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  1. 28 likes
    Okay, that's done so I can finally move on to the last full day of our trip, although since we wouldn;t be flying our until midnight that isn't technically true. We had already agreed with Nelson that we'd make a full day in the Reserve and that our target would be the five male cheetah coalition... first time we had actually set him a specific target. But first we had to get out of the conservancy, and a few things did delay us. We were barely 5 minutes out of camp when we spotted hyenas and then notr-a-hyena - an aardwolf. There is a den near Kicheche so this isn't unique (we spotted one last time, two years before) but it certainly requires a bit of luck. In the interests of fairness, I would like you to notice the buffalos grazing in the background of this shot. The aardwolf moved on (very skittish) and so did we, to find the remains of that lion kill we had missed the morning before. We weren't interested in spending time with the whole pride, but there was no way we could pass up the pre-adult lions who had stolen away some wildebeest bits and pieces, whether from that kill or another, and brought them up on to a ridge for a chew, where they had attracted some hyena admirers. Their position, just before sunrise, was the most interesting thing! Hyenas and lions - BFF Of course in reality the hyenas and lions were not quite BFF, but they seemed to know their places and be comfortable just a few meters apart. The lion kill is visible down the slope in the background, with attendant vehicles. The hyenas did their thing and the young lions did theirs. The lions' thing was mainly chewing and licking The hyenas were a bit more active, with some individuals coming and going - I would guess this was close to the heart of their territory and they were very familiar with these particular lions. They might have been less chilled if one of the full-grown females had been around. Anyway, we had to leave them because we had to go and try to find those cheerahs, and preferably before the light got too harsh. Would we? Well, you have to know the answer to that by now, so perhaps the questions are how long would it take us and would it be a glance among a crowd of vehicles or a leisurely hour in their company on our own?
  2. 28 likes
    The afternoon started off in a similar vein but got very interesting as the clouds darkened and the rain came. It was a day when the rain certainly didn't spoil the experience. Still pottering around catching up on the things I hadn't photographed properly here yet. A terrapin A wattled plover The sky was getting quite gloomy but this little newborn giraffe brightened things up. So small compared to its mother More giraffes And then it started to get very dark. We were going to get rained on. A rainbow came and went quickly, I wonder if giraffes get struck by lightening? And then the rain came and it was heavy, We closed down the sides of the vehicle but I kept one flap open for my camera and put its raincoat on. I put my poncho on too, but it didn't help much as the rain gathered in a pool on my seat, with their waterproof covers. And the rain didn't stop. It slowed down slightly but it was here for the rest of the evening for sure. We could barely see so Nelson had little chance of spotting anything and were almost ready to give up (but not yet!!). Then Charles or Patrick called and said some lions looked like they might be plotting a hunt, using the rain as cover. So we slid our way over to where they were as fast as we could in the circumstances, crossing previously nearly dry luggas that were suddenly flowing fast, and arrived to see a herd of wildebeest backs against the rain. Nelson located the stalking lioness for me and I tried to work out how I could possibly shoot a hunt in this murk, and to get myself ready. Within 45 seconds of us stopping the wildebeest scattered and I looked wildly for a lion in the rain and murk, just spotting it in time to see it leap on a wildebeest calf. Naturally, theses shots do not reflect how dark it was. The lioness dragged the calf into the bushes and so we had to drive around the other side to get a view. Having killed the wildebeest and stashed it, the lioness went off to call her cubs and the sub-adults to feed. They were all sheltered somewhere, but came out when called. Dinner!!!!!! Of course,being cats, they got distracted on the way,,,,,, Climbing A tasty puddle Greetings And some weren't even hungry in the end, but enjoyed the social side of it all. The kill was in the bushes and it was nearly dark now but the sky was interesting and so I suggested we go for a quick sundowner in the rain, which was lighter now. And that was the wet end of another very interesting day!
  3. 21 likes
    I forgot one sighting! An oribi. I had to confirm identification as, quite incredibly, Nelson had never seen one that he could remember. We'd come across them on our first two safaris so remembered the tell-tail signs ( a reedbuck in the wrong place that is too crouched over and has too sharp a face, a steenbuck that is too big..... and then look at the ears... yes it is an oribi). We had crossed the Talek for breakfast and ended up down by the Mara River. There were huge numbers of wildebeest and it was clear the southerners had arrived (the panoramic shots above are from this morning). There were also big herds of eland and buffalo and I am not sure why I didn't take pictures of these. I think I expected better light for them later but really I just wasn't thinking straight because we didn't see them later! We saw large herds gathering on the banks of the river at three different spots but we didn't have any desire to sit around waiting for a crossing in the sun with a crowd. For some reason they were all heading south, while all the other wildebeest we had seen had been heading north - there didn't seem to be much logic to it. However, the sheer numbers of wildebeest were keeping anything else away and it was getting a bit hot for the predators - in fact it was turning into a surprisingly hot day. In the end, Nelson found us a spot in shade with a decent view (although a little far away) of the herd that his riverside based contacts deemed most likely to be about to cross, and we just enjoyed the shade, birdsong and what little breeze there was and watched the wildebeest and hippos (as this crossing spot took them right past a pod of hippos). Sure enough, we only had to wait about 40 minutes. Even this we wouldn't have bothered, but like I said there was little going on and it was a pretty sure thing - plus I admit after the cheetahs and the masses of wildebeest in the ocean of yellow grass we were like people who had eaten a very large lunch being offered more food a little later and just kind of picking at it absentmindedly. It was quite a pretty scene and strange being at a distance that there was no sound at first and even when the sound did arrive, it was relatively quiet. I liked the spot though - no doubt one of the back-up spots for watching crossings when there is not a spot to park at on the banks from July to September. When the crossing got underway the hippos on that bank crossed too, to get out of the way. They knew what was coming. What was coming was that it was going to start raining wildebeest. Incredibly only one was injured in the cliff leaps. I'd set up the camera to frame the scene nicely but the wildebeest had foiled my plans by crossing slightly further up that I had expected. Eventually they started to cross in the right (and logical as there was a less steep descent there) place. Nearly right! That's it! This is what I wanted. The hippos kept a wary eye on the wildebeest but didn't interfere, and neither did a crocodile who was probably already full after the crossings the other way that there must have been in the preceding days. Bart the one wildebeest injured falling off the bank, all made it across. After that we watched the wildebeest rutting and running some more and then found a big journey of giraffes, which was quite impressive! There were more than 20. most of which are here. Another panorama you should be able to click on and enlarge. After lunch (and boy was it difficult to find a spare tree even on 1 July) crossing back across the Talek we watched some wildebeest, zebras and topis do the same and tried to take some different angled shots of this micro-crossing, with mixed success. Back in Olare Orok we pottered around for another 2-3 hours without seeing an awful lot. A relaxed reedbuck was another "first since Aberdare NP". A little-ringed plover had something in its mouth - a seed I guess? A sandgrouse - yellow-throated possibly although I should look through my files as I have a picture of the male somewhere too. And a secretary bird. We got back to camp before sunset and watched it from our tent as the herds had arrived and the camp was surrounded by wildebeest and impala, making a racket as they rutted away. We spotted eland. banded mongooses and gazelles too, without the aid of binoculars, but I didn't bother photographing any of it. With departure the next day i was feeling rather sad, but also quite happy. Anyway it was a time for wine, not a telephoto. I'll wrap up in the next post - not much more to come really - no last minute drama although I am going to have a moan about something, just because I can!
  4. 21 likes
    I am not even going to try to build the "can Nelson find them?" suspense. We made one request - to see the coalition of five male cheetahs (not all from the same mother) if at all possible. We went to an area near to Mara Explorer Camp along the Talek River where I think Nelson had heard they might be hanging out - although we had no radio or other contact that morning so it was just a "recently seen near...." tip from the evening before I think. We looked here, looked there, and then found a large gathering of wildebeest looking like they were about to cross the Talek North- South or West-East (it's a windy river of course, but heading towards Olare Motorogi). We said "nah, stick to the plan" even though we were the only vehicle there. That was a good decision because not long after Nelson got a smile on while doing one of his regular scans. There they were, eating a wildebeest that they had clearly only recently killed (we must have just missed it, but you can't have all the luck) and they were actually the reason the wildebeest hadn't crossed yet - suddenly the scene had the look of a crossing half-finished- interrupted by the cheetahs taking down a wildebeest. Amazingly, given the location in the Reserve (although there is nowhere to cross the Talek right near this spot, so it is a little sheltered) there were no other vehicles around at all despite it being well before breakfast time. The scene (should be clickable, although I think you can see the important things at this size. We'd come in from the left side of this picture originally and with the cheetahs having their heads down in long grass, hadn't initially seen them. 1-2-3-4-5 Hah!!! Chowing down. A couple of little snarls when two got the ends of the same bone, but generally they were all feeding together very peacefully, with one or the other popping his head up every now and again to scan for danger. \ A couple of vehicles appeared on the other side of the river, but as far as they knew we were waiting for the crossing. Nelson didn't turn on the radio to allow them to confirm this and it was another 40 minutes or so before the first of them got near enough that Nelson gave them a heads-up, having checked with my wife that she had had her fill (well, I am sure they were coming anyway - by that time we were clearly following something and it wasn't the elephants over there). Since one small wildebeest isn't necessarily enough for five cheetahs, we popped down to the river to see if a crossing was on, as that would have surely prompted them to hunt again, but the wildebeest and zebra were well aware of the cheetahs' presence and just coming down for a drink. When they had finished eating, the cheetahs went for a walk together... what we had been waiting for!! Of course there are a couple who lead, especially the one with the collar fitted, and there is one who is noticably smaller and really doesn't look like he should be away from his mother or that he could survive on his own (we thought Nelson's comment "I hope the others don't notice." when I pointed this out to be hilarious, and it was, but perhaps you had to be there. They were playing too, but mostly in the bushes unfortunately. Anyway, although they didn't all mount a termite mound together, this was well beyond expectations and after more than an hour we were happy to leave them to the three other vehicles now arriving (one guide gave Nelson a "you should have called us" look and Nelson gave him back a sheepish "Yeah, possibly.,,,, next time maybe." grin, but he had another tip up his sleeve that we hadn't used and shared that to make sure they were all buddies again. One last look and then we'll go and see if those wildebeest are up to anything. Oh, they are up to something! And of course we had most of this to ourselves too as the few vehicles around were with the cheetahs and some way from the river now. Eventually the crossing attracted about six vehicles. It wasn't a thriller crossing anyway, as the river was calm and shallow and the banks not very steep. But no mayhem is nice too sometimes and it was the perfect way to end stage one of the day. And then to breakfast!
  5. 20 likes
    I was lucky to witness a few crossings both in the main reserve and OMC. Nothing of gigantic proportions, from maybe 500 individuals down to a mere 6 brave little Tommies that took on a swollen Mara river after the recent rain. Seeing Tommies cross was a first for me. We had that crossing all to ourselves too. The guide said "I witnessed 19 Tommies attempt a crossing last week and not one of them made it. With the crocs fighting over the spoils" Well this time they crossed safely. The lead animal assessing the situation. The first two take the plunge. swimming for their lives. In the strong current. On the same morning we witnessed another crossing. The general mayhem begins. Followed by Zebra that milled about before taking the plunge. And it seems that Topi always bring up the rear.
  6. 19 likes
    @xelas Yes, panning is fun and underutilised, although the oitcome is never sure. I didn't apply any significant noise reduction on the ISO6400 shots (of which there are quite a few) but I do process them in a particular way so I won't say the PP has nothing to do with it - just not as much as you may think. I just find it another of those things that the more I do it the better the results, even with the same old cameras. That old "the more I practrice the luckier I get" golf thing? Two males fight for hte right to females, who clearly couldn't care less.... The following is not scientific. I just wanted to “talk” about it because it provided us with hours of entertainment and interest over the course of our stay in Olare Motorogi, and I wanted to post it separately because otherwise it would be overshadowed by wild dogs, cheetah hunts and the like. Since the movement of wildebeest in East Africa is the Great Migration, then maybe their rutting should be called the Great Rut? But of course it doesn’t get capitals and it doesn’t even get much attention. People have other things on their minds than unusually aggressive wildebeest and it’s just a backdrop – wildebeest are always the backdrop unless they are leaping madly into rivers or being eaten by predators. You may note they are even the backdrop in a number of photos – there are some standing in the background, that is one being eaten by a lion, etc. Wildebeest photo-bombing A possible wildebeest harem that attracts no further interest in this context Actually I understand that – they aren’t pretty, they are neither very big nor small; they run with an ugly gait that is functionally but not really fast; they can’t jump very high without the aid of a cliff, their eyes are usually downcast and hidden by their eyelashes, their colour is nondescript, they barely interact with each other, they only eat grass, they appear pretty stupid (that’s one pretty they can tick off) and they don’t seem to do anything interesting other than crossing rivers and feeding predators. But the last isn’t quite true – in addition to crossing rivers and being eaten they also rut and that is quite interesting. Even then, I am not saying they are the most interesting rutting animals to catch, but as with crossings wildebeest are interesting because (i) there are a massive amount of them and (ii) they approach it with no thought or reason, like only a wildebeest can. A fine figure of a man The wildebeest are expected to rut in May or maybe early June in Kenya, and probably around the same time in Tanzania, but rutting was in full swing when we were there right at the end of June. Of course most of the wildebeest we were seeing were locals - the “Loita” migration wildebeest or non-migrants – but as herds came in from Tanzania and some of the locals headed south (apparently some might do this in dry years – even head south to birth, although I can’t confirm that) there were quite a lot of them – to put it mildly – and the southerners seemed to be joining in the rutting too, even if they were supposed to have already done it in the Western corridor a month before. Like the migration movement itself, perhaps the rutting is a bit “when and where the spirit takes us”. Wildebbest...... the thinking person's antelope Just in case you are not familiar, the basic wildebeest rut is like this. First males take up positions – if there are limited water sources then the positions closest to water may be the most sought after, but in other cases it appears mostly based on “where somebody else isn’t” or “where there is some grass in case I get hungry” or “where the females can see me”. Neither grass nor water are big issues in the Mara in June so, not being burdened by being a scientist, l just assume they simply took spots that felt right but favoured visible spots. A few seemed to have sussed that under trees was a good spot as you would get a lot of ladies for company, but very few. So hundreds of male wildebeest stand alone with circles of maybe 50-100 meters diameter around them (guesstimeasure) and wait. What they are waiting for is females and their calves to come through. When they do, what happens? The females select a strong looking male to mate with. The females select the male with the biggest territory because he is clearly the strongest, having removed his neighbours. Whenever any females stop in a male’s territory for any reason (resting, eating, even peeing) the male will try to physically force them to stay. Whenever any female stops or turns her back in his territory, the male will try to mount her To the victor the rush of adrenaline and the spoils! From what I can see the answer is almost certainly more (iii) than anything else. Unfortunately for the males, the females are usually on their way somewhere and will follow another group for no apparent reason other than to follow, so a male with a harem of 50 will suddenly find himself with a harem of zero just because another group of wildebeest happened to run past. I suppose a lot of these females were actually already pregnant with it being late in the season (we did not see a single mating) but the males didn’t seem to know that. In addition to attempting to kidnap any woman who walks past their door, the wildebeest seem driven to fight for territory they don’t need and can’t manage when they get it. The only logic I could see to this was that their instinct is that a bigger territory means that females are more likely to randomly stop there and they can thus seem to have more females. And they were so proud of their ladies, however temporary, even often making mock charges at the vehicle to keep us away from them. The result of fights seems to be that the loser is forced to retreat to his territory, or to take the victor’s territory, which often looks no worse than the one before. I am sure in some cases an animal had come from outside the area though and all good spots were taken, forcing him to fight or retreat to a spot where the females are less likely to pass (as is the case with many ruts). The apparent lack of any tangible reward doesn’t stop some of the fights from being full-blooded. No females? No problem. Males of honour will fight for the vacant space. The spols are mine!! When the wildebeest herds arrived from the south the local boys in the Mara seemed to be in heaven. They had harems of 40-50 each, even if only until the movement started again, and ran around like crazy vocalizing and herding “strays” back into the group. Parts of the Reserve were covered with such groups where the wildebeest were at rest. Of course as soon as they started to move again the groups more or less dissolved. Temporarily kidnapped females in the reserve (this is a panorama of 2-3 shots, but should enlarge if you click on itand you'll see the others arranged oin groups like this too, many of which have been hered into shape by a male). A male, center-right, counts the amazing collection of females temporarily in his territory, with his cuirrent collection of kidnap victimes to his right (again this one should enlarge if you click) Okay, you’re probably not going to time your visit solely for the rut, but it is something to consider as a bonus if you are going at the right time of year anyway and something that gets more and more interesting the more you work out what is going on. Some of the stuff is comedy gold, but you have to be there to really get the joke. It also makes hunting easier for predators as it creates chaos and forces herds together and to move in directions they would not normally take. And of course if a predator does come it’s likely the males who are off first and fastest, leaving the women and children to fight over the remaining lifeboats. The prizes ride on by
  7. 18 likes
    It was such fun to watch the family play, stalk, and groom each other. They were watching us watching them, but not stressed at all. You can't see us. But I can see you. I'm going out of town this evening for a week. Sadly, no big cats where I'm going.
  8. 17 likes
    On Wednesday we headed to the Amboseli National Park airstrip, after which we enjoyed a game drive through Amboseli National Park. Mt. Kilimanjaro was gracious enough to be mostly cloud-free for a little while. Elephants are the stars in Amboseli, but we found other animals interesting as well...
  9. 16 likes
    For our last game drive in Selenkay, we hung out with the local memory of elephants. (I love this collective noun! Perfect for an elephant lover!) I should have tried to count them, they were near camp every day that we were there. I'd estimate there were fewer than 20, but it made a huge impact when we found them on our first morning's game drive, literally a stone's throw from camp. On our last night, one brushed against the tent of one of the other ladies in camp. I was jealous! Katy called this "waving at us." I must confess that I'm a little partial to the babies. As the sun started to set, that beautiful golden light paid a visit. Image for scale, they came right up to us! Close-knit family. A couple for @dlo
  10. 15 likes
    As we landed at Nanyuki Airport, we were greeted by a bus of schoolchildren on a field trip to the airport (on a Saturday!) The kids waved and waved, and the chaperones waved too. One lady said "we like you!" and I said "we like you too!!" Once inside the gates of Ol Pejeta, we were greeted by a number of beauties. Our first honeymooning lions... Round two... Mr and Mrs Waterbuck More elephants crossing the road rhino at a distance
  11. 14 likes
    For our third day at Cheetah Camp, we had an early start at 4:30 a.m. It took an hour to our destination, inside the Maasai Mara. Moon and Jupiter over the Mara. Our first adventure of the day... Preparing for lift-off An endless sea of grass Lots of zebra. Hyenas on the prowl. A pretty BIF.
  12. 13 likes
    The day was definitely over, but whole night was ahead of me. What I wanted to do was to go to the rock bridge at night and do a shooting for timelapse there. About two hours should be enough for roughly 8 seconds of a timelapse. And I wanted this timelapse to also include the Milky Way. Conditions were very favorable as the sky was cloudless and the moon had already set at around 7 pm. The sooner I could get to the bridge, the better, because the elevation of the Milky Way would be higher and higher and no lens would be capable of covering such angle that would make both objects appear in the same frame. Yet, the dinner was taking us longer than planned and later on my way to the bridge I realized I had forgotten to take my tripod. Tripod is mandatory for such shooting, so I had to go back. I got from the reception keys to the gate and went to my target location. It was about 9 pm when I was there. After a short climbing I reached the bridge and found a good place for shooting. The problem was I saw a few people around the bridge as well. As long as everybody stayed low profile, I mean no torches in use, all was good. But when they were using lights it was messing up my long exposure shots. This place is for everybody and you have to take it into account and live with that, but as everywhere, still some people are careless and do not pay attention to others. There was one guy who came to 'my' side of the bridge and asked if he could take some pictures. Of course I did not mind. And then he took out a big beamer and started heavy light painting on the bridge. It lasted for good 25 minutes and my shots from that section are all screwed. On top of that there were 2 overlander buses in campsites nearby and people were having fun around campfires. That alone would not be a problem, but they were using their headlights and just for fun they were using them to play and light the rocks all around them. At around 10 pm the situation improved and I could easily continue. Probably I should have come at 2 or 3 am when everything was dark and calm, but that would mean I would be bothering those people when climbing to the bridge (which I did not want). Or alternatively I should have stayed at the bridge all the time, started my shooting at around 2 and finished it about 5. Then I could leave early morning. But I was clearly not prepared to spend the night out on rocks I'm not complaining, really, just trying to share my experience and say how difficult it is sometimes to realize your plans especially when you have only one night to do that. Anyways, it was great to spend 2,5 hours at the rock bridge and watch the sky with so many stars. It was a fantastic feeling, in fact. Here is the picture I took before I started my timelapse: And this is a panorama I made after my timelapse was over. As you can see there is clearly less light pollution there. The shot is not perfect as I had to aim the lens high up and I did not have pano head, but still it's plenty enough for me. I really like this picture. After 11 pm I was back at the lodge which seemed to be all asleep.. tbc Greg
  13. 13 likes
    The afternoon game drive produced some nice sightings, despite the vehicle. Naborr was in a food coma, and her cubs were feasting on impala. Around a bend, and we found the usual suspects, part of the resident Loita wildebeest herd... ... and then... bat eared foxes! Running away, of course. They would stop, I'd struggle to frame a photo, and then they'd run again. Next was a winking black-backed jackal and his mate. I learned that the jackals stay together but do not share the bounty of their hunts with one another. We spotted a leopard tortoise, who took a while to come out of his (her?) shell. We followed a hyena for a while, hoping she would lead us to a den with no luck.
  14. 13 likes
    The terrain between Amboseli NP and Selenkay Conservancy varies dramatically. We stopped for lunch under a magnificent tree, and then returned to Selenkay in time for a nap. Sociable weaver nests ... red soil Maasai cattle grazing along Selenkay boundary. Possibly the Merueshi River. A bird. on a termite mound. Further ID necessary. [Edit: a martial eagle!] On the road to Kili Map of Amboseli & Selenkay... because I am a map person.
  15. 12 likes
    What followed this sighting happened so quickly I really can't remember the details. The impala were nervous, the wild dogs came running right by our jeep and we tried following as quickly as possible. By the time we caught up with them again, they had made a kill and hyenas had already stolen it and hauled it into the brush. This all happened in less than five minutes. My pictures aren't the greatest but give a general idea of the mayhem the hyenas caused. While i couldn't see the hyenas devouring their stolen kill, I could hear them in the bush loudly chomping away and skirmishing with one another for their portion. The poor dogs were frantically packing around the outside. The dogs and hyenas sparred with each other for a while and eventually the dogs settled down to rest. Nkwali really delivered for me. Advise from one rather dull night drive, each outing provided some real thrills for me. The next highlight was was during my last evening drive. I was so thrilled to finally have a great leopard sighting and had no idea that I would see leopards almost every day. There were many great sightings in Nkwali aside from the thrillers.
  16. 11 likes
    After the hot air balloon ride, we were treated to champagne breakfast. I could get used to this! We asked our driver from the balloon company to take the long route back to camp, and he happily obliged us. Cape buffalo hippos A group of lions had brought down a zebra, and cubs were learning the ropes. The driver had gone off the road, behind the lions. Then he circled around them, coming within around 10 feet of them. I was a bit surprised by this; I thought you're supposed to stay on the roads in the Maasai Mara. Am I misinformed? By this time, it was 10 a.m. and we'd been out since 4:30. We thanked the driver for the diversion and told him we were ready to head back towards camp. He wasn't ready to give up the tour, though!! Wildebeest in the Mara! By the time we came to the cheetah (at 11:30) I was certain that he was going to drop us off in Tanzania. Here, he stopped and got permission from Mara Lion Project to approach closer in order to take some portraits of this beauty. And then we swung around and headed back north towards Ol Kinyei, making it back in time for lunch at 1:00 p.m. I was impressed, he timed it perfectly. Eland Ostrich Crowned crane
  17. 11 likes
    OK I'm back! Still at Porini Cheetah camp. I was chatting with @amybatt today about why I've been dragging my feet on this part of the trip report. I don't think she will mind me sharing it... Me: I am purposefully not reading trip reports right now because I do get a little bummed when my trip isn't as awesome as someone else's. But it was! So I can't read them until I'm done with mine. It's not a competition! amyb: That's the thing, even your next one will be different. I felt it wasn't until my 3rd to the Mara and 4th overall that I got the safari in my dreams but they were all good and special in their own way. The Serval sightings have me sooo salivating. Me: sssshhhhhhh!!! amyb: Oh I won't tell you who because there were multiple people who saw them!!! Me: STOOOOOOPPPPPP, lol So here's the thing, and why I've been dragging my feet. Cheetah camp was the least safari-like but my favorite camp. That's why I want to return, to give it another shot. Katy got sick, Olivia had bronchitis, and the car was substandard. We went back to camp, Katy went back to bed, we had breakfast in camp and just kicked it for the day. amyb: The TR is your impression, like your journal for the trip. Me: We got quality time with Nirmalya and Jui, got to really learn their story of their going into business with Porini. amyb: And you're entitled to just kick it and enjoy the digs! If you read Pault report his wife and mother do all the time. And that's just as valuable an experience. Me: Yes! and I do totally want to return. They became friends, and I know they have so much more to share. So that was day two at Cheetah. Our morning drive started off early; we were supposed to have breakfast in the bush. Olivia (my friend's daughter) wasn't fond of insects so eating on a drive isn't her favorite. Some ellies around the corner from camp were having their breakfast. I love watching their trunks in action. About this time, Katy complained of being queasy. We were unhappy with the vehicle anyway, and Olivia didn't want breakfast in the bush, so as reported above, we went back to camp. It was great to have a down day and I really enjoyed getting to know Jui and Nirmalya more. We climbed the white rock formation and had a lovely view over the area. In the afternoon, we went on a short game drive. We had a very early start the next morning! dik dik reedbuck wee giraffes Verreaux's Eagle Owl, my favorite bird! So glad you birders are here Sundowners
  18. 11 likes
    Thank you @Sangeeta and @SafariChick and @xelas. Sorry I forgot about uploading the photographs. Will do so now. Vikram Impalas lit up by the morning sunrays This image of mine title "Flight of Angels" was selected for publication in Africa Geographic Yearbook 2017 Zebras always make interesting Black and White images Elephants feeding under moonlight Managed to spend some time (all too brief though, we found him at dusk one day but didn't see him for rest of the trip) with Boswell and his family. Here he is doing what he does best Stayed at Mwinilunga Safari's camp at Trichilia. They pumped some water from the river behind the camp. It was a magnet for elephant families especially those with young calves. Here am I, watching elephants sitting in a shady spot in the camp. No better way to spend your afternoon. Photograph thanks to Morkel Erasmus. Mornings and evenings were spent following bull elephants on foot. We did see lions once, but they were in a thicket ("Jess"). Not really good for photographs. Leopard was heard many times but never saw it. Wild dogs were denning in Mopane woodland and proved elusive. Elephants were very co-operative though Reaching for the star(burst)s! Serenity Sometimes too close!
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    The hunt Suddenly from an apparent aimless stroll the female took off. The male broke into a gentle trot. We heard a loud squeal and drove forward to find the lioness with a warthog piglet. The male arrived and stared intently at the lioness She continued to choke the life from the warthog and eyed up the male. I think we all knew what was about to happen. As soon as the piglet was killed the male moved in. He pinned the female down and took the kill from her He proceeded in to a nearby clearing and made short work of his snack.
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    I'm going to be really sentimental and mushy about this - I'm quite depressed I'll not see Lady Liuwa, but somehow I knew I never would after my failed attempts last year at going to Liuwa Plains. some of you may think she was just like other famous lionesses like ma ti dau in Duba Plains. She was anything but. She defied men's definitions of the habits of lions and against all odds she survived without a pride for more than nine years on her own, and managed to make her kills on her own. she cleverly avoided the humans who poisoned all her pride members and sought out the right humans to help end her loneliness. she was against all typecast. a true unique individual and it is stories like this that help the larger world population to empathise with the carnivores and help the lions' cause.
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    If you love wine, you cannot come to South Africa and not visit a winery. So for my last day in Cape Town, I went to wine country. The weather could not have been better. The first stop was Drakenstein Prison. Why go to a prison? It was the last prison for Nelson Mandela and where he famously took the long walk to freedom in 1990. It's a low security place and I found it odd that there was an ATM right at the gate. Franschhoek is a beautiful and very scenic little town. I'd love to spend a night here so I could avail myself of some of the many little cafes, restaurants and shops. Of course, it's very photogenic also. I went to two wineries and the first one, Antonij Rupert, had the best wine. This was a wine tasting like no other I've ever experienced. They give you a good portion of wine to taste, not just a teeny sip. They also provide a lovely sampling of cheeses and olives and crackers in a beautiful presentation. Also as a red wine drinker, there were 2 reds, a port and one white. Love this winery. There is a shop if you wish to purchase wine or other items. The owner of the winery has an extensive car collection that he displays at the Franschhoek Motor Museum. There is a cute little tram that transports you from the winery to the museum. There are four buildings housing all the cars. He has quite the collection. I wasn't quite sure how I would like this museum as I'm not all that interested in cars, but it was highly recommended and I can say that I would highly recommend going. I really enjoyed it. The second winery was Babylonstoren. This place dates from 1692 and has some beautiful farmland and vineyards. It's a great place to visit and they have some lovely food on offer. However, I dint like the wines or the presentation of them as compared to Antonij Rupert. They also do an olive oil sampling as well So this completes my Cape Town adventures. If you are doing a Southern Africa safari, Cape Town can easily be added at the beginning or end of your trip. BA, for example, has a direct non stop flight from London. Photos: 1. The long walk to freedom 2. The ATM at Drakenstein prison 3. The Huguenot Monument, Franschhoek 4. Dutch Reformed Church, Franschhoek 5. Tram to the museum 6, 7. Scenic wine country 8. Franschhoek Motor Museum 9. Mandela's car 10. Who doesn't like a red car? 11. Lovely salad at Babylonstoren 12. First animal sighting - Franschhoek 13. Wines at Antonij Rupert 14. Motor museum 15, 16. At Babylonstoren 17. Tasting presentation at Antonij Rupert
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    142) Whiskered Tern Witbaardsterretjie Chlidonias hybridus Wringing it's own neck: 3 June, Marievale
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    141) Lesser Swamp Warbler Kaapse Rietsanger Acrocephalus gracilirostris Marievale, 3 June
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    After breakfast, we were about to go on a nature walk when word came that a family of elephants was nearby and would we like to go see them? Answer: Yes! Three mamas were standing guard over three babies who were napping, while the rest of the family was munching away. I thought the mama in the foreground was big until I saw the matriarch come up next to her. This grouchy bull elephant was in musth and let us know that we were not to bother his ladies. The white patch on his bum caused some consternation in camp. Was he injured? It was reported to Big Life Foundation the same day, and the next day we saw KWS on the way to investigate.
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    143) Brown=throated Martin Afrikaanse Oewerswael Riparia paludicola Ausekehr, 25 july
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    Did we stall? How about a tanager to keep it going. The South American tanagers are some of the most colorful, beautiful birds in the Americas. And found only in the Americas! This one is less gaudy than some (really!) but one of my favorites.
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    Vocal lions On the way to another unsuccessful leopard tracking hour we met up with a pair of lions. Initially they were moving through the bush in a fairly lazy fashion. The light was nice . They then settled and the female started to vocalise Thise inspired the male who roared for several minutes It was impressive to be so close and at times you could feel the sound as much as hear it. We were so close that you could see the moisture in his breath at the end of the roar.
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    OK, this could take some time.( I did say I was technologically challenged in my first post ) I'll start with photos from Day 7
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    I quickly learned to be comforted by the sounds of lions calling in the night, but the next morning, they were still calling past dawn. (I don't recall why we were still in camp at dawn, but most likely because we were leaving for our drive to Olare Motorogi later in the morning. I was traveling with teenagers, after all.) Anyway, when 6 a.m. came and went and the lions were still calling close to camp, I headed outside in my flip flops and iPhone to have a look around. I met up with Nirmalya and Jui who had the same idea. We got into a car and headed towards the lion calls. Less than a kilometer from camp, we found a mother and her 3 year old daughter relaxing, still calling. We hurried back to camp, texting my daughter to grab our friends and my camera and to meet us at the edge of camp. In 10 minutes, we were back with the lions watching a morning reunion. Sero, waiting daughter 1 returns Sero Clumsy framing, but I really enjoyed this sequence Just like our cats at home Daughter 2 returns to reunite with mum and sister Settling in for a snooze I asked Nirmalya to give me the back story on Sero, as it was remarkable and I also forgot to write any of the details down. "Sero was a part of the Enesikiria pride of lions in the Naboisho conservancy neighbouring Ol Kinyei, that was subjected to a pride takeover attempt a couple of years ago. The pride had a number of cubs about a year old then, who would certainly have been killed by the nomadic males attempting the takeover. Most lionesses do try to protect their cubs but not beyond a point and then acquiesce to the infanticide that follows. Not Sero. She escaped with five male and two female cubs, to the Ol Kinyei conservancy, where she was able to raise them in relative peace. She must have had a hard time feeding eight mouths but did a splendid job and last year the brothers and sisters separated into two groups while Sero alternated between the two. The five brothers left the conservancy towards the end of 2016 to strike out on their own. The last we heard they were in the Lemek conservancy, north of Olare Motorogi where the Porini Lion Camp is located. "Sero stayed on with her two daughters and did not attempt to return to her original pride. The three lionesses have been often seen with the Fig Tree nomads from the main reserve and last month were seen mating with them. We’re hoping that they will be the nucleus of a new pride and that we will have a set of cubs in September or October."
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    [\img] That motmot is hard to beat! I had no idea they could be found in the pantanal! I think this chestnut-eared aracari is a real stunner! Taken in the Pantanal. I mean, just look at that bill!
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    When we arrived at the Naboisho airstrip, we were surprised to see a vehicle from another company waiting for us. Porini Cheetah opened on June 1st, and by the time we arrived on June 19, were nearly full to capacity. They'd leased the car as a temporary measure until their new cars were delivered, but it was kind of awful. There was very little headroom and the door sills were below eye level, even for shorties like my daughter and me. This made gave viewing difficult and photo taking impossible. We were off to a rocky start as we entered Ol Kinyei conservancy. Eventually we made it to camp where we were warmly greeted by Moses, the camp manager, and Nirmalya and Jui Banerjee, the camp hosts. Nirmalya and Jui, originally from India, had lived in Nairobi for 7 years until deciding to go into the safari business. Their arrangement with Porini is an equity partnership. The tents are lovely: spacious, with furniture for suitcases, large bathrooms with cubicles for bathing and the toilet. Porini Cheetah Camp is located between a seasonal swamp and a beautiful white rock feature. During the 4 months of camp construction, animals mostly stayed away due to the noise, but by the time we arrived, they were back in force. Vervet monkeys played alongside the stream (river?), elephants were often in view, giraffes hanging out around the bend, baboons adjacent to the swampy area. View from the white rocks, overlooking camp We were frank with Nirmalya and Jui about the state of the vehicle. They were apologetic and assured us that we would have the better car once a large party departed. Teething problems, and understandable. Update from Nirmalya, from a couple of weeks ago: Hi Amy. Our own vehicles will be ready soon. The first one will be handed over to us on Friday and will be driven down to the camp over the weekend. The next one will be available at the end of this month. We sent back the vehicle you were initially given, after your feedback and had it replaced. We're hoping our own vehicles will be really good. Not only will they be completely open on all sides but also have a fibre glass flip top roof that will normally provide protection from the sun but can be flipped up much quicker than the usual canvas roofs, in case a tall person wishes to stand and take photos with a clear view all around. It will also have a small fridge in the boot to keep the beer and white wine chilled.
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    Story time! Our first " bush job" was taking pictures and shooting wildlife footage, to be used on social media by the marketing company of the lodges where we were at (two sister lodges close to each other). We only got to guide or manage when the regular guides and/or managers were on leave. Our vehicle was a typical Land Rover adapted for game viewing with customers, but it had no roof and no doors. We got to go out whenever we wanted, as long as we wanted. It was a wild time, in more than one way. Then our boss tells us he wants special footage and he's hired a company with a beetle cam (a rock on wheels with a camera inside, you can guide it close to the animals and get awesome ground-level footage). My wife is doing relief management, so I take these two gentlemen on a game drive, in search of lions. At that time we had some lions that were often seen on our farms; two lionesses that were very used to vehicles, and a coalition of three males, called "the Trilogy". They didn't have individual names, as the lodge owners didn't like that. But I often referred to them as Limpy (was limping, since birth apparently), Beauty (scored all the ehm... pussy) and Grumpy (very aggressive, growled if you drove too close to him). So I'm looking for the lionesses, find tracks, track them down, and what I find is one of the lionesses mating with one of the Trilogy boys. Just my luck; for once it isn't Beauty but Grumpy who is mating with a female. I keep my distance and radio our guides and the guides of the other lodges that share the same "traverse". Paying customers got priority! Besides, I got time enough. When lions mate they don't move much, and go at it on average every 15 minutes, for about three days. Guess you all know that. Two vehicles rock up, so I hang back. A queue forms (on the radio), and when one vehicle leaves another takes it's place. There's a 2-vehicle maximum for any sighting. But I guess you know that too. Finally all vehicles have seen the lions and when everyone drives back to their lodge for breakfast, I approach them again. They are in the middle of the road (or rather; a two-track), so I park about 25m away, in the grass. As I switch off my engine, the lioness gets up, which is the males clue to try and mount her. But this lioness is very used to us, so she walks straight towards my side of the car. At about 5m away from me, she flops down and he mounts her. Mating takes only 15 seconds or so, and when done she gets up from underneath him, and has a post-coital roll in the grass, now 3m away from my (absent) door. The whole time the male has only had eyes for his female, but now he sees the car, and we are way too close for his comfort. He's not growling yet, but he's making an angry face. And his tail is thrashing around wildly. The guy next to me (who has done a lot of work for BBC and NatGeo) loses his nerves and mumbles "dude, I don't like this". So I mumble back; "neither do I but if I start my engine now, he's going to come flying..." We sit still for a bit, and the male relaxes. His tail is still flopping around a bit, but he sits down. And a bit later he lays down, paws in front, like a sfinx. We all let go of a sigh of relief. Time to move the car to a safer spot and start filming with the beetle cam. But just as we relax, the guy in the back with the beetle cam on his lap, whom we hadn't heard in the last 10 minutes, let's go of the loudest sneeze I've ever heard. WRAAAAAGHTSCHOEM! Immediately the female gets up and runs off, and the male gets up as well and charges me. No time to turn my ignition key (let alone find it). All I can do, as he comes towards me, growling loudly, is wave my hands in the air and shout back as loud as I can. This is part of our training; any animal's first instinct is not to attack you. It is life preservation. So if you do anything that animal does not suspect, it will rather run away. The male and I are face to face for a short second, and then he does run away, but not because of my shouting. Rather just because he sees his female run off and wants to stay with her. I look down. His spit is on my shoe. TL;DR Had shouting match with angry male lion. Won (sorta).
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    Movement Just as we expected them to settle for the morning the pair moved again. Firstley there was some claw sharpening to attend to. Then some careful positioning to use the morning light to best effect
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    A Chilly Morning On one drive the sun rose beautifully but it remained very cold. A jackal was curled up keeping warm. Thought about stirring and yawned Then thought better of it and curled up again...
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    After breakfast, we said our goodbyes and headed out for a rambling game drive through the conservancies... Ol Kinyei through Naboisho to Olare Motorogi, for our next camp, Porini Lion. We stopped to visit some sated cheetahs, whom we had seen in roughly the same place, earlier in the morning. We were finally able to observe banded mongoose that weren't running away! There's quite a large curiosity of mongooses very close to camp (cropped). and farther afield, an agama who modeled for us. Around 11 a.m., and within sight of the Ol Seki Mara camp (Hemingways) , we found some honeymooning lions. Looks like a teenager trying to grow a mustache. And then "hey, it's been fifteen minutes, it's time for some lion lovin'." <CENSORED> and then two minutes later... IMG_6247.MOV The laugh at the end was from my daughter.
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    Oh @AmyT please don't be afraid to write what happened. No one is here to judge and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I've seen some snide posts about luxury places. But......we are all different in what we are willing to do and pay for. It's totally ok if people aren't feeling well or don't like bugs. I live in fear of spiders. I hate them. Pleae continue your report without fear of judgement for your feelings. You are entitled to them and I wouldn't have enjoyed paying large sums of money for that vehicle either. So glad you haven't given up on the place, though.
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    140) Spur-wing Goose Wildemakou Plectropterus gambensis Marievale, 3 June Orange River, 26 July
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    Mana from the air Mwinilunga Camp at Trichilia owned/hosted by Tess Arkwright and Dave. Simple, comfortable, fantastic hosting and great food. Lovely sunsets from the camp! Bush TV. This is the part where everybody sits around the fire with drinks and keep staring at the fire AND become philosophical. Safari food is certainly the best that there is! Kevin, our guide. He used to be a Pro hunter till he "saw the light" :-) Morning coffee stop around Sapi Pan Photographing the ancient giant. Huge baobab with a big "cave" Essential to throw a stone or two before taking a peek into the cave, just to make sure there's no leopard there. Photographing in the mopane forest. It will be so easy to get lost here. There are no landmarks. Just mopane monoculture. Antonio seems to have some sleep left in him while I evaluate my experiments with wide angle. PC: Morkel Erasmus Thrilling to get close to elephant bulls. PC: Morkel On our last day. A group photo From L to R: Kevin (Guide), Antonio (Angola), Vikram (India), Ian (South Africa), Dave (Camp owner) and Morkel (South Africa- Photography Guru)
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    I thought I would be too late in the year for this but a pair have decided to raise a late brood on Mfuwe Towers which was kind of them. 169. Northern House Martin.
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    ..Fast forward back to Pretty Girl. Now we're back on track. We came away from Pretty Girl feeling punchy/happy. What a beautiful cat! I don't recall what we were looking for, but the driver said, "Look, that impala is giving birth. Do you mind if we stay with her for a while?" Mind? No! Feet spotted Harem of impala, very curious about what was happening. The babies kept checking on the mum. The giraffes were paying attention Mum keeping an eye on us. It's starting to stir This is where my daughter's photos take over. Suddenly, we weren't the biggest threat around. Wide angle major crop here We were all aghast in the car, appalled that the calf wouldn't even get a chance to stand up. In retrospect, it was naive to think that this little charmer wouldn't be paying attention. So cute! Not so cute here We all groaned and I started protesting about the unfairness of it all, when the driver/guide shushed me. He was taking video on his cell phone.
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    Lower Sabie to Satara Day 9 We change camps today. Kruger is huge ,about the size of Wales. The vegetation and therefore the density and type of animals varies so it is best to move around to increase the chances of seeing certain animals. Today we head north to Satara ,a camp in ' cat country' . There are consistently good sightings of lion, leopard and cheetah here, though we have already seen lions close up near Lower Sabie, so nothing is guaranteed, the animals don't read the guidebook . We head out at 8 am on a tar road. Yesterday's lack of sightings has left us disappointed with the quieter dirt roads preferred by some. There are so many places to stop on the way and multiple choices of route, it can take all day to drive a short distance if you want it to. There are Ellie's just outside the camp and the usual zebra, kudu etc to divert us . How do you hide an elephant? Stand it behind a tree of course! There was an adult Ellie behind this tree, you can just see it's left front leg. How many zebra can you see? We stop at a view point where we have an incredible , panoramic view of what seems like half of Kruger spread out below us. Three hours and 50 Kms later we stop for an early lunch at a picnic site. Kruger's version of motorway services :). comfy chairs , shop selling takeaway food items , souvenirs and essentials, clean toilets and cafe serving tasty, cheap food. And monkeys. Like most of Kruger's rest areas, this site is plagued with them. They sit around waiting for an unattended plate , or to snatch a morsel from the bin before it is emptied ( every few minutes by the staff)all very amusing for the guests but a nuisance for the employees. At every restcamp and picnic site there is a sightings board, a map where guests can pin a marker on the place they have seen a lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog or elephant that day ( rhinos unfortunately can't be included due to risk of alerting poachers to their whereabouts) Leopard and cheetah have been spotted nearby today, so we make it our mission to find them. We continue our slow drive North , detouring to see the most southerly baobab tree and to watch elephants drinking and playing at a waterhole. Approaching the turn off where the leopard was spotted we come across another ' cat jam' not leopard though, lions again. But they are lying in long grass and impossible to see. Having had our close up view at Lower Sabie we aren't inclined to wait for them to show themselves. We head down a dirt track near where the leopard was spotted ( the sighting locations aren't exact, they just get you to the general area) and unusually , this normally quieter dirt road is quite busy. Maybe this is a good sign? An oncoming vehicle stops and tells us the leopard is a few Kms further on , on the left Yes! Most people in Kruger are keen to pass on special sightings and will flag you down to tell you of something worth seeing. We find the leopard, due to the cars parked up , not by spotting him, that takes a few minutes with the binoculars, how the first person spotted him I don't know. He is draped over a branch asleep, he doesn't open his eyes, let alone move. But still! It's a real live leopard! We watch him far longer than his comatose state justifies, then head on to Satara, arriving at camp at 3 pm. It has taken us 7 hours to drive 98 Kms! We have perimeter bungalows again, this time the boys have their own as each bungalow sleeps two. The accomodations at Kruger range from guesthouses that sleep 10 to basic huts with nothing but a single bed . The perimeter bungalows I've booked are generally a bit dearer than the other rooms, but still good value. They are basic but have kitchen and bathroom, sometimes a bit worn, but clean and comfortable, and in the park! What more could you want? I have booked a sunset drive tonight. Another Sanparks activity. We leave the camp at 4.30 and get to stay out until 7.30, 2 hours after the gates have closed. There are ten of us on the drive, DS18 and I are at the back and are given the task of using the spotlights when it gets dark. Our guide has heard about the invisible lions from earlier and knows just where to look for them. They have moved from their grassy hideaway and are now at the side of the track we took to see the leopard. It's a lioness with cubs of varying ages, so obviously not all hers, she is babysitting. We have a lovely, unobscured view and we don't have to share it with anyone. We then continue down the road to see if the leopard is still there, he isn't, so back to the lions who have now moved to the tar road and are lounging about creating a one vehicle cat jam' the look the lioness gives us when she finally deigns to move aside for the vehicle leaves us in no doubt that she's moving because SHE wants to, not because it suits us Altogether on the drive we see impala, elephants, zebra, waterbuck,giraffe, hyena,lions and DS spotted a Genet, but it was gone before we could get a picture. We eat at the camp restaurant tonight , we are too hungry to bother with a braii and there are only so many vege kebabs a person can eat
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    Not 10 minutes later, we were pulling up to visit Musiara and her one remaining cheetah cub. As you may recall, Musiara's other cubs were killed by lions in early June in the Maasai Mara. According to my guide, she retreated to Olare Motorogi Conservancy after that. There's something to be said for visiting conservancies that have more than a couple of camps... it was much easier to find the cats than at Porini Cheetah.
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    Lower Sabie Day 8 While in Kruger I was intending that we get a few early starts as early morning and late afternoon are supposedly the best times for seeing the animals. The really committed Kruger guests are sat in their cars waiting for the gates to open , 6am in July. I knew we'd never be that early but I was hoping we'd be out the door by 7am, this morning was 7.40am and that's the earliest we managed We drove south down to Crocodile Bridge restcamp, hoping to find the wild dog pack we saw yesterday. We didn't see much at all and I blamed our late start, not that it made any difference to the following morning's start times. ( Looking back at the photos on the camera, we actually saw a heck of a lot ) A troop of baboons entertained us, playing and lounging on the road just outside of camp We saw the usual impala, kudu and giraffe We had coffee and snacks at Crocodile Bridge ( you can use the restaurants and shops at any of the camps) and then drove back to Lower Sabie on a dirt ( gravel) road . All along the dirt road we had hornbills playing ' chicken' infront of the car. We couldn't work out what they were doing , why they would sit in the road until the car was almost upon them before flying off. Until a huge grasshopper flew across the windscreen and a hornbill dove after it, catching it midair. I assume these grasshoppers/ locust things were also attracted to the gravel road and the hornbills were waiting for the car to disturb them . It was quite comical how many of these birds would ' leapfrog' the car to always be infront of it In fact we saw alot of birds today, maybe cos we saw little of the larger, distracting animals. I love the little lilac breasted rollers, they look as though a child has coloured them in Back at LowerSabie we had lunch at the restaurant, the deck overlooks the Sabie river, can't be many places you can eat while watching hippos and birds. We were entertained by the starlings who replace monkeys here, waiting for you to turn your head or leave your plate so they can grab a morsel. There are water squirters strategically placed but we enjoyed their chatter and cheekiness We went out for a short drive late afternoon, apparently we saw a lion, I'd forgotten about him! Also a varied selection of animals at a waterhole We stop on the bridge over the river to watch the hippos and sunset Another braai for dinner, another vege kebab,the accompanying glass of wine and view from our braii area raise it from mediocre to unforgettable. All the accommodation I have booked in Kruger is on the perimeter of the camp and has a view beyond the electrified perimeter fence. This means at worst you can see any wildlife that approaches the fence outside the camp, at best you get a view , in this case of the river. We can listen to hippos as we eat 
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    Friday dawned, our second to last full day on safari. We were up and out by six, and reached the honeymooning couple in minutes. It was still really dark, so continued on to Naibor's den for her cubs. Naibor means white and is an experienced mother. An older daughter is on hand to be "auntie" with the cubs when Naibor is out hunting. These photos were taken at 6:15 and I don't have the skill to take photos in dim light. Pardon the eye shine when my flash went off! The cub at the far right appears to be weeks younger. We returned to the honeymooning lions. Lolparpit was born in 2005 so has been in the game a long time. "Lolparpit means 'big hair'. He is one of two dominant males in the Olare Orok Conservancy. Together with Olbarnoti he moves between the Moniko and Enkoyonai Prides to mate with the females. He has a bigger mane than Olbarnoti, and also has a blacker nose." Quote from Mara Predator Project, ca 2012. "Nariku Inkgera is an older female from the Ngoyonai Pride. Her name means 'babysitter'. She has a broad head and a scarred face, and also has several top incisors missing." We were not in a good position for a photo of Nariku in the morning. We returned to Naibor, born 2006. "Naibor means 'white' in Maa. She has a pale coat that makes her identifiable next to her pridemates. She has a small face and a spotted nose, and also has a characteristic tear in her left ear." It was really muddy, and some vehicles were slipping on the hills. My driver offered to take this photo:
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    OK, I'll see if this works. Our rhino welcome and bush walk
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    After just a few minutes (there was another car waiting and we didn't want to stress the cubs) we headed back down the hill to where another pride of lions were lounging around. I'm shocked at myself that I never bothered taking a photo of the lionesses farther up the hill, because I was completely captivated by the cubs playing. The sky in the distance really was this dark. And then there were four... Warned you they would be repetitious! But babies are my favorite. And for those of you who love them too, here's a short video. Squeeee!! IMG_6257.MOV
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    Posing pretty in Dec 2012 She had a long life which she shared pridemates in the end. Thank you @michael-ibk for posting this news and thank you all for sharing your memories of Liuwa Plains and its Lady.
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    Interesting reading in the link provided in the OP. October 2002 and I'm with friends on Liuwa plain. It is late afternoon and we're watching widlebeeste slowly make their way to a small waterhole with a reed bed at one end. Then some one says "Is that a lion amongst those reeds? I thought I saw a head pop up." We all search but see nothing... The driver of the vehicle is an experienced safari guide and walking safari specialist, he slowly drives a circuit of the waterhole and sure enough cuts her spoor. "Yes" he says casually "we do have a lioness in those reeds". Finally the wildebeeste arrive and she launches an attack but misses her target. We now get a good look at the lioness. The general consensus ~ Wow she's young to be by herself. I can only presume it was Lady Liuwa. Years later when Liuwa Plain was becoming more popular I saw an image of that waterhole in an issue of Africa Geographic magazine. I immediately thought of that very young lioness. EDIT: I should add that at that instant in time she was very skittish. If we tried to approach she would dart back to the other side of the reed bed. After a few attempts at closing the gap we let her be.
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    Today was launched Operation Twiga Phase II in Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP), Uganda. In 2015, some giraffes were translocated South to the Nile to expand the giraffes territory in MFNP, from where they were found absent. With the technical consultant Julian Fennessy from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, UWA is currently working in the conservation of the Nubian giraffe in the country. Ugandan giraffes were formerly considered as an endangered sub-species called Rothschild's giraffe. There are about 2100 animals worldwide, and their stronghold in Uganda is to be found in MFNP Paraa sector North of the mighty Nile river. UWA decided to introduce / or re-introduce animals to build new population in Lake Mburo National Park, and MFNP Southern sector. The aim is to lower the risks if a catastrophe would happen in Paraa sector. Nubian giraffes are present in Western Ethiopia (Gambela National Park), Western Kenya, and Southern Sudan. Further information about Operation Twiga can be found here, and details are provided concerning the different populations of this vulnerable sub-species: https://giraffeconservation.org/programmes/uganda-programme/ Giraffe taxonomy is pretty difficult and new discoveries are not yet all widely accepted by the international scientific community. It was formerly recognized a single giraffe species with 9 sub-species. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation started a genetic analyze of all the giraffe sub-populations and proposed that instead of a single species, there are 4 different species: - The Northern Giraffe divided in 3 different sub-species (Western giraffe only to be found in Niger, the Kordofan giraffe located in Central Africa, and the Nubian giraffe now also including the Rotschild's giraffe). - The Masaii giraffe. - The reticulated giraffe. - The Southern giraffe divided into 2 sub-species (South African giraffe and the Angolan giraffe). UWA is also working in reinforcing Kidepo National Park kob population. With only 40 animals estimated in this park located in the Karamoja region in North Eastern Uganda, it was decided to translocate between 100 and 200 animals from MFNP where Ugandan kobs are thriving. http://www.ugandawildlife.org/news/item/453-uwa-starts-translocation-of-kobs-to-kidepo

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