Life Captured: Animal Support

Basil Rene has introduced a new photo challenge called Life Captured Photo Prompt, which debuted last Saturday. Each week there will be a new prompt and the challenge runs from Saturday to Friday of the next week.  This week’s challenge is Giving Support.

Like humans, many animals are social animals. The first one that comes to mind is the elephant. Elephants are highly intelligent and live in extended family groups consisting of mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and their offspring. Male elephants stay with the group until old enough to find a mate.

There are many ways elephants give support to each other. Living in groups is one way – they care for one another and mourn when one of their members dies.

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Living in family groups gives elephants the security of supporting each other.

Often there are several generations living together.
SONY DSCMothers support their offspring, including nursing their young calves.
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A mother or aunt helps a calf trying to get up as it lies on the bank of a river.
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Other animals stay in groups of siblings until they establish a family unit. This is particularly true with big cats.

A cheetah cub feels secure with its mother. He imitates his mother’s hunting techniques and they engage in play.
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Lions hang out with their same sex siblings until they go off to mate. Meanwhile, brothers or sisters help each other hunt and defend their territory, and often show affection to each other.

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Two young males, probably brothers, hang out together.
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Sisters nuzzle and groom each other.

A female baboon carries her baby on her back.
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Zebras accompany wildebeests on their annual great migration, because the zebras know the way and the wildebeests can smell water. They mutually support each other.
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All photos taken in Tanzania in February 2018.

New Life and Danger in Ngorongoro

Feb. 7, 2018

705The wildebeests (also known as gnus) in the crater don’t take the long migration of the Serengeti, but they’re always on the move to find better grassland. Large herds of them migrate from one side of the crater to another. Most of the time, you also see zebras migrating alongside the wildebeest herds. They have a mutually beneficial relationship with the wildebeest – the zebras can remember the route, while the wildebeest can smell water.SONY DSCIt’s calving season and many wildebeest females had newborn calves alongside them – the mother of this newborn was still expelling the afterbirth.SONY DSCAnother one gave birth (we could see its legs hanging down) in a field near the road. DSC03898 (2)There seemed to be a sort of “gnu nursery” over there, where several newborns were either lying down or trying out their legs. SONY DSC

SONY DSCThe newborn we’d seen being born tried to nurse, but his mother wouldn’t let him – she kept nudging him forward to get him to walk. SONY DSCShe knew there was danger nearby: several hyenas lurked on a hillside, keeping their eyes on the herd for easy prey.
2-7 hyenasA short time later, several hyenas passed us, two with traces of blood on their muzzles and paws – they’d had their meal!
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We saw two kinds of gazelles – Thomson’s gazelles are the smallest …SONY DSC

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SONY DSCGazelles are a subgroup of antelope in which both male and female have horns. That is how you know impalas are not gazelles.  Another non-gazelle antelope is the eland, quite a bit larger than impalas.

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Other animals besides hyenas, gnus and lions that were sighted today: a couple of rhinos  way far off; rhinos tend to stay away from the roads and other animals.
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hippos, foraging on land…SONY DSC
but mostly submerged in the water – we could see their snouts when they came up for air.
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Baglafecht weavers, who tried to steal our food while we were having a picnic lunch…
SONY DSC..and a jackal finishing off a meal with her pups.

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Tanzania Safari Journal: A hike and a drive in Arusha National Park

Saturday. Feb. 3. 2018

Today, our first full day in Tanzania, I awoke to a loud, animal sound, “Brau, brau, brau, brau, brau, brau, brau!”  I didn’t know what it was but found out it was one of the colobus monkeys that hangs around our lodgings, Rivertrees Country Inn. Amterdam-Tanzaia 391

I got lost looking for the dining room this morning, because we’d arrived late last night. However, I was soon set on the right track and found our table, a long table next to an open area where we could appreciate the wildlife. It reminded me so much of Costa Rica!

Since it was our first morning, our group had an introductory session so we could learn everyone’s names, their passions, and why they came on this trip.

Breakfast was buffet style: there was freshly squeezed juice (including passion fruit!), fresh tropical fruits, breads, jams, cheeses, and an omelet making station where a staff member stood ready to take our orders. Dale had an omelet, I did not. There was enough other food to fill my plate!

Our guide, David, told us the plan for today. We were going to Arusha National Park, along the way perhaps seeing some animals. We would stop at a nice rest area with good bathrooms and a small shop, and displays to read. From there, we would take a hike with an armed guide and have a picnic lunch next to a waterfall. Then we would go for a drive through the park to see animals! We met our drivers, Livingstone and Elias, in the reception gazebo, where we had been greeted last night.225.JPG

They had jars of cookies – one called “Digestives” and the other was ginger snaps – that were kept in the trucks. These cookies were good for the digestion, we were told, to help us with all the bumping around. There was also a supply of water bottles in each of the vehicles, Toyota Land Cruisers.

The Hike

The hike was an opportunity to see some animals, but especially the small things, like bugs and flowers. The guide showed us things along the way. Overall, I found it quite taxing and hot – some areas were hilly and I huffed and puffed. A year ago, I thought, I wouldn’t have been so tired from a hike like this. Also, I’d neglected to put on sunscreen and was wearing a blouse with ¾ length sleeves, so my hands and wrists got quite sunburned.

The guide pointed out a bush with small round yellow fruits growing on it. This is a type of apple. In the background, we could see Mt. Kilimanjaro, often shrouded in clouds; like Denali in Alaska, we were told we were lucky to see the mountain so clearly – it was a cloudless, blue sky day!DSC03121.JPG

Before we saw any animals, we came across what the guide told us were giraffe turds! There is actually a way to tell if the turds were from a male or female giraffe – the male turds are slightly pointed on one end; while the female turds are flat on both ends. He picked up a male turd to show us.DSC03171.JPGWe soon came to an open field with some acacia trees where we saw our first big animals: giraffes, of course!  One was lying down in the field; another was  grazing nearby.
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We came to a stream that meandered through the landscape. It was a beautiful view!

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Dale admiring the landscape. In the background is Mt. Meru.

Near the giraffes was a herd of grazing zebras. A warthog family passed by, their tails held up as they ran! We saw monkeys in trees and a giraffe completely camouflaged by the forest. Skulls of giraffes, monkeys or baboons, antelope and buffalo were displayed on some rocks, which the guide identified for us.
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Warthog family

Buffalo and antelope skulls

The sun was hot and I felt the heat. The hike seemed very long, but I didn’t complain, just kept going.  The guide stopped to show us a young acacia tree, which was covered with sharp, white, intimidating thorns! He told us that these thorns were to protect the leaves and branches of the growing tree from being eaten by giraffes! Giraffes can only nibble on the very tips, where the thorns are not developed and are soft enough for animals to consume.SONY DSC
The stream became a river and we crossed on a hanging bridge.  We saw monkeys camouflaged in the trees.

Finally we reached the waterfall. As we approached, we could hear the gushing of the water and felt a cooling mist. We had to cross the stream to get to the place where we would rest and have lunch.

Sitting on the rocks, feeling the cool mist, was a great relief. I somewhat regretted not having my lunch box, but not too much – it would have been a drag to have to carry it. My cousin, Holly, was sitting near me and offered me some of her lunch – including her hard-boiled egg, which I readily accepted. I could use some protein for the return trip! I peeled the egg and wondered whether it was okay to leave the egg shells – the chicken who laid this egg wasn’t native to this ecosystem. I had decided it was probably okay, but Holly picked up the pieces and put them in her box.
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The hike back was quite a bit shorter and cooler, because the path led through some woods.  We saw some fragrant jasmine flowers. I never realized they were so small!2-3 jasmine flowers
Those of us who had lunches waiting for us at the vehicles took them over to the picnic tables to eat. I looked up and saw a couple of baboons who had appeared nearby. There was a young one and a larger one, which I thought was the daddy, but may have been its mama. Suddenly there were more, including a female with a baby clinging to her back.

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They must have been attracted by our food – in fact, they may be used to associating human presence with food. Hopefully, people don’t give them anything, although the most daring might come over and try to snatch something! They didn’t do that to us, however.

The Drive

After lunch, we got back into the Land Cruisers and headed into Arusha National Park, with bumpy dirt roads. This was our first day out, and everything we saw was exciting.

A young waterbuck stopped and stared at us from the trees; its parents – the male with long slightly curved horns, the female without horns – grazed in the open grass nearby.

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We saw buffalo, more waterbucks, giraffe and warthog families, baboons in trees, a bushbuck, guinea fowl,  and various other bird species.

Bushbuck

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A waterbuck watches as zebras, giraffes and other waterbucks run toward him, apparently spooked by something.
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Guinea fowl


I never got tired of looking at giraffes. In spite of their ungainly shape, they move gracefully and peacefully.

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One way to tell the sex of a giraffe: the females have tufts of hair on top of their ossicones (the protrusions on their heads), while the male’s are flat.  The giraffes use a tree like this one to scratch an itch on their necks!

 

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Mother giraffe with calves. When the calves are born, they are six feet tall and then grow one inch per day!

 

We returned to Rivertrees in the evening in time for dinner.

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This building at Rivertrees, where our room was, is called the Farm House. The rooms are situated around a central lounge area, with couches, tables and chairs.

 

 

 

WPC: Future

The theme for this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge is future. We can’t actually photograph the future, only the anticipation of it. Some things that make me think of the future are: weddings, babies and children, and the plants of spring.

Right now, the future that is occupying my thoughts is that of spring. The greatest reminder I have that spring is on its way is my garden:

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Snowdrops – the first flowers of spring – came up early this year, in early March!

Tulips, violets, and my hardy daffodil (which survived a small blizzard last Friday night!)

Last year, in my family the theme was “babies.” I had two pregnant nieces and two others with children less than a year old. This picture of my happy, expecting nieces standing together clearly portrays anticipation of their future as mothers:

Preggie nieces

Recently I have been to quite a few weddings, which are a celebration of the future, of hope for happiness and prosperity (L-my niece Julia and her new husband Adam, R-my good friend Sandy and her groom Steve):

And when I was at those weddings, there were little children among the guests, someone’s children and grandchildren, another sign of the future:

Old age can sometimes evoke the future also: when an elderly person can no longer manage their living circumstances, their future lies in less independence and needing more care.

My mother’s future as well as nostalgia of the past is portrayed in this picture of her sitting in her empty apartment, as she was being moved to an assisted living facility. What was she thinking about at that moment? Her past or her future?

Mother facing the empty shelves