Wednesday, 14 August 2013

DAY EIGHT ~ Battle of the Giants

Today began with a leisurely drive around Kuldip's Ponds but there was not much wildlife about. There were a lot of tour minivans, many of whom were impatient to pass us. As we headed out onto the main track at Junction 17, the minivans increased in number and speed, all heading in the same direction as us. At junction 16 we were due to turn left on our route to Mzima Springs but all the minivans were speeding to the right. We both commented that it would probably be Lions but agreed that we did not want to be part of a vehicle scrum around some poor Lions, so we turned left and carried on towards Mzima Springs, photographing some Masai Giraffe and stopping at the Chaimu Lava Flow viewpoint to photograph the scene.

At Mzima Springs, we were pleased to find that the Hippo numbers are starting to improve, following the disastrous 3-year drought from 2009 to 2012. There are now 20 adults and two babies. We also photographed a Nile crocodile hiding in dark undergrowth near the viewing area for the lower pool.

Never smile at a Crocodile

Hippo numbers are slowly starting to recover at Mzima Springs

On the way back to the Bandas, we detoured along Kuldip's Ponds again and found that the Egyptian Geese have a clutch of tiny Goslings. Further along, we came across two large Masai Giraffe bulls having a right ding-dong of a fight. They would press their rumps against one another and push, then swing their long necks to strike mighty blows against each other with their short horns. We could feel the force of the impacts from 20 yards away!

One Giraffe lifts the other clean off his feet with a mighty blow

After lunch, we planned to visit the Rhino sanctuary, where the Kenya Wildlife Service provides a secure location within the Park for Black Rhino breeding for re-introduction to the Park and other areas. We elected to take another trip along Kuldip's Ponds first and then take the long way round to the Rhino Sanctuary. We were glad we did, as we managed to photograph Dik Dik, Vulturine Guinea Fowl and the most beautiful little Slender Mongoose mother with two kits.

Slender Mongoose family

The Rhino Sanctuary itself was a disappointment. We have visited before and seen nothing and so it was this time too. There was plenty of Rhino spoor, including some reasonably fresh dung but the dense scrub makes them disappear within a few feet of the track. The only highlight of the visit was the laugh Karen got as a Tsetse Fly sank its hypodermic into Howard's arm. The scream from the driver's seat livened up the afternoon! Fortunately the bite of the Tsetse Fly is so painful that you react very quickly to swat it off before it can do its worst.

We did try at the top of the Chaimu Lava Flow to get a Safaricom signal to upload the last two blogs but were not successful. It looks like we will have to do another mass update once we reach Nairobi.

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