I am just back from my mission in Eastern Slovakia where I was sent to photograph Sousliks amongst other subjects.
To prepare my mission I did an exploratory trip in June 2008, checked locations and made contacts. Luckily I found the Slovakian zoologist and photographer Stefan Danko who was very helpful - thanks again, Stefan!
He showed me a perfect Souslik colony on a farmland close to Strazne by the Hungarian Border. The Souslik population was enormously dense and by mid June a lot of half-grown juveniles hopped over the area and from time to time all members of a family came close together.
They were very cooperative and some of them even tolerated my camera, camouflaged with a magic hat close to their den. Unfortunately I spent only two days with them, but I was sure that during my mission in 2009, with more time I would get more marvellous shots there.
I was shocked instead, when I came back to the same spot this year. Intensive cattle grazing had left the ground barren, the sousliks had spread out in the surrounding meadows, and the protection of a dense colony was no longer given. And so they became easy prey to raptors and a straying domestic cat. All I could find were 7 adult animals; one pair had 3 surviving babies when I got there the first day. The following day also they were gone.
Nevertheless one morning a butterfly attracted the attention of a souslik peeking his head out of his den, right in front of my camera. Unfortunately the Souslik population in Slovakia is going down rapidly, but Stefan could show me another colony where I at least got some shots of the extremely cute babies. The activities in this colony were by far not as photogenic as in my 2008 colony.
Konrad Wothe / Wild Wonders of Europe
Please note that blogs reflect our photographers' opinions and not necessarily those of the directors of Wild Wonders of Europe.