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Ruaha March 2015


Gregor
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Hi Safaritalkers

 

Inspired by @Flytravelers epic trip report http://safaritalk.net/topic/13309-ruaha-and-zanzibar-september-october-2014/, I decided to copy his trip. I contacted Warthog Adventures and booked a private car, a guide and they booked a Tanapa cottage in Ruaha for me and my friend Lars. Contrary to Flytravelers trip we went during the wet season. Dry season and wet season, this is a topic I have read about, and I decided It was time for me to go during wet season to experience the difference.

 

After a long flight Stockholm - Dar es Salaam, we took the morning flight to Iringa with Auric Air. At the airport we were collected by our guide Habib. Lars on the runway, taking a picture of the airplane.

 

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After a short stop att Warthog Adventures office and a chat with their manager Geoffrey, we drove in to Iringa and shopped 48 bottles of 1/2 l water and 12 coca-cola. It was not to be enough.

 

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The drive to Ruaha was about 2 1/2 hour. A nice drive through the green lush and beautiful countryside.

 

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Finally at Ruaha :)

 

to be continued...

Edited by Gregor
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@@Gregor,

 

Looking forward to your report. Having thoroughly enjoyed Fly Travelers report and as I was also in Ruaha in Dry Season, I look forward to hearing and seeing wild and wonderful Ruaha in the rains.

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Day 1, 21st March

 

We arrived at lunch and both Lars and I was eager get out in the park. This was the first thing we saw, magnificent view down to the Ruaha river and elephants. Elephants was the animal that was most common to see in the park. Later in the week we saw a big heard of 200 - 300 animals. I don´t know If it is the most common but, In the high grass it is the easiest to see. There have been different reports of the status of poaching in the park. Ruaha national park is big and hence difficult to protect. But Tanapa sure tries to. They have a village, close to the cottages were we stayed, were 300 people lives and works, all rangers or support staff. So they have resources and manpower. According to the latest press release it pays off.

 

 

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The fish eagle is very common, definitely the most common raptor.

 

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Weather was changing fast, one moment sunshine and another rain. A bit later we came across this group of giraffs, walking in the pouring rain.

 

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Down by the river we came across three lionesses. They looked thin. According to our guide Habib they were not members of the resident pride in that area. So they were probably traveling through, looking for food.

 

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And sure enough, soon they were off, starting to stalk a small group of zebras.

 

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I enjoy so much to see lions stalking their prey. To see them organize, sneak, hide and wait, while tension builds up.

 

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Lookout in the tall grass :)

 

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The object of their interest.

 

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One of the lionesses circled the zebras (it was four of them) and they were moving right into her lap.

 

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They were so close, I thought she would grab one of them directly.

 

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When she did launch her attack, it was not on the foal but one of the adults and It did get the opportunity to run.

 

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I´m actually surprised she was not faster in the start.

 

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She pursued them, and the Zebras ran directly towards were the other two lioness were hiding. So maybe that was the strategy.

 

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One of the other lionesses took over the pursue, but the Zebras got away. Wow, this was exciting :)

 

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Defeat.

 

And then the sun shined through. The lions stopped to look out over the river.

 

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On the other side the river there were some commotion, as two youngster tried their strength. Lions watching.

 

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Some other turists (that missed the hunt) took the opportunity to photograph the lions and elephants. Very strong contrast between the heavy sky and the sun shining.

 

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After this we continued this very eventful afternoon. During this week we saw very few other turists, in all less then ten other cars.

 

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Young Yellow baboons playing around.

 

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Ruaha Red-billed Hornbill

 

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Bat-eared Foxes in the setting sunlight.

 

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Black-backed Jackal

 

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Hadada Ibis

 

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Impala in sun and rain.

 

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This was a very good start, and we were happy and satisfied. Att the cottage we got a simpel meal of rice and tomato sauce before we went to bed and, at least I, slept as a baby.

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@@Gregor,

Wow, just wow, on your photography. Nikon should make you one of their master photographers! And thanks for the settings data on your posted shots. Ruaha looks stunning, as evidenced by your exceptional shots. Thanks for sharing this. Looking forward to more.

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Love the different look of this season, lovely photos.

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@@Gregor thanks for posting a wet season Ruaha report - how different the park looks after rain.

 

Your photos are all wonderful, I particularly like the giraffes in the rain, the alert impala herd and the 4 hadeda ibis.

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Lovely photos! Somehow even the ones in the misty light have a sharpness to them, if that makes sense. What an exciting first drive you had!

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@@Gregor. So beautiful. The wider angle pictures are my favorites. Love those giraffes among others. And what a fabulous start to your Ruaha wet season adventure. Great lion hunt action - so close. Nothing wrong with Ruaha in the rains so far!!! I am very, very much looking forward to the rest of this.

 

It's tourist with an "o" by the way, from "tour". Doesn't matter at all (I am honestly happy however your spell it) but since your spelling is otherwise nearly flawless and the word is going to come up again, I thought I'd point it out, in case it is a Swedish auto spelling correction function being naughtly or something.

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Great pictures ! I love the girafes in the rain.

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@Gregor: let me add also my accolades to your photos! Mesmerising!! The fact that you have added also exif info will be appreciated by many of us. Thank you!

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Wow, @@Gregor! Absolutely gorgeous photos!!! And Ruaha during the green season, so beautiful... I am glad that you have decided to do this trip. I just don't have the time at the moment to comment on individual photos, will do it some other time. Enjoying your report very much and looking forward to seeing more! What a luck with the lion hunt!

Edited by FlyTraveler
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@@Gregor - What an exciting start to your trip and some great photographs. Our first trip there in 2009 was in November as the first rains arrived in spectacular fashion so I know how changeable it can be and your photos bring back great memories of that trip and last years "dry season" visit.

 

As another "Ruaha fan" I'm looking forward to more.

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Great start @@Gregor, really interesting to get to see Ruaha at a time most people don't visit.

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Very beautiful place!

But that press release, wow! I read about the huge decline in elephants in Ruaha in 2014, and the same publication also included the decline in the wider ecosystem (which is a point they make in the press release). The total decline was estimated about 12,000 elephants out of a population of about 22,000. And yes, 4,300 in the park.

This is in stark contrast to the 36 poaching incidences reported.

 

One source reports are decline of 4,300 elephants, another says they're only aware of 36 poached elephants...I hope this is not a government strategy of denial (although the press release indicates otherwise...): "Tanzania National Parks would like to categorically deny the above accusations.." They're not even accusations, they don't accuse anyone of poached elephants, they just state that the population declined.

 

I also fear your sentence "Later in the week we saw a big heard of 200 - 300 animals (= elephants)." When elephants are under pressure, they seem to form large herds instead of their typical family groups.

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@@Gregor - Now Ruaha is even higher on my list!!! Your photography brings out the best of Ruaha ..... Wow!!!

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Once again - beautiful photos. The three lionesses hunt sequence is amazing. A love very much the Impalas in the sun and under the rain, the giraffes in the rain, the Hadada ibises, Bat-eared foxes... Most of all I seem to like the first photo on post #3 - the Ruaha River landscape with the elephants. In my opinion the park is more beautiful during the green season. How many nights did you stay there?

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@@egilio. The report is a real shock, and I hope the lack of carcasses (identified in both the report and by TANAPA) are a good sign and that the amount of tree cover and wide dispersal area available have at least something to do with the results, but after what happened in Selous it is difficult to trust in TANAPA on this matter. If it happened in the year after a task force was established specifically to deal with the threat then it's hard to know what to say.

http://savetheelephants.org/elephant-news-service/tanzania-more-efforts-put-in-antipoaching-drive/

 

For what it is worth, elephants were generally very relaxed and in small groups in the same area a few months ago, during the dry season.

 

One of our members, Paul Tickner, runs safaris there and has I think more than a few contacts in the area. Such a huge area though. I am sure he will respond if he is in Iringa.

 

@PaoloT Have you heard about this report (link to TANAPA's response is at the beginning of post #3 of this thread)?

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Hi again @@Gregor. I know that this is kind of stupid question, but still - how would you compare Ruaha NP to SLNP in terms of overall safari experience, scenic beauty, animals etc. ? You have done both parks one after another and within a short time frame, so your comparison would be interesting to me, perhaps to other Safaritalkers, as well.

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Brilliant photos. I especially love the last two, with their misty, golden light. The lion/zebra chase must have been a tense moment!

 

When elephants are under pressure, they seem to form large herds instead of their typical family groups.

I didn't know this; I appreciate the info. I hope for the best for this park's population.

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Hi @@FlyTraveler

 

Well, very difficult comparison to make, as I have only experienced South Luangwa during the dry season and Ruaha during wet season. But I will give it a try.

Ruaha seems to be a park with more varied landscape, and with more places with potential good sightings. Ruaha have rivers, streams, forest, savanna, hills etc. all within the same area. My picture of South Luangwa is that there is not so much interesting except the areas along the river, and a few lagoons. Animal density and variation, and photo opportunities from a wildlife photography point of view, is so much higher in dry season (as experienced in South Luangwa). How this is in Ruaha during dry season, you can better judge. I think Ruaha have much more to offer from a landscape photography view. Except some short stretches along Ruaha river, it was very difficult to find/see animals in Ruaha during wet season. And the wildlife variation was very low. I had hoped to se dogs, leopards, hyenas, sable and roan antelope that I know inhabits Ruaha, but I didn´t see them. From my limited experience as a birder, I think both parks have a lot to offer in this aspect both in wet and dry season.

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Hi @@FlyTraveler

 

Well, very difficult comparison to make, as I ...

 

Hi @@Gregor, thanks for your effort to answer my difficult question. This is even more detailed reply than I would have hoped for. Regarding the animals that you couldn't see in Ruaha - just to let you know that we didn't see any sable or roan antelopes nor any wild dogs or even a cheetah during the dry season. We saw leopard twice for 6 full days, but it was more a question of luck.

Edited by FlyTraveler
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Just to show that you can't rely on someone else's experiences as a basis for your own, we were in Ruaha at a similar time as @@FlyTraveler and did see Roan but no Leopard. We were walking for over 50% of our time out-of-camp which will always cut down your sightings but in general I would tend to support @@Gregor's suggestion that it's "difficult to find/see animals in Ruaha". We've been there twice now and whilst it is still my favourite park, I'd have to say that if you want wall-to-wall animal sightings then it shouldn't be top of your list.

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We were lucky in Ruaha to see lions, buffalos, cheetah and leopard, many elephants and antelopes...not in mass herds, but enough along with the landscape to make it a very delightful and most adventurous (mobile) of safaris. We had lions right outside of camp; and without knowing, we lunch along side five...who just ignored us.

 

It is LUCK, and being in the right place at the right time. I'd like to go back and try some other areas that Kichaka Expeditions has expanded to.

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post-49296-0-37930300-1432685907_thumb.jpg post-49296-0-54298900-1432685919_thumb.jpg post-49296-0-81212900-1432685930_thumb.jpg post-49296-0-05874000-1432685944_thumb.jpg

~ @@Gregor

 

Your superlative photography is inspiring in the highest degree.

In the very best sense, you truly ‘capture the moment’ with vivid clarity.

I especially appreciate how your images discreetly include the shooting information in the lower black frame.

That's a great help in partially understanding how you achieved such a high level of imagery.

If I knew how to display shooting information as you've done, I'd gladly follow your example.

Thank you for sharing these superb Ruaha images with us.

Tom K.

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