Kitsafari

Paradise Regained – Parc National Zakouma Tchad

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Posted (edited)

@@Safaridude how could I forget that? you're such a geek, in the most graceful way. :D (i'm getting into trouble again, aren't I?)

Edited by Kitsafari

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@@Galago i didn't find the camera sounds that intrusive. honestly, I don't even remember it. it was only while watching the videos that the sounds were loud, but when I was in the wide open area, they were not that noticeable.

 

@@Caracal interesting observation. My photos hadn't any red or warm tones added to them, i think. I did recall thinking those waterbucks were big, but then each time I see them, whereever I be, I am always surprised at their large sizes. But I did think they had a beautiful shine to their coats, and all along I thought it was the golden hue from the sun! safaridude would be a better position to answer this.

 

@@Alexander33 you are so kind. The park was special, it and its inhabitants were my muse.

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@@johnweir thank you for the most useful and helpful information which helped clear the confusion. I tried to google but couldn't find where the lions exactly belonged to.

 

you will definitely enjoy the big and small cats in Zakouma!

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Now I haven't really mentioned about birds because I'm terrible at ID-ing and recognising the different species to the minute differentiation in colour or tail has been a weak point of mine. try as I might, my aged brain can't distinguish them. But I do like birds - the vibrant colours, the beautiful feathers the fragile bodies so strong as they take flight.


So I would love for someone to help ID them as I go along. Here were some we had seen the past two days.


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a grey heron?



1t4b9q2Y-6OT-Vlwvg3xKO6isHbxpezq-TAZ16dw

little green bee eater?


yAPykcvu6gNms1kBUqWMj_o43Pv8pU1SQodMqQgP

another little green bee eater?



mC3KwIjyM8ypQr2R5GoI2_ARjvLye7eq18EWTF0w

yellow billed kite? i was more impressed by those vicious thorns! and amazed how unbothered it was among it.


tgUtoyoXH9n7jBZ18pwDFwdrgNYQhWOM_4zBzyNt

this one I knew - i've met him (well, not literally) in a few other places before - the saddled bill stork in very low light


NGtNFcW8nPm7P7Yzlwbflgd_0wSz5ZUD3kphPYjt

trying to be artie fartie with the stork and failed miserably, so wanted to share my pain as well....


but a series of absynnian roller made up for the misery


pwSkX_GzR9ozcFOdkDcFFH1TXYVxIhclOQfan4nd


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04KDax2JgB21qIQVRS-Ew9ZP8p2txTVWHYaHu1z-



yK6fNyVDPcVF426ynqdw81LHMtzBaCtAZZ-8q8X6



YjPrAG71WXbrEVKc-2mmAHiLUh4feFOd2x8yno-a

Little bee eater?



xGktULLUcWWIoZ1C3G-euoj6b57Ych4Pj-5v_Ig8

this I knew too - my favourite African fish eagle


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long crested eagle - first sighting for me and they were everywhere but I could never get a clear shot of it.


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golden tailed woodpecker?



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tawny eagle or yellow billed kite?


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this bee eater flummoxed me... i don't know what it is


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BLvh6OXEV3i8mVSCGiTT6fHUdDaM6Ik6iN7PC-8s


Abysinnian ground hornbill... i wonder if they make the same booming sound as its cousin in the south?



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african hornbill
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There are 388 species of birds in Zakouma, according to African Parks.Birds are attracted to the park, thanks to the rivers, pans and marshes. Now, this I learned from AP : "the south-eastern wetlands form part of the RAMSAR site “Inundation Plains of Bahr Auok and Salamat” – one of the largest in the world."


But what is RAMSAR? so i went in search of it and I discovered that there is a convention on wetlands of international importance called the Ramsar Convention. An intergovernmental treaty serves as a framework to conserve and encourage wise usage of wetlands and their resources. Cool! I never knew such a convention existed. Fascinating!


Chad has six Ramsar sites, and the Plaines d'inondation des Bahr Aouk et Salamat at 4.9 million ha is one of the world's largest Ramsaw sites. It is made up of a "complex of floodplains, hills, a lake, rivers and ponds located in a natural depression at the border with the Central Africa Republic". This natural habitat lends itself to the protection of wildlife in the park and provides an important breeding and migration point for birds. You can read more about it here:



So that puts into perspective the next pan we arrived at. a naturally elevated thoroughfare cut the pan into two, one of which was covered mainly with spur winged geese and knob billed ducks, with some Egyptian geese mingling among them. They were very vocal as well, not at us but at each other, sharing the morning gossip and tidbits of where to catch the fattest cats - catfish that is.


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babies!


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the pans also served as a waterhole for the mammals...


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hartebeest rubbing its face in the mud


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@@Kitsafari What lovely photos! I especially like the Abyssinian Roller and the close up of it is stunning. The first photo is a Black-headed heron, I think. The bee-eater you ask about is Blue-cheeked. The hornbill is African Grey. I'm not sure about the large raptor towards the end of your pics. It could be Tawny but the legs are the wrong colour (but that could be a trick of the light). The large head suggests Brown Snake Eagle but I think the eyes are the wrong colour so I'll stick my neck out and go for juvenile Bataleur, especially as the wings appear to go way beyond the tail. I'd love to know what others think.

 

And thanks for the Ramsar info, most interesting. Woohoo, 388 bird species. Should get a few lifers amongst that lot next year!

 

Looking forward to your next installment.

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@@Kitsafari I'm so glad that I bought the Princeton Field Guide: Birds of Western Africa by Nick Borrow and Ron Demey in anticipation of my trip next year to Zakouma. I would estimate that in one week that I'll see between 50 and 70 new species of birds.

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@@Kitsafari Nice collection of birds.

 

I hope I can sort out your Ids for you, although it looks like half of them have already been identified.

 

The heron is a black-headed, this species seems to be about the most common heron in Zakouma.

 

The first hawk I'm confident is a grasshopper buzzard, it’s not that easy to tell from behind but it looks right for this bird and as I know it’s a very common species in Zakouma I think it’s a safe bet that it is one.

 

I don’t think the woodpecker is golden-tailed; it’s a little hard to tell because it’s so small. The upper back or mantle and the scapulars 'shoulder feathers' appear to me to be plain green, if it were golden-tailed they should be streaked, although it’s fairly light the neck appears to me to be quite grey, this would suggest grey woodpecker. The other possibility is fine-spotted but this bird should be visibly marked with pale spots on the back and the neck wouldn't appear so grey. My best guess having enlarged you image as far as possible would be that it is a grey woodpecker.

 

@@Galago You’re absolutely right the second hawk is a juvenile bateleur, they look quite similar in shape to brown snake eagles but the latter species has bright yellow eyes. To me it has the look of a bateleur, but what really gives away that it can’t be a tawny eagle or a kite or another eagle is the almost complete absence of a visible tail, the scientific names is of the bateleur is Terathopius ecaudatus and ecaudatus means tailless, they must have I think the shortest tail of any raptor certainly in Africa.

 

The bee-eater is blue-cheeked

 

I don’t recall if I heard Abyssinian ground hornbills calling, but the call is pretty similar my book describes it as slightly faster and higher-pitched.

 

Your last bird is an African grey hornbill.

 

I think you have all of the rest of them correct

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@@Galago

 

First of all, speciation or sub-speciation is a combination of science and art. There are no definitive markers that define two things as separate species or subspecies.

 

The IUCN convention has six subspecies of the topi: topi, coastal topi, tsessebe, Bangweulu tsessebe, tiang and korrigum.

 

A recent convention elevated all six into separate species, and in addition, split the "regular topi" species into 3 separate species (thereby having 8 separate topi species). This new convention is generally not accepted. (For instance, the "regular topi" that was further split into three species by this convention... up until probably 100 years ago or so, those three populations were contiguous/continuous. So, how could they really be separate species, or even separate subspecies?)

 

So, sticking to the IUCN convention, there are six subspecies.

 

 

@@Caracal

 

The waterbuck at Zakouma is basically defassa waterbuck (the same waterbuck you see generally west of the Rift Valley... in places like Serengeti). The ones found from Chad/CAR to Senegal are often called sing-sing waterbuck or West African defassa waterbuck. These tend to show less white on the face than those defassa waterbucks found elsewhere. But the IUCN does not recognize the sing-sing waterbuck as a separate species or subspecies.

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@@Kitsafari

 

You continue to enthrall us with your magical writing.

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super bird photos @@Kitsafari

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@@Safaridude Many thanks for the info on topi, very interesting.

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@Galago@inyathi. Thank you for id-ing the birds. I had struggled telling the difference between the black headed heron with the grey heron! That immature juvenile sure fooled me with its brown feathers. Ill have to remember about the tail - or lack of it - the next time.

 

Ahh so I've definitely confused the yellow billed kite with the grasshopper buzzard! Which means , yes we saw a lot of these buzzards particularly at one pan where we stopped for lunch.

 

About the woodpecker - that was as far as my camera could zoom. I dont think I saw it again for the rest of the trip. (I said A singular I as there were times when I couldnt see what the others saw).

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@@Galago

 

First of all, speciation or sub-speciation is a combination of science and art. There are no definitive markers that define two things as separate species or subspecies.

 

The IUCN convention has six subspecies of the topi: topi, coastal topi, tsessebe, Bangweulu tsessebe, tiang and korrigum.

 

A recent convention elevated all six into separate species, and in addition, split the "regular topi" species into 3 separate species (thereby having 8 separate topi species). This new convention is generally not accepted. (For instance, the "regular topi" that was further split into three species by this convention... up until probably 100 years ago or so, those three populations were contiguous/continuous. So, how could they really be separate species, or even separate subspecies?)

 

So, sticking to the IUCN convention, there are six subspecies.

 

 

@@Caracal

 

The waterbuck at Zakouma is basically defassa waterbuck (the same waterbuck you see generally west of the Rift Valley... in places like Serengeti). The ones found from Chad/CAR to Senegal are often called sing-sing waterbuck or West African defassa waterbuck. These tend to show less white on the face than those defassa waterbucks found elsewhere. But the IUCN does not recognize the sing-sing waterbuck as a separate species or subspecies.

Interesting @@Safaridude. Why were they called sing-sing defassa? Is that by chance an african word?

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@@Kitsafari

 

"Sing-sing" is a Bambara word for waterbuck. Bambara is spoken in West Africa.

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A breeding group of roans, with a couple of young ones briefly glimpsed, watched us cautiously behind the tall grasses and made a quick escape. in the far distance at the end of a pan, an ostrich slowly picked her way while a small flock of queleas flew up and down for a sip of water as the sun rose higher.

ducks and geese took flight, unsettled by the noise of our vehicle, or were they?

 

 

 

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the lions we had found yesterday lounging, were lying contentedly under a tree close by. yesterday's thin bellies were now rounded and full which could only mean they had a successful hunt during the night. The group had grown by one, which meant the lonesome lioness had probably found her pride.
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the flies oh the flies. i really felt like swatting them!
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the all important cleaning up crew - always good to see the vultures (not sure which these were).
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Posted (edited)

Squack turned to us, and casually mentioned that a couple of bulls were at the HQ and that we could go and check them out. @@Sangeeta, who'd been asking about the jumbos, cheered and we headed towards the HQ Zakouma. The HQ is a base of round huts which are homes to the staff and their families, and local residents. I think the staff included the Mamba anti-poaching rangers, the heroes on the grounds that protect the wildlife and the elephants. There are also stables there for the horses, which the Mamba team also uses.


There is an interesting tale to the round houses, and I can't quite recall who told us - either Leon or Mahatma, or was it Squack? The resident people do not like homes with corners as evil may hide and reside there. so all homes are round and never square or rectangle.


There was a stretch of road that led to the HQ, a beautiful stretch that was shaded by trees on both sides. It was a surprise and yet a delight to see this stretch, creating an emerald green oasis of a boulevard in a dry hot land.


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Edited by Kitsafari
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@@Kitsafari Always good to see lions and vultures, it looks like you've got African white-backed, a lappet-faced and some Rüppell's griffon, much like in the Serengeti I believe the latter species commutes into the park from outside because they nest on cliff, there’s not many cliffs in Zakouma. Bring on les elephants I hope :)

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Posted (edited)

@@inyathi thank you for the IDs. I had written ruppell in my notes, but I couldn't recall when it was for. But good to know I've finally seen one to remember.

 

and so to elephants we shall go.

Edited by Kitsafari

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The history of the devastation of the elephant numbers is pretty well known by now, but as a quick summary for those who hadn't heard - poaching reduced 4,000 elephants in 2002 to 450 in 2010. The number has stabilised since AP took over that year, and newborns are being sighted. While elephants are seen roaming around parks in separate groups in other parks, in Zakouma, the elephants had learned to band together as defence against the illegal ivory hunters. But that defence was devastating against guns since poachers could take out just one entire herd at a time. I read this account and I did wonder what happened to the baby orphan in Zakouma (http://save-elephants.org/only-one-elephant-calf-survived-the-slaughter-of-whole-elephant-herd-with-more-than-80-animals-in-chad-how-did-the-rescue-go-and-what-is-awaiting-this-little-baby-elephant/)
While poaching has been drastically reduced in the park, it still occurs beyond its protected borders. it is this history that make elephants in Zakouma pretty special, and pretty hard to sight too. So to get to see these jumbos would be such a privilege.
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There, the two bulls were at a man made waterhole behind Leon's house, flapping their ears to cool in the hours close to noon. They looked expectant, as if waiting for something.
Leon came out to greet us and we thanked him for the opportunity to see the famous Zakouma eles. Mahatma turned on the hose, stood at the edge of the patio and said Come. The bulls ignored him. Leon let out a commanding "Kom" and one bull strode forward for a full drink from the water hose. It has become a habit for a small group of elephants after Rian filled up the waterholes with the hose and started spraying the elephants to cool them down during the dry hot season. the elephants learned to trust Rian and started to drink directly from the hose. after all, water coming from the hose is the cleanest. I had to remind myself repeatedly - these are still wild elephants, traumatised by the years when hundreds would be gunned down by poachers, and yet, they have also learned to have faith in humans.
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While the bull was drinking from the hose, I heard the most extraordinary noise. There was a huge sound of water splashing into what seemed to be an empty chamber and I wondered where it came from. Finally I traced it to the elephant. I was fascinated by the bull's trunk as it lifted it to catch the flow and as it was filling up with water.
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I turned around and suddenly realised a group of the local residents had gathered silently to witness this little miracle, keeping a respective distance from us and the elephant. we waved them closer, and as I sat down on the terrace floor, I waved for the kids to join me. A young boy came forward, and sat with me to watch the bulls, mesmerised by these wild animals. I imagined that living so close to the grey giants might have instilled some fear in them, and yet now, they watched how gentle these giants were in coming forward to drink from the hose. I imagined them watching with awe that these giants could be so graceful in their enormity, and I imagined and hoped that the seeds of respect and love for, and understanding of, the wildlife would begin to take root and grow, as these children will grow. I do hope so.
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Beautiful chapter, Kit - in word and image.

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@@Kitsafari those are just magnificent elephant shots. I particularly love the details like their wrinkles and eyelashes.

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@@Kitsafari

A continuing delight. I think you would do well in the "Big Year" for birds just on this trip - sometimes even in one photo! The ROller is stunning.

Great to see the elephants, and for you to encourage the children to see them close-up. (The video link doesn't work for me)

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