Last Frame: Cape Buffalo With Oxpecker

Photo By Barbara Fleming

While on safari in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, Barbara Fleming was finally able to capture the image she had been attempting for two years. “Many elements came together successfully to create this image,” Fleming explains. “Sidelight lit the oxpecker while the buffalo was kept in the shade, and this balance of light was crucial. I wanted a darker pallet for this image and think I got it, with the colorful oxpecker adding drama. I worked to capture both subjects in focus, which was very difficult to do, as both were moving in different directions and in different focal planes. The position of the vehicle that I was shooting from was also important. I asked my driver to line us up in the path (at a safe distance, of course) of the moving herd as it crossed the road. I was able to shoot out the window, with my camera on a beanbag, as the buffalo moved directly toward us.

“Many years of being around buffalo in the field made both my driver and me comfortable about allowing the herd to come close. I wouldn’t have attempted that with an older male cape buffalo, for example, as they can be very grumpy! But this was a breeding herd, with calves in the mix, which itself is somewhat risky.

“The buffalo in this image is a female. They have more curl to their horns, and I must confess that personally, I find them rather pretty!”

See more of Barbara Fleming’s photography at

Nikon D4S, AF-S NIKKOR 500mm F4G ED VR, 1.4x teleconverter, beanbag. Exposure: 1/1600 sec., ƒ/8, ISO 1600.

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