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  1. Glad you had such a good trip with Kavinga, I went to Mana with them in 2009, didn't make it to chitake that time but have been there twice before. On the subject of the lions taking young elie's, when I was there in October 2005 they seemed to specialise , pretty much taking one every day and sometimes twice a day. I would have thought from watching documentaries etc that it would be a suicide mission to try and get a baby elie away from the mum, but the chitake lions obviously have worked out how to do it. I always wondered how much it has to do with stress the elie's are under, october is pretty much the height of the dry season its a hard time for them finding enough to eat. On the staying up with night vision, I have tried it at chitake minus the night vision, when the moon's out your vision is pretty good anyway. The only thing I would say is it's not for the faint hearted, its not so much night vision you need but eye's in the back of your head. Elie's are pretty much constantly coming to the spring, and for a big animal they really do move about silently. If you google national geographic walking with lions you should be able to find a copy. As you say the Richardson's did not quite get enough footage. I think the sequence of the lions taking down a buff is stock footage not filmed at chitake. I guess thats nature documentaries, even the mighty bbc film in zoo's apparently, and are quite happy to re-hash old footage into new documentaries.
  2. I would be interested to hear what your guides had to say about that cheetah sighting. The impression I have been given is that they are present at mana but are very very seldom seen, I have had their tracks pointed out to me by guys who spend a lot of time there but they have either never seen them or seen them once in a lifetime of mana trips. I presume this is to do with the large numbers of other large predators and the terrain & vegetation, which I imagine is not really suited to their hunting technique's. Congrats on a great trip mana always delivers.
  3. Don't get frustrated with the debate. I would agree with the last couple of posts, the debates on ST do get you thinking. I would consider myself fairly knowledgable about african wildlife, but reading these threads makes me realise that there are many people who have much much more knowledge than me on these subjects, and who's passion for wildlife stands out. Maybe the debate seems pointless but it does stimulate me as an observer to think more on these issues, that may not change the world but it does stimulate some thought, on not simply seeing african wildlife as a holiday option but as a valuable resource that needs to be protected.
  4. Getting back to the trip report, thanks for the info on nthambo, looks really good. Getting married there on the 5th September so glad you gave it such a glowing report. I think we are going to be their first wedding, although not sure if my fiancee will be coming after that spider shot, not sure I would be to keen to retrieve that one from the shower either! Looking forward to the next instalment Cheers
  5. The documentary makers obviously had a point they wanted to get across, basically that the organisations they looked at had major flaws for various reasons. This sort of investigation is great if it gets people thinking about conservation and how donations are spent, but if people take it as fact and a true representation its very dangerous. Obviously people on this forum are experienced enough not to take whats presented in this sort of film as fact. I work in the vet industry in the UK and we had a similar film made exposing the industries problems and I would say 90% of the film was sensationalism and 10% the film-makers had a point. Fair enough thats why they make these documentaries I am sure they would say they are stimulating debate, but many people will watch this sort of film and see it as reality of conservation charities, rather than accepting that its not that hard to find flaws in most organisations. I think very often with charities you have to focus on thir aims and intentions which are often correct and except that often you will not agree with al of their methods.
  6. I always decide what I want to see then research where is best to see it, which I think the web is brilliant for, don't know how people planned independent travel before? I also love wildlife guide books, there are several excellent guides to national parks. I have planned trips in africa and india in this way by looking at which parks have the species I want to see and hopefully the feeling of wildness and not lots of crowds. Personally I like to do a combination of organised and travelling under my own steam, I think starting off with an organised tour is an excellent way to find your feet in a country and then travelling on your own lets you experience the rewards of independence and doing things for yourself. I also think an organised tour will introduce you to activities, people & places you might not have chosen yourself but turn out to be really rewarding.
  7. Sorry my fault did not realise that was straying off topic.
  8. Mana Pools my favourite subject! Which safari company are you travelling with Paolo? I have been to Mana a few times, I sort of discovered the place by accident, when I first went to Africa (2003) I went to Zimbabwe to visit a friend who took us on a trip to Lake Kariba then Mana Pools and finally chitake. Zimbabwe is not a place that I would have chosen to visit if I had not known someone, I had always dreamt of visiting the famous east african parks, Zimbabwe was just a place with a repulsive president. However sitting on the banks of the Zambezi with a sundowner watching everything coming down to the river is when I felt I had really found the africa I had hoped for. I have been back twice since once to chitake for 3 weeks and the last time in 2009 to mana pools. I think at mana you get the feeling of being in the thick of it as the animals come down to the river. As Mr Park says the walking thing is crazy/great, I have had many great experiences at mana on foot, but also some that still send a shiver down my spine. My 3 week chitake trip was amazing, the lions were incredibly active and hunted in or around the spring every day all the other game was having an incredibly hard time at the height of the dry season. As for wild dogs I have always been lucky with them, on our 2009 trip we saw dogs pretty much every drive and approached them on foot on a number of occasions. They also were active hunting across the floodplain by the mucheni's where we camped, I obviously cannot talk for now but in 2009 they were very active, lots of stories of them chasing prey through camp. The only thing that would ever stop me recommending Mana Pools is that I think its relative obscurity amongst african parks and peoples reluctance to travel to Zimbabwe is what keeps visitor numbers down.
  9. If you do not stay and watch does it somehow mean it is not happening, or you are not supporting it? Predators and the hunt are just a fact of life in the bush. I dont see how you can have any understanding of the way nature works without realising that nature is ruthless, animals eat other animals thats how life goes on. A lion certianly does not care if it is faced with a baby elie, its just an opportunity to eat.
  10. Thats a shame, the only pleasure of my journey to work is spotting buzzards cruising above the motorway. I believe they have been a conservation success in the UK.
  11. This is a very interesting thread. I have done a little bit of walking with a guide and without - walking with friends with varying amounts of bush experience. On the subject of walking with guides, I have found qualified guides to be rightly cautious when leading a group. My simple philosophy when on this sort of walk would be to do exactly as I am told, thats what the guide is there for and from what I have seen they are expert at anticipating trouble and guiding the group to avoid it. When camping with friends and walking at mana pools I think you can have situations when everyone does not act in the same way because you don't have a clear 'guide' or leader. One persons comfort zone and basically when they feel its time to run or move away from an upset elie say, may well be different to anothers. But if everyone does not act in the same way and one person runs and leaves someone else this could be very dangerous for the person left behind. Someone mentioned wild dogs, which I have encountered several times on foot. I have always found them completly unthreatening and simply inquisitive, I have never seen them upset by the presence of people on foot. Once when encountering a small group on the road one evening at mana we stopped the vehicle and sat on the road allowing them to come within a few metres when we stood up and they moved off. The dogs I have seen have never seemed upset by the prescence of people.
  12. Shame another couple of metres and that guy would have found out how well designed a lion is to do some damage!
  13. I guess you feel cheated if someone is trying to deceive you, as I said earlier this sort of unnatural captive breeding with animals being hand reared and then re-educated to be wild is not the answer to conserving lions. Maybe the owners could answer that they are raising awareness and the paid activities are helping support their conservation work, but I wonder how much of the profits go back into conservation.
  14. Be interested to hear the rest of your report, I have visited Antelope Park and really enjoyed it. Who wouldn't like playing with lion cubs. But at the back of my mind was always a question about how ethical it all is, which may just be me being a cynic. I am never convinced about the captive breeding thing. In general I think animals are pretty good at breeding the problem is space for them to maintain their populations and until that is changed, there is not much point breeding more and more animals.
  15. Visited the gorillas in Rwanda back in 2003, If I remember rightly it cost $150. I imagine its a one off thing for most of the people who visit. It comes down to supply and demand the parks will charge what they think people will pay. They do have a pretty unique product, interesting they have dropped the price the number of people who want to visit the gorillas and what they are willing to pay cant be limitless. For me $250 is a much more realistic price, $500 is too much for me I would not go back at that price.

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