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Cheetah, Cheetah and Honey Badgers Too February 2020


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We drive on further and it is approaching lunch time.  We are looking for a kopje with a shade tree and spot a group of zebra near one and we figure that should be a good place because surly there wouldn't be any lion hanging around there since the zebra felt safe.  On closer inspection we could see a lion resting on top of the rocks with the zebra in ignorant bliss below.  


While we were looking for a lunch spot we spotted a cheetah research vehicle out on the plain.  With our binoculars we could see what looked to be a well fed cheetah nearby.  It chased some vulture away from a kill and then walked over to another cheetah laying in the weeds.


We continue searching for a lunch spot when Mama Ndege calls out "what is that"?  George says it's another cheetah.  Sure enough, of course it is.  We watch it for a bit as it gazes over the plains.


We found a spot for lunch at this point with thoughts of checking out the two cheetah near the researchers when we were finished.  They looked to be going nowhere fast.
















Edited by mapumbo
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We find the other two cheetah that were near the researchers again after lunch.  They are full and resting in the tall weeds and grass.  


This makes 6 new cheetah today along with the 11 we saw the day before.










Edited by mapumbo
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It is time to make our way back toward camp.  It will be a good long drive to return and we want to see if we can find any of the cheetah we saw yesterday on the Barafu Plains.  There is a very distinctive tree that we have used as a landmark to give us a clue to where we are.  It has a view through the window to the Serengeti.


We spot a cheetah in the distance.  George drives down near her and we see it is the mother with the singe cub from the day before.  She has made a kill and they are both enjoying a full stomach.


We travel on over to where the mother with the five cubs were feeding the day before.  We can see several vehicles gathered around.  They are perhaps a quarter of a mile away from where they were the day before.  We see the mother and four of the cubs.  Another guide tells George that the fifth cub has been seen as well.


With the six new cheetah and 7 of the 11 we sighted the day before we have had 13 cheetah to count today.  George states that we should set a goal of 25 different cheetah since we still have 4 nights in Ndutu ahead of us.  Sounds like a plan.  It could be doable with 17 so far.






















Edited by mapumbo
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We head on back through the tall grass area and sit back and relax.  We can hear as George speaks almost to himself "is that a guinea"?  Then answers himself with "no that is a serval cat"!


The serval is prowling through the tall grass looking for prey.  We are alone with it and have a wonderful view of a totally relaxed serval.  What a sight!!!!  It comes out in the road and gives a great opportunity for a clear photo.
















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This is our last night at Nyumbani Collection Camp.  We have really enjoyed our stay.  The staff were a fun loving and wonderful group.  












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The next day was a travel day from Nyumbani Camp in the central Seregeti to the Njozi Camp in Ndutu.  We did see the one mother cheetah with the single cub on the way.  We had to travel to Naabi Hill to check out of the Serengeti then on to Ndutu.


We arrived mid afternoon and had time for a quick drive on the plains to see the vast herds of wildebeest on their calving grounds.  It is overwhelming to see the herd from horizon to horizon.  There is no way to properly capture a photo of the immensity, and density of animals.  We spent 4 nights in Ndutu and never could get over the sight of seeing so many animals in one setting.





The next morning we were out at daylight.  We drove through the herds to see if we might observe a birthing.  We never did see an actual birth but saw many calves just minutes old, still wet and struggling to their feet.








Mama Ndege noticed a wildebeest smelling something and then jumping back.  She said there is a honey badger!  I had never seen one before and Ndege had just a brief sighting in the river bed in Ruaha.  This particular badger seemed as curious about us as we were of him.  He would shuffle through the grass then poke his head up and look at us.  We had a good ten minutes of time with him.  Finally he disappeared in what must have been his den.



















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We continue on weaving our way through the herd and aren't more than a half mile away from the honey badger when I see another one.  Then Mama Ndege spots it's mate.  They exhibit the same behavior.  Shuffling around randomly, stopping to look at us and then continuing about their business.  How about that!!!!  Three honey badgers in the space of a half hour. 

Live is good.










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Onward we travel enjoying the morning, the herd of grazers and the plains of Ndutu.  

We have come close to the border with the Serengeti where it is marked by the white concrete markers.  There are not many wildebeests only scattered gazelle, when George  announces what we have become accustomed to hearing, "cheetah".  There lying in the grass is a young female.  There are some Tommies nearby and they are headed her way.  We settle in to see what will transpire.  They come within thirty yards and we are sure the cheetah will try to catch one but she just watches them.  While waiting we notice there are hyena in all directions.  We end up counting around 20 of them.  George figures the cheetah will not hazard a hunt with all the hyena around.  Also when she yawns we notice that her tongue has a bloody jagged edge to it.  She has injured it somehow and this might be keeping her from hunting as well.



















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Wow on the honey badgers!  Nice job Mama Ndege 

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1 hour ago, kilopascal said:

Wow on the honey badgers!  Nice job Mama Ndege 

George told her that was a 100 point sighting.  

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Well, I think that's just overdoing out with three honey badgers in such a short space of time. I'm still waiting for my first after three safaris... 

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honey badgers AND a serval! No fair!


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I know, what a streak of luck.  We couldn't believe all the special sightings including the massive amount of cheetah we saw.

It did take 8 safaris for me to get my first honey badger and then it was a stampede of them.

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During our afternoon siesta we have lots of birds in the area in front of our tent to entertain us.  In particular a Abyssinian Scimitarbill is feeding in a nearby tree eating some of its quarry and flying away with some perhaps to young ones.














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On the afternoon drive we first heard a pair of jackals howling.  Then three half grown pups appeared from the weeds and literally bow down with their front feet stretched out in front and their tails are wagging like crazy.  One of the adults then regurgitates what looks to be placenta for the pups to eat. Literally a take out meal.


We drive on down to the Big Marsh and come across a group of bat eared fox sleeping above their den.  



















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We return back towards Lake Ndutu and see a group of vehicles under a tree.  Above is a lioness sleeping in a rather awkward position.   The strange sight is a Yellow-necked Spurfowl that seems totally confused about this feline in its territory.  The bird is clucking and walking around on the limbs inspecting the lioness from all angels.  At one time they are face to face and the lioness has this bored expression on her face.















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The next day, once again, we are off into the vast herds of wildebeest.  We never really could get our mind around the massive numbers of animals congregated in one area.  We kept looking for a mother in the act of birthing but never saw that happen, although we saw many calves who had very recently been born.



















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26 minutes ago, mapumbo said:

During our afternoon siesta

What!  George allowed a siesta. I think he’s getting soft in his old age. 😀

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56 minutes ago, kilopascal said:

What!  George allowed a siesta. I think he’s getting soft in his old age. 😀


No, he gave us the option, I think he knew we were getting soft in our old age.:unsure:

With the camp as close to the herds we took advantage of a little down time.

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Yeah. Just kidding @mapumbo  george is always up for whatever you want to do. Fantastic safari you’ve had and very fortunate on the timing both from the animal perspective and the pandemic. 

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@kilopascalYes, I heard Mama Ndege tell a friend that this was the best safari we have had.

That's as good of an endorsement as I need.  

Edited by mapumbo
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This morning we decide to take a trip over to Hidden Valley.  Along the way we see a nice group of Eland and they are in good spirits.  Also, more dung beetles.  This one has out done himself and the female trailing along must be proud of him.






















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We find the lioness in her tree again.  We have discovered from the big cat biologists at Njozi Camp that her name is Babs and that they think she may have lost her cubs due to new males coming in to the area.  It is evident that she has been down from her tree and has fed due to the blood on her chin.

We have also been shown photos the researchers had taken of a male lion recently killed in a turf battle.



















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We make our way over to Hidden Valley and there are practically no animals in site.  The grass is very tall, much similar to how it was in the central Serengeti.   We spot a lone vehicle on the other side and can see they are parked by some lion.  We make our way over to them and it appears that there are two males with a female that is in estrus.  


They are all resting so we settle down to see if there will be any movement.  In a short while the drama plays out before us.  The male farthest away looks to be fairly old and probably not the dominant one.  He looks over at the sleeping pair and decides he is going to risk a chance of sneaking by the other male and visiting the lioness.  It is pretty funny to watch him carefully skulk past the other male, but to his chagrin the female strikes at him and the other male gets up and lays on the other side of the female between them again.


We are glad we stayed to observe this interesting animal behavior.


























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We left the Hidden Valley area and journeyed back across the plains where the vast herds were calving and grazing and ended up in the Matiti Area.  George had heard that there had been some cheetah spotted in that area recently.  We had not seen any cheetah the day before for the first time in our stay in Tanzania so we were hoping to add to our total of 18 and reach our goal of 25, which was beginning to look like we weren't going to make.  This was our last day in Ndutu before we traveled to Arusha the next day for our flight home.


On arrival at the Matiti Area we could see groups of vehicles in two locations.  The first group was following three cheetah who were weaving their way back and forth across a small tree lined drainage.  We never could get a real close look at them as they were on the move back and forth through the tree line.


We left them when they finally disappeared in the bush and went a short distance to a mother a cub.  They were resting and hunting for shade.  George said the mother looked hungry and would probably hunt today.  At this point she looked like she was settled in for awhile.  These five quickly bumped our number up to 23 and the  25 count was back in sight.


We decided to head back to camp for lunch and return later in the afternoon to check on them again.













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