Rodney Nombekana: How the love of big cats and the leopard “myth” sparked the career of this wildlife photographer

(CNN) – People travel across oceans and across the world for the chance to see the wonders of Kruger National Park. The South African Game Reserve was established over 120 years ago and ranks among the best national parks in the world. Bucket List Adventurers visit in the hopes of meeting the “big five” – lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffaloes – and, with any luck, capture a photo worthy of a memory.

“Our animals are making wildlife photography all the rage,” says Rodney Nombekana, a safari guide who prides himself on giving visitors a film of reasons to fall in love with Kruger’s wildlife. “In doing so, not only do they enjoy the wildlife, but they are also getting involved in the conservation of our natural world.”

Tourists on Nombekana safaris might well find themselves in a prime position to capture the perfect photo, as Nombekana himself is a wildlife photographer, a passion he says he fell into years ago while running a safari group in different park.

“It turns out that a leopard was sitting on a beautiful rock at sunset, and I pulled out my cell phone and took a picture of this leopard,” Nombekana recalls. “When I got home I looked at the picture and realized it would be nice if it was taken with a good camera.”

So Nombekana bought a starter camera kit. As with the leopard, he found himself drawn to capturing images of big cats – a fascination he believes was likely sparked during his childhood in rural Eastern Cape.

“The village elders always told us about the leopard,” he explains. “It has always been a myth that there was this animal called a leopard. In fact, we never really saw it. I always dreamed of seeing a leopard in the wild and when I did. saw one for the first time, it was just amazing. “

Browse the gallery above to see how the leopard and other big cats continued to have special meaning for Nombekana.

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