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Safaridude

@@egilio

 

I think you were the one who replied in another thread about the size of Luangwa's animal (?) Thank you for that.

 

I don't doubt that it is true the lions of Luangwa have been weighed and weighed correctly. However, it is difficult for me to believe that Luangwa's lions aren't small compared to others. They look considerably smaller to me. And I am not just talking about their manes. Many in the safari industry agree on this...

 

Why do they look so small?

Edited by Safaridude

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Kitsafari

 

I found in a couple of reports on crawshay's zebras being seen in gorongosa, but they may have confused the species with Sealous zebra,.how interesting that the different species can be so similar that it is hard to tell them apart. For me as a complete layman, i will be totally lost!

Edited by Kitsafari

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TonyQ

@@Kitsafari

A very interesting and enjoyable section. The vido link works and your video is great - showing the Zebras playing. Its also good to see the wonderfully named Lilian's Lovebirds again!

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ld1

@@Kitsafari Father Ted is an unlikely sit-com about three priests living on a remote Irish island. Sadly only 3 series were made as the lead, Dermot Morgan, tragically died at only 45 from a heart attack. Remarkably the "joke" I was referring to can be found on youtube:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFTgkibl7DUhe

 

Your photo reminded me of this as the elephant looks so small in the distance.

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ld1

Hmmmmm, I'll

 

 

If this doesn't work try googling "Father Ted Caravan" and it should list the clip under "Father Ted On Holiday"

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Kitsafari

@@ld1 LOL. Brilliant.

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egilio

@@Kitsafari : Lion manes...it's true that there probably is some relation between temperature and mane size (male lions in captivity developed larger manes when transported to zoos in cooler areas), and vegetation also probably has something to do with it (in open areas it's less likely mane hairs will be pulled out). However, there is a large variation in how extensive the mane is. With most males there is a mane covering head and neck, but with some males (the famous Busanga male for example) it extends well down over the shoulders. I don't think that has much to do with climate etc. I've spoken to researchers who worked in Kruger and they surveyed 100s of males, but less than 10 had a truly big mane. Add to that the fact that in the past few years there just weren't many prime age males around in the main game area of South Luangwa NP, and the chance of seeing a fully maned prime aged male lion was virtually none. Again, with the hunting ban things are changing rapidly. More male lions, larger coalitions and more males coming into the prime age class.

 

Zebra colors: Often debated but I'm of the belief that they're black with white stripes. For various reasons. The skin of the zebra is often black, zebra foetusses start of black and only later develop the white stripes. And black is a true pigment, where white is an inhibition of pigment. It is unlikely the pigmentation is inhibited by default and switched on in certain places to form black stripes, it's more likely that it's switched off to form white stripes.

 

What I've read about crawshay's and selous' zebra is that crawshay's occur in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique (I think north of Cahora Bassa) and Selous' in eastern Zimbabwe and western Mozambique. The zebra in Niassa and Selous GR apparently is Boehm's zebra, but they look different (the one in Niassa has narrower white stripes) and they look different to Boehm's in Kafue and Liuwa (although some range maps indicate Boehm's does not occur west of the Zambezi I'm convinced the ones in Liuwa are Boehm's, they're definitely not antiquorum or chapmanni as they have no shadowstripes). So based on the little info I have on the distribution of selous' and chrawshay's zebra I can imagine it's difficult to determine the type of zebra in Gorongosa, also because the two subspecies are hard to distinguish on photos. However, it seems they've decided on crawshay's: Re-introduction of crawshay's zebra in Gorongosa

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egilio

@@egilio

 

I think you were the one who replied in another thread about the size of Luangwa's animal (?) Thank you for that.

 

I don't doubt that it is true the lions of Luangwa have been weighed and weighed correctly. However, it is difficult for me to believe that Luangwa's lions aren't small compared to others. They look considerably smaller to me. And I am not just talking about their manes. Many in the safari industry agree on this...

 

Why do they look so small?

 

I don't know, maybe because people come with the believe they look small? We had one female in our study population who definitely was small, weighed her twice, both times 87 kg, but most other females we weighed were over 120 kg. However, we don't typically weigh them anymore as it's not a research question we're focusing on, and not something management should focus on. For the males though...most male lions seen in the main game area of South Luangwa NP were young.

 

About the temporal glands of elephants: I don't know, I've certainly seen very relaxed elephants where the temples were wet from the glands. I don't know how it relates to them being under stress.

 

Poaching: Just look at the facebook pages of the South Luangwa Conservation Society and the Zambian Carnivore Programme...it happens, and many people are working hard to address the issues around poaching.

 

The annual reports of the Zambian Carnivore Programme can be found here.

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Kitsafari

@@egilio Agree with you on poaching, although probably not on a large scale as seen before. later in our trip as we drove to the Baobab forest, guides told us they have seen poachers in the more remote areas in the western sector walking with bags of stuff.

 

I didn't go to SLNP with any conviction that lions were smaller there. but when i first saw the HOllywood pride males, my immediate response was that they looked smaller and their skin much darker. the guide also said the same thing in response to what I said. the males are about 5 years ago, so perhaps they have not reached their prime prime age of 6 years yet, although if I remember correctly, (pse tell me if i'm wrong here!) the hunters' guide is that at 6, the lions are past their prime and are "shootable".

 

Thank you for the details! they are very informative and helpful. I bet as I write my TR, you will provide even more details that I'm ignorant of or got them wrong so I want to thank you in advance! :D

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Kitsafari

Patrick passes a landmark baobab tree that is said to be between 1500 and 2000 years. It serves as a cross section for 4 roads. He takes one and we come to a dry river. It will be an oxbow lake when the rains come. In the distance we make out 2 stationary cars - that is gotta be cats.

 

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Kitsafari

As we get closer we see the most social of cats, sprawled and spread over the area. It is the Hollywood pride, and his Royal Highness struts out of a thicket at the top of a bank and flops on the floor. Not satisfied with putting on the show, he decides to strut down the bank and walks to where the vehicles are admiring him. And flops to his side. As he does that, his brother comes down the banks, does the same routine and lies next to the vehicles, drawing attention away from the 8 cubs littered around the place.

 

Male lion 1

 

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Grand entrance of Male 2 - I just love the way lions walk. they have such a regal way of walking with such an air of disdain to everything else as their huge paws pad softly on the soil.

 

 

 

 

Male 2

 

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Edited by Kitsafari

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Kitsafari

There are 14 of them, including 3 lionesses. The cubs are between 5 months and close to 12 months. There are 3 lionesses missing, including one and her 2-month old cubs - still too young to join the pride.

 

A word about Luangwa lions

The lions are about 5 years old. Male lions in SLNP sport a less voluminous manes than the lions I've seen in Tanzania or Botswana. There are various theories on their mane sizes, but the one that seems to find most popularity i the park is the searing heat in SLNP. September can see temperatures surge to 39 degrees as it does one day we are there. October is suicide month where temperatures can climb to 45 or more.

Another plausible theory is poaching and hunting. That is very true in the lion population. Hunting was banned by the government only recently in January 2013. The Zambian government lifted the general ban in August this year, but the ban remains on hunting for the cats - lions and leopards. The number of lions in Zambia ranges widely - about 2,501 to 4600 lions.

A 2013 Zambian Carnivore Programme report states that an average of 8-12 male lions was harvested each year in Luangwa Valley. This has wiped out almost all the prime male lions, leaving sub adult lions and the consequences seem very clear when we are there. There are not enough prime male lions to pass on their genes and the males of one pride doubles as pride males for another pride (at least based on all the guides’ accounts).

So you have the Hollywood males presiding over the Hollywood pride and then crossing the river during the dry season to mate with the Nsefu pride. The males of the Kaingo-Mwamba pride also mate with the Kapanda pride. The chances of inbreeding increase exponentially. Guides said the valley is hemmed in by the highlands on the west and the east, the chances of new blood stay low, although they don’t rule it out completely. The ban will hopefully give the time needed by the lions to replenish the male lines.

What has also resulted from the ban is the explosion of the prides. They are large in numbers. Hollywood pride has 19 lions, Nsefu has about 14 lions, Kaingo-Mwamba is huge at 21 but Mfuwe pride dwarfs them all with an estimated 31 lions .

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Kitsafari

We are definitely in the moment. The sun is setting and that means sundowners. Do we have to tear ourselves away from this lot? Nah. Patrick drives a little way away, gets down to prepare our drinks (while I fret the male lions will notice him pottering away). With the drinks in our hands, we drive back to where the lions are, and continue to show our devotion to the royalties.

the Hollywood pride got its name because they get featured on quite a few documentaries.

Edited by Kitsafari

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Kitsafari

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Kitsafari
Ive had problems posting this pix in particular so i'm trying to post this on its own....


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Kitsafari

We take our leave for our first proper night drive, and we are not disppointed. plent of genets, elephant shrews, lots of hippos running away, civets, scrub hares - but all determined not to give us a good clear shot. It's as if they know my camera is lousy at taking night shots of them. (well, i'm a true blue amateur, so i can blame the camera rather than the camerawoman! ;) )

 

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Edited by Kitsafari

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Kitsafari

It is a fairly quiet affair, that is until the sharp eyes of Philomen (our scout and spot-lighter and I'm sorry I can't remember the spelling of his name) catches a glimpse of a leopard. Patrick reverses the car and there she is, in all her glory, Malaika, still sitting by the bush waiting for us to return. Once we are there, she walks away and we follow. She goes into a gully and Patrick must know her very well because he positions the car and she walks by the car, still in the gully. We follow her progress and realise that on the other side of the gully is a group of impalas. Malaika is preparing to hunt. It's past 7.30pm and we will have to leave soon, but we wait for about 15mins with all lights switched off and all talk suspended. We are the only vehicle there. The silence is one to savour especially when you can enjoy the stars at the same time.

 

The impala snorts a little, they sense something is not right but cannot place it. We see Malaika peeking over the bank but 2 vehicles suddenly come along, and we don't want To spoil her hunt so we drive away. I hope she gets her kill as we hear she has a cub hidden somewhere.

4 leopards on our first day. we are more than thrilled.

 

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Edited by Kitsafari

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Kitsafari

Day 3

 

We are up and early for our first walking safari. After hearing stories of the exciting encounters you can get on foot, we are fired up for the walk. The three-hour walk turns out to be more sedate. Perhaps Patrick senses we are not prepared for the heart-thumping encounters or it is one of those quiet days where wildlife decides not to put on a show.

 

The best show is the ubiquitious LBR who shows us why it is called a roller. Roll after roll, and I forget to film it.

 

 

A possible reason gradually dawns on us why there is no close encounter. Patrick and Philemon see a spotted cat emerging from a bush. I see a swishing tail and a bum vanishing quickly into the thickets. We try to track it, and suddenly we are all too aware that, unlike Patrick and Philemon, our heavy footfalls are noisily crunching the carpet of dried leaves.

 

It is a very pleasant walk, nevertheless, seeing the land so up close. watching an elephant trying to lean on a tree to topple it, a curious giraffe eyeing us, and a lone wildebeest in the distance trying to make out what we are. Flora and fauna, termite hills on trees, and the fallen mopane trees that give the land its desolate look in the dry season.

 

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Edited by Kitsafari

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Kitsafari

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Kitsafari

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new life

 

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wildebeest and pals

 

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Kitsafari

Noon sees us at the elevated elephant hide,where Shenton has also erected a platform for overnight camping. There is a mattress with a mosquito net, ,and a flushable loo at the bottom of the tree. the place is fenced up to prevent predators from entering but it is no deterrants to the baboons.

 

a family of six elephants (looking suspiciously like the family of six from yesterday at another place) is drinking in the river and we are hoping they will do the crossing. but they look contented to stay put in ankle deep water, so we push off to the mobile hide. There is nothing much here too, except two well hidden hippos. But the stunning ebony grove, one of a few that are found near Kaingo camp, is what I enjoy most. In fact, Derek had his wedding in one of these groves, providing a most beautiful setting for the event. We hear that the post-wedding activities were quite a boisterous affair.

 

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openbill stork

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Kitsafari

Lisa, the exuberant and funny (temporary) hostess at Kaingo, joins us for the evening drive. Derek has heard kudus and baboons barking in the ebony grove and we are off hunting for leopards as Lisa is determined to get a decent shot of a leopard. Patrick drives like nuts (always very safe and mindful of his guests) around the deep gully and we see a kudu on the dry riverbed. but try as we may, there is no sign of any leopard or big cat.

 

 

So Patrick turns south towards the Kakuli junction, a bit of a way off the usual game drive for the Kaingo camp. our vehicle mates had seen, the day before when they arrived, a leopard and its kill just off the road at the junction and someone reports that the leopard is still around. But no luck, no leopard. Instead, the kill is hanging quite low. the leopard must have dropped it.

 

 

Later we hear from Vicson of Mwamba camp that he was at the area watching a hyena trying to grab the carcass which was dangling tantalisingly close to the ground. But not close enough as hyenas couldn't stretch high enough to get it.

 

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Kitsafari

we have sundowners on the Luangwa banks with a small herd of elephants accompanying us. We watch the adults and babies browsing while the setting sun paints the skies all golden. i just simply love the calm and the quiet.

 

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Kitsafari

The evening drive that night is just as sedate. Plenty of hippos moving around the area. we see quite a few hippos pairing up but they may just be the adult and its young. A juvenile great eagle owl looks down at us disdainfully in the ebony grove as we try to take decent pictures of it. A young male hyena gets up nervously and walks away from his clan to watch us warily.

 

Philomen lights the way

 

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Kitsafari

Other flora and fauna seen during the day:

 

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the Twin trees where we start the walk at

a sausage tree entwined with a mopane tree

 

 

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treeline on one side

 

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..and dry dusty plains on the other

 

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puku picking among the mexican poppies at the edge of an ebony grove. The poppies are not endemic but were brought in by the European settlers. it has

no nutritional value for the grazers

 

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need help to ID this bird! at the mobile hide.

 

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a handsome bushbuck stag

 

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kudu females and young. oddly we see very few male kudus throughout our trip.

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