approach where the local community plays an important role, together with Save the Rhino Trust and the government. We hope that this model will be able to withstand the changing rules of the game, where poaching has become a multimillion dollar business. Around Desert Rhino Camp the sweeping valleys are dotted with scattered euphorbia and ancient welwitschia plants, with impressive table top mountains in the background. In the early mornings trackers will go out and try to find the rhinos, who seem to prefer the most remote areas. It is amazing that they are able to survive in this rocky desert. We were lucky to witness the last traces of the rain which had turned part of the area into a green meadow for a short time. This resulted in a concentration of mountain zebras, oryx and springbok on the grassy plains. Even a big family of lions had a feast in this short time of plenty. We enjoyed most of our meals outside, around the campfire, while listening to the staff singing songs and Chris Bakkes reciting poems. He is a noted South African writer, but also a passionate guide and conservation who has lived and worked in this area for years.
Am Freitag wurde in Gallerie Lehmweg 33 in Hamburg die Wild Picha Ausstellung eröffnet. Sie zeigt Afrika Fotografien in schwarz-weiß von Willem und Tanja Dekker. Galeristin Johanna Beil sprach bei der Eröffnung die Bücher an, die Tanja Dekker herausbringt…, “die sich (wen wundert´s) um Afrika drehen. Hier mischt und webt Tanja Dekker ihrer beider Fotografien mit illustratorischen Mitteln zu wilden Wimmelbüchern zusammen, in denen Kinder die Tierwelt Afrikas entdecken können. Tanjas und Willems Fotografie, zuerst „nur“ als Material und Grundstoff ihrer Bücher gedacht, hat sich jedoch mittlerweile weit darüber hinaus entwickelt und eine ganz eigenständige Qualität bekommen.” Die beeindruckenden Landschaften, Wolkenbilder, Tierportraits und Strukturen sind noch bis Weihnachten zu sehen. Mehr Info zur Ausstellung gibt es auf der Wild Picha Webseite.
We started taking pictures, when we made a trip around the world in 1992. Since then African wildlife has been the focus of our photography. What started as a means to share our stories with the people back home has become a profession for Tanja. She uses our photos to create illustrations for her children’s books. In 2010, she started her own publishing company, twikga. We were lucky to travel with great guides and photographers, who sparked our interest in wildlife photography and taught us a lot. Because Tanja uses the photos for her illustrations, there was a necessity to take high quality photos. This made us keen wildlife photographers, using ever faster cameras and better lenses. Our pictures have become more than the photos behind Tanja’s books. For us good pictures tell a story. Wildlife within dramatic landscapes, vivid colours, clouds building towards a storm, a certain look or a gesture of an animal, all scenes where a story is unfolding. Our website, Wild Picha, presents a selection of our pictures. Picha means “picture” in Swahili. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.
On the left you see a picture of a curious young elephant, taken by us in Amboseli, Kenya in 2011. The same elephant was used by Tanja in one of her illustrations for Phanhabs Savanna.
We grew up in the Netherlands and moved to Germany in 2003. Together with our dog Duvel we now live in the picturesque Treppenviertel in Hamburg, along the river Elbe. Willem currently works at a ship-owning company. After a career in marketing, Tanja studied illustration design and started her own book publishing company, twikga, in 2010. We started traveling together in 1992, when we backpacked around the world. In the following years, we spent most of our holidays in South America. About 15 years ago we made our first safari and have been hooked on African wildlife since. We were lucky to travel with great guides and photographers, who sparked our interest in wildlife photography and taught us a lot. In the beginning we used a simple camera and stored our precious film in lead-lined bags. By now we have more camera equipment than clothes to carry when we go on safari. Because Tanja uses the photos for her illustrations, there was a necessity to take high quality photos. This made us keen wildlife photographers, using ever faster cameras and better lenses. Our pictures have become more than the photos behind Tanja’s books. Therefore, we decided to make a website, Wild Picha, presenting a selection of our pictures. Picha means “picture” in Swahili. For those of you, who would like to see more of our pictures, there will be an exhibition at Gallery Lehmweg 33 in Hamburg, starting September 20th. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.