Tuesday, September 27, 2011

As if butter wouldn't melt in their mouths

Photographs by Kennedy John

Pictures to melt even the most hardened of hearts.  All taken on safari this year.

Tales of the Unexpected.

                                                                               By Kennedy John
Sometimes, things happen in the bush which are not explained by the usual 'blah blah' of animal behaviour guide books. It shows how much we still really do not know of these matters. I observed a group of  three cheetah brothers and close by, three nearly adult cubs and their mother. The posture of the three brothers was head low, stiff legged walking which usually signifies agression. I assumed that mother and the cubs would flee but  they turned and attacked the coalition of males in unison until they reached a stalemate, whereby all seven settled down in close proximity to each other, looking puzzled, like me I suppose, by the behaviour of the young cheetah cubs and their mother. They never expected that challenge either.

A story of unusual cooperation near Tarangire Silale Swamp. It is a normal thing to see feathered creatures such as oxpeckers clean buffalo by taking off the ticks and other insect life from their hides. But it is not at all normal to see a bird cleaning another bird. I observer this fork-tailed drongo, perched on the bulbous head  of a Black-chested Snake Eagle. Thinking that this small bird was about to attack and maybe kill a large eagle though the eagle was doing nothing to get away, I picked up my binos and to see exactly what was happening. The insect collecter was actually picking parasites off the head of the eagle. I do not know if it was a common occurence in some places but to me, it was a new thing: to observe brids cleaning each other. Was it mutual benefit? Yes definitely. Drongo gets food and eagle gets cleaned, isn’t nature wonderful!

You never know what is just around the corner.......

By Chediel Mnzava

On safari with a lovely family in July this year.
Location:  Katavi National Park.
And this is why I like game drives. You just do not know
what is round the corner.

Late in the evening, making our way back to Chada camp, we stopped to take pictures of a beautiful sunset. Then, from nowhere,  a leopard came running fast towards our vehicle. About 10 meters from the car, there was a small acacia tree. The leopard took a giant leap and grabbed a vervet monkey from the tree, just in front of us. We were all left with our mouths open. This all happened within a few seconds. It was so fast our great photographer, Andrew, only managed to snap one quick shot as the leopard was running away with the monkey hanging from his mouth.

This is another leopard spotted soon after, the result of careful reconstruction at the scene of the crime. We spotted the impala in the tree first and then searched around until we found the perpetrator.

The safari had many high points. On one of our game drives, we were watching an elephant picking up seed pods from under an acacia tree. We stayed with him for more than 10 minutes, not moving, just watching what he did with his trunk and admiring his ability to pick up such small things with his big trunk. He pushed the pod up with his foot, then picked it up in his trunk. Just before he moved off, he gave us a bit of a show, making a small, quick rush towards our landrover. He stopped a few meters from the car and shook his ears and kicked up some dust before turning around and calmly walking away and disappeared into the bush. As a guide, I knew it was all OK, the elephant was just showing off, but my clients were a bit uncomfortable until they saw that I was not worried. It turned out to be one of the highlights of the safari and gave them a completely different experience of elephants from all the elephants that we had seen before. They thought they knew alot about elephants but now they know even more.

The elephant having a good look in the car, before calmly walking off.

Mahale was next. On the way, we spotted a boat taxi just leaving with its passengers - the best way to get around on the deepest lake in Africa.

We had a good time there, we saw the chimps twice and both times, we did not have to walk far to find them.

We had a nice walk to the waterfall with a beautiful scenery on the way. It was so relaxing swimming on Lake Tanganyika and watching the sunset of the lake from the boat, talking about all the exciting experiences we had in the past 10 days.Mahale came at the right place on our itinerary to bring us to the end of this wonderful expereince.