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Paradise Regained – Parc National Zakouma Tchad


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@@optig ahh you brought up a very interesting point! I had completely forgotten about the tse tse fly issue, and that was simply because we didn't have one.


we all dutifully brought our bug suits and gaitors and stuffed them in our bags each time we went for a game drive, all ready to throw over us at a moment's notice. but all we saw was one little bugger which was no irritant. we are not sure where the flies have gone and we didn't really care to ask. we were just grateful they weren't there to sting us!


i would however encourage you to bring it along, Owen, just in case. it's very light and doesn't add weight to your luggage anyway.


thank you for the compliments!

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Even if the record button was not doing its job, you got some excellent closeups of the cubs. Very exciting they came upon the scene for you all.

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@@optig - as Kit says, not a tsetse in sight, which was a great bit of luck!

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@@Kitsafari as @@Sangeeta rightly says you "you take all kinds of wonderful shots......." - may I ask the details of "your trusty little camera"?


Looking forward to more of both your wonderful writing and photos.

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@@Caracal thanks for the support! mine's a bridge camera Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ200. coincidentally, @@SafariChick and @@optig have the same model! mine's nearly 4 years old and getting creaky. It froze frequently while I was in Guassa (perhaps too cold and damp?) and only revived after I took the battery out. and in other situations, the zoom would seize up and the only way to get it going was take the battery out.


But it provides reliable sharp pictures and the zoom isn't that bad either. So I'm in a bit of a dilemma as to whether to get another one bridge camera before this gives up life completely the next time when I'm on a safari!


I can't give any more specs on the camera because, as @@Safaridude and Mr T can testify, I am a completely ignoramus on the techs of a camera. The Dude was very kind and generous, and very confident, of giving @@Sangeeta lessons on the fundamental and key aspects of photography. Sangeeta did pretty well, but I got a Big F after 15 mins into aperture, shutter speed and ISO. I completely gave up. I'm afraid I have the dubious honor of being the Dude's first failure... :(:ph34r:

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On our route to Tinga, we passed a place called Tim (not sure about the spelling) which had proven to be quite productive for Squack previously. But it was quiet for us, and given the marvellous encounter with the lions, I really couldn’t gripe too much. But we did see other predators of the dinosaur-type.


Like the lions, the crocodiles were much too lazy getting their suntan to perform for us. But gosh, River Salamat was just littered with these ancient beasts. For the first time too, I saw those caves that crocodiles apparently pile on top of each other to hibernate till the rains came. I’ve seen them in documentaries, so I was pretty excited to see those caves, but doubt if I would ever walk to them in the banks to peek at the pile of mighty jaws.



















a collapsed bridge...


guarded by more crocs




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When we reached Tinga camp, Sangeeta was taken for a personal tour of the facilities while the rest of us walked a short way to a waterhole. We were hoping to catch sight of the northern carmine bee-eaters, but we were just too early for the birds.


Instead, we sat in the shade of trees, not speaking to each other, each drinking in the pleasant and quiet ambiance, as the slight breeze gently brushed against the trees and bushes. The birds – queleas, green bee-eaters, egrets, etc – were darting from waterhole to bushes, repeating the cycle again. Safaridude wandered off to snap pictures of a kob that was making its way to the waterhole.


The mid morning light was harsh, not the best for photos.





Across the waterhole, out of nowhere, a magnificent antelope stepped out and stopped short. The Roan stared in our direction. We froze even as the breeze shook the leaves. How to alert the Dude that this spectacular Roan of all roans had magically been delivered? We kept glancing in his direction, finally catching his attention, and waving him over without scaring off the roan, and he walked carefully among the dried leaves back to us. We stayed very still for a long time as the roan couldn’t decide if we were friend or foe. A male harnessed bushbuck appeared from where the roan came from and came down the banks nonchalantly. Then a female waterbuck wandered into the dry stream ground and a flock of noisy guineafowl picked their way across. Still, the roan would not budge, trusting its own instincts. And finally he turned and vanished into the treeline.


That roan’s superb gorgeous horn curved backwards and is one of the largest the Dude and Squack had ever seen. And indeed that roan saved us all from the Dude’s despondency over the “lack” of roan sightings. Ya, right.


In fact, thanks to the roan, after we walked back to Tinga’s dining hall, the Dude hijacked Squack for another round at the waterhole, hoping the roan would emerge to drink. When they returned, the Dude said in a matter of fact way, “we saw a lioness hunting”. And I laughed, knowing how the Dude always tried to trick us with his poker face. But when Squack started to describe the lioness, the laugh was on me. Darn! Darn, darn, darn.


They did indeed see a lioness chasing an antelope at the waterhole. When we returned a second time a couple of mornings later, the waterhole was almost empty while we sat hidden among the bushes for over an hour. As we were leaving, Squack said he saw the lioness peeking out of a hole in the bushes and thought he saw a kill in there. No wonder the waterhole was dead quiet!


So for those who will stay at Tinga, look out for that magnificent roan and the lioness which hid from us.

















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The drive back to CN was faster than the drive to our fly camp. The main sighting of note was a group of patas monkey, finally on the ground for a better look. Previously we often saw them at the top of trees and for me their pale red coats were tough to look for in the thick leaves. But now four or five of them were hanging around on a low branch, including a large male hidden behind the group. The patas monkey is a pretty one - with their shaggy faces and black masked eyes and a light red coat.


A baboon walked purposely towards them. I think squack mentioned that the baboons were always trying to take over the territory of the patas monkeys; in other words, the baboons were just like the school boy bullies harassing the weaker and nerdier ones. And it was exactly what this baboon did, except that the alpha patas male wasn’t going to give up without a fight, even if the conclusion was foregone. and if you look closely at the video below (not that my bad filming is going to help you!) , you will see that it was a female patas who was aggressively trying to chase the baboon away, and you will almost miss the reason why - that tiny baby clinging to her belly.











Just a bird and a gazelle along the way, and then we were back at Rigueik Pans







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I can't give any more specs on the camera because, as @@Safaridude and Mr T can testify, I am a completely ignoramus on the techs of a camera. The Dude was very kind and generous, and very confident, of giving @@Sangeeta lessons on the fundamental and key aspects of photography. Sangeeta did pretty well, but I got a Big F after 15 mins into aperture, shutter speed and ISO. I completely gave up. I'm afraid I have the dubious honor of being the Dude's first failure... :(:ph34r:





You are not the first failure... as I am not done with you!


That roan at the Tinga waterhole is most likely a record-breaking one (in terms of horn length). And according to some experts, it's a record by a comfortable margin.


Our being there at the waterhole may have saved his life (for the moment anyway). The lioness, which was later seen by me and Squack chasing after a kob, had parked herself under a thick bush and was in ambush position the entire time. If the roan hadn't been disturbed by us, he could have walked right into the lioness (and the wind direction was in the lion's favor).

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@@Safaridude - what a magnificent roan and what a privilege to see it.


I'm wondering if the kob in Zakouma is the same species as the Uganda Kob?

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@@Caracal the kob in Zakouma are Buffon's kob, which is listed as vulnerable in the IUCN list. they have been in steep declines in the native countries where they once ran in great numbers - across the west and central African savannah.

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Thanks @@Kitsafari - I've never heard of Buffon's Kob - this is what I love about Safaritalk - there's always more to learn.

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@@Kitsafari that roan is just awesome. I never imagined that a roan could have such long horns.

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Wonderful new posts, love the Crocs and the Bee-Eater. And now that is a proper Roan - what a magnificent animal. Happy to see that good stuff is happening around Tinga. :)

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Great stuff @Kitsafari Really enjoyable reading and looking. So laid back I am tempted to ask whether someone had a stash of medicinal marijuana - buit of course I won't because (i) it would be rude and silly; and (ii) what happens in Chad, stays in Chad (except for all the stuff you've already written about :D). Seriously, it's very nice (your writing, not marijuana).


However, failing to press the record button for the cubs crossing the water is a bit pathetic I am afraid.

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Kit, you and your photos are really doing our safari proud. I'm still reliving it through your words and images and it is bringing back wonderful memories.


Can't wait until our little group gets back together for the next one, it will be spectacular. ;)

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@@Kitsafari I'm excited about visting Chad next year that I called the Embassy of Chad in Washington D.C. They told me that they would be happy to help me when I came back to the States in June. They were very kind and delighted that I was visiting their country. I just love your photos of the monkeys.

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However, failing to press the record button for the cubs crossing the water is a bit pathetic I am afraid.


:(:wacko: was how I felt too.

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@@twaffle very much looking forward to it too!

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@@optig thank you! please ensure that the visa will cover the dates of your trip too.

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Sorry for the delay - the end of the TR is in sight!


Rigueik Pans brought back to us on our fifth evening the duality of Zakouma – the abundance of life side by side its vast remoteness and wildness.

Far in the distance, four giraffes make their journey on an empty plain. Under the sun, the four trod in a measured pace slowly and steadily, but halted mid way as they swayed their heads to observe us. As giraffes often do, they stared at us inquisitively, probably assessing our next movements, our motives, our directions. Satisfied we were but a bunch of boring creatures, they continued their way.


Poised against that wide open plain, their steady progress only emphasised how chilled they were and how unmolested they were by our kind.


I had just watched a documentary on Walking with Giraffes this evening that talked about the silent extinction of giraffes. The number of giraffes had plunged 38% in the last 32 years from 157,000 to 97,500 today, and no one had taken notice of it. Now seeing this photo of the four tall graceful giraffes again have made it feel more poignant. These elegant creatures could vanish before the next generation can begin to see them free, and uncaged, and unfenced in the wild. The glimmer of hope in that the number of kordofan giraffes has been lifted in the stability of Zakouma is strong, but with the pressures of human settlements and habitat destruction, the pockets of wildlife habitat are shrinking inwards. Will there be space left for these graceful creatures, indeed, for all other wildlife in the 21st century?







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Another abysinnian roller rested on a twig on the floor. There were so many of them along the road, they became the LBR of the Zakouma that we gave up stopping for them. The birds and the herbivores gathered once more for their last feed of the day.


Looking at these scenes once more, I do hope that AP will succeed in building up the buffer zones and continue to grow the park and its inhabitants, and do hope that the Tchad government will stick to its pledge to sustain and support the park for many years to come.




















we couldn't resist more photos of these brilliant rollers....











nor of the baboons....



























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and more herbivores - the reedbuck, the kob, the waterbuck, the Tiang, the hartebeests, the buffaloes, the giraffes mixing and blending in with the birds hoping to catch the insects stirred by the beasts.














not a good picture in the low light of this good looking reedbuck stag but he deserves to show off even if my phototaking skills don't.



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We were returning to the quelea roost that evening for the sounds of millions of flapping wings and calls, the heat of a million tiny bodies. I don’t have good pictures of the queleas once again, as the low light cancelled out any brave attempts my bridge camera could make.


While the boys (and @Sangeeta) ventured deep into the dark hot whirls and twirls of chirping wings, I watched the setting orb of the sun shimmered on the waters as the birds flew by, marking the end of another day.













the mad chaos of a million birds




and the cacophony of the queleas. as we went near the birds, the temperature rose by a degree or two.


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@Kitsafari This continues to amaze me. What a wonderful place! And I loved the photos. The video at the end isn't working, says it's 'private', so perhaps you can re-post please? Gary's Roots of Heaven arrived - a very old and battered copy and I'm looking forward to reading it so thanks for the heads up on it.

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