Thursday, August 30, 2007

Glimpses of my African Safari 11th- 17th August 2007

An impressive animal, the King of the Jungle , though i think the tiger looks and behaves more majestically and evokes much more awe and respect.this fellow was keeping an eye on the lioness who was lying near by dozing in the sun.since the pair was sitting in a burnt stretch of grass it gave a nice contrating background for photos. other wise their colour easily blends with the savanah grass and does not make them distinct.Unusually for a cat, lions hunt together. Groups of female lions typically bring down prey, mostly large ungulates.

The mane of the male lion, unique amongst cats, is one of the most distinct characteristics of the species. The presence, absence, color, and size of the mane is associated with sexual maturity, climate and testosterone production. Research in Tanzania suggests mane darkness correlates to nutrition and testosterone, and that mane length signals fighting success in male-male relationships; darker-maned individuals may have longer reproductive lives and higher offspring survival, although they suffer in the hottest months of the year. It is possible that lionesses more actively solicit mating with heavily maned lions in prides led by a coalition of 2 or 3 males.

Female lions hunt in groups, usually hunt at night or dawn. Lion prey consists mainly of large mammals, with a preference for wildebeests, impalas, zebras, buffalos, giraffes, and warthogs. Lionesses do most of the hunting; males attached to prides do not usually participate, except in the case of large animals such as buffalo. In group hunts, each lioness has a favored position in the group, either stalking prey on the "wing" then attacking, or moving a smaller distance in the centre of the group and capturing prey in flight from other lionesses.

Lions do not mate at any specific time of year, and the females are polyestrous. Like other cats, the male lion's penis has spines which point backwards. Upon withdrawal of the penis, the spines rake the walls of the female's vagina, which may cause ovulation.During a mating bout, which could last several days, the couple frequently copulate twenty to forty times a day and are likely to forgo hunting. In captivity, lions reproduce very well.The average gestation period is around 110 days, the female giving birth to a litter of one to four cubs. Lionesses in a pride will synchronize their reproductive cycles so that they cooperate in the raising and suckling of the young, who suckle indiscriminately from any or all of the nursing females in the pride.
Huge ear lobes, resembling the map of the african continent. both male and female have tusks as against the ones in India where only the males bear tusks. we saw them in herds, protecting their young , having a bath, dusting themselves with mud and moving about in leisure. aptly a member of the BIG FIVE
Females (cows) reach sexual maturity at around 9–12 years of age and become pregnant for the first time, on average, around age 13. They can reproduce until ages 55–60. Females give birth at intervals of about 5 years. Their gestation (pregnancy) period lasts about 22 months (630–660 days), the longest gestation period of any mammal, after which typically one calf is born.A newborn calf usually stands within one hour and is strong enough to follow its mother in a slowly moving herd within a few days. Unlike most mammals, female elephants have a single pair of mammary glands located just behind the front legs. When born, a calf is about 90 cm (3 ft) high, just tall enough to reach its mother's nipples. African elephant calf sucklingA calf suckles with its mouth, not its trunk, which has no muscle tone. To clear the way to its mouth so it can suckle, the calf will flop its trunk onto its forehead. Newborn calves learn mainly by observing adults, not from instinct. For example, a calf learns how to use its trunk by watching older elephants using their trunks.All members of the tightly knit female group participate in the care and protection of the young. Since everyone in the herd is related, there is never a shortage of baby-sitters. Camoflage at its best. This cheetah was eyeing a herd of gazelle on the other side of the vehicle track. he had the nerve to cross the track with a dozen combis and get hold of this gazelle and bring it down. when we reached the place the cheetah was busing gorging on its kill. the antelope, the cheetah and the grass were so very well blended that we took a while to notice them just in front of the combi by the track.

The Cheetah is a carnivore, eating mostly mammals under 40 kilograms (90 lb), including Thomson's gazelles, Grant's gazelles, springboks and impalas. The young of larger mammals such as wildebeests and zebras are taken at times, adults, too, when the cats hunt in groups.The Cheetah thrives in areas with vast expanses of land where prey is abundant. The Cheetah prefers to live in an open biotope, such as semi-desert, prairie, and thick brushWhile the other big cats mainly hunt by night, the Cheetah is a diurnal hunter. It hunts usually either early in the morning or later in the evening when it is not so hot, but there is still enough light.

Prey is stalked to within 10-30 metres (30-100 ft), then chased. This is usually over in less than a minute, and if the Cheetah fails to make a catch quickly, it will give up. The Cheetah has an average hunting success rate of around 50% - half of its chases result in failure.The Cheetah kills its prey by tripping it during the chase, then biting it on the underside of the throat to suffocate it, for the Cheetah is not strong enough to break the necks of the four-legged prey it mainly hunts. The bite may also puncture a vital artery in the neck. Then the Cheetah proceeds to devour its catch as quickly as possible before the kill is taken by stronger predators.

Huge nile crocodile basking in the sun at masai mara. we got off our combis an walked in the scorching sun to take a look at them and the hippos. Wide habitat preferences, reflecting their success and distribution- e.g. lakes, rivers, freshwater swamps, brackish water. Although the juveniles are generally restricted to eating small aquatic invertebrates and insects, they soon move onto larger vertebrates (fish, amphibians and reptiles). Adults, however, can potentially take a wide range of large vertebrates, including antelope, buffalo, young hippos, and large cats. When feeding, a number of individuals will hold onto a carcass with their powerful jaws whilst twisting their bodies. The anchorage provided by the other individuals allows large chunks to be torn off for easier swallowing.

Beauties standing tall The Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum) is a bird in the crane family Gruidae. It occurs in dry savannah in Africa south of the Sahara, although it nests in somewhat wetter habitats.The Grey Crowned Crane has a breeding display involving dancing, bowing, and jumping. It has a booming call which involves inflation of the red gular sac. It also makes a honking sound quite different from the trumpeting of other crane species.

True to its name this starling is a real beauty. found in ample numbers all over the place we stopped to admire its glistening blue green mantle every time we lay our eyes on it.

The Sangrouse that lives in the dry arid regions of africa , has an interesting characteristic. finding water in these area is difficult and the bird ahs to fly long distance before it can get any. when it lands near a puddle or water hole it partly immerses itself into the ater such that its belly feathers get wet. These feathers are not oily and hence can absorb the water. This done it flies back to its chicks and showers them with the life giving water.

Supple and healthy antelopes seen only in Samburu. they posses razor sharp formidable antlers which if used in a fight can pierce through the heart.All oryx species prefer near-desert conditions and can survive without water for long periods. They live in herds of up to 600 animals. Newborn calves are able to run with the herd immediately after birth. Both males and females possess permanent horns. The horns are narrow, and straight . The horns are lethal—the oryx has been known to kill lions with them—and oryxes are thus sometimes called the sabre antelope.
Pelicans are large birds with enormous, pouched bills and long wings. Group fishing: used by white pelicans all over the world. They will form a line to chase schools of small fish into shallow water, and then simply scoop them up. Large fish are caught with the bill-tip, then tossed up in the air to be caught and slid into the gullet head first. Pelicans are gregarious and nest colonially, the male bringing the material, the female heaping it up to form a simple structure. Pairs are monogamous for a single season but the pair bond extends only to the nesting area; mates are independent away from the nest .

You will often see them standing like this alternatively head to rump. all black and white stripes , seen from a distance, a predator cat finds it difficult to sperate out an individual. one would think the black and white colour makes them strikingly stand out. so this is the denfense stattegy they have evolved - their is protection in numbers surely!the stripes act as a camouflage mechanism. This is accomplished in several ways. First, the vertical striping helps the zebra hide in grass. While seeming absurd at first glance considering that grass is neither white nor black, it is supposed to be effective against the zebra's main predator, the lion, which is color blind. Theoretically a zebra standing still in tall grass may not be noticed at all by a lion. Additionally, since zebras are herd animals, the stripes may help to confuse predators - a number of zebras standing or moving close together may appear as one large animal, making it more difficult for the lion to pick out any single zebra to attack. A herd of zebras scattering to avoid a predator will also represent to that predator a confused mass of vertical stripes travelling in multiple directions making it difficult for the predator to track an individual visually as it separates from its herdmates. The Northern White Rhinoceros is one of the two subspecies of the White Rhinoceros. The critically endangered subspecies is a grazer and is an animal of grasslands and savannah woodlands.The family is characterised by large size with all of the species capable of reaching one ton or more in weight; herbivorous diet; and a thick protective skin, 1.5-5 cm thick, formed from layers of collagen positioned in a lattice structure; relatively small brains for mammals this size (400-600g); and its horn. The rhino is prized for its horn. The horns of a Rhinoceros is made of keratin, the same type of protein that makes up hair, lacks a bony core, such as bovine horns, but the horn is not itself made of hair as some have believed[1]. Rhinoceros also have acute hearing and sense of smell, but poor eyesight. Most rhinoceros live to be about 50 years old or more. Gerenuks, are a type of antelope/gazelle with remarkably long necks that are found in East Africa. Gerenuks eat food from higher places rather than from closer to the ground like other gazelles and antelopes eat. They do this by standing up on their hind legs, and stretching out their long necks to get food off of tall bushes. Most of their diet is made up of tender leaves and shoots of prickly bushes and trees, but also includes buds, flowers, fruit, and climbing plants. Gerenuks don’t need grass or water, because they get enough water from the plants that they eat. Because of this, gerenuks can survive in dry thorn-bush county.

The Ostrich is a flightless bird native to Africa. It is the only living species of its family, Struthionidae, and its genus, Struthio. It is distinctive in its appearance, with a long neck and legs and the ability to run at speeds of about 65 km/h, the top landspeed of any bird.striches live in nomadic groups of 5 to 50 birds that often travel together with other grazing animals, such as zebras or antelopes. They mainly feed on seeds and other plant matter; occasionally they also eat insects such as locusts. Lacking teeth, they swallow pebbles that help as gastroliths to grind the swallowed foodstuff in the gizzard. An adult ostrich typically carries about 1 kg of stones in its stomach. Ostriches can go without water for a long time, exclusively living off the moisture in the ingested plants. However, they enjoy water and frequently take baths.With their acute eyesight and hearing, they can sense predators such as lions from far away. When being pursued by a predator, Ostriches have been known to reach speeds in excess of 70 km per hour (45 miles per hour), and can maintain a steady speed of 50 km per hour (30 miles per hour).Ostriches can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. In much of its habitat, temperature differences of 40°C between night- and daytime can be encountered.When lying down and hiding from predators, the birds lay their head and neck flat on the ground, making them appear as a mound of earth from a distance.When threatened, Ostriches run away, but they can cause serious injury and death with kicks from their powerful legs.

These agamas form groups of ten to twenty. The "leader" is an old male, while females and young males constitute the other members of the group. The colour is dark brown at night, but after dawn the colours of the dominant male will change: the body becomes light blue, head and tail bright orange. These colours may change again depending on the dominant male's mood. For instance, if male agamas fight, their heads will turn brown, and white spots appear on their body. Fights take place when a foreign agama male appears. It will try to dispute the leadership of the dominant male. When fighting, agamas hiss and attempt to hit each other's head with their tail. These strokes may be very violent and often result in haematomas or fractured jaws.The females in the group are entirely brown. Often there is a highest-ranking female that remains in proximity to the leading male and struggles to repel other females.

Flamingos filter-feed on brine shrimp. Their oddly-shaped beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they consume, and are uniquely used upside-down. The filtering of food items is assisted by hairy structures called lamellae which line the mandibles, and the large rough-surfaced tongue. The flamingo's characteristic pink colouring is caused by the Beta carotene in their diet. The source of this varies by species, but shrimp and blue-green algae are common sources. Young flamingos hatch with grey plumage, but the feathers of an adult range from light pink to bright red due to the bacteria in the water they inhabit and the pigments obtained from their food supply. A flamingo that is well-fed and healthy is vibrantly coloured bright pink and is more desirable as a mate. A white or pale flamingo, however, is usually unhealthy or suffering from a lack of food. Flamingos produce a "milk" like pigeon milk due to the action of a hormone called prolactin. It contains more fat and less protein than the latter does, and it is produced in glands lining the whole of the upper digestive tract, not just the crop. Both parents nurse their chick, and young flamingos feed on this milk, which also contains red and white blood cells, for about two months until their bills are developed enough to filter feed.
Adult male gazelles with adjoining territories will engage in combat several times a day, fighting with their horns to establish dominance and the boundaries of their territories. In this way, the accepted boundaries of the territory can change on a daily basis. If a lone male, a bachelor group, or in some cases even an adolescent male fawn of a female gazelle should be passing through a territorial male's region, the male will chase the offender out of his territory.

Impala are among the dominant species in many savannas. They are reddish-brown in color with lighter flanks, and havewhite underbellies. Males have lyre-shaped horns which can reach up to 90 centimeters in length. When frightened or startled the whole herd starts leaping about in order to confuse their predator. They are gregarious creatures and are usually found in herds, often a male with many females, although an ewe will leave the herd to give birth. Their food consists of a mixture of grasses and leaves.


1.Grey heron
2.Hammerkop- nest
3.Glossy ibis
4.Egyptian goose
5.white backed vulture
6.Eagles, kites??
7.Crested francolin
8.yellow necked spurfowl
9.helmeted gunieafowl
10vulturine gunieafowl bellied bustard
12.crowned plover
14.ringed dove
15.white bellied go- away bird
16.grey headed kingfisher
17.lilac breasted roller
18.yellow billed hornbill billed hornbill
20.laughing dove
22.weaver bird (yellow coloured)
23.grey headed sociable weaver
24.white browed sparrow weaver
26.golden breasted starling
27.superb starling
28.Pied crow
29.white necked raven
30.yellow vented bulbul

1. Impala
2. Grant’s gazel
3. Gerenuk
4. Oryx
5. water buck
6. Reticulated Giraffe
7. African elephant
8. Dik-dik
9. Lion
10. Cheetah cubs
11. wild buffalo
12. Nile crocodile
13. Grevy’s Zebra (solitary)
14. Klip’s springer
15. Baboon
16. Vervet monkeys

Lake Nakuru

31. Lesser flamingoes
32. Pelican
33. White necked stork
34. Black headed ibis
35. marabou stork
36. Black smith plover
37. Gull
38. Long crested eagle
39. Long tailed starling

17. silver backed jackal
18. white rhinoceros
19. Thomson gazelle
20. Burchell’s zebra
21. colobus monkeys
22. Guereza colobus monkeys

Masai Mara
40. Golden crested crane /crowned crane
41. yellow billed stork
42. scarlet crested sunbird
43. variable sunbird
44. pied wagtail
45. redbilled fire finch
46. Ostrich
47. Secretary bird
48. Lark
49. Lampet vulture
50. Barn swallow
51. wire tailed swallow
52. Lialac breasted roller
53. Dark chanting Goshwak
54. Senegal hoopoe
55. Fiscal shrike
56. Anteater chat
57. Marshall’s eagle (immature)
58. white browed Robin chat
59. Scaly francolin
60. Sun thrush
61. White eye

23. Spotted hyenas
24. Bush baby
25. Cheetah
26. Heart beast
27. Topi
28. Lion young male
29. genet cat
30. Lioness on kill
31. Lion mating
32. Wilde beast
33. Zebra
34. Hippopotamus
35. Water monitor lizard on Topi carcass
36. Wart hog
37. African agama

Photos:- Rama Bhave & Abhiram Bhave

Text- Rama Bhave and facts sourced from Wikipedia