Category: Wildlife Photography

Tanzania 2009 Group 1

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This group sure knew how to eat and boy did they love their wine!
Click on the picture above to see them as a group.

Click on the individual pictures below to see Group 1 participants at their best (usually).

Lorna

Joy

Mike and Carol

Silvia

Bob and Linda

The Gerutto Family

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Tourists of the Serengeti

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We had a great crew on all three of our locations on this trip. Here are a few of their mugs- names are included to add to the indignity. 
Kat

CP

Dominic

Michelle

Vince

Mellisa

Odet

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Animals of the Serengeti

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Here is a smattering of some of the animals we saw on the trip

Agama lizard

Bat-eared fox

The very rare Caracal. When it comes to this cat I usually get a shot of its south end
while it is heading north. 

Hartebeest

Dung beatle

Grant’s gazelle

Spotted hyena

Thomson’s gazelle

Chameleon

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Jackal of the Southern Serengeti

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These jackals look just like coyote

The jackals are bonding with each other as they revel over their prey.

As the gazelle mother circled they aggressively defended their meal

When the mother got her courage up she chased one of the jackals

The other jackal continued to feed, now without being harassed by the gazelle

Click on the picture below for a graphic 30 second silent video of them feeding

This video not suitable for all audiences

Jackal eating gazelle silent video

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Cheetah of the Southern Serengeti

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Cheetahs tend to be daytime hunters, and with their beautiful markings and haircoats make good photographic subjects. In February of every year they take advantage of the easy pickings of very young Thompson and Grant’s gazelle, along with wildebeest calves and zebra foals. This is an ideal time to teach young cheetah how to hunt.

The end of this page has graphic photos of a cheetah eating a baby gazelle that are not suitable to all viewers

They scan for prey constantly and never seem to notice us

These youngsters came down to Lake Ndutu for an early morning drink of the soda water

Their mother walked right past us

And sat on a small hill to scan for breakfast

These two cheetah were having a little disagreement

They were easily distracted by zebra and chased them to see if there was any easy pickings

A cheetah walking through the plains looking for young gazelle hidden in the grass. Click
on the photo below and watch a video of her scanning for a few seconds.

Cheetah Searching Grass

The Thomson’s gazelle are highly alerted to her presence

Her eyesight is keen and she zeroes in on a 1 day old gazelle

By the time we catch up she has her meal

She started feeding at the back first and moved towards the front

This gazelle is young and tender, so she eats the whole carcass, including the head

She periodically took a break from eating to look for lion and hyena that might take her
gazelle

Click on the picture below to watch her eating for 40 seconds

Cheetah Eating Gazelle

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Birds of the Southern Serengeti

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East Africa is a mecca for birders. In addition to the normal residents there were a significant number of migrators in February. This page has a few of the more interesting and colorful birds. 

European roller

Juvenile Bateleur eagle

Augur buzzard

Augur buzzard melanistic phase

Flamingo heaven at Lake Ndutu

Hildebrant’s starling

Ruppell’s vulture

Click on the picture below to watch short video of how intensely they feed alongside a hyena

Vultures eating

Marsh owl

Nubian vulture

Pygmy falcon 

Secretary bird

Spotted Thick-knee

Speckled pigeon

Lilac-breasted roller

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Tanzania 2011

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It is in February of every year in the southern Serengeti that the wildebeests try to overwhelm the predators by calving in the tens of thousands. It is during this time that the predators have a feast, which you will see on this page.

On this same trip we saw the gorillas in Rwanda on the way to the Serengeti, and ended our trip with the Hadzabe in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

We were in the Lake Ndutu region of the Serengeti (black arrow at the bottom). In mid-February, as the rains start to return, the mineral rich grasses sprout and the wildebeest arrive.

This calf with its mother is only one day old. Click on this picture to see a very short video of wildebeest grazing with their young to give you a glimpse of just how many animals graze at this specific spot when the rains return.

Wildebeest Calves

A female cheetah in the southern Serengeti on the hunt in the early morning. Click on her picture to see many pictures of this beautiful cat in action, along with a short video of her eating.

Serengeti Cheetah

These lions were part of a large pride resting in the Seronera area of the Serengeti. Click on the picture to see lots of babies and hunting.

Lions on Rock

This is a lilac-breasted roller. If you click on the photo you will see a sampling of the many birds we encountered.

Tanzania birds

Brown jackals in a standoff with a Grant’s gazelle. This link contains graphic photos of the jackal’s attacking her calf.

Jackal eating gazelle

Miscellaneous animals of the Serengeti. There are way too many to show, so click on the elephant photo below to see a few of the different species we encountered

Srengeti animals

Breakfast in the Serengeti. Click this photo for a glimpse of some of our travelers

Our group

Return to Wildlife Photography page.

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Rwanda Gorillas 2011

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The mountain gorillas in Rwanda are a success story. Their numbers are increasing (720 in the world, 480 are in Rwanda), poaching has diminished, and the local people are reaping the benefits of tourism.

There are 16 groups in Rwanda- eight are for tourists to view, 8 are off limits to tourists and are used to study their behavior.

Franois Gorilla Imitation

Our guide Francois was a porter for Dian Fossey, and as such has extensive gorilla knowledge. Francois acts so much like a gorilla that he looks like one!

In the video below Francois is showing us the noises he makes to calm the silverback in our presence. In the video he describes the sounds the silverback makes to give you an indication of his mood. You will also get a kick out of his making Dominic make the same sounds. It’s quite humorous!

At the end of the video you will see how close a silverback comes to Dr. P as he is taking a video with his camera. He wasn’t paying attention, and Francois had to tell him to move or else the silverback would bump into him.

 Francois instructed us in proper gorilla behavior in the presence of the silverback. We learned you are to stay 21 feet (7 meters) away from them. Looks a little less than 7 meters in the video!

Rwanda Gorilla

When it comes to primates it’s all about the eyes, especially for an animal that is so closely related to us. This is a silverback gorilla on the first day of our trek.

I love their hands also because they are so human-like

The scenery in Rwanda is lush and beautiful. This is the view from our hotel. The gorillas are at the base of those mountains.

Theo was our guide for the trip. His professionalism was a huge part of making this trip successful, especially when he bartered the purchase of fruit for us!

The Rwandans are warm and friendly towards tourists. Our hotel had a 45 minute “welcome” dance for us by some cute kids.

Click on the photo below to see the last 15 seconds of this dance Gorilla Dancers

Almost everywhere you go in Rwanda people come to greet you, especially the children. This gives you a feel of why the wildlife are being pushed out by the burgeoning people needing land to feed themselves.

The kids were always curious about us as we made our trek to see the gorillas

This boy beckoned Dr. P to come over and give him something

They carry everything on their heads. This rock weighs over 70 pounds.

Rwanda is a mountaneous country with a dependence on agriculture

This is the view from the National Park at the beginning of the trek

These are the mountains that contain the gorilla troops

All groups meet at the Volcanoes National Park headquarters for instructions and guide assignments. The maximum number of people in each individual group is 8.

The entrance to the National Park where all groups meet before their trek

The mountain gorillas were identified here in 1902

Our head guide Francois and his assistant are showing us which group we will be visiting. They know each individual gorilla and its social standing in the group. Click on this picture to hear a 5 minute detailed introduction to the gorillas by Francois’ assistant. He has an accent so you have to concentrate on what he is saying.
Gorilla briefing

In the recent past some groups had to walk for the better part of the day to find the gorillas. We had an easy 1-2 hour trek to meet the trackers who  watch over them.

We start the trek through agricultural land at the edge of the mountain.

Francois is in the back, a porter carrying our backpacks is in front of him, and at the very front is a ranger with an AK-47. His primary role is to scare away the occasional cape buffalo that roams the area.

The beginning of the trek is easy

Can you guess what we are hiking through?

They are potato fields

Taking a break during the trek

We enter the thick vegetation at the base of the mountain to find the trackers. The two men on the right are our porters, the two in the center are the trackers that keep continual watch on the gorillas, and Francois is on the left.

Final Gorilla Briefing

Francois giving us final instructions before we meet our distant cousins. Click
on the photo above hear several minutes of it. In the beginning he talks about a wall to help keep the cape buffalo and elephant away from the potato crops.

We leave everything but cameras and follow our guides as they machete through
the thick jungle

The gorillas seem to appear out of nowhere because they are well hidden and you are
concentrating on your footing in the jungle. This was our first encounter.

This little guy came closer and proceeded to feed right in front of us

Guess who was keeping an eye on us as we watched this youngster?

Its easy to see why he is called a silverback

This is the silverback that walked right past me in the video above

Silverback Walk Past

When we were sure the silverback accepted our presence we took this photo

This is the group for our 2nd day with them

This silverback in this group weighs 440 pounds


During our trip we found out that a female gorilla had twins on February 3rd

On our second day we were looking at the mother of these twins as she was hiding from us

We slowly got closer to her to try and get a glimpse of her babies. She stayed behind the leaves most of the time.

As she felt more comfortable with our presence we got to see them

Many females in the troop had babies

They were as curious about us as we were about them

The youngsters spent lots of time frolicking

Sometimes they played with the silverback (this is the 440 pounder from above)

The youngsters seem to have no fear of people and come up so close that Francois has to remind you to back away. Notice how this gorilla’s left eye deviates?

The gorilla-meisters!

 

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Rwanda-Tanzania 2011

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In February we went to the southern Serengeti to watch the wildebeests calve. It is quite a spectacle, especially when tens of thousands of female wildebeest calve within a two week period of time. We decided to stop off and visit the gorillas in Rwanda on the way to the Serengeti, and ended our trip with the Hadzabe in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. These fascinating people were on the cover of National Geographic last year. It was such a good trip that I would like to repeat it in the near future.

This page has links to 3 aspects of this trip:

  1. Rwanda with the mountain gorillas
  2. The Serengeti with the wildebeests and the predators
  3. Two days spent with the Hadzabe while they were hunting

All of the pictures on this page are low res for rapid downloading. If you are interested in the high resolution version let me know.

Click on any of the 3 pictures below to see many more and learn some details of these animals and our trip. These pages also have links to several short and basic videos to give you a better idea of what we saw and heard. 

A  silverback gorilla in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Click on him to see our trip and lots of gorilla pictures

Gorillas

Sunset over Lake Ndutu in the southern Serengeti

Click on this photo to see the animals of the Serengeti, especially the big cats

Serengeti

A Hadzabe hunter near Lake Eyasi

Click here to see more of him and his buddies in action

Hadzabe

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Hadzabe 2011

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People like the Hadzabe fascinate me, and when the guides on my 2009 safari told me they could set up this trip I jumped on the opportunity. Our guides told us that less than 1,000 tourists have been brought to see the Hadzabe in their daily routine. Our experience with them was genuine for the most part. Without the touristy part it would be difficult to see them so you have to accept this as a small part of the experience. Our group of 4, with our guide Firoz and an interpreter and Hadzabe guide named Hasani, spent part of 2 days with the Hadza as they went about their business. The culmination of our time with them was watching them hunt, which is showcased on this page.

His ancestors go back over 10,000 years, so you are in essence looking into the eyes of a caveman. It is hard to believe they even exist in this modern world. I wonder what he is thinking as he stares at me taking his photo.

The Hadzabe (also known as the Hadza) were on the cover of the December 2009 issue of National Geographic. I learned about them over 10 years earlier when my acquaintance James Stephenson literally lived with them for a year and wrote a book called “The Language of the Land: Living Among the Hadzabe in Africa”. I read the book before I went and also after I returned. Many of the places and descriptions of their behavior we were able to observe on our trip. It was fun to come back after the trip and read about something we actually observed!

This web page has a few of the pictures I took of our experience with the Hadzabe in February of 2011 when they went hunting. There is a 4 minute basic video at the end that is not to be missed because it complements the pictures. The National Geographic article and book referenced above will give you details about their unique lifestyle. To summarize- they live for the day and are exquisitely in tune with nature.

This map from the National Geographic article shows their territory near the Ngorongoro Crater. The dotted red lines show their range in the 1950’s, the solid red lines show their current reduced range. We saw them in the Mangola region. Agriculture and the pastoral lifestyle have encroached on their land, chasing their game away and shrinking their hunting grounds. Their population is down to 500 so their future as a society is at grave risk.

They use a click language like the bushmen of the Kalahari. This audio file is a Hadza speaking in his native tongue for a few seconds, with our guide Hazani interpreting it at the end. Listen carefully for the occasional click. Hasani will teach you how to speak like this if you visit them. Click here to download and watch the movie

We started early and met them as they were getting ready for their hunt. This Hadza is showing off a civet skin upon our arrival.

They are spiritual, surreal, and metaphysical all rolled into one mindset. Today they are rejoicing at the gift Hasani brought them- marijuana. Check out the baboon skins the two taller Hadza towards the left are wearing.

They use an ancient stone pipe and share their treat with everyone, including us if we wanted
to partake.
They inhale deeply and cough up a storm. This potent version of marijuana puts
them in a different mindset as you will see from the following pictures and especially the video.

This Hadza (the same person that is staring at us at the beginning of this page) was the star of
the show, and even though he ranked below the older man above with the headdress, it was
his hunting skills that were the most impressive. He enjoyed his morning smoke also.

Now that he is properly ****faced he is ready to go hunting

Hasani is explaining the 3 different types of arrows they use:
1. The smaller one on the right for small game
2. The middle one for large game
3. The leftmost one with poison for dangerous game

The poison is made from a local cactus

Their bows and arrows are important tools, so time is spent inspecting for flaws before any hunt

It was a wet morning and their arrows were slightly warped due to the moisture. They straightened them by warming them up and using their teeth.

They also performed other repairs on their bows and arrows

A few more bites and its time to test the arrows. Notice how he holds his bow between his legs? We saw this again when they were hunting.

Time to go hunting. The dogs tag along, and get fed if the hunt is successful, but they do not aid the Hadza in the hunt

They are supremely in tune with their environment and will drink water we would not think of even bathing in. They can go long periods without drinking at all.

The intense look of a Hadza on the hunt for game. He uses all of his well developed senses to
detect game that we would not see or smell or hear. He heard a vervet monkey far ahead in
a tree and initiated a plan with the others to trap it in the tree.

After a short hike they spotted the monkey in a baobab tree. Instead of sneaking up on it
they made lots of noise to intimidate the monkey. This way it would go to the top of the tree it was already in, instead of fleeing to other trees.

The hapless monkey is doomed as they surround the tree and pelt it with their arrows

The bow string is made from animal tendon and is extremely taught

The doomed monkey with an arrow in its back foot. This is a great photo by Dominic at an elusive target.

Even though one arrow found its mark, the monkey is small, elusive, high in the tree, and well
hidden by the leaves. The main hunter in the group climbed the baobab tree for a better shot.

He pounds wooden spikes as footholds

It was strenuous work and he took a short break when he got 25 feet up Another hunter climbs to hand him his arrows and also assist him in shooting the monkey. I tried to remember not to stand below them for this shot when they passed the arrows, especially since one of the arrows is poisonous.

So, what do the others on the ground do while these two are shooting at the monkey from the
tree? They get stoned again of course!

That must have been some good stuff! He had poison arrows in his hand so I kept my distance.

Even in this altered state of mind he keeps a wary eye on the monkey

The remainder of this page contains graphic pictures of a monkey being cooked and eaten that are not suitable for all viewers Eventually the hunters in the tree hit the monkey with 2 more arrows, one in the abdomen and one in the flank. The monkey fell to the ground a short time later and one of the Hadza jubilantly holds it up for all to see.

The Hadza cook their meal on the spot so they start a fire with sticks using only friction.

The monkey is skinned with a knife from the head Hadza

The partially skinned monkey is just tossed on the fire for about 20 minutes, being turned several times

No part goes to waste. The intestines are given to the dogs. I tried a small piece from the cheek. And yes, it tastes the way it is supposed to- like chicken!

Everyone shares in the feast. It is amazing how such a little monkey can feed this group, with
leftovers to bring back home. They eat very little, and coupled with their extremely active lifestyle, stay lean and strong.

The elderly member of the group gets the brain at the end. It is obvious he savors every bite.

This is what cooked monkey brain looks like up close

What remains is wrapped in leaves and brought back to their primitive camp

This 4 minute basic video shows the above pictures in action.

Our group of Hadzabe observers!

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