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.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Future

Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge this week is to depict the topic of future. How can I take photos of something that hasn’t happened yet? Of course, that is impossible, but I can photograph potential and anticipation: the changing of seasons, children growing up, construction sites where buildings are being built on their current foundations.

I read this morning that there are currently six generations of people alive today. The G.I. Generation was born in the years 1900-1924. This generation is disappearing, but a few of them are still living independently in our senior community!

Mother facing the empty shelves
My mother, born in 1917, sat in her empty apartment in 2009 contemplating her future – the last chapter of her life – as we, her children, packed up her possessions in preparation for her move to assisted living. The empty white walls and shelves represented the end of her independence. (She died at the end of 2014.)

The Traditionalists/Silent Generation was born during the Depression and World War II, 1925-1945. Baby Boomers, the largest generation, were born 1946-1964 (this is my generation).

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Members of three generations – my husband, Dale, was born in 1944 and grew up in the 1950s and early 1960s. Behind him is me, born in 1952 – a Baby Boomer. In back, that smiling, handsome young man is my son, Jayme, born in 1985 – a Millennial, because his generation reached adulthood in the 21st century. Every one of us has a future to look forward to, although Dale takes it less for granted than Jayme. Dale and I look to the future as one of travel and pursuit of our own interests in our retirement years. Jayme – assuming he lives as long as we have – will see a very different world: one with altered climate, perhaps shortage of food and hopefully, a more enlightened government that invests in renewable energy. Will his health be compromised from smoking during his young adulthood? Will he quit before that? Will he find the love of his life, get married and have children? Will he publish a book of poems? I wonder about his future when I look at his face. HOPE is always a projection of the future!

Generation X is those born between 1965 and 1979. Millennials were born between 1980 and the late 1990s. Finally, Generation Z (because we don’t know what else to call them yet!) are the kids of today: born in the last years of the 20th century to the 2010s.

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A member of Generation Z is filled with wonder and delight at the ducks around her. She hopefully can look forward to a long future ahead.
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Mason (in lime green hoodie), holds his younger brother, Max, (my grand-nephew) as they watch fireworks over a lake in northern Wisconsin. I have already seen their future – this was taken in 2014, and Mason is no longer a child – he’s in high school, and Max, age 2 or 3 in this photo, is now a second grader.

Each of these generations had or have a future. The older ones have already fulfilled their potential – their hopes and dreams either completed or frustrated. The future they looked toward is now.

In the political arena, I see the youngest two generations as our hope for the future. These are the kids of Parkland High School, who are turning eighteen and have registered to vote; they are 18-year-olds all over the country who are signing up to vote fueled by the passion of their peers, peers such as the survivors of Parkland who saw their classmates gunned down at school, or such as Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old face of the movement to deal with climate change. We need their passion nowadays! We older folks can continue to march and protest Trumpism; we can show our concern for climate change and help in various ways. But it is really these younger people that carry us into the future.

Hope for future reflected in participants in a flash rally (including us – that’s me in the photo at left) in downtown Arlington Heights, that Robert Mueller would be allowed to do his job and discover damning information that would implicate Trump. What has Trump got to hide? Much of that is still to be uncovered – will the future bring us the full truth?

The future is my 50th high school reunion in June. Sedona, see you soon!
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The future for an artist is an empty canvas.
20200212_001230Nature is a good place to look for the promise of the future.

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I was taking a walk on a chilly (but not horribly cold) afternoon last week and took this photo of a tree rising out of a sheen of ice on a retention pond. Later, when I looked at it in large size on my computer, I noticed a lot of white specks on the branches and realized, the tree is budding already! This has been a very mild winter and plants have been fooled into thinking it’s almost spring. Already we see the future on this tree – a future of blossoms and green leaves.

All species are equipped to reproduce, so that their kinds will continue. Flowers have fertile interiors, filled with the pollen needed to spread its seeds. The flowers’ colors and fragrance are designed to attract insect species to spread their pollen. Few orchids are red, because bees cannot see that color. And flies prefer flowers that are brownish, resembling decay.

To look into the center of a flower is to see the future – or the promise of it!

Baby animals start out so small…

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Our grandcat, Freddy, when he was still a kitten. Look at the hair in his ears – what breed was in this shelter kitten? Only the future would tell…Now he’s six months old with the bushy tail of a Maine coon cat!

and in the wild, their parents can only hope that their future includes reaching adulthood!

 

October Squares: Animals of Tanzania

For,  Becky’s October Squares challenge: Squares & Lines, here is a rear view of a zebra in Tanzania…DSC03835 (2).JPG
the lines that ring a genet’s tail,
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lines on a lizard,
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lines that encircle an owl’s face,
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wrinkled lines on elephant trunks and bodies,
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ridge lines on impala horns and black markings on their rears and tails,
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markings and horns of a male gazelle,
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and stripes and fringe on the necks of wildebeest.
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And all these photos are square!

All photos taken in Tanzania in February 2018. Check my archives for more photos and stories of these and other marvelous animals!

 

WPC: Prolific Wildlife

Some synonyms for prolific are:  fruitful, abundant, bountiful.  If you want to see bountiful, prolific wildlife, I would recommend an African safari!

Here are some examples of Tanzania’s prolific wildlife:

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Proliferation of hippos in a pond, Serengeti National Park

 

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Migrating wildebeest, Lake Ndutu – Southern Serengeti
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Cattle egrets are abundant in a tree and along the shore of a lake, Tarangire National Park.

 

 

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Prolific

 

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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SONY DSCand a martial eagle in a tree.SONY DSC
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

SONY DSCWhen it was done, the hyena simply walked off, and the vultures took over to pick the remains clean. SONY DSC

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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SONY DSCThe lake was in their migratory path, so they would eventually have to cross it, many accompanied by their young alongside them. They chose a relatively shallow area to cross.SONY DSC
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.
SONY DSCWe search for, hoped to see leopards. Where would a leopard be in late afternoon? In a tall tree, high up – it would need a strong, thick branch that was more or less horizontal.

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!

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

SONY DSCand Grant’s gazelles are larger, about the size of impalas.
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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Some New Animals in Ngorongoro Crater

Feb. 6, 2018

We stopped for lunch at about 2:00 during a drizzling rain. There were toilets next to a grassy area. Some people headed straight for them, but in spite of the commotion we must have made upon arrival, it did not faze two Marabou storks, who stood stock still several feet apart.  This one seemed to be giving me the evil eye as I took his picture.
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Once we reached the floor of the crater, we saw some new animals that we hadn’t seen up until now.  Flying over the plain were two grey-crowned cranes.
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In the grass, a blacksmith plover pecked for worms and insects.
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But by far the most interesting bird we saw was the kori bustard. I don’t know if this is a male or female…
SONY DSC…but if it is female, surely she was being courted by this puffed up male. I love his smug expression as he shows off his whites!SONY DSCThe male kori bustard puffs up the feathers on his neck and under his tail on display for a female.SONY DSCWe encountered two types of gazelle: Thomson’s gazelles are the smallest.

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A larger gazelle is the Grant’s gazelle, which is about the same size as an impala.
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These gazelles differ from the impala in that both male and female have horns. This is a characteristic of all gazelles. Impalas are not gazelles, but all these species belong to the larger category of animals, the antelopes. (So all gazelles are antelopes, but not all antelopes are gazelles.)

All antelopes belong to the larger family of bovids, along with the buffalo, who often has oxpecker birds on his back or head…SONY DSC
and the wildebeest. In Ngorongoro Crater, we saw large herds of wildebeest, who migrate from one side of the crater to the other, unlike those in the “Great Migration” of the Serengeti. Still, in Ngorongoro Crater, they are in just as much danger from predators…
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such as hyenas, lions (there are about 80 lions in Ngorongoro Crater), SONY DSCand even jackals, who usually end up with the leftovers of larger predators, like this female and her pups.SONY DSC
Jackals are often seen in pairs and will hunt cooperatively for small mammals and even lizards, like this agama lizard.SONY DSC

Next:  New Life and Danger in Nogorongoro Crater!