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.
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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.

CFFC: Touching

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is on a series exploring the senses. This week it is the sense of touch.

Touching each other is something many people miss during this pandemic, where we are told to stay 6 feet away from others and not to touch our face! In fact, handshaking as a form of greeting someone may become a thing of the past.

Touching, or petting, our furry friends is one of the ways we communicate with them, and it is something that they generally like. This touching is pleasurable for both human and animal.

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Hazel’s fur is so soft and smooth.

Contentment!
You can tell Hazel enjoys this attention!

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Dogs also love the attention. Dale always stops to pet some of our neighbor’s dogs, like this one, “Iphi” (short for Iphigenia).

We are touched by raindrops that fall on our heads when we pass under a tree just after a rain shower.
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Just as we find out it is raining when the raindrops touch us, we are also touched by the wind, the sun’s heat, or the cold of winter.
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Animals and people touch to show love for each other.

Romantic love:
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Sisterly love:
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Old friends coming together:
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Sometimes we want to touch something because of its texture.
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Lens Artists Challenge: Time to Relax

Lens Artist Photo Challenge this week is Time to Relax.

It’s time to relax when classes are over for the school year.

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Northwestern students relaxing in hammocks in the park, Evanston, Illinois

It’s time to relax after having lunch on Mother’s Day.

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My son Jayme behind and in between my sister Mary and our friend Sandy.

It’s time to relax on a hot day when you have nothing to do but immerse yourself in a cool pond with your herd.

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Hippo pool in the Serengeti, Tanzania

It’s time to relax when your tummy’s full and you’re done hunting for awhile.

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Lion, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

It’s time to relax on a cold day when you find a nice warm spot on the radiator.

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My cat Hazel on a January afternoon

It’s time to relax with a magazine after a full day of sightseeing.

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Me in our hotel room in Tucson, Arizona

Taking time to relax and unwind is, I believe, a necessity in our overly rushed society!

Tanzania Safari: Out at Sunrise on a Windy, Dusty Day

Feb. 10, 2018

We had an early morning departure on our game drive this morning – 6:30 with no breakfast. We’d take boxed breakfasts to eat during the drive. Because we were up before dawn, we saw a lovely sunrise.1024.JPG

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Vehicle tracks crisscrossing an open area with Lake Ndutu in the distance, as the sun rises.

We were with Livingstone again and only five passengers. Three members of our group had left even earlier to go ballooning over the Serengeti (cost: $616 each!). This morning’s drive was somewhat disappointing. I guess I shouldn’t complain about seeing 2 male lions, …

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This lion didn’t seem to mind the dust stirred up by wind and a vehicle driving by.

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Although Lake Ndutu wasn’t far off, the injured lion decided to stop for a drink at a muddy waterhole.

…several zebras, …

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A group of zebras, consisting of a female with two foals, were standing near the watering hole – they seemed thirsty but didn’t dare approach while the lion was there.

… 4 female lions,

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This lioness satisfied her thirst and then walked over to a field to join her sisters.

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Three lioness sisters

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One of the lionesses rolled over in the grass to scratch her back.

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Aaahhh! That feels good!

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sisterly love

SONY DSC…a cheetah running away in the distance, wildebeest, and several birds.

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Mother zebra (who appears to be pregnant) and her foal

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lovebirds

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Common drango

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Marabou storks

It was quite windy and therefore quite dusty on the roads. David remarked that the weather resembled the dry season. Besides the lions, zebras and wildebeest herds, we saw a gouged out dead zebra (even the vultures had left). SONY DSCThen David received over the radio a report that the balloon trip had been cancelled because it was too windy. We turned back toward the lodge to pick up the three who had returned to the lodge. Only one of the three ended up coming with us, and out we went again.  The wind continued strong, and we kept the windows closed most of the time, although the top was open.

We rendezvoused with the others and had our breakfast in a field free of predators. 2-10 picnic breakfast
A few female elephants with young calves crossed our path.

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The elephants like to stir up the dust. Sometimes they spray dust on themselves, possibly to get rid of insects.

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Foraging elephant calf

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This calf tries to catch up with mama.

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He found her!

Soon I found myself just wanting to return to the lodge. The wind and the dust were too much. Livingstone was driving rather slowly – probably being cautious due to low visibility because of the dust – and it seemed we’d never get back. Was he even on his way back? It was past 11:00.

We got back around noon (we actually got back before Elias’ group) and met up with those who stayed behind in the lounge area, engaged with their electronics. We had lunch at 1:00 pm, during which we had an interesting conversation about haiku, the end of the trip, and American politics. There is not a single Trump supporter in our group. We are all progressive Democrats! Afterwards, we returned to our cabin.

I took a shower, washing off all the dust from my body and my hair. Tonight I’ll wear clean clothes. I decided not to go on the 4:00 pm drive today!

What I did do was finish the drawing I had started the previous afternoon in my Mindful Travel Journal. I sat on the little veranda of our cabin in my purple bathrobe with my colored pencils spilled out on the chair beside me. Dale was off somewhere or taking a nap.Sketch - in front of cabin at Ndutu Safari Lodge

Predators and Prey in Ndutu-Serengeti

Feb. 9, 2018

The first thing I saw this morning was a yellow weaver tending to his nest, just outside the main building at Ndutu Safari Lodge.

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Yellow weaver finishing its nest

On our morning drive, we saw some lions – first a female pair, one of whom is pregnant and the other wears a collar. There is an interesting story about this 5-year-old lioness. SONY DSCLast July, on the Internet there was a story of a leopard cub being nursed by a lioness as if it were her own. The lioness lived in the Southern Serengeti and was tagged – it was the one we saw today! SONY DSCI didn’t hear any details about the story, but apparently the leopard cub had lost her mother and the lioness had lost her cubs, because she was lactating. So the handlers gave the leopard cub to the lioness to nurse, which she readily accepted.

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The pregnant lioness, probably the sister (litter mate) of the other

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The pregnant lioness’s face was covering in tiny flies, which she made no attempt to bat away. Right after I took this picture, she lay down on her side, the bugs still crawling on her face!

After we moved on, we saw several other animals – some predators and some prey – including buffalo,

a group of male Grant’s gazelles,

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two gazelles sparring

some zebras,
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Not long after seeing the lionesses, we came upon some male lions. One was a mature adult with a full mane, SONY DSC
while the other two were young – one of them had a mane which still amounted to little more than some extra tufts of hair on his neck. These two were most likely brothers – lions often hang around with their litter mates; the brothers cooperate in seeking prey and guarding territory. They were just lying around, same as the females – they may have gotten a meal during the night.SONY DSC
And speaking of meals, we next encountered a pair of jackals,SONY DSCand a group of hyenas.SONY DSC

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This many hyenas together generally indicates that there is a possible meal nearby, and soon afterward, we came upon a large group of vultures, so we knew they were feeding – or about to feed – on carrion. SONY DSC

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Actually, all these animals were waiting their turn, because a Marabou stork was picking the last meat off the bones.
SONY DSCProbably a young wildebeest, Livingstone said. All that was left was a skull picked clean and a rib cage the birds were getting the last morsels of meat off of. Then the bones would be left to dry up, adding to the scattered bones that litter the area.

The animals that feed on carrion definitely have a pecking order, although the major spoils go to whichever animal found it first. Soon we came across a couple of hyenas eating the remains of a young wildebeest, with the buzzards waiting impatiently nearby.SONY DSC
Whenever the hyenas took a break from eating, the vultures moved in. SONY DSCOne of the hyenas finally got tired of this and yanked the carcass away and had its fill. SONY DSC

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SONY DSCThe afternoon drive was very different and at times a bit scary, at least for me. We were with Livingstone again but with different people in the truck with us.

There was more evidence of death: a half-eaten zebra surrounded by vultures and a Marabou stork, who apparently had had their fill, letting the jackals move in.
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Here on the southern Serengeti we saw large herds of migrating wildebeest. Those at a distance looked like an army of ants moving along in a line.
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We saw a herd much closer, walking on the shore of Lake Ndutu.
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Even so, some of the calves, in spite of their mothers’ proddings, would probably not make it – either getting lost in the crowd, unable to keep up with the herd or make it across the water.   Finally, late in the day, we saw a wildebeest calf, abandoned and alone. There was no sign of the herd. We knew that calf would not live to see morning.
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Meanwhile, I added to my list of animals I have seen: two owls in a tree, making low, short hoo-hoo sounds; SONY DSCan eland close-up;SONY DSChippos out of the water and close enough to see their faces;

and various other birds.
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Secretary bird

I think Livingstone got lost or tried to take too many shortcuts – he not only cut across flat plains, but also down washes and up the other side, rocky banks, over thorny bushes. Every time we approached some harrowing driving challenge, I held on tight and tried to look away. At first it was funny, but eventually I became annoyed. All this extreme bumping and jostling was not good for my sensitive stomach right now. 987.JPG
I trusted his driving skills, just felt that it was unnecessary to do so much off-road jostling and bumping.

But then as the sun began to go down, I realized he was in a hurry – we were supposed to be out of the reserve by sundown. I think we made it with only a couple of minutes to spare!SONY DSC

Coming up: More of the beautiful wildlife around Lake Ndutu in the Southern  Serengeti!

CB&WPC: Animal Heads

For Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week, with the topic of Heads or Facial Features, I am featuring animals of Ngorongoro Crater.

Photos in black & white (or nearly so) allow one to see details that normally wouldn’t stand out, such as the individual hairs on this vervet monkey’s head:
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The horns on this male Thomson’s gazelle are quite spectacular.
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Close-ups of heads emphasize an animal’s facial expression, such as this African buffalo chillin’ in the grass…
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or this zebra foal’s curiosity.
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Profiles of heads show their contours, such as this beautiful lioness…
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…and the self-satisfied expression of a hyena who has just finished a meal.
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Hippo mostly submerged
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Finally, I can’t resist including this picture of Van Gogh’s eye from a self-portrait (taken at Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam).
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High drama in Ngorongoro to follow!!

 

Where the Tall Grass Grows

Feb. 4, 2018

In Tarangire National Park, the tall grass offers cover for animals to hide. Today, in fact, we saw our FIRST LION! Here’s what we could see of what seems to be a young male:SONY DSC
A young impala also has cover, but prefers to raise her head and look around:
SONY DSCOn our first drive in Tarangire, we saw a number of ‘new’ animals. Impalas are ubiquitous here. They are mostly found in all-female and all-male groups. Notice the warthog passing through a group of grazing female impalas!
SONY DSCWarthogs are also very common, usually seen in groups called “sounders.”  SONY DSC
Like many of the other animals that live here, a sounder consists of adult females and their offspring, while males go off on their own and may join up with other males.
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Warthogs are herbivorous and feed on short grasses during the rainy season (which starts in late January to early February). SONY DSC
Half-hidden in the tall grass, young warthogs playfully wrestle with each other.
SONY DSCAdult warthogs are mostly bald, while the young have tufts of hair along the back of their necks. SONY DSCWarthogs make their dens in holes dug by aardvarks. Female warthogs will fiercely defend their young if threatened.SONY DSC
I got most of this information about warthogs from Wikipedia. I always thought warthogs were  rather ugly, but observing them in the wild, playing or running with their tails in the air, I thought they were rather cute!

Another animal that burrows in “homes” made by others is the dwarf mongoose, most often seen poking out of large termite mounds. Apparently the termites don’t bother them or have already abandoned these mounds.
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According to Wikipedia, they are social animals that live in groups of 20-30, headed by the dominant pair. All adults help raise their pups.SONY DSC
Also appearing among the grasses were guinea fowl…SONY DSCmonkeys,
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What are these two vultures doing in the grass?
SONY DSCWhere there are vultures, there is a carcass to feed on – in this case, a hyena.
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Up above were a wide variety of bird species, such as this white-headed buffalo weaver,SONY DSCa pair of go-away birds,

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a marabou stork standing at the very top of a tree,
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a grey-headed kingfisher,
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a Von der Decken hornbill,
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and the all-black common drango.
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By the time we returned to the Tarangire Safari Lodge, it was nearly dark and we had dinner late (even by safari standards) – at 8:45 p.m.!

 

WPC: Lion Desire (Rated R!)

Feb. 6, 2018

This day could be called the “day of the lion” because we saw several of them, males together, females together and females with cubs.  When a female goes into heat, she will spend about four days exclusively with a male. Our guide told us they mate up to 16 times a day during that period, and usually with an interval of 15-30 minutes between matings!

This series of photos was taken over a period of about 30 minutes and is self-explanatory so I am submitting it for Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Story. *Caution: May not be appropriate for young children or adults whose sensibilities are easily offended!  😉

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