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My last two safaris where I saw so many dream species of animals and birds


optig
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I just spent no less than 10 days at Tswalu Kalahari. I was fortunate enough to be guided by Kale and thanks to @Sangeeta's recommendation I had Jonas as my spotter. I will undoubtedly return to Tswalu Kalahari.  I did get to see a pangolin, one animal which has been highest on my list of dream animals as well as cape fox. I saw mountain zebra for the first time.  I did see an aardvark for only the second time in my life. I can  say the same for aardwolf and brown hyena. I saw meerkats on several occasions. I also saw the resident pack of wild dogs as well as lions, cheetahs, and  white and black rhino. The antelope sighting were just marvelous. Unfortunately my skills as a photographer still don't measure up. I especially need to start using the night flash on my camera

 

 Here are my first photos which were of bushmen rock carvings. I found it just fascinating that the bushmen left these carvings to help guide other bushmen through the desert. They also recorded the wildlife to leave a record to other bushmen. Kallie was a superb guide and Jonas was absolutely the best spotter that I've ever had.  I will definitely ask for him again.

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Looking forward to reading more! Ten days at Tswalu is something I can only dream of!  As for night photography, I find that I need to use a large external flash unit. I use the FL50R with my olympus gear and that works quite well.

 

That said, you should be able to get some reasonable pics if the guides have a powerful spotlight and the animal is stationery and quite close! I still couldn't manage to get any decent shots of spring hares! They are too fast! :(

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Due to my terribly limited photography skills I wasn't able to take the photos which I wanted of all the dreams animals that I saw for the first , second or even third time. Nevertheless I did get a lot of good shots of antelope. I have never seen so  many sable bulls before as well red hartebeest. 

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that sable bull with his beautiful horns is just stunning @optig

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Here are my personal photos from Tswalu Kalahari. I was guided by Kallie who was an excellent guide. My tracker was Jonas who was recommended to me by @Sangeeta. It's true there's no better set of eyes than him. If I go back to Tswalu Kalahari I'll definitely request him long in advance. He's also a very kind man who has a great sense of humor. He's truly passionate about his work. 

 

As you can see I'm looking grizzled in these photos due to my absent mindedness, I left my razor in my hotel room in Cape Town. In the future  I'm going to take two razors, blades and two tubes of shaving cream on my safaris. I'm also overweight in these photos, but  good news is that I have lost weight since then and I will continue to do so. 

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As always, I was delighted  to see that my favorite animal African wild dogs had returned to Tswalu Kalahari. I have to thank my buddy @Kitboey for informing me that the dogs had returned to Tswalu Kalahari. Of course it increased my tremendous enthusiasm to return there. 

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I wouldn't have recognised you from your avatar @optig :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

 

But then, mine doesn't do me justice either!

Edited by AfricIan
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I saw both mountain and plains zebra at Tswalu Kalahari. It was quite an unforgettable experience watching mountain zebra climbing up the rocks. It was simply breathtaking. As I mentioned earlier I had never seen mountain zebra before. They have fantastic camouflage as shown in my photos.

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No matter how many times I've seen rhinos before I'm never tired of them. Who wouldn't be? Of course I'm glad that these rhinos are totally safe from poachers. 

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I know that these aren't great photos, but at least I did got some photos of lions. The contrast with the red sand is simply stunning. 

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Please help me identify this bird. 

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@optig you had a clearer view of the dogs than I did - so don't despair about your photos. there's nothing bad about it. 

 

and the zebras are great. 

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As an afterthought I couldn't resist posting some photos of the botanical garden in Cape Town. I have to say to I enjoyed it far more than I expected. I usually find botanical gardens boring but I really enjoyed this one. I also loved staying in Camp's Bay. 

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I flew back to Nairobi and after two nights I went on safari with @Zarek Cockar We went to Aberdares, Kitale, Saiwa Swamp National Park, Lake Baringo, Lake Bogoria and  Kakamega Forest. I was fortunate enough to see giant forest hog repeatedly as well as sitatunga at Saiwa Swamp National Park, two species which had long been high on my list dream animals. My sightings of birds and monkeys were just fantastic. Needless to say i throughly enjoyed the scenery everywhere I went.

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Edited by optig
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@optigthe giant forest hogs are so delightful! were they and the sitatunga shy? where did you stay? and is there a good season to go there?

 

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I have to say that I saw the most distressing thing which I have ever seen on safari in Aberdare's; the carcasses of four dead elephants right near the main entrance of the park. The two KWS rangers gave us two conflicting stories of just why these elephants had been killed and their faces had been hacked off. 

 

You can imagine what I immediately suspected. I later called the KWS in Nairobi and they later confirmed that these elephants had been moved from a lower attitude in Kericho and that they had responded badly to the drugs used to attempt to move them so they had to be killed. I'll have to believe because this is what KWS rangers had told me earlier. Furthermore, it would seem too brazen to murder 4 elephants right near the central gate of any national park. 

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Edited by optig
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@Kitsafari No the giant forest hog weren't particularly shy. Unfortunately, there isn't really a good lodge to stay  currently in Aberdares. I went camping and @Zarek Cockar brought along a chef. I enjoyed staying in Aberdare's and I would recommend it for a couple of days if you have someone to go camping with. I saw female sitatungas later in Saiwa Swamp which is the smallest National park in Kenya. Yes, indeed the sitatunga is quite timid species of antelope.. I stayed at Blarnley's guest house. I will post more later about it.

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Wow---lucky guy to go from safari to safari :)

 

Enjoyed the forest hogs especially!  Beautiful sable bull too...

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As we all know seeing any animal in a different environment makes it much more interesting. It was fascinating to see buffalo in the Aberdare's. Thanks to @Zarek Cockar I  have these photos of a dagga boy with broken horns. I also have a photo of a buffalo who is at least reasonably healthy.

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Edited by optig
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@Zarek Cockar  explained to me how various non indigenous species introduced to Kenya had caused so much damage to the environment. I must say I thought that this was an American and Australian problem. I didn't think that it happened in East Africa with the notable exception domestic cattle which had caused rinderpest which devastated buffalo and I believe other wildlife as well. So I was surprised to see nutria(coypu) in the Aberdare's. One can see that they are semiaquatic. 

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I also saw waterbuck, as well as colobus, skye's monkey, and olive baboons.  I did manage to see living elephants, bushbuck and waterbuck. Alas, I only managed to get photos of skye'a (blue)  monkeys and waterbuck and these photos of skittish at a distance. I was surprised to see that there are living elephants in the Aberdare's, but I don't know how many. I feel that Aberdare's could be and should be thriving National Park again if either the Ark or Treetops could be renovated and upgraded or a new lodge could move in. It's a shame that park receives very few visitors since it's so green and lovely; it could receive more visitors with  little more effort. 

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Edited by optig
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Of course birding can be done anywhere in Africa and the Aberdare's was't to disappoint . It's amazing that @Zarek Cockar is so good at finding new species of birds despite being colorblind. Again he's so knowledgeable. The first one is a Pearl-spotted Owlet. The second one is a Verreaux's Eagle Owl.

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I also got this photo of a cinnamon-chested bee eater. I have to say that not only did the Aberdare's live up to its reputation for beautiful scenery, it was just wonderful to have the feeling of having the whole park to ourselves. @Zarek Cockar was so considerate about my extreme absent mindedness and was so kind helping me take photos. Fortunately, I have been losing weight since these photos were taken and my belly isn't quite so big.

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2 hours ago, optig said:

 So I was surprised to see nutria(coypu) in the Aberdare's. One can see that they are semiaquatic. 

 

 

 

I also saw one in the Aberdares at Treetops.  This was about 10 years ago..

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@optig I only have my Southern African bird book available and it has a similar bird to the one in your message #11. It must be some sort of korhaan (the southern one is a red crested korhaan).

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