monalisa

Flatdogs!! SLNP Jun17 - Home of Wild dogs, Garlic & Ginger

53 posts in this topic

@wilddog it isn't so much the dark manes as it is the dark body fur.  I forget if it was Geoff's or Deano's report recently, but they had a significantly darker male lion there too, and it struck me the same way.  If you look at the fourth to last shot (of the two lions walking away) you can see how much darker all over the one male is compared to the other.  I know manes vary due to age and hormones, but hadn't seen such dark bodies before.

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Posted (edited)

Lovely sighting of the Spice boys! And by the looks of it you did indeed beat the other cars to the sighting!                                                                                                                                                                                                           @amybatt @wilddog it's not the darker one who is the odd one, it's the lighter one, ginger! Garlic is just a normal coloured lion, ginger isn't. The contrast might make Garlic appearing darker than you'd expect. Ginger doesn't have any black pigment (look at his nose and tail tip for example), a condition as far as I know only known from 1 lion currently alive, him!

It is true that the extent of black hairs in manes varies from male to male, and it is thought this is related to testosterone levels. All males (except white male lions, and Ginger) have black hairs, some more than others. The size of manes also varies, with generally the ones in colder areas being more extensive (like the Kalahari or Busanga) and in with longer hairs in more open areas (again Kalahari, Serengeti, Busanga). While it has been shown that females seem more attracted to larger manes and darker manes, it's not clear if those males are the 'dominant' ones. Adult males are dominant over adult females, and between males there might be dominance, but with lots of prey and many females to attend to this might not actually mean much in the sense of more feeding and breeding.

Edited by egilio
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On 9/2/2017 at 8:15 AM, monalisa said:

@Atravelynn Really? Are the leopards usually cool with the hyenas doing this? This hyena did look like it was eating something, so I thought it was strange that a leopard would just be sitting so casually nearby. Not that I really "saw" this in real-time anyway :P

 

"Cool" they are not.  This is a reaction at Mala Mala in Sabi Sands.  But your leopard was so hidden that it may have felt safe from the hyena.

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The croc that had the dogs so focused was even better hidden.

 

On 9/2/2017 at 8:15 AM, monalisa said:

Unfortunately with the stalking leopard, we never found out the outcome. Our guide tried to tell us that the open field meant that the hunt would have been a definite fail, but of course, you never know, and it still would have been amazing to watch. We've never seen a successful kill in action before.  If it was short grass, I think odds are with that conclusion.  Sometimes it is just best not to know the specifics of what you missed. 

 

 

How we settled on Flatdogs was essentially down to price. June still counted as low season so we were able to get a significant discount by going then. You saved twice, camp and location. It was a great mid-range option that had very good reviews so we were sold. We also liked that they had a 6 person maximum to a jeep. That's a key # too. I thought I recalled a time when there was not such a limit. Certainly if you have wiggle room in your budget it might be nice to go with some of the more private/luxury guides/camps. But then again as you mentioned, it's a balancing act. The extra $$ could be spent on even more days. Tough decisions! 

The next day was an all-dayer. The proviso was that we could do an all day safari as long as 4 or more people were interested in going.

I recall that is also part of FD's normal offerings, which is a nice option.  I noted  your comments that midday it was hot without a lot of activity, but still you never know what you might see, so worth a try.

 

Lovely blond and dark lion heads  together!

 

 

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Great lion shots, but I can't believe Kennedy didn't get out of the jeep and move those grasses out of the way so you could get an unobstructed view. Other than that, I guess he did a pretty good job. :)

 

I was was going to comment that Ginger is gorgeous -- a favorite -- and that was even before reading @egilio's fascinating comments. 

 

 

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On 9/7/2017 at 0:23 AM, wilddog said:

So Garlic is probably the more dominant male of the two.

 

@wilddog He did look like he was but I could be anthropomorphising him too much here because he looked like the "mean" one

 

 

On 9/7/2017 at 2:35 AM, amybatt said:

I know manes vary due to age and hormones, but hadn't seen such dark bodies before.

 

@amybatt Neither had I! I wondered if it could have just been dirt, but Garlic definitely had dark fur all over. Of course sitting next to Ginger only served to amplify the difference.

 

 

On 9/7/2017 at 4:56 AM, egilio said:

Lovely sighting of the Spice boys! And by the looks of it you did indeed beat the other cars to the sighting!                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 

@egilio We did indeed! We had them all to ourselves the whole time which was very lucky.  Thanks also for the fascinating info about the testorone levels in males with full and dark coloured manes. I love learning new facts like these.

 

 

On 9/7/2017 at 9:06 AM, Atravelynn said:

 

"Cool" they are not.  This is a reaction at Mala Mala in Sabi Sands.  But your leopard was so hidden that it may have felt safe from the hyena.

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@Atravelynn You're blowing my mind. Is the leopard really the one who needs to feel safe from the hyena and not other way around?? In any case, that is an amazing leopard shot you have there! 

And definitely agree that it's best not to know the specifics of missed sightings. Ignorance is bliss! I still haven't gotten over the lion cubs we were *supposed* to see (according to our guide) in Botswana.

 

 

On 9/7/2017 at 11:05 AM, Alexander33 said:

Great lion shots, but I can't believe Kennedy didn't get out of the jeep and move those grasses out of the way so you could get an unobstructed view. Other than that, I guess he did a pretty good job. :)

 

I was was going to comment that Ginger is gorgeous -- a favorite -- and that was even before reading @egilio's fascinating comments. 

 

 

 

@Alexander33 I know, he should have. Ginger looks friendly enough, right? He would have let him... Wouldn't have harmed a soul :D

 

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Some miscellaneous pics

 

Sunset hippo and friends

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White Crowned Lapwing! (I'm getting good at this :D)

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Paradise Whydah. Wish we could have seen this little dude closer. I love his tail.

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Saddle billed stork and its hilariously big babies

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Not trying to parent shame but aren't these kids too big to still be fed by by mama? :D

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African hare

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Hyena

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Waterbucks

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Heron

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Fischer's lovebirds

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We are now at the last day of our 5 day/6 night stay at Flatdogs.

It's 99% wild dogs ahead. Apologies for the lack of variety. We found this group of dogs on the morning drive and stayed with them pretty much the whole time. On the evening drive we went looking for them again, found them and again stayed with them until nightfall. Amazing for us though! We tend to favour staying with a particular animal for as long as we can and observing as many different behaviours as we can as opposed to running around trying to cram more sightings in. Our one jeep mate was like-minded and very keen on the dogs so we were all happy to make this a dog day. We took soooooo many photos, I really had to try hard to whittle them down to just the bunch I'm posting.

 

The pack we found on this final morning was a different one from the previous. This one was larger and we counted 21 members. Many were asleep, full from their earlier hunt we guessed. They were balled up in tall grass. I think if you didn't know they were there you could easily miss them and drive past. Occasionally they would get up and play which was fun to watch. The best part was that we pretty much had them all to ourselves! The other jeeps all took a few snaps and then left after about 10 minutes. 

 

Wild dog enjoying playing with a stick

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My husband loves the patterns so much. He calls them cow-dogs :D

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Gorgeous greenery

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Wiping... or scratching an itch Ahahahahaha :D

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Blink and you'll miss them

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There was a herd of elephants nearby. We hoped for a showdown but the eles weren't in the mood that morning and veered away from the dogs.

By this time we were already over time so we had to leave. Kennedy told us we could come back and look for them again that evening.

 

 

Some more misc pics

 

Crown birds

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Lone giraffe getting something to drink

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Puku, the cutest of the antelopes

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In the evening we looked for the same pack of dogs in the same general area and luckily they hadn't moved too far. We parked and just watched them. More jeeps came, and because we were first, we had to move off the sighting and wait to the side as per the rules. Our jeep mate predicted many would get bored again because the dogs were asleep and would leave. This proved mostly correct. Many came and went in that first 10-15 minute window. From a distance we laughed at the other jeeps jostling around the sleeping dogs, taking their selfies and getting disappointed quickly due to the lack of movement.

We planned to resume our prime position once the sun went down and the dogs started to become active. Our patience really paid off. Once most of the jeeps had gone and the sun started to dip, the dogs started to move around and change position. Suddenly they were everywhere around the car and we were totally immersed in the experience. It was amazing!!

 

They yawned, rolled, scratched and then began their little greeting ceremony. They nudged each other, jumped over each other.. there was an overall sense of excitement in the air. It was a truly great privilege to witness and be in the thick of.

 

Sleeping

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Nearby kudu

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Checking out my foot

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Baboon babies!

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Greeting each other

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So happy to see each other

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WARNING - The following series is not for anyone eating their breakfast right now :P

 

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WHY?!

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Too excited perhaps

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Posted (edited)

@monalisa You're doing well with the birds. The heron is a Grey Heron and I hate to bring you back down to earth but they are Lilian's Lovebirds. Fischer's Lovebirds are endemic to East Africa.

 

EDIT. Excellent dog sighting too. Like you I also enjoy spending a lot of time with individual or the same group of animals too.

Edited by Geoff
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Excited leaping

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Naww they're besties!! :wub:

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Yawn. Still not sure I want to get involved yet..

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This is how close some of them were. I had to remind Kennedy that there was one resting in front of our wheels in case we ran over it!

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Checking us out. This was the only acknowledgement we got.

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3 minutes ago, Geoff said:

@monalisa You're doing well with the birds. The heron is a Grey Heron and I hate to bring you back down to earth but they are Lilian's Lovebirds. Fischer's Lovebirds are endemic to East Africa.

 

EDIT. Excellent dog sighting too. Like you I also enjoy spending a lot of time with individual or the same group of animals too.

 

@Geoff HAHAHAHAHA oh no!!! I thought I was acing it by Googling lovebirds :lol: How can you tell the difference? They are green and have the red face and red beak. Now I have the red face!! Hahahahaa. Thanks for the correction! :D

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4 minutes ago, monalisa said:

How can you tell the difference? They are green and have the red face and red beak. Now I have the red face!! Hahahahaa. Thanks for the correction! :D

 

Yes they do look similar but Fischer's Lovebirds have a brown eye mask and a bright orange nuchal collar (nape area of the neck). Two features that Lilian's Lovebirds lack. 

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Saddle-billed storks with 4 large chicks, that's a great result!

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There was so much activity all around us it was hard to know where to look!

 

Alpha says MOVE

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Just a little bit longer..

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Some dogs are so lazy

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We must have missed all the sneezing, but the consensus was to go and chase down one of the nearby pukus. Off they went at lightning speed.

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Once they started running, there was no way we were catching up to them even in the vehicle. We lost them within seconds. 

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Figuring that even if we found them, because it was night time we should now let them be. If they had a successful kill we likely wouldn't have been able to see much by torchlight anyway.

Nearby we had been hearing some baboons making a commotion. Kennedy had told us oh, it's probably just a leopard that they're annoyed at. As this was the last game drive of our entire trip I was a little bit antsy and busting to see one last leopard.

 

Well, my wish came true! I was so happy. This leopard was stalking puku as well. As soon as we saw what the leopard was going for we killed the engine and killed the lights.

Now this was an amazing moment. I'll always remember sitting in total darkness for that 2 minutes and waiting for a sound that would signal the outcome. We sat quietly with bated breath not knowing what to expect.

Admittedly we were Team Leopard, but it was still heart stopping when from the darkness we heard the unmistakable puku alarm call and knew the leopard's chance was over.

While an unsuccessful hunt, this still rates amongst my top safari moments, which is ironic as I never thought I would say that about a "sighting" I couldn't see.

 

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We were relieved that we ended our big month-long wildlife trip on a high note. It was a fantastic day and overall we really loved South Luangwa NP.  It had a great variety of wildlife and is a must for anyone looking for leopards! We ended up seeing 10 in 5 days, so pretty much 1 every drive which was more than we could have ever hoped for. 

 

Leaving the park.. our last genet. Found this one just sitting in the middle of the road.

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Hippo and hyena crossing paths in the night

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We will miss our little tent friends too

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Thanks SLNP, you've been great :)

 

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The marking on that genet are gorgeous (I'm a sucker for any kind of spotted or striped cat!). And your leopard hunt in the dark was wonderful!  Flatdogs was very good to you!

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thanks for posting - great report

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Wonderful dog sightings. And then the leopard to close things out -- with a genet to boot. 

 

Great trip report. Thanks for sharing with us. 

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Jip, wonderful trip indeed!

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These dogs are quite pale, @monalisa What a lovely TR so far and thank you for sharing.

 

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On 9/12/2017 at 8:39 AM, amybatt said:

The marking on that genet are gorgeous (I'm a sucker for any kind of spotted or striped cat!). And your leopard hunt in the dark was wonderful!  Flatdogs was very good to you!

The full tail is not often visible on the genet!

 

So many dogs, doing so many things--on both ends.  And even in lovely light.  They seem to be doing so well now in SL.

 

Is the leopard really the one who needs to feel safe from the hyena and not other way around??

You know what they say, "The best defense is a good offense!"

 

SLNP came through with sights and sounds!

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On 9/12/2017 at 11:39 PM, amybatt said:

The marking on that genet are gorgeous (I'm a sucker for any kind of spotted or striped cat!). And your leopard hunt in the dark was wonderful!  Flatdogs was very good to you!

 

@amybatt Have you locked in your Jun18 trip yet?? I think you would be very happy with SLNP. Lots of leopards and genets around :)

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Well, may as well tack on the Vic Falls component to this TR..

 

If you're going to Zambia I think a side visit to the Victoria Falls is almost compulsory.

We stayed at the AVANI Victoria Falls Resort for 2 nights which I highly recommend. It's a beautiful resort that is only a 5 minute walk to the Falls. You can walk back and forth from the hotel as many times as you like, you just need to sign in and out.

 

We stayed exclusively on the Zambia side but did take a lovely helicopter flight over the Falls. Due to cost we opted for the short ride which was 15 minutes. It wasn't cheap but coming all this way we figured we had to. It was definitely amazing and offers a whole different perspective than being at ground level! 

 

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Victoria Falls Bridge

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You will get wet :lol: I recommend ponchos, double bagging all your electronics/valuables and grippy shoes/crocs. All of this is available for hire when you get there if you prefer, but if you come prepared you'll be fine.

This is in June. It feels like torrential rain when you cross this bridge.

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View from the air

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At the resort there were zebras and antelope freely wandering around which was pretty cool, as well as baboons. 

At the entrance to the Falls, baboons were running around everywhere and very habituated to people. It wasn't like baboons in the national parks but still fascinating to observe their behaviours nonetheless. We must have spent a good hour following them and watching them which we enjoyed very much.

 

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Baboon hanging out in the carpark. Check out those teeth!!

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Just chilling

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Fighting in the middle of the path

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Youngster biting someone's tail

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For goodness' sake, control your child!

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I just need some peace and quiet

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My favourite. Look at that smile :D

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Mmm feet

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Grooming the kids

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Youngsters play fighting

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Mama trying to catch a break during lunch time

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Adults trying to get grooming done. Look at these kids..

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I think we all have that long lost uncle this guy reminds us of :lol:

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I don't know what this guy is doing.........................................

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Having just returned from South Luangwa (and Victoria Falls) myself--just yesterday!--I was eager to read your report! Wow, you had some incredible sightings. To be honest I think you fared better than we did, and it seems to me that June might just be the perfect time to go. I will wait for my trip report to go into details, but we were a bit disappointed in the sightings we had. Although it is always said that later in the season is best for predators, I think they may be more active in the cooler weather. And its certainly a bit greener!

 

The only negative I can think of for a birder is that the Carmine Bee-eaters aren't there yet in June, and the colonies were a highlight of our trip. But now that we've seen them many times, if I returned, I'd do it in June or even earlier in the green season, I think.

 

The Easter egg leopard is fantastic, and I can't believe you just casually posted a Pel's Fishing Owl!! One of the most sought birds in Southern Africa! Fantastic leopard and dog sightings too; and I'm so envious that you saw Ginger and Garlic (I knew we wouldn't as we weren't in their territory of the park, but I was sad not to see them.)

 

Its incredible how different just a few months makes in Victoria Falls. There was almost no water on the Zambia side (we also stayed at the Avani) and no need for ponchos, lol, even on the Zimbabwe side. It was still fantastic to see but I'd love to see it in full force!

 

 

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@monalisa I'm still researching.  I also need to wait for annual review season at work to see what the budget will be and that's next month.  And I'm also waiting to hear the logistics of @janzin's trip to see how do-able combining SLNP and Lower Zambezi is.  I'm having a hard time picking one or the other, so I may try to combine both.

 

I've really enjoyed your TR, thank you for sharing!

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The dogs surely put on a show for you!

Looks like some nice elephant interactions, as well. And I enjoyed the attention you gave to the baboons at the falls.

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