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I'll Guard While You Drink, Mommy!

I'll Guard While You Drink, Mommy!
Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-10-05
Categories: Mammals, Savannah
Camera: Canon EOS 350D, Sigma 170-500mm f/5-6.3 AF APO Ultra DG, Digital ISO 400, UV 86mm Kenko
Exposure: f/5.0, 1/320 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Travelogue: Kruger National Park - 2007
Theme(s): Baby Animals 2, Wildlife of Africa, Mammals of Africa, Mammals of Southern Africa II, A study in Mammalogy (mammals) 1, 90-99 Puntos (chapter 1), Kruger National Park 1, Family Matters 1 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-11-20 13:13
Viewed: 13445
Favorites: 2 [view]
Points: 94
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Spotted hyaena - Crocuta crocuta

Staying with the theme of "baby animals" I present to you one of the Kruger Park's latest and cutest additions to the hyaena population. I dubbed this little guy "Captain Courageous" for the noticeable brave and daring mannerism he displayed throughout the time we were watching this group of hyaenas. But, let me begin at the beginning…

Thanks to the tremendous thunder storm and pouring rains we encountered the previous evening the earth was well drenched. Ominous dark clouds still filled the sky while sporadic downpours dampened all my hopes of any rewarding photographic prospects for the day. Even so, these conditions in effect presented me with this fabulous opportunity. Normally one would not see these animals during the bright and hot periods of the day. Hyaenas are mostly nocturnal or crepuscular (animals that are active at dusk and dawn, when the light level is low). Thus, being heavily overcast, the lighting conditions were favourable to set the scene for this encounter.

We were travelling along the S137 near Duke Waterhole (situated between Crocodile Bridge and Lower Sabie camps) when we spotted this family group (clan) that consisted of 3 adult females, 1 juvenile male, and two cubs. Lying close to the den, the adults seemed to be well satiated from the hunt of the previous night and were lazily trying to catch up on some lost sleep. However, the energetic nature of youth raised its unruly head and whatever hopes the adults might have had to grab a peaceful forty winks were forcefully interrupted by the playful cubs. No need to say that this gave rise to a number of particularly appreciative giggles from Miss. Piggy (my wife Anna) and from yours truly. It also produced lots of "Ooooh, it's soooo cute" shrieks and several prompting slaps on my back while she cried out excitedly "Look at that" or "Did you see that?" Now I'm asking you, "How does one absorb all the running commentary and interjections, or observe all the activities, and still concentrate on the task at hand to shoot some photos, with mother hen in the car?" Hopefully you might feel that in spite of everything I still managed to capture an acceptable image of the scene.

While many people might feel that hyaenas are very ugly I do not hold that view. I really believe them to be gorgeous animals and one needs to look a little deeper to discover the beauty of these highly fascinating animals. After all, is there anything in nature that can truly be called ugly, except perhaps for some spiders? (Sorry Howard)

Some Interesting Facts About Hyaena Cubs

- Hyenas are raised among the community of females. Matriarchal dominance occurs.
- When hyenas are born, their eyes are already open, they have fully formed teeth, and they are very active.
- Hyaena cubs are born fighting with each other, especially the females. They're one of the few animals to perform siblicide. Beginning only hours after birth, siblings of the same sex battle for dominance, biting each other, grabbing each other by the neck, and shaking each other like two fighting adults. The one that wins keeps the other from nursing until it weakens and dies.
- Because fighting occurs in the cubs' narrow tunnels, mothers are powerless to intervene.
- This sibling rivalry kills an estimated 25% of all hyenas in their first month. The surviving male grows faster and is likelier to achieve reproductive dominance; the surviving female eliminates a rival for dominance in her natal clan.
- There is no reproductive competition between siblings of opposite sex and consequently no killing.
- Cubs of the alpha female go to nearby kills and begin eating meat as early as 3 months, 4-5 months earlier than other offspring. However, most hyenas are not fully weaned until they are 14-18 months of age.
- Yearlings tag along on hunts but rarely become competent hunters before 1.5 years.
- Females usually stay with their natal clan, but males disperse when they reach 2 years old.

Some Interesting Facts About Hyaena Reproduction
- The gestation period is four months (98-110 days).
- A litter usually consist of 1-3 dark brown to all black cubs weighing ±1.5 kg.
- The female gives birth through her penis-like clitoris. The clitoris usually ruptures during birth, creating a large gaping wound that can take weeks to heal.
- The social life of spotted hyenas is centred around a communal den. These dens are not dug by the hyenas themselves, but are abandoned burrows of other species. The dens are very small, and only allow juvenile hyenas, but not adults, to enter.
- Cubs can be born either at the communal den or in a private den elsewhere and moved to the communal den later.
- Unlike other social carnivores, the dominant female is not the only one who breeds.
- Rare instances of the dominant female killing subordinate female's cubs have been recorded.
- Each female nurses and rears her own cubs, and will not nurse a cub that is not her own.
- Lactation period ranges from 6-12 months and each female suckle only her own cubs.
- Spotted hyena milk is very rich, having the highest protein content (14.9%) of any terrestrial carnivore, and the fat content (14.1%) is second only to the polar bear.
- The male rarely participates in parental care, but if he is around when the cubs are growing, he may occasionally play with and chase them. Source

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop CS2.

Photoslave, nglen, Debz, spencertraci, jrobertop, angybone, pankajbajpai, eqshannon, Adanac, mariki, fiftysomething, wallhalla15, Aaltjie, uleko, horia, Maite, Alex99, marhowie, snowfalken, Dyker, NellyD, jmp, manyee, smitha, Rehanna, Nephrotome2, pablominto, ramthakur, peter_stoeckl, anel, jhm, hester, CatherineD, valy67, sandpiper2, Miss_Piggy, Jonas_Schmitt_, betsie, nazirbadar has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To jhm: Geen probleemloot 1 12-27 01:56
To joey: Stupid huh?! ;)loot 2 11-26 20:15
To wallhalla15: Thank youloot 1 11-25 11:36
To horia: Thank youloot 1 11-25 11:33
To Dyker: Thank youloot 1 11-25 00:18
To Dyker: I agreeAaltjie 1 11-22 03:32
To Aaltjie: 10/10loot 2 11-22 03:06
To eqshannon: Thanks Bobloot 1 11-20 20:01
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Loot,

very good shot, nice moment capture with a well chosen title. Perfect note.

Well done!


This is such a beautiful picture! There is so much detail on the hyenas. It is such a clean, crisp shot - I love it so much. I agree - these animals are so beautiful. Your note was also very awesome - I didn't realize how much the cubs had to fight to survive!

Hi Loot,
Fantastic picture!
Extraordinary moment captured by his lens.
Congratulations for the excellent work.
José Roberto

Adorable title! Great notes. Wonderful shot...I agree they are beautiful creatures.
You captured the beauty and character of these two splendidly!

hello loot, you got a great pose here and the title is lovely, liked the composition and the pov, spot on focus and good details, the natural colours look lovely,
well done,
tfs & regards

I agree on the animals beauty questionable but on the side of yes, it looks just fine and built for the tasks and life is was meant.
Obviously a clear and almost borderline cute when gazing on the young one. Is that a scar on the elders neck? And if so I would not be surprise, only by it's lack of mention....if indeed that is what it is...
You are in a place, time and life which I shall perhaps never be on this trip through earth. I do have my own set of places and loves.. so this one and as all your Kruger shots are your task and perhaps love....which are very much appreciate by folk like me...

  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2007-11-20 20:25]

Hello Loot,
Exquisite image, with tons of cuteness to go around. The little guy looks like a normal child, playing in the mud from the fresh rain. Mom looks like she has endured a few injuries in her life time, the one mark almost looks like a snare mark. Your image has great detail in the soft light, giving us a great view of your adventure with the hyaenas. Thanks you so much for the excellent image and note.

great capture, TFS Ori

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  • jesst Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 368 W: 0 N: 172] (2441)
  • [2007-11-21 0:18]

I like this young Hyena, it's so cute. Wonderful pose and wonderful scene. Very good work

Hello Loot,

Very nice picture of this hyena with its baby. Good focus and beautiful natural colours,

This is a really fantastic natural photo. The detail is brilliant and you have captured a rare moment so well.

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  • Debz Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 505 W: 0 N: 847] (3307)
  • [2007-11-21 0:56]

This is a charming shot Loot, I must catch up with your other recent ones. The little one is certainly cute and on the lookout. It is a very clear, clean and sharp shot, very well composed with good light, colour and sharpness on the Hyena's markings. Great note.

Hello Loot, nice to see you.
Great moment you captures here. I love this picture. Great framing, POV and excellent sharpness. Natural colours and very good exposure. This is a great composition. Thank you my friend.

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  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2007-11-21 1:21]
  • [+]

Hey Loot!
What a cracking shot of this mother and cub.
You know, I never thought of Hyenas having cubs it's just something that never crossed my mind... a bit stupid huh?! ;)
I love the connection between adult and child. THe cub seems desparate to get his mother's attention or maybe to hide behind her.
Great natural lighting that gives their wonderful golden-brown coat a wash of saturation.
Superb sharpness and detail highlighting every hair and every stone on the ground.
Brilliant POV that is almost ground-level giving the image more power.
Decent composition aswell.
Excellent clarity.
Fine work mate.
Very well done,

Baie mooi foto Loot - Waar op aarde kry jy al die inligting vandaan?? Dis ongelooflik en baie baie "informative". Goed gedoen Loot.

Dear Loot
What more can I say than the following:

Yes, yes and another yes!

Hey, I like it a lot
Ag hoe fraai!
Nog ‘n wenner!

Cannot wait to see the rest of the babies. One just realize how wonderful is nature, when you have the joy of seeing this kind of scenes. Your notes was wonderful and very explanatory as always. Thank you once again for all the effort you put into presenting and sharing your photos. It is much appreciated by me and I am sure many others.


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  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2007-11-21 5:39]

Hello Loot,
Wonderful capture of these Hyenas. I thought they were ugly animals until I saw them in real life in a National Park in Gambia. I found them really beautiful! This little one is very cute too and I think you managed very well in spite of the disturbance in the car! Excellent shot in every way!
Many thanks and best wishes, Ulla

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  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2007-11-21 6:06]
  • [+]

Hi Loot

You could not have come up with a better title!!!
And judging by what you said in your note, "Captain Courageous" here deserves his title :)
You, too, deserve all the applause for this shot, considering the amount of stress you were under from everyone around you when you took it :)
It's absolutely adorable! How can anyone say that he is not cute, or that in general hyenas are very ugly? Not even spiders...they are fascinating, too. I think that both these types of animals have earned a lot of respect due to their adaptations in their evolution. They are really close to perfection in what they do. Regarding spiders, for example, i used to have some mild arachnophobia when i was a kid. Later on, i learned about them and by convincing myself, i pretty much shook it off. I would still have to think twice (or 100 times) about holding a tarantula in my hands probably...but at least i'm considering it :)
Truth be told, i find all animals beautiful...but one: primate cubs. I have no idea why, i always thought they were sort of ugly...but it's definitely not a finale decision, since i am yet to see one live and only then i'll be sure. Don't shoot me for it...or for giving lectures about the exact thing i'm guilty for, but hyenas are very beautiful...they're just like dogs...only more ferocious :)

Anyway, back to your shot - aside the outstanding pose, i really like the pose of the mother, looking very calm and secure. Lovely colors everywhere and great exposure, too.
About the cub, something i never noticed before but i see well here, i love the fact that his head is brighter that the rest of his body...makes his cute face stand out better.
Wonderful work, my friend!
And...not to forget...thanks for your excellent note, too. Very nice and informative!

Bravo and TFS

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  • Maite Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 998 W: 65 N: 1270] (5199)
  • [2007-11-21 7:37]

What a great capture, Loot!! And how amusing and fitting the title. Excellent sharpness, POV, DOF and composition.
Very good job

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  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2007-11-21 7:57]

Hi Loot.
I see you were close to the animals. And you managed to take picture with great attractive details, which reflect the life conditions of the hyena. Amazing scene and very cute baby as well as its mommy. Low POV is very impressive and I like a lot great DOF and passage to blurriness. My best wishes and TFS. Excellent job.

Hi Loot,
That little one looks like a pitbull with it's stance, very endearing mf. Excellent moment captured and an apt title. The light head and dark body of the baby looks like a recent go through the mud?
Sharp with very good details, color, exposure, and use of F/5 isolating these two in the frame nicely :)
Very well done.

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  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2007-11-21 10:52]

Hi Loot. What a pose from the young Hyena. he had his eye on you .even in one so young you can see how strong his legs will be. your have captured a good picture alround. fine detail in the fur with good natural colours. Thanks for posting this very good picture from the wild. together with good notes to read.


Hello Loot,

What a great picture you present us again! Spotted hyenas might be ugly or not but for me at least the cub is rather cute. As for the adult, I can only feel respect when I see the powerful muscles in the neck and jaws. From the look of this female, I can say that she is a real warrior.
I love the warm colors that you've captured and the fact that there are no distracting objects in the background. And the title was really well chosen, especially when we don't see the hyena mother's eyes. This is excellent my friend! Thank you for sharing!

With Friendly Regards,

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  • Dyker Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 136 W: 0 N: 57] (170)
  • [2007-11-21 19:50]
  • [+]

Hello Loot
It looks like the other visitors have mostly addressed what there is to be said, so I will just show my appreciation by underlining or highlighting some of their thoughts. Starting with the very appropriate title, which is indicative of your sensitive and tender insights, as usually you would hit the core of the account with uncanny accuracy. It appears to me that you normally put as much though and effort into naming your photos as would go into your acute observations, profound notes, analytical research, and skilful preparation of the photos. You have the ability to identify and portray or describe the most fascinating and finer aspects of nature and animal behaviour and then reveal or expose the heart-warming story behind the scenes. It is pleasant to see how you regularly tend to bring out the humorous side to your experiences together with Anna who normally plays a big role in your lovely stories. It is clear that the two of your fit like a pair of gloves and really support and enjoy each other while travelling through the nature reserves and/or other venues of interest. Technically this photo is of typical high standards which you normally or apparently strive for and it was once again a pleasure to view one of your fine postings.

Hi Loot,

What a great moment you've captured. I like the pose of these two hyena's very much. Very lovely how the little one is looking in your direction. Good composition, colours, details and a great title too.

Greetings, Nel

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  • jmp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1659 W: 95 N: 2273] (8415)
  • [2007-11-22 13:27]

Hi Loot,
Great details, excellent exposure and pose. I've enjoyed your note too. But I think spiders are not ugly either! :-)
TFS, José M.

Hello Loot,
I have never thought that a Hyena could be cute but here it is :))) This is such a unique capture, a moment that I have never seen so far... Congrats!

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  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2007-11-24 23:22]

Just adorable, Loot.
That little guy definitely stole my heart. : )
The expression and stance you have captured are just wonderful.
Great job, my friend. : )

VEry nice photo.

Hello Loot

Ek kyk al 'n geruime tyd na jou en ander mense se fotos op die werf, maar het nog nooit die moed gehad om enige van my eie fotos te laai of om 'n kritiek te skryf nie. Vandag het ek egter besluit dit is nou tyd want hierdie toneel is sooo oulik. Ek teel met Rotweiler en Corgi honde en die ou kleintjie het my hart aangegryp. 'n Baie mooi foto en 'n pragtige storie wat daarmee saam gaan. Uitstekend.


Hello loot,
What a lovely shot, Loot. I quite agree with Anna. How can you sit there quietly when you see such cute looking cubs engaged in play.:-) (Now I think I have lost my hopes of going on a tour with you to take pictures if i ever visit Africa.) Inspite of all the distractions (I am sure you also enjoyed each and every moment of their play that Anna pointed out) you have managed to take a a beautiful picture Loot. It's remarkable the way you have clicked the camera at the precise moment when the cub was looking at you. He really means to say he will be the guard for a change to his beloved mummy. Very apt title, Sir. Though hyenas were ill reputed with me (after the part they played in Lion King , how can one still love them?)I have decided to change my opinion after seeing the mother and cub in your shot. After all there are always exceptions in every case, isn't it?
As for the picture, the excellent POv, focus, sharpness, details and natural tones make it an outstanding photograph which I am adding to my favourites. loking forward to more,

crisp clear details
nice pose of both of them
perfect light
The wounds of the female is a proof of how hard their life can be.

Hello Loot,
In spite of the not so attractive details this is a cute couple!
I notice the wounds and dirty fur coat in the elder hyaena but the eyes of the small one make up for all that...
An interesting situation has been captured, a photographic documentary showing the real life!
Pablo -

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  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2007-11-29 20:31]

Hello Loot

These are very strange and rough looking critters.
Even though baby animals are usually cute,this one is cute but not adorable.It still has that edgy look to it.
I think your title nails it on the head.
The cautious stance is wonderful.
The birth sounds brutal.
Nicely composed in the frame.
Well focused ,the POV is amazing.


Namaste Loot,
It has been long since we exchanged critiques last.
Nevertheless, this looks like the right moment to re-build the bridges.
Thanks for noticing my butterflies flying in formation and writing your kind words in appreciation of my effort.
It was a fluke chance, to say the least. The formation was so very suddden I had no time to do anything else except take a few quick shots. Great satisfaction in finding that one of them turned out to be passable.

Your note helps in appreciating your great capture of the mom hyena drinking water under her little son's vigil. The moment is extremely well captured.
I do agree with you that there is nothing ugly in nature, including spiders. Look at some handsome ones from my country shot and posted by Fartash and Sumon.

Hope you are keeping well.
My dream applecart of enjoying free and relaxed days of retirement has been toppled by my feebleness in holding on to my convictions. I got easily persuaded to accept a job after retirement which, incidently, takes a lot of my time and attention unlike in Riyadh where,(as you had rightly surmised), I had delegated all my work to others, ha,ha,ha!!
Obviously, as of today, I have to steal a few moments once in a while to get back to my beloved TN.
Warm regards.

Hello Loot,
a picture that keeps me looking into it for quite a while, so lively and accurate, simple and clear, reporting an on-the-road encounter in a matter-of-fact way, story telling and triggering fantasies. Interesting to note that all the attention is directed at once away from the frame-filling mighty hyena mother to the tiny cub at her back. Its pose is so very vital and charming. Fabulous notes, an encyclopedia of in-depth information. Another XXXcellent posting from my dear friend the master of observation and fascinating stories. With thanks and all my best wishes to you!

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  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2007-12-19 0:29]

Bonjour Loot,
I missed this very intertesting posting. The picture is so natural and vivid. The little fellow behind his mother has such a cute attitude. Cloudy sky is often better than bright sun for good pictures. I also have read the note with big interest. I agree with you,there is beauty everywhere ( just like you I don't like spiders very much).
Thanks for this great contribution and I wish you a nice day

  • Great 
  • wuta Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 855 W: 2 N: 617] (2142)
  • [2007-12-24 7:49]

Hoi nog een keer , Deze is ook prachtig , vooral dat kleintje schitterend loot heel mooi , Groeten teunie .

Hi Loot,
As always, I am envious of the locations you get to shoot photographs in. You have captured an excellent image here. The cub has really locked focus on something, and this leaves you wondering what has his total attention, as it does not seem to be the photographer. The exposure, colors and detail, are all just excellent. Guess I'll have to go back to the St. Louis Zoo to see a Hyena in the flesh.

I have watched many shows on Hyena's, and they have an amazing social structure. Much like North American Wolves.

I updated my member profile and hope to try and return to more regular participation here. I guess I just missed everyone so much I had to return.

Great photo my friend,

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  • jhm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 893 W: 0 N: 507] (1853)
  • [2007-12-26 23:33]
  • [+]

Hi Loot,

Dat is een wonderlijke mooie foto Loot, moeder en kind in de natuur
De moeder likkend in het water dat is gewoon zeer mooi gedaan.
Misschien kan u wel nerderlands lezen!

This is wonderful picture Loot, mother and child middle of the nature.
You understand Dutch?
Dutch and South Africa have almost the same language.

Groeten uit Vlaams België,

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  • hester Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1515 W: 18 N: 3165] (11638)
  • [2007-12-29 1:19]

Hi Loot

Your brave little subject is adorable. He does look alert and ready for action. His mothers pose is relaxed in contrast. This has real character and is technically great. Excellent POV, sharp and great exposure. Great note as well



Hi Loot,
Thanks to your visit to my last post, I discover your amazing gallery. I must tell you that I'm not familiar with South African nature. But this is one of the richness of this site: to learn about other parts of the world.
I like this photo because it tells many things by itself: some water in a dry environnement, the fear of the baby, the problems of daily life (the femele is wounded on its neck). Your note is excellent because you tell us the story of the photo and you add a lot of useful information about hyaenas.
About "beauty". From Europe -very far!-, I never think that hyaenas are ugly. Because like all the mammals, they have something similar than us. Maybe is it for the same reason, among others, that people don't like some insects of spiders because they are too different than us. Maybe some people consider hyaenas ugly because of their behavior of feeding? In fact, it is not so different than us!
I whish you a good year 2008, with a good health, nice photos and many beautiful natural meetings like this one.

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  • radz Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 598 W: 11 N: 72] (436)
  • [2008-01-03 9:43]

So cute lovely shot!Fantastic composition..TFS!

Hello Loot !
A hyaena is not a a beautiful animal, I think, but this baby is sooo cute ! :-) And I love his pose, it really looks like he is guarding his mother while she drinks, and he seems to take this role very seriously ! It is amazig picture, for the moment you have frozen and for all the technical qaulities - excellent sharpness and details, beautiful composition and POV, natural colors. very well done !

Ha ha, great shot Loot.
Great title too, yes even these carnivores can be attractive.
Excellent sharpness and details, well exposed and of course the composition is award-winning.


Hi Loot,
This is a really nice capture of both parent and juvenile hyaena, it seems not too often one gets a chance to see pictures of the cubs. Excellent exposure with nice framing make this an exciting capture. Oh, how I wish I could photograph Africa's wildlife. TFS . :)

Hallo Loot
What can I say about such beauty? This is a tender and loving almost human moment captured. Details are excellent. The natural environment in which you have captured this image is great. I think this is a superb post. The cuteness as well as the heartfelt factor is very high here. The colour and marking on their fur is beautiful and although wet, displays well and with great clarity. I do like the expression on the youngster’s face and the staring eyes, as well as the "dirty" appearance. Great sharpness and exposure. Lovely presentation. Thanks for sharing.

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