Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Victoria Falls

The guide said that it is very rare that you sight a Southern Ground Hornbill and we were very fortunate to see one on our long drive through the Delta.
Another Hornbill was the Trumpeter Hornbill which was sitting motionless in the rainforest near the Victoria Falls.
Speaking of birds, we saw this Green Woodhoopoe in the same rainforest.
Being at the Falls was a different experience and when you see the constant spray, you realise how the greenery thrives all around it.
The sheer volume over the height of the falls is so great that before getting anywhere near the ground, the water is buffeted by the strong rising winds and turned into mist. If you stand here for more than a minute, you are sure to get fully drenched.
Never knew that white water rafting takes place deep down in those ravines.
Made a short video on the Victoria Falls which is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Elephant Sands

This is one of those places where you get to see as many elephants as you want, in all shapes and sizes.
If you are staying overnight in one of the tents then it is all the more exciting as the flow of traffic (of elephants) is more in the night.
We drove down from Francistown to Elephant sands. One of the observations I made during our overnight stay is that they move very silently. They may be standing right next to you and you will not be aware of them.
From the videos you may get the impression that they are docile and tame. The fact is that once they know that you are not a threat to them (or their family), they won't harm you. I like the way they come bounding down to the waterhole when they sight the water.
Even after reaching the waterhole they don’t start drinking right away. They first splash themselves with water, cool themselves down a bit and then slowly take small sips of water. I saw two of them drinking alternatively in a synchronized fashion.
At times there are skirmishes among themselves and the Tuskers like to exercise their might and leadership. On the way to the Elephant Sands, our vehicle got bogged down. We knew that pushing it won't help but still we gave it a try. Finally got it towed by another vehicle which was passing by.
Birds too hover around the waterhole and they take turns in quenching their thirst.
saw somee Pied crows:
I saw an odd looking bird along with the Myna. It looked like a juvenile vulture but later when I got it identified I learned that it was a molting Myna.
It is a different experience to spend the night in one of those tents hearing the occasional trumpeting sound at regular intervals. The next morning I saw some ostriches grazing not far from our tent.
Going through the short video will give you a better idea of the place and our experience over there.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Bush Telegraph

It is very rare that you get to see a leopard with her kill and her young one on the very first trip you make to Africa, thanks to Option.
Option is the name of the tour guide who was with us for the last three days of our tour of Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Option was not only knowledgeable about wildlife, he had a sound knowledge about the history and geography of everything. He has this habit of exchanging information with his counterparts and he calls it "bush telegraph"
His grasp on the geological background of the terrain was admirable. When we camped at Savuti, during the campfire, he explained about the stars and I was stunned at his knowledge of constellations.
We were at the edge of our seat listening to one of the strategy executed by the lions of how they managed to feed on Elephants. When the waters receded all the animals migrated to other areas whereby there was nothing for the lions to feed on. They decided to feed on the mighty elephants. As they could not constrict and choke them (their usual strategy) they managed to bleed the elephants to death by cutting open their main artery, a process which took three to four days. There were casualties on the lion’s side too, but the pride managed to feed and sustain themselves.
In Option’s words “ When we think we know everything, Nature manages to rewrite history”
The additional advantage that he had was his great sense of humour and a good grasp of the language. You can hear from him in the video. Those of you who would like to engage him can contact him directly on Whatsapp +267 7241 7407 or mail at optionmooketsi@rocketmail.com
Coming back to our main story, as usual Option kept collecting information from his bush telegram and when we told him that we spotted a jackal he said "forget the Jackal for the time being, I will show you something that you will never forget" He drove us directly to the spot where the leopard was resting after having her first fill of the Steenbok. It was later that we noticed that she had a cub too. (The leopard spots really help in the blending in.)
The leopard decided to move to a quieter place, so she picked up her kill and moved to the interior with her cub in tow. It was our luck that she walked right in front of our vehicle, so I could capture her movements in the video.
In another instance, we saw a leopard stalking and crouching waiting for the charge. He was waiting to see if he could reduce the distance between the prey and him. The waiting game went on for a long time and we had to leave before some action took place.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Rhino sanctuary

We spent a day at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary in Botswana and were lucky enough to spot the young one of a giraffe. The lighting was perfect and they just paused from their grazing to look at us.
Their gait looks majestic. Unlike other animals when they walk, both the left legs move forward and then both the right.
Spotted many Rhinos (some very close) and they did not mind us clicking away. Reminded me of the movie Hatari which I saw in the early sixties.
For those of you who are not familiar with the movie, here is the famous song Baby Elephant from the movie.
Once again we were lucky to spot a young Rhino who tried to keep pace with her mother.
The blue wildebeest is a herbivore, feeding primarily on short grass. It moves about in herds and is famous for the Masai Mara migration.
This Eland stood staring at us for some time (as if posing for us) and then simply turned and walked off. Elands are supposed to be the biggest in the antelope family.
Spotted an ostrich far away taking in the morning sunlight.
The warthog digging the ground for food. When feeding, they bend their front foot and it looks like they are on their knees.
The greater kudu, a warthog and a Rhino in perfect harmony.
Having his morning fill.
Kori Bustard is the largest flying bird native to Africa, in fact the male may be the heaviest living animal capable of flight. The male attempts to breed with as many females as possible and then takes no part in the raising of the young ones. I could just manage to capture him as he took off (as seen in the video)
The crimson breasted shrike kept hopping around and I could not get a good shot of her.
We waited at the watering hole where most of the birds came to quench their thirst. I could not keep track of all the birds so I just panned my camera slowly along the edge and captured as much as I could.
The Helmeted guineafowl seems to be the biggest bird coming for water. Here you see it with a go-away bird. Had written about the "Go away" bird in the previuos blog.
Below you see the guineafowl with a golden breasted bunting.
There were some ring necked doves among other birds
The Blacksmith Lapwing (plover) made a dash in front of our vehicle.
A pair of southern yellow billed hornbills were busy feeding and not allowing any other birds anywhere close.
Even through the thicket one can see his curious eyes
The approximate location of the sanctuary in Botswana.