Cee’s topic for her Black & White photos this week is animals, farm or wild.
What better subject than zebras?
Some birds, such as this ibis and egrets, are also natural subjects.
Cee’s topic for her Black & White photos this week is animals, farm or wild.
What better subject than zebras?
Some birds, such as this ibis and egrets, are also natural subjects.
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.
Often there are several generations living together.
Mothers support their offspring, including nursing their young calves.
A mother or aunt helps a calf trying to get up as it lies on the bank of a river.
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.
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.
A female baboon carries her baby on her back.
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.
All photos taken in Tanzania in February 2018.
For, Becky’s October Squares challenge: Squares & Lines, here is a rear view of a zebra in Tanzania…
the lines that ring a genet’s tail,
lines on a lizard,
lines that encircle an owl’s face,
wrinkled lines on elephant trunks and bodies,
ridge lines on impala horns and black markings on their rears and tails,
markings and horns of a male gazelle,
and stripes and fringe on the necks of wildebeest.
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!
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.
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, …
…several zebras, …
… 4 female lions,
…a cheetah running away in the distance, wildebeest, and several birds.
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). Then 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.
A few female elephants with young calves crossed our path.
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.
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.
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. Last 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! I 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.
After we moved on, we saw several other animals – some predators and some prey – including buffalo,
a group of male Grant’s gazelles,
and a martial eagle in a tree.
Not long after seeing the lionesses, we came upon some male lions. One was a mature adult with a full mane,
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.
And speaking of meals, we next encountered a pair of jackals,and a group of hyenas.
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.
Actually, all these animals were waiting their turn, because a Marabou stork was picking the last meat off the bones.
Probably 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.
Whenever the hyenas took a break from eating, the vultures moved in. One of the hyenas finally got tired of this and yanked the carcass away and had its fill.
When it was done, the hyena simply walked off, and the vultures took over to pick the remains clean.
The 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.
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.
We saw a herd much closer, walking on the shore of Lake Ndutu.
The 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.
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.
We 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; an eland close-up;hippos out of the water and close enough to see their faces;
and various other birds.
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.
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!
Coming up: More of the beautiful wildlife around Lake Ndutu in the Southern Serengeti!
Nancy Merrill Photography has a Photo a Week challenge and this week’s theme is “nature’s white.”
All of the following were taken from Feb. 6 to Feb. 10 in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of northern Tanzania.
Zebras are half white…
…and many birds are mostly white, like this yellow-billed stork,…
…the sacred ibis…
and the secretary bird.
There are white flowers, like cycnium…
and scorpion flower.
White mushrooms are somewhat universal; this one was growing on the southern Serengeti plain.
All the photos except the last one were taken with a Sony A380. The mushroom was taken with a Samsung Galaxy 7.
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:
The horns on this male Thomson’s gazelle are quite spectacular.
Close-ups of heads emphasize an animal’s facial expression, such as this African buffalo chillin’ in the grass…
or this zebra foal’s curiosity.
Profiles of heads show their contours, such as this beautiful lioness…
…and the self-satisfied expression of a hyena who has just finished a meal.
Hippo mostly submerged
Finally, I can’t resist including this picture of Van Gogh’s eye from a self-portrait (taken at Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam).
High drama in Ngorongoro to follow!!
Note: I wrote most of these haiku myself and took all the photographs. The haiku “Photography” was written by Dale Berman (my husband); “On Safari” (with slight modification) and “Origins” were written by other members of our Tanzanian Safari group. Posted for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Wildlife.
Is it possible
that the gnu knew? Or was he just
a bewildered beast?
Zebras’ stripes, black, white
Black and white and black and white
But no two alike.
Zebras know the route.
Wildebeest can smell water.
They move in tandem.
Are lions lazy?
They’re always lyin’ around.
First: hunt, eat; then rest.
black tail of Thomson’s gazelle
back and forth and back.
Whiskers and black spots
Curious big eyes, ringed tail
It is not a cat!
Big ears constantly alert:
The elusive leopard
High in the acacia tree
Descends for a meal.
He feasts on young wildebeest
Bloodied and cackling.
Small, furry creatures
Living in rocky kopjes
Ostrich on the plain
Long neck craning, pink legs run
Flurry of feathers!
High above the ground
Ungainly shape yet graceful
Nibbling tops of trees.
With mud-caked skin, they
Lumber on African plains
Their youngsters close by.
Pert yellow weaver
Weaving a nest to impress
He hopes she approves.
A watery life
Just their snouts protrude
out of the water to breathe.
Hippos in a pond.
Dust swirls ‘round the truck
As more jeeps gather nearby
Big cats wish us away.
We all started here
Herds migrate; hunters follow.
The bright continent.
Pictures were taken
Memories are kept alive
Trip not forgotten
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.
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.
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 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!
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.We 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.
We came to a stream that meandered through the landscape. It was a beautiful view!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
We saw buffalo, more waterbucks, giraffe and warthog families, baboons in trees, a bushbuck, guinea fowl, and various other bird species.
We returned to Rivertrees in the evening in time for dinner.
I’ve just returned from Tanzania! Just in time to contribute to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge’s last letter of the alphabet, Z!
TanZanians…are Maasai, Chaga, and many other tribes. They are proud of their ethnic identities but are first and foremost Tanzanians.
Zebras are often seen migrating with wildebeest. The zebras remember the route and the wildebeest can smell water.
Of course, among the most popular residents of Ngorongoro Crater or the Serengeti plain are the big cats. Lions are often seen taking a nap (catching Zzzz’s).
Zinj archaeological site is part of Oldupai (aka Olduvai) Gorge, where the first fossil remains of ancient hominids were found. At Zinj, you can look down and find rocks with fossils embedded in them very easily. This is where Mary Leakey found the most ancient of man’s ancestors, “zinjanthropus,” or Australopithecus boisei.
Stay tuned for upcoming posts about our trip to Tanzania!