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Posted December 7, 2011
Dispatch #5
Homage to Keith Richards

This is one in a series of email dispatches from Africa written this fall by photographer Michael Nichols to his picture editor, Kathy Moran.

Dear Kathy,

Today we put out three camera traps at a super hippo pool we have been scouting. We have been testing cameras here for two weeks and they are constantly getting broken and mauled by hippos, buffalos, and especially hyenas.

Craig Packer had warned of this. So we went all out and buried, disguised, and fortressed-in all the devices. It is, as usual, all or nothing. Each camera can only make a great picture if one of our targets—simba (lion), chui (leopard), or fisi (hyena)—walks through at dusk or dawn. No other time will work technically or aesthetically.

It was blazing hot and by 2 p.m. I was delirious. I had some Gatorade and the first merciful cloud in the sky gave me a second wind to finish. At each trap I placed a buffalo skull that I found nearby in the frame—a nod to the many animals that get killed by lions and hyenas here, totally unseen by human eyes.

I’m planning to start reading Keith Richards’s autobiography, Life, a straight-up tale of his long dance with the devil.

We had a huge storm at sunset so I could not make our rendezvous with the satellite phone. I will try for tomorrow night.

Previous Next dispatch: “Bad Water, Bad Dreams”

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