Long Beach Animal Hospital Informational Articles

There are Lions on the Airstrip

Our guides drove us to the airstrip at Camp Moremi to see some male lions. Sure enough, when we got there we saw two lazy male lions enjoying their peace and quiet (which would soon be interrupted).

One male was sitting under the fire buckets, while the other was at the passenger loading area. Neither had a care in the world, that is until an airplane with passengers landed. The bush pilot saw our vehicles near the airstrip, so he knew something was up, and was not caught by surprise when he landed and taxied to the passenger loading area.

These bush pilots are professional and experienced, and know what to do in this situation. Once the airplane is on the ground the lions usually move away due to the noise. If they don’t move far enough away for passenger safety, the pilot will rev up his engine and the blast from the prop will move the lions further. This pilot did this, and once the lions were at a reasonable distance, all of our guides moved our vehicles in a line between the lions and embarking/departing passengers. It was quite entertaining, and the passengers on the airplane now have a story to tell the folks back home.

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The two sleeping lions who are about to be rudely awakened

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This guy did not have a care in the world, and was enjoying his siesta in the sun

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The other one slept in the shade

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When the pilot saw all of our vehicles he knew something was up

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He could see the lions as soon as he landed

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The male closest to the airplane heard the airplane land and was instantly alert

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He decided it might be a good time to move, and sauntered right past our vehicle.

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He was in no rush, and took his sweet old time

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He has a beautiful mane

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He walked past his buddy who was now also awake from his nap

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The first male decided to stop by one of our vehicles and stare at its occupants. We were not blocking his path, so it is hard to known why he stopped. 

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For some reason he was not too keen on them, as you can see from his body language. He could hear the airplane getting closer, so he kept on moving.

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The pilot taxied towards this lion (the other lion had already moved into the bushes on the right) to keep him moving away from the passenger loading area

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The nose of the revving engine kept the lion moving

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The lion was still too close for the pilot’s peace of mind…

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so he kept coming towards the lion

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The pilot was still not happy, so he turned the airplane away and revved the engine

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This procedure worked, and both lions moved far enough away for the pilot to feel comfortable enough to unload his passengers

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Our guides moved our vehicles forward between the lions and the airplane to help the pilot

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With the lions at a safe distance, and our vehicles blocking the lion, the passengers unloaded and loaded

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The airplane uneventfully left  the loading area with new passengers

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It took off successfully

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Our friends went back to relaxing


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We had a bunch of happy campers (and guides) this day!

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Leopards of the Okavango Delta

We had more leopard sightings in our four days at Camp Moremi in Botswana than I have seen in all my other eight Africa trips combined. During the daytime leopards like to rest in a tree, hunting under the cover of darkness at night. Apparently the leopards we saw did not know this, because they were quite active during the daytime, and gave us some great photographic opportunities. Below are a few of the 100’s of photos I have of them active during the daytime.

Before you can photograph a leopard you need to find it, usually hidden in a tree. They know how to blend in, and are not easy to spot. Spotting a leopard hidden behind the branches of a tree is one of the more ultimate wildlife photography challenges. This is where the guides earn their keep!

Do you see a leopard in the tree below?

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Look for a tail or leg dangling down from a branch

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Maybe this will help

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It is looking to the left, with its left leg dangling down

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We could see his injured nose when he stood up

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It’s a large male, with an injured ear besides nose

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After a brief glance at us he continued his nap

The following photos are of a female that seemed to pose for us on the several days we saw her. She seemed comfortable in our presence, and would walk around our vehicle just a few feet away from us. One day she even let us join her as she was on the prowl for her dinner.

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 One lucky day for us she climbed down from her perch and started eating some grass, which promptly caused her to vomit. Our guide said this means she is on the hunt.

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She started eating the grass as soon as she hit the ground

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As she roamed the area she walked right past, acting as if we didn’t exist

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There were some gazelle off to our left, so we thought she might be interested in them


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She seemed to change her mind and went the opposite direction

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At times she was no more than seven feet in front of us

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She seemed to know we were taking her photo, and would stop and pose for a few seconds to oblige us. It was uncanny!


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After our last photo op she noticed something on a log to our right


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Our guide said it was a squirrel she was interested in

Why would a predator as powerful as this, that could take down a large gazelle and drag it up a tree with the gazelle in its mouth, hunt a squirrel? Maybe it was a challenge, maybe it was fun, maybe she needed a little energy pick-me-up before attempting larger prey, or maybe even because these cats have such powerful hunting instincts that they can’t resist something that moves. Nobody knows.

Over the next 30 minutes this leopard entertained us as she tried to find the squirrel that was sometimes hiding and sometimes scurrying. Here are a few photos taken of this show. First she scurries around the log showing her amazing agility as she tries to find the squirrel, then she bolts down the log exhibiting her amazing speed. Does the squirrel get away, or does she have an appetizer before her evening meal?

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After that nice snack she looked at something that alerted her

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One last look of her smacking her lips as we left her alone and drove away 

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Wild Dogs of the Okavango Delta

Wild dogs are also known as cape hunting dogs and painted dogs. Even though they are not large, their speed, stamina, and teamwork make them highly efficient predators. It took me 7 trips to Africa to see them for the first time, in 2015 in Tanzania.  In Botswana we saw them many times in our 4 days at Camp Moremi in the Moremi Game Reserve. Too bad they are highly endangered, so get to Africa soon if you want to see them before the burgeoning human population displaces them, and they become impossible to find in the wild.

One of the packs had a dog that was radio collared. We only saw the collars on a few dogs. I never found out why they were collared, so now I have an excuse to go back!

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We came across several packs in the 4 nights we were in the Moremi Game Reserve. Some packs had half a dozen members, while others had up to 30 members. It was not uncommon to see them relaxing next to our vehicle.

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After a good yawn and roll they would become active. Sometimes it would be in the morning, other times it would be in the later afternoon.

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At the end of the day they congregated around water for a drink, and to see what prey might be present. They obliged me by posing for some nice reflection shots.

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One day we spotted them while they were actively hunting. Over 30 of them came trotting down a trail, occasionally moving towards the tall grass, then back on to the trail. They move fast, and our guides did a good job of keeping up with them as they darted all over the place. After their darting they would sit on the trail, look at us, yawn, then shoot off into the bush again. After following them for 20 minutes they vanished into thin air. It was all quite exciting, especially the reaction from our guide who was driving like a mad man trying to keep up with their changing direction.

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The best part is seeing how keen their senses are, as they look, listen, and smell for their quarry

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The Black Mamba

Most people have heard of this snake, and know how dangerous it is due to its size, speed, toxicity, and aggressiveness. It can outrun most people, easily goes up a tree, and does not seem to have fear when it is aroused. The snake is greenish-grey in color; it gets its name from the black color of the inside of its mouth.

The first time I saw a black mamba was in Tsavo National Park in Kenya in 2005. It was in the early evening as we were looking for lions to monitor. We were in a Land Cruiser, slowly going down a road looking for lions, when the driver hit the brakes so hard we were all thrown forward. The other guides started talking rapidly in Swahili and told us it was a black mamba. I saw it cross the road in front of us, moving from right to left, the upper 1/3 of its body in the air, looking directly at us, menacingly, as it moved rapidly across the road. You can see how people think snakes are evil when you see a snake like this looking at you in this manner.

Our driver sped down the road and kept on going, as the guides kept their excited Swahili talk going, which kept our heart rates up. I must admit, I was much more on the alert the rest of that night while driving around, and even looked under my bed before I went to sleep later that night!

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This picture is the only shot I could get by the time I got my wits and was able to focus on this fast-moving animal. Luckily my shaking hands did not interfere with the shot. 

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Zak explaining the different bird sounds, and how the one we were hearing was a “reptile” alarm call. I was not convinced, and thought he was pulling our legs.

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Another guide walking around with others from our trip spotted it first. Do you see it? It’s in the tree to the right, 25  feet in front of us. 

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Any luck seeing it now?

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What about now?

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3rd time’s a charm

At this point  I pulled out the telephoto lens and went to work

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At this point the mamba starting moving around the tree, so we wisely walked back to our boat 

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Cape Town and the Great White Sharks (almost)

Our shark dive was cancelled due to rough sea conditions, so we did the next best thing, and went to the beach and learned about sharks.

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It was a nice beach with lots of surfers, just like in California!

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After the surfers we saw the African penguins

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There is lots of educational material to learn about their behavior

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There are many more than this, I am showing only one section


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They still have public phone booths in Cape Town


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We had a great lunch looking out over the ocean

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Dominic was hungry that day


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The animal hospitals in Cape Town are all about dog food

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On our second day in Cape Town we climbed Table Mountain

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The view part way up the climb


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Our intrepid group of hikers who huffed and puffed for 2 hours to get to the top

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The view from the top

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We had a great guide tell us stories along the way

I will be back to Cape Town again some day to complete my shark dive.

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