Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Some animals of Africa

A recent post by Ian Fraser covered some of the animals of Murchison National Park in Uganda.  That started me thinking about the animal photographs I have from our 2 years living in Tanzania and the stories attached to many of them.  So here we go.

I will offer a caveat to begin with.  Quite a few of the images were taken to print film which was developed in Tanzania.  The copy to CD function was available in Dar es Salaam but the quality wasn't great.  So some of these are pretty grungy images.

I will begin with Buffalo.  The first image is of a solitary male - they are the grumpy, and thus dangerous, ones.
Next we have the big herd in Mikumi National Park.  There are at least 200 in this mob.
I took this shot from our car after driving through a tunnel of 5m high elephant grass.  The story of them is that a Swedish family (including year old twins) got stuck in mud one Christmas and after over-nighting in the Park the husband decided he had to walk to get get help (and food for the kids).  He was found walking through this lot.  No problemo, but I don't think he bought a lottery ticket as he had used up all his luck.

Next we will deal with elephants.
This lad could be a bit stroppy as the leakage from the glands on his face suggests he is in must.  I didn't get out of the car.
This group (I think in Serengeti) were quite happy in their business but with calves present the level of risk is a tad high.  The next photo was taken at the Hippo Pools in Mikumi where one was allowed to get out of one's car as visibility was good so I got a bit closer for the photo.
A ranger still warned to leave my car door open in case the Mum got twitchy!  However the real reason for this photo being included is it links to a Lion story.

The very first time we went to Mikumi a dalla-dalla (taxi version of a Toyota Tarago) turned up with a bunch (about 15) of Finns in it. They had a Ranger with them who knew the location of a pride of lions, but the dalla-dalla couldn't go off road.  Could we in our Nissan Patrol take a couple of groups?  Sure thing.  Off we went across the grass behind the 4x4 in the above image.  We came back and got a second load and on our way back we got to the spot marked by a red arrow ...
.. when I glanced into the 1m high grass beside us to see a lioness walking back towards the pride, presumably after a drink.  She had probably been with 50m of us while we were walking around!

I didn't get images of that pride but here are some feline images I did get.  Typical lions, snoozing on a kopje in Serengeti
The next were the best lions we saw in Serengeti.  We had hired a 4x4 and driver from Mwanza on Lake Victoria and our driver found out where these two were dealing with a former wildebeeste, so we ate our lunch perhaps 10m away, looking out the top of the 4X4, while they ate theirs!
Not all carnivores have the proud reputation of lions.  Hyenas have very bad press (apart from them being the favourite form of shape-shifting witches, and many people in Africa still believe in witchcraft).  This one was in Selous,
Here we have a Hyena in Ngorongoro discussing matters relating to a rack of Gnu with a Jackal.
 That hyena wandered off and the Marabou Stork wandered in for a scoff.
We watched this carcase for about an hour until a Hyena grabbed what was left (not much) and headed for the horizon.  At this point we looked and found that about 30 other 4x4s had turned up to watch.  Almost total silence - typical of  Parks in Tanzania.

Another jackal - I think from Mikumi.
The most dangerous animals (other than mosquitos) in Africa are hippos.  The small tin boat we were in skirted this lot in the Wami River.
In case anyone is worried about running out of hippos, this happy couple were doing their best to continue the species.
Let us revert to lions, or at least their food. I'll begin with Wildebeeste.  I can't remember where this shot was taken.
Unfortunately none of the following was visible from a certain hotel in Torquay.  The first image was on our first visit to Serengeti, from Mwanza and was our first experience of the great migration..
The next two were taken on a second trip through the migration in Serengeti.

I did say some of the images were crappy.  It was one of my mos tindelible memories of the two years spending a morning just driving through this vast herd of animals.  From memory we saw one other car during the trip.

On one of our trips to this park we did spend a little time at the Grumeti River but the only Nile Crocodiles we saw were very quiet ...
.. rather than leaping about massacring the gnus.  However, we didn't go for a swim.

Lions will also kill Impala if they get a chance.  I'm pretty sure this image is from Mikumi.
 This one is from Tarangire NP.  The antelope is giving birth.
I think we watched for about an hour (which seemed like 10 minutes) and then left to give her peace for an hour and when we came back she and the calf had gone.  

Another closely related species is the Thompson's Gazelle (or Thommie).
We watched these in Ngorongoro Crater and on our last visit watched a Cheetah chase one over a small hill, returning a few minutes later with a former gazelle.  Another special moment.

A final herbivore is the giraffe.   A clear memory is the excitement of an Australian who visited and came with us on a train trip.  Her first sighting of a Giraffe was in Selous Game Reserve, seen in the headlights of the train!  This is more typical.
I have included this one because I clearly remember this beast (in Lake Manyara NP) being extremely aggressive towards us.  I thought he was going to sink the wellie into our car and was most pleased when he eventually moved off.
Thinking of grumpy males leads inexorably towards primates.  We didn't get to Gombe nor the gorilla parks of Uganda (damn it).  However we did see lots of Olive Baboons all over place.  I think the images were taken in Ngorongoro.

These were beasts we didn't tangle with: anything that can kill a leopard is too feisty for me.

We did have vervet monkeys within 500m of our house in Dar es Salaam.  This is my best snap of a Vervet, with the town of Pangani (which apparently has a with a very high witch population) in the background.
Other small monkeys were 
  • the Black and White colobus (of which we saw quite a few, but I don't seem to have an image - possibly due to them having the hyperactvity gene invast amounts - try taking a photo of something dropping 10+m vertically from a tree); and
  • the Red Colobus of Jozani NR on Unguja (the main issland of Zanzibar).  These are very threatened and there are many rules about not getting too close, so that they do not catch human diseases.  Unfortunately no one told the Colobus and they just came right in..

 I think this one was about 2m away from us.
We visited this park 3 or 4 times and on at least a couple of visits we had about 30 monkeys all around us.  At times we had to duck as one sailed just over our heads.

There were some smaller animals as well.  These Little Mongoose lived in a courtyard in the middle of the Seronera Hotel in Serengeti.

My memory is that this was also the abode of Rock Hyrax (a close relative of elephants).
The hotel dining room was built into these rocks but I think the Hyrax stayed on the outside.

1 comment:

Ian Fraser said...

Great posting - lots of memories for you there. Love those Red Colobus, which I failed to see.