Cape Buffalo, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya
On one of our evening drives in Kenya looking for wildlife, we came upon this old Cape Buffalo, lying in the open, alone. He looked tired and lethargic and took no heed of our jeep as we pulled near … just calmly chewing his cud and watching us unalarmed. No other buffalo was around which seemed unusual, since they tend to stay in herds. Our Masai Mara guide explained to us that old bulls, like him, have been kicked out of the herd by younger, more virile males and lead a solitary existence. Unfortunately, without the protection of a herd, old bulls commonly fall prey to lions. I wonder if this ended up being his fate.
Fiscal Shrike in Tanzania Bush
There were so many beautiful birds we spotted on our recent Africa trip and … so many that I didn’t capture on camera. The ones I was able to capture, were not always photo sharp, to my dismay. But still, they provide wonderful memories. I so love birds and hope to get better at capturing their distinct beauty.
“Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?”
Nature historian David Attenborough
Lioness, Ngala Wildlife Preserve, South Africa
This lioness from the Birmingham pride had just risen from her suckling cubs when I noticed the wound on her nose, probably caused from a scrap with another lion. It’s a wild wild world they live in with no guarantees that they will see tomorrow.
Impalas, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya
One wildlife animal that was plentiful on the Kenya plains were Impalas. We saw so many, we began calling them “McDonalds” due to their rear-end markings that looked like the McDonald’s logo. And secondly, because they are the fast food item for lions, leopards and cheetahs. So it became a standard joke every time we saw an impala herd we spoke out “Oh look, there’s some more McDonalds!”
Most baby impalas are born mid-day as this is the safest time to give birth since most of their enemies are resting. Unfortunately, half of newborns are killed by predators within the first few weeks of life. A fascinating fact that our guide shared was that impala mothers can delay giving birth for up to a month if weather conditions are harsh, such as during the wet season. But upon looking up this fact, it is more a myth than reality. It is believed that to cope with poor conditions, impalas may choose to abandon or abort their young rather than risk their own lives to look after a lamb whose likelihood of survival is marginal at best. A sad reality on the plains of Africa.
Reticulated Giraffe at Water Hole, Lewa Wilderness Conservancy, Kenya
Before our safari, I was unaware that there were different varieties of giraffes. To me, they were all the same … beautiful, long-necked creatures. As I was searching for an image for this week’s ‘Rule of Odds’ (where an image is more appealing when there is an odd number of subjects), I thought this image of a mother, daughter and baby were a good example versus had it only been mother and baby. These are Reticulated Giraffes with their striking and crisp geometric patches, with males being darker as they age.
Below, although a nice image, I find not as interesting as the one above. But it does provide an example of the difference in giraffes. These are Masai Giraffe, whose irregular brown patches are on a yellow-buff background whereas the Reticulated Giraffes’ pattern is much more crisp. Just another little interesting fact I learned from our wonderful guides in Kenya.
Cheetah in the Masai Mara, South Western Kenya
We saw a number of these beautiful cats during our visit to Africa. The Cheetah, the world’s fastest land mammal, stalks its prey alone, getting as close as possible before attacking with a burst of speed, eventually tripping its prey and seizing it quickly by the throat in a suffocating grip. They immediately try to drag the carcass into cover to avoid scavenging hyenas, lions or jackals who will steal it from the cheetah. An interesting fact I was unaware of is that the cheetah’s tail terminates with a series of black rings and a white tip and that the tail rings are as unique as human fingerprints!
I used this image for Week 25’s Golden Ratio category which placed the cheetah’s head in the exact location of the beginning of the Fibonacci Spiral with the four squares. I actually use the Fibonacci Spiral frequently in the crop guide overlay in Lightroom. It is always helpful but sometimes I just go with my gut!
Vultures in Serengeti Sunrise, Tanzania.
When on safari, one doesn’t consider African vultures worthy of photographing when there are more beautiful creatures to capture. But one early morning at our mobile campsite on the Serengeti, there were a number sitting up in the trees, resting before the day began. They were a beautiful sight against the sunrise. I learned to appreciate these barbaric looking birds for their importance on the plains of Africa. Their ability to fly over 60 miles a day patrolling the plains plays a vital role in keeping the wild areas free of disease and rotting carcasses. They are incredibly efficient scavengers, leaving just bones, providing yet another meal for their competitors – the jackals, hyenas and feral dogs who will remove any remaining evidence of death.