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Safari Year 2018 / Part 1 / Zimbabwe


Grasshopper_Club

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Grasshopper_Club

Well dear fellow Safaristalkers, 2018 was another great Safari year for me.

 

I was able to match everything together into one large trip. So i ended up going on Safari for a full month! This was my longest Safari ever and whitout doubt, as you all know the longer a Safari the bettter:D

 

Last but not least, I've found some time to start my TR for last year.

 

I was travelling  on my own for the first week and was able to join up with my friends @KafueTyrone  and @PhilJ (@ their camp "Musekese" I stayed later on as well), where we were privatley guided by the excellent @Doug Macdonald whilst using Goliath Safaris as our base camp in Mana Pools.

 

So I was staying in Africa from mid May - until mid of June.

 

 

Some Highlights:

 

  • Most dramatic sighting in my life, first day, first drive....
  • Second most dramatic sighting, last day, last drive
  • Enjoying some good company by some good friends and havin a lot of fun!
  • Chitake Springs!
  • Doug's Pit Helmet (which he lost after 3 days....uups he wasn't particularly happy on that day^_^)
  • Braai-Night with Stretch!
  • Realising how relaxing such a long Safari can be, even with the 5.00 a.m. wake up calls by Dougs standards in Mana Pools...

 

A detailed view about my itinerary....

 

Itinerary:

 

Part 1 / Zimbabwe:

 

18. May /  Bumi Hills Safari Lodge / Lake Kariba (Matusadona NP)

19. May /  Bumi Hills Safari Lodge / Lake Kariba (Matusadona NP)

20. May /  Bumi Hills Safari Lodge / Lake Kariba (Matusadona NP)

21. May /  Bumi Hills Safari Lodge / Lake Kariba (Matusadona NP)

22. May / Zambezi Expeditions / Mana Pools NP

23. May / Zambezi Expeditions / Mana Pools NP

24. May / Zambezi Expeditions / Mana Pools NP

25. May / Goliath Safaris / Mana Pools NP

26. May / Goliath Safaris / Mana Pools NP

27. May / Goliath Safaris / Mana Pools NP

28. May / Goliath Safaris / Mana Pools NP

29. May / Goliath Safaris / Mana Pools NP

30. May / Chitake Springs Mobile Camping/ Mana Pools NP

 

Part 2 / Zambia:

 

31. May / Pioneer Camp / Lusaka

1. June / Musekese Camp / Kafue NP

2. June / Musekese Camp / Kafue NP

3. June / Musekese Camp / Kafue NP

4. June / Musekese Camp / Kafue NP

5. June / Musekese Camp / Kafue NP

6. June / Musekese Camp / Kafue NP

7. June / Musekese Camp / Kafue NP

8. June / Musekese Camp / Kafue NP

9. June / Musekese Camp / Kafue NP

10. June / Nanzhila Plains Camp / Kafue NP

11. June / Nanzhila Plains Camp / Kafue NP

12. June / Nanzhila Plains Camp / Kafue NP

13. June / Nanzhila Plains Camp / Kafue NP

13. June / Nanzhila Plains Camp / Kafue NP

 

 

A short preview:

 

A picture taken on a place, I wouldn't have known without Safaritalk...Chitake Springs! What a great place, I felt like in heaven there....

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More to come....

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Well dear fellow Safaristalkers, 2018 was another great Safari year for me.   I was able to match everything together into one large trip. So i ended up going on Safari for a full month! Thi

Travelling Day   Due to some travelling to Africa in the past and often with BA, I've collected quite a few Avios points. I've checked quite some options how to spend them and getting the ou

Thanks @Tom Kellie     Shocking sighting at tea-time.... As reported before, on the first day on the morning drive, we spent most of the time with a breeding herd of Ellies on one

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Grasshopper_Club

Travelling Day

 

Due to some travelling to Africa in the past and often with BA, I've collected quite a few Avios points. I've checked quite some options how to spend them and getting the outmost for myself. So after a lot of research I found a way to get a free upgrade from Business Class into First Class. Something I always wanted to experience, couldn't tought for a better moment....

 

I was leaving Zuerich on the 17 of May 2018 with a BA flight to London Heathrow, to get the most out of the First Class Lounge in London, I've opted for a long stay of 5h at the airport.

 

My travel plan was as follows:

 

ZRH-LHR-JNB-VFA-BZH

 

I left Zuerich nearly at 11 o'clock on a wonderful day and an extremely nice flight to London, could see the port of Calais and Windsor Castle on my approach.

 

Even during that short flight, a lightly meal and the first champagne and G&T's were served....nice start for such a long trip:D

 

 

The Concorde Room, Heathrow Terminal 5

 

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Arriving in Heathrow, no queue at security, I was heading straight to the Concorde Room, BA's First Class only Lounge.

 

A very friendly check-in into the Lounge,  after a short stroll through the lounge and the first drink on the Skydeck, I've decided to go to the restaurant as it was time for lunch, better not too late.

 

There is also a very nice bar inside, I've realised that their standard whiskey in there is Johnny Walker Blue Label, something I've kept in mind for later...:D

 

A very nice and attentive service in the restaurant area, where I've ordered something to eat, or let's say to eat again as a second lunch....The champagne they serve is Laurnet Perrier Grand Siecle, in the Lounge and in the sky as well. Which I've found more than excellent.

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Champagne again...different colour...

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They have a very nice cheeseplate and a nice 25y old Port, which I couldn't resist.

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I was quite full after lunch, from the food of course^_^, and was heading back outside to the skydeck, where I enjoyed 1 or 2 glass of the mentioned Whiskey..

 

Time was running and I realised that It would be better not to fell asleep, as it was quite some booze I had already. Don't worry I was on time and said goodbye to this fabulous place...

 

Cheers to the high life!:lol:

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Arriving at Termnal C, where an A380 was already ready for boarding. 

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I was turning around to stow my hand luggage with all my photo equipment, another glass of champagne was there....I swear I haven't ordered it....it was just there...:)

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My stewardess was a genious in pereparing an excellent Bloody Mary, so I couldn't resist, I was going for a second round...

 

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more champagne...

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and more food...

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Another round of cheese and the courteous glass of port as a great way to end a meal...

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After dinner, I was changing my clothes to get into one of the pyjamas granted by BA, in the meantime the stewardess prepared my bed, which is fully flat and comprised of a full duvet. I must say this is very comfortabel, as I slept through until shortly before we landed in Johannesburg. Probably the booze helped as well..^_^

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Could there be a nicer awekening? The first sight of Africa, the early morning sun over Johannesburg. Perfect!

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The connecting flight to Vic Falls was also a short one, but again....sittign in the front row, more champagne and even more food....which was getting an Issue slowly....I felt as i was only eating and drinking nonstop...:D

 

The arrival and the immegratioin procedure was quick, thanks to the front row seats. I was going for a KAZA Visa, which is valid for both countries for 30 days, which was enough and is a great plus for both countries to visit.

 

@ Victoria Falls Airport....

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The plane to Bumi Hills..

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So after our departure we were heading to Hwange NP, as some other guests would be dropped out there. It was a very nice flight, but unfortunately I didn't felt very well.

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On our approach to the airstrip in Hwange I even saw a giraffe! Thanks to that detour over Hwange I even spotted a giraffe on my trip, lucky me...

 

I felt better on the ground...time to switch the seat and going into the front row...

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Bidding farewell to the other guests, I was now the only passenger to Bumi Hills and took the seat in front. This was a very good decision as I felt much beter and could control the fresh air circulation above me. A function I knew from some sightseeing flights over the Swiss Alps with a friend of mine who is a private pilot.

 

It was a lovey scenery and some good weather, nice time of the year too...

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On our approach to Bumi Hills....

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The Lodge is on the left hand side of the airstrip on top of the hill..

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After a nice landing the pilot and me were picked up the Lodge. Around the airstrip the first Impalas were in sight.

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Arriving at the Lodge before sunset, I was heading for my room for a shower and a very short dinner as It was a long journey.

 

I must say, I could get accustomised to that Frist Class travelling^_^ But honestly it was a nice experience, especially as it was free, thanks to the upgrade. But I wouldn't pay that amount of money for a regular fare of a first class ticket. That amount alone, could pay for another Safari. So next time Economy again...:D

 

 

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amybatt

Looking forward to this TR, you’re off to a great start!!!

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Tom Kellie

~ @Grasshopper_Club

 

I love your detailed First Class travel images.

 

It all looks comfortable and refreshing.

 

The Bumi Hills shots from the air are nice, too.

 

Thank you for posting these.

 

Tom K.

 

 

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AfricIan

I'm not a big fan of BA's cattle class but must admit their Business & First (on the very few occasions I managed to swing it!) is very nice. Like you, I could get used to it but there are better things to spend that sort of money on.

 

Looking forward to the rest of the trip

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michael-ibk

A month on safari. My favourite places. My favourite guides. Now that´s what I call epic indeed. Looking forward to this very much!

Edited by michael-ibk
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gatoratlarge

Those baby elephants!  Might be the cutest picture I've ever seen :D

 

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Grasshopper_Club

Day 1 -4 / Bumi Hills

 

After the early nap the evening before, I was quite fancy to go on a first drive! My guide was showing my around the hotspots around the Bumi Hill, especially the different bays around that peninsula. The road down the hill is still tar from the past, so the infrastructure is really there.

 

The activities here are especially in the morning not that long, compared to other places I would say a good 3.5 hours. So we started at around 6.30 and that was quite early I think as i didn't made any fuss about the breakfast and was ready to go and having some good light. We usually returend in the morning around 9.15. So they tend to give you more time inbetween the activities, so you could relax a little bit more on the

The Bumi Hill Concession lays on a beautiful hillside location just outside Matusadona NP. This an an own concession, it would take some considerable time to get into the park by rouad so therefore you will stay in the concession. The game variaty here isn't that big but the big thing here are definitely Elephants and are wonderful to watch walking around the hills and all the edges of the Lake in these picturesque bays.

Another beautiful highlight are the dead trees in the water, still there from the flooding of the lake. A very good spot to hang around for a lot of different species of birds, especially fish eagles.

 

We watched a breeding heard of Ellies walking along the shoreline and playing around for nearly half the morning. It was fun and very cute to see the little ones, especially at some point they were all standing around our car and inspecting us. Great feeling on the first day.

 

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We left the Ellies for the day and went to the airstrip on the other side of the bay for a tea break...more to follow..

 

 

 

The Lodge

 

The Lodge was built in the early 70's and a substantial renovation was undertaken in 2017/2018, so it wasn't open that long before I've arrived.  The lodge was designed in it's heyday for the wealthy weekend tourist on a short break flying in from Salisbury(Harare). Du to that fact it is not comparable to a bush camp, I would rather say it is again a luxury hotel. On my first day there were indeed a group of locals from Harare flying into the lodge for the weekend.

 

As you can see the view is an absolute dream from the pool and the maindeck. It has a little bit of a Riviera Feeling...;)

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The Island in front is Starvation Island. That Island is inhabited by a bunch of Impalas and Waterbucks and a good number of baboons. When it gets really dry later in the season, they have to feed the animals, sometimes the waterbucks make a try to swim to the mainland, but their chances getting ashore are small I would guess, as there are a plenty of Crocs in the Lake.....

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Lower Deck with the bar.

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The Campfire....a nice view is guaranteed. I really enjoyed it here every night and it was beautiful to watch all the lights on the lake from the fishermen going after the Kapenta with their lights.

 

Kapenta is a very tiny fish, which is delicious as a bar snack (really enjoyed that one), same size as anchovis more or less. On the Zim side you could see each night about 40 lights from the fisherboats, on the Zambian side there were hundreds. According to the staff, the Zim side is properly regulated with licences, where there is a lack on the other side....and due to that fact the fishermans feel a drop in the catch, so an overfishing problem here as well..

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The red soil on the shorelines is a nice contrast to the whole scene, sometimes we could watch Elephants going for a drink at the lake from up here.

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The whole estate is wonderfully looked after by its troop of gardeners...nice flowers everywhere.

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My room...

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Airconditioned....a litle bit different from the Bush Camps I stay usually within..

 

I could feel that everything was still brand-new.

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A nice terrace with a direct view on the lake. The good thing is, a fridge is in the room, as it is quite a distance back to the bar. So you can grab a cold one here and have it on the balcony.:D

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Outdoorshower wih a view.

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There is even a Snooker Room in the Main building...how odd, but fascinating..:D

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After all the Lodge is a great place for a start or an end for a longer Safari, just to relax and take it easy.

 

As stated before, the activites here are rater tame for a serious Safarigoer. So would I go back again? Yes of course, as said, a 3 nights stay here is perfect as a relaxing part of your holiday. But I would want to stay next time in the Park. They told me that they were planning to open a pier on the shoreline in the park, to get a boat transfer into and having a stationed vehicle there for excursions. That would make a lot of sense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Grasshopper_Club
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Tom Kellie

~ @Grasshopper_Club

 

The images of Bumi Hills Safari Lodge are superb.

 

Thank you for posting them. The ambience of the setting is brought out by the suite of beautiful photos.

 

The landscaping is particularly impressive.

 

What top quality elephant images! So clear and detailed.

 

All very, very nice!

 

Tom K.

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Grasshopper_Club

Before I will continue with my TR, a video about the Bumi Hills, including arrival and departure to Mana Pools.

 

So it's quite long  and videos are not my strength....sorry for that. So this video is about Elephants.

 

 

 

 

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Tom Kellie

~ @Grasshopper_Club

 

I showed the air photos of your approach to Bumi Hills.

 

They both were impressed with the photography and the lovely setting.

 

As they're unable to post in Safaritalk, they asked me to pass along their compliments.

 

Tom K.

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Grasshopper_Club

Thanks @Tom Kellie

 

 

Shocking sighting at tea-time....

As reported before, on the first day on the morning drive, we spent most of the time with a breeding herd of Ellies on one side of the peninsula.

 

We decided, my guide and me as I was the only guest on that day, to have a look on the other side of the airstrip. Have a tea break there and have a look onto the lake and the nice scenery.

 

Shortly after we left the vehicle, close around us were some Impalas and some warthogs. We were having a little chat while eating some flapjacks^_^

 

I was standing 2m away from the water, where in close distance a group of Hippos was in the shallow bay. We looked and spotted a mother with a tiny young one. Not as usually having it on her side, but on the side of her cheek/face/head. My guide N'tando recognised due to this fact, that the baby must have been very young in fact only 1-2 days old, as he didn't noticed it before. As he explained,  when they are too tiny,  the mother choose them having them around their face as compared when they are older on her side of her body.

 

I grabbed my binos and watched the bayb for less than 1minute, as N'tando told me that this is a very crucial and dangerous time for the young one as the mother has to take good care of it. Sometimes even the males in the pond would go and kill it when it's very young.

 

So the mother has to be aware of that and when growing a little bit bigger she can introduce the little one to the group. The mother was a little bit away from the main pod, were about 4-5 Hippos were grouped together. She was staying away with probably 1-2 other females and this even closer in the shallow water near the end of the bay.

 

Shortly after N'tando told me the story about that male Hippos sometimes killing the young ones, the biggest male Hippo (dominant Male) and a companion were moving towards the mother with her young one.

 

It just happening so quick, that the mother was divided between the 2 males. She tried to defend the young on,  but one male pushed her a few meters away and the big one was going straight for the poor little thing. Once the distance was quite big, the mother realised the fate of the young one and stopped fighting (it was more a mock, nothing serious) and get a lower profile away, but still watching the scene.

 

Be aware this the pictures are not for the faint-hearted!

 

After the mother was giving up, i just runned back to the Land Rover to grab my camera. We could watch how the male now trying to push the young one even closer to the edge in more shallow water.

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I could think in this picture you can clearly see the agony in the eyes of the young one and it clearly realised what would happen now.....:(

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The male tried then every killing technique possible and we must have watched it for about 10-20 minutes.  He was trying to drown it, throw it through the air, munch it to death...the whole program...

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After a little break (My guide was shouting "let that young one alone", but the male hippo didn't bothered for a second...), as we could see that the young one was still alive.

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He was going to drown the poor little tot again. The mother is in the back (I think) and has given up completely.

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This was the moment I just pressed the shutter of my camera, it was to ugly to watch.

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There is not much known about that behaviour, some say it's the possible threat for the dominant male if it's a young male as well in the future. Other say it's because the male wants to mate with the female and as long there is a young one around she isn't receptive. An extremly intresting but also disturbing behaviour from these Hippos...

 

I wasn't able to make more pictures as this was very sad. On some pictures the poor thing is in the mouth and is literally looking towards us....heartbreaking... I asked then to leave the scene as this wasn't that funny at all and nobady was for a refill of tea...

 

I think the poor little thing was still alive when we left...

 

But gosh! What a first drive!

 

We returned the day after and we found the carcass on the edge of the bay fully intact, so the Crocs haven't touched it until then. But you could see something was twitching underneath of the dead body. Probably some fish, Vundu I would guess..

 

Even a day later we returned to check, but during that time the carcass was gone...eaten probably by the many Crocs in the Lake.

 

But hey that's Nature! I just didn't thought the first kill I would ever encounter would be something of that sort....Same species kills a baby...probably it's father...

 

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Tom Kellie

~ @Grasshopper_Club

 

Your steady hand on the camera shutter is admirable.

 

Observing such a scene, I'm uncertain how I might have reacted.

 

The images are bracing, as nature's reality often is.

 

Thank you for posting them.

 

Tom K.

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Peter Connan

What a heartbreaking scene! 

 

I had not known that this was also true of hippo, but it is apparently quite common among lion.

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Zim Girl

Incredible pictures but must have been so hard to watch!!

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Towlersonsafari

your commentary sums up the termoil you must have felt very well @Grasshopper_Club

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amybatt

@Grasshopper_Club, wow what presence of mind you had to keep shooting!  You did capture an incredible (unbeliveable really!) sequence and what a difficult story.  I saw something similar with a male rhino trying to gore a young calf to kill it, the theory being that one of the two females in the crash were in estrus and the calf’s mother wasn’t, but if he killed it she would be, so he was trying to kill the calf to force her into estrus too so he could mate with them both.  So there’s some possibility of that too.

 

I think it’s heartbreaking, but another example of you never know what you’ll see day to day!  Still enjoying your report, anxious to follow along!

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douglaswise

@amybatt:

 

The theory you describe is couched in terms that suggest high order intentionality.  The behaviour of the male - the killing of a  young member of his own species - may well return the mother to oestrus sooner, but that doesn't imply that the male knows what he's doing in any conscious sense.  He's merely displaying hard wired behaviour, but the consequence will be the same whether the behaviour is conscious or unconscious.

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amybatt
35 minutes ago, douglaswise said:

@amybatt:

 

The theory you describe is couched in terms that suggest high order intentionality.  The behaviour of the male - the killing of a  young member of his own species - may well return the mother to oestrus sooner, but that doesn't imply that the male knows what he's doing in any conscious sense.  He's merely displaying hard wired behaviour, but the consequence will be the same whether the behaviour is conscious or unconscious.

 

I actually meant nothing of the sort, I’m merely communicating how my guide explained it.

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Tom Kellie
1 hour ago, amybatt said:

@Grasshopper_Club, wow what presence of mind you had to keep shooting!  You did capture an incredible (unbeliveable really!) sequence and what a difficult story.  I saw something similar with a male rhino trying to gore a young calf to kill it, the theory being that one of the two females in the crash were in estrus and the calf’s mother wasn’t, but if he killed it she would be, so he was trying to kill the calf to force her into estrus too so he could mate with them both.  So there’s some possibility of that too.

 

I think it’s heartbreaking, but another example of you never know what you’ll see day to day!  Still enjoying your report, anxious to follow along!

 

~ @amybatt

 

What you've described was quite a sighting.

 

May I please ask where that particular game drive occurred?

 

Did your guide give any idea of roughly how old the calf was?

 

Tom K.

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amybatt
12 hours ago, Tom Kellie said:

 

~ @amybatt

 

What you've described was quite a sighting.

 

May I please ask where that particular game drive occurred?

 

Did your guide give any idea of roughly how old the calf was?

 

Tom K.

 

Of course, @Tom Kellie. It was in one of our favorite places, Nairobi National Park.  It was a group of four rhinos, a male, two adult females and a calf just over a year old.  My post on it is here.  My guide had seen this before there. 

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Tom Kellie
1 minute ago, amybatt said:

Of course, @Tom Kellie. It was in one of our favorite places, Nairobi National Park.  It was a group of four rhinos, a male, two adult females and a calf just over a year old.  My post on it is here.  My guide had seen this before there. 

 

~ @amybatt

 

Thank you for the link and the explanation.

 

While I've been fortunate with a number of fairly close range rhino sightings in Nairobi National Park, I never saw anything like that.

 

The image series by @Grasshopper_Club above is striking for the exceptional clarity of each shot.

 

Disturbing as they are, the skill of making such high quality images earns my highest respect.

 

Tom K.

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