Friday, 28 October 2011

Birdlife Part 1 - Birds of Tsavo East

The terrible drought that has affected East Africa over the last three years has had drastic results for the flora and fauna all over the region and Tsavo East National Park is no exception.  Having seen such a huge variety of bird-life in Tsavo East on previous safaris, we were unsure of what to expect on this visit.  Would the dessicated landscape have reduced the incredible bird numbers and variety that the Park is famous for?  Well, we did notice some reduction in numbers but the spectacle was still as breathtaking as ever.  The images below represent just some of the ones we were able to photograph and there were many more we saw but didn't capture in an image.

White-Headed Buffalo Weaver, stained orange by Tsavo dust

Parrot-Billed Sparrow

Pair of courting Red-Billed Hornbills

Superb Starling foraging for food

Crested Francolin

Little Bee-Eater with prey

Yellow-Necked Spurfowl - just for a change not on the ground!

Helmeted Guinea Fowl

Tawny Eagle

Crowned Plover

Long-Tailed Fiscal

Bateleur Pair

African Pied Wagtail singing its heart out at Luggard's Falls

Woolly-Necked Storks

Red-Billed Quelea - the bird equivalent of locusts!

Taita Falcon with Red-Billed Quelea for lunch

Lappet-Faced Vulture

White-Browed Sparrow-Weavers

Northern White-Crowned Shrike

Lilac-Breasted Roller

Kori Bustard

Secretary Bird

The Spice Girls of Tsavo - four female Somali Ostriches

Chestnut-Bellied Sand Grouse

Maribou Stork catching fish

African Mourning Dove

Male Somali Ostrich

African Orange-Bellied Parrot

As you can see, Tsavo East is still a bird-lover's paradise!  We will have more birds later but as the purpose of running a live blog during our safari was to raise money for Save The Elephants, our next post will be a collection of some of our favourite elephant images from the safari.

Thank you for reading this post.  We hope if you have enjoyed it, that you will consider making a donation to Save The Elephants through our Just Giving page, if you haven't already.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Cuteness (Pt2)

As promised, here is the next installment of images from this year's safari, with the emphasis once more on cute things.  We hope you like them.

Baby Yellow Baboon

Baby Spotted Hyena at the den entrance

Little Thommy

Play-time in the pool

"Peek-a-boo"  Rock Hyrax

Crowned Cranes Kiss

Baby Impala

More training for the Vervet tag team

Mother Zebra with her very young foal

A comfortable seat for an Elephant

Young male Lion

Time for a drink!

Baby Topi finds its feet

And finally, one for all the Jungle Book fans...

"I'm the King of the Swingers" ~ baby Yellow Baboon

We hope you liked the images.  Our next post will look at some of the amazing bird-life we encountered on this safari.

If you have enjoyed this post, please consider making a donation to Save The Elephants through our Just Giving page.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Putting Life in Perspective

We all have those moments when we feel things are too much of a struggle, when the task seems too difficult or when it just seems too much effort to continue.  How many times do people back away from challenges they fear are un-beatable, or give up on dreams because they fear failure to achieve them?

Today we'd like to share with you an incredible story of strength, determination, bravery and unbelievable fortitude in the face of seemingly impossible odds.  Next time you fear the odds are stacked against you, take heart from this story and maybe you will find the strength to carry on.  Please note that some of the images in this post may be distressing to some people.

On October 9th we watched as around 2000 Wildebeest gathered near one of the regular crossing points on the Mara River.  For several hours they moved up and down the river bank, attempting to gauge the best place to cross.  Several times they were startled by something in the water and stampeded back up the hill.

Gathering at the crossing point
Eventually one Wildebeest made the decision to cross and this caused the charge to start...

The race is cross the Mara River safely

Before long, hundreds of Wildebeest were hurtling towards and across the river en-masse, desperate to reach the other side.

"Don't leave me behind!"

Soon the water frothed as thouasnds of hooves splashed through it

As the river filled with Wildebeest with just one thing on their mind, unseen beneath the waves, a silent danger lurked.  Several Nile Crocodiles, some with heads almost half the length of a Wildebeest's body, were patiently waiting for a chance to strike.  The Crocodile can stay submerged for up to 45 minutes, so even though many of the Wildebeest had already reached the other side of the river without any sign of their enemy, there could be no complacency from those still to cross.

Suddenly there was panic, as one Crocodile surfaced right among the crossing herd and succeeded in separating two Wildebeest out from the rest.  With incredible speed, it twisted its scaly body and latched its powerful jaws onto the nearest of the two Wildebeest.

Isolating the target

The Croc holds on as the Wildebeest tries to get to the river bank

The Wildebeest fought hard to free itself and at one point it almost reached the bank, as the Crocodile tried to pull it out into deeper water where it could be drowned.  However, the Crocodile was not alone and pretty soon there were several Crocodiles converging on the hapless Wildebeest.

As one Crocodile holds the Wildebeest, another grabs at it's face, whilst two more close in

Incredibly, the Wildebeest fought off the Crocodile attached to its face but no sooner had it done so than another Crocodile sank its teeth into the Wildebeest's flank.  Between them, they managed to loosen the Wildebeest's footing and started to drag it into deeper water.

The power of two Crocodiles becomes too much for the Wildebeest

It seemed certain to all of us that it would not be long before the Wildebeest succumbed and the Crocodiles had their dinner; especially after they reached deeper water and the Crocodiles managed to pull the Wildebeest under water.

Surely only a matter of time before the Wildebeest resigns to its fate?
Amazingly, the Wildebeest emerged again from the water and continued to fight, only to be pulled under again.  Six times it re-surfaced, having freed itself from at least one Crocodile each time.  At one point it had two Crocodiles attached to its flanks and a third around its throat but still this incredible Wildebeest refused to give up.

Torn and bleeding the Wildebeest re-surfaces again, minus one of the Crocodiles

Doomed?  Not me!

In one bizarre scene, the Wildebeest drifted down the river with two Crocodiles attached to it, past a somewhat bemused Hippopotamus.

"Hmm...Now that's something you don't see every day!"

After drifting over 100 metres downstream from where they started, with five Crocodiles involved in an attack lasting over half an hour and up to three Crocodiles attached to the Wildebeest at times, something absolutely astonishing happened...The Crocodiles gave up!

The Wildebeest finally breaks free from the last exhausted Crocodile

Through sheer willpower and determination, when its fate seemed set and the Reaper's scythe was poised, this incredible Wildebeest had beaten seemingly insurmountable odds to survive.

After one last look at his tormentors...

The bloodied Wildebeest heads back up the bank to cross another day

Next time you feel like things are getting too much for you and you want to quit, think of the plucky Wildebeest who survived a half-hour fight with five Crocodiles because he refused to give up.

We hope you found this story as inspiring and uplifting as we did.  Our next post will return to more of the cute things.

If you have enjoyed this post, please consider making a small donation to our chosen charity Save The Elephants through our Just Giving page.