Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tanzania, Africa - Day 5 - Lion, Cheetah, Giraffe and the circle of life

Here we are, recapping Day 5 of our incredible Tanzanian safari, and we have photos of animals large and small.

And on this particular day, we saw the circle of life first hand. There are a couple of photos in today's blog which show Cheetah and Hyena feasting on other animal. This might make you wince a bit, but I can tell you that when I was in Tanzania and taking the photos, it was not disgusting at all. It was a real life example of what happens every day in the Serengeti.

Time to take you through the fifth day of our trip.

On this morning, we left Ndutu Lodge and started our quest to find more animal. first coming across this Zebra and her colt. These little Zebra are just so darned cute.

A little later, we were driving along in our Landcruiser, when Sam (our driver) stopped seemingly for nothing. We asked Sam why he stopped in the middle of nowhere. I figured that he, or someone else, needed to get out and "check the back tire", but that was not the case. Sam pointed out these Dung Beetle who were rolling this ball of dung to a burial spot. You see, these beetle (which are about an inch or two in length) cover their eggs in these balls of dung and then roll it around until they dig a hole and bury it. I got out of the vehicle (quickly) and took this shot of our two crappy friends.

(Photographer's note: On this trip, I took almost all of the photos with my Canon 1DX and the newer Canon 100-400mm II lens. Even the photo above was taken with the version II of the 100-400mm lens, which has a much closer minimum focus length than the old version lens. It is also  much sharper than the previous version and no longer has the push / pull zoom.)

As we came to a large flat area, we got our first glimpse of what I was expecting from "the migration", with a sea of endless Wildebeest and Giraffe. We were really captivated by this site, not knowing that we would see an even greater concentration of these animal in the days to come.

We were driving along this long flat area when we saw a large group of Vultures up ahead. That usually means that there has been a kill.

The Vultures were fighting with each other to get to the food source.

Here is a Vulture showing it's dominance.

As we approached the scene, we saw a group of Hyena who were coming back to stake their claim to the food.

There is definitely a pecking order when it comes to food. If an animal is killed by big cats, then they are the first to the food. Then, after they are full, the Hyena come in and have their share. And then we they are done, the birds get the final bit of food off of the carcass. In the above photo, the Hyena had returned to the Zebra remains and scattered the Vultures.

We watched as these two Hyena picked through the remains of the Zebra.

All of a sudden, the one Hyena picked up the Zebra's head and walked off with it. It was a little shocking, but I was not about to stop shooting photos of this.

I saw these three Vultures sitting in a tree and it made me think of the movie "Jungle Book" with the birds and their British accents. Do you remember that?

Not long after we left the site of the carnage, we came across these Impala. They were challenging each other.

We drove along the side of a small lake and saw this large male Lion taking a nap. It was the first adult male Lion that we saw up close, and I was hoping it would do something more than sleep. It is a cat after all, which means that it could sleep for hours.

We were all waiting to see what would happen, when 7 minutes later (I know this from the metadata of the photos) the big guy woke up.

Right after he got up, he gave us this nice big yawn. I was VERY happy to have this shot.

We watched the Lion for about 15 minutes before continuing our drive along with water's edge. As you can see from these photos, we came across hundreds, if not thousands of wildebeest.

We all found it interesting how the different species coexist in the wild.

Whenever we saw Wildebeest, there were always Zebra in the mix.

And then we saw this Cheetah hiding under a tree, eating a freshly killed Wildebeest.

I would venture to say that this Cheetah likes his meat rare. (I cropped this photo to try and spare you the more gruesome site of the open Wildebeest.)

OK - that is it for the carnage. On to more beautiful and peaceful photos...

We saw this other Cheetah up on a hillside and positioned our vehicle in the perfect spot. Well, the perfect spot if the Cheetah would get up and walk to it's left. And as luck would have it, the Cheetah went right where I was hoping he would.  Why did I want him to go that direction? You see the background was far in the distance, and with the Cheetah walking along the crest of the hill, it gave us great separation between the Cheetah and background. This is definitely one of my favorite photos from the two weeks in Africa.

The Cheetah walked over to a nearby tree and plopped down. We moved our vehicle to get a better view. Everyone was photographing the cat when I turned and looked the opposite direction. And what I saw was just beautiful.

On the right side of the vehicle were these amazing waves of green grass, with Acacia trees and blue sky in the background. I have showed this photo to numerous friends, and many of them have asked if I pumped the colors. Nope. This was straight out of the camera with minimal tweaks to exposure.

Check out these playful little Bat Eared Fox. This pack had a whole bunch of little ones who played endlessly.

It was getting late, and we started to head off to our next lodge. But not before coming across this group of Wildebeest and Giraffe.

This was the first and only time that we saw a large group of Giraffe in close proximity to each other. I quickly rolled the aperture of the camera to f/8 so that all of the Giraffe would be in focus, and was excited to get this shot.

Just after taking the Giraffe group shot, all of the animals started running.  Luckily, even though I was still at f/8, I had a shutter speed of 1/640 sec so I could freeze the action.

How is that for an action packed day on safari?

Stay tuned for the blog of Day 6 and more.

And, for those of you who missed this amazing opportunity, we are going to do this amazing safari again next year...check out the site HERE to sign up for the 2017 trip! We have a limit of 12 people.


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1 comment:

Jane said...

Good post Jeff. I'm sure people will appreciate when you tell them what camera settings you are using and when you change them and why. Reminds some of us who should know better too! We are thinking of adding the 100-400 mk2 to our growing list of lenses, sounds like you are happy with it.