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Mana Pools October 2021 : Wild dogs, Lions,.....................Gymnogene


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Bush dog

@Kitsafari

 

Thank you a lot for your comments and explanations relating to the gymnogene.

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And indeed, this third day was the most exciting of the whole stay. Early morning as usual, we headed east towards Explorer's Camp.  We found tracks of wild dogs nearby.  Zera was absent that day, he

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Bush dog

By the morning of the ninth day, my wife was in the mood to walk again.  With Richard and Zera, the hike will be ten kilometers long, starting from a place five kilometers from the camp and ending along the river at acacia island.  At the height of their starting point, the lions were found lazily, as often, lying along the road.  So, they set off from a little further.  Brad and I went back to the lions to make some more shots.

 

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Seen from this angle, I think that the first two must be brothers. Maybe the other two are also, but I'm less sure.  What I haven't mentioned yet is that there were five of them.  Richard had no information about what had happened to it.

 

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Bush dog

After leaving the lions, we followed the main road towards the park when our attention was drawn by shrill cries.  A female baboon, carrying a young, as they do, under the belly, was tumbling rapidly down a tree, a very excited male chasing it.  On the ground, it had no difficulty in catching up with it.  For some reason, I think it was trying to snatch its offspring from it.  Another male then came to the rescue which allowed the female to flee, the two tails between its legs.  The two males then opposed.  It wasn't really a fight but rather a show of strength from everyone.  It was the one who shouted the loudest and showed the most threatening teeth, until one of the antagonists withdrew from the scene.

 

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LarsS

Excellent trip report! Lots of sightings to be jealous about, but thankfully you've documented them very well.

 

On 10/29/2021 at 4:07 PM, Bush dog said:

Being color blind, I had a hard time spotting them because the place was very dense.

Can imagine sometimes it can be hard to distuingish the animals. What colors are you not/less able to see? Does it bother you often on safari?

 

 

On 10/30/2021 at 10:49 PM, Bush dog said:

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It's an amazing picture, but I wonder: what's the distance between the buffalos and your wife and guide?

 

 

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Bush dog

@LarsS

Thanks a lot for your comments!

 

The distance between the buffaloes and Richard and my wife was a bit more than fifty meters.

 

To be color blind is in fact mainly to confuse green and red in all conditions.  Depending on the intensity of the light, this confusion can range from weak to strong.  But not only that, it's also extremely difficult or even impossible to distinguish something in an environment where all colors are the same shade.  When an ophthalmologist asks me to distinguish, in a book, numbers made up of small balls of the same color among other balls of different other colors, I can only read the one on the first page which is obvious.

 

So, I can see the colours, but except if it's obvious, I am unable to tell you if it's a  light or dark green, blue, grey, or.........  For the rest, my eyesight is good, at least that of my left eye.  This hereditary defect therefore has no negative effect on the taking and processing of images.  It's sometimes hard to distinguish animals, mainly when they are motionless and in any case, spotting animals is the job of the guide.

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ForWildlife
On 11/11/2021 at 5:20 PM, Bush dog said:

@wilddog @AKR1

 

Frankly, I was expecting this reaction and I am well aware that these two great organizations pay a lot of money which goes a long way towards funding nature conservation but I would say selfishly I am very happy not to have seen them arrive at Tembo Plains when the wild dogs were there.;)

 

Wonderful report and pictures!

 

There is no such thing as 'our wild dogs' of course. Everybody who is there has as much 'right' to view them. I'm not so much surprised by the filming crew, but more by all those people standing around. What's the point of driving up to some wild dogs, and then get out of the car and stand around? The best outcome of that is that it won't disturb the dogs, but dogs should be disturbed by people walking around, so having them get used to people walking around isn't a good thing. I know it's a selling point for Mana, to be able to get out and walk around, but this, in my view, is taking it way too far.

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LarsS
9 hours ago, Bush dog said:

@LarsS

Thanks a lot for your comments!

 

The distance between the buffaloes and Richard and my wife was a bit more than fifty meters.

 

To be color blind is in fact mainly to confuse green and red in all conditions.  Depending on the intensity of the light, this confusion can range from weak to strong.  But not only that, it's also extremely difficult or even impossible to distinguish something in an environment where all colors are the same shade.  When an ophthalmologist asks me to distinguish, in a book, numbers made up of small balls of the same color among other balls of different other colors, I can only read the one on the first page which is obvious.

 

So, I can see the colours, but except if it's obvious, I am unable to tell you if it's a  light or dark green, blue, grey, or.........  For the rest, my eyesight is good, at least that of my left eye.  This hereditary defect therefore has no negative effect on the taking and processing of images.  It's sometimes hard to distinguish animals, mainly when they are motionless and in any case, spotting animals is the job of the guide.

Thanks @Bush dogfor more details. Without color blindness it sometimes can already be hard to spot animals, so this makes it even more of a challenge for you. Luckily it doesn't affect your photography skills, although that was clear for me due to the quality of your photos :) 

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Bush dog

@ForWildlife

 

Thank you for your comments!

 

 

In this particular case you are theoretically right.  Where is indeed the interest to be gathered with so many people vis-a-vis these dogs especially since they were static?  Having seen them two days before throughout the day, I was not so much in favor of stopping and getting out of the car, but Richard wanted to get the latest news of the bush from his colleagues there.  We therefore stayed a very short time, only as long as he inquired.   But maybe you also have to put yourself in the shoes of the people for whom a trip to Africa is the first and seeing dogs that way is better than nothing.

So where is the limit which is probably not the same for everyone?  The ideal might be to simply prohibit the approach of animals on foot, but that seems unrealistic to me.  At this time why not also prohibit the approach of vehicles within a certain distance.  As long as a small group on foot behaves calmly while respecting the animals and the signs they can give if their comfort limits are exceeded, this is not a problem for me.  

In fact, the rules to follow are those that animals impose on us and these are different in each particular situation.

In order to avoid any misunderstanding, I would like however to point out that this is just a response given out of politeness to an esteemed member of this forum and not the start of a discussion which could turn into controversy.

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ForWildlife

Indeed, let's not distract :)

Those 4 males look really impressive, but also quite young still. Are they new on the scene? I bet they will be impressive to see for years to come if they stay together!

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Bush dog

@ForWildlife

 

They are indeed quite young and new on the scene.  It looks like they were there to stay.  They were around from the third day, I was there, until my departure, a week, covering a territory, along the river, going from the Sapi river towards the east over a good twenty kilometers.

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Last pictures of the ninth day, rest of the morning and afternoon.

 

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Black-eyed bulbul

  

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This lioness, that we had not seen previously, was far away from the four males, close to the airstrip, and it seemed to be pregnant.

 

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White-fronted bee-eater

 

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Flight of five great white pelicans (only four on the picture)

 

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On the way back to the camp, for lunch, the four big guys at the same spot.  They stayed there until the end of the afternoon.

 

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Nyala females

 

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Our good old friend, the hippo with white spots on its legs.

 

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After dinner, as usual, Richard was escorting us back to our room when he spotted, in the beam of his flashlight, in the open space between the slatted floor leading to the tents and the edge of the bushes, about fifty meters, one of the lions.  It was stalking, we learned the next morning, buffaloes.  It looked so big in the dark.  It was definitely not the time to go for a midnight bath in the plunge pool.

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Fascinating Mike @Bush dogand beautiful pictures of the Nyala ; I saw a Nyala male for a second when driving with Nick but it disappeared into the bush before I could take a picture of it and those black-eyed bulbul seem to be a Mana speciality :)

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Bush dog

The tenth day was the one of departure.  So, after breakfast we were on our way to the airstrip, after being greeted by the entire staff lined up in front of us and singing a farewell song.

 

This is Sapi the local “Boswell”

 

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And to close the trip, a nyala

 

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When we got to the airstrip, our plane wasn't there yet, but we didn't have to wait long to see it approach and land.  The pilot, David, was the one on our outbound flight.  After a smooth flight, we landed at Charles Prince airport where a driver was waiting for us.  PCR test requires, we first went to a laboratory.  With that done, he dropped us off at our hotel, Highlands House, a charming boutique hotel located on the outskirts of Harare.  In the afternoon we took a tour of Harare where the jacaranda trees were in bloom giving it a magnificent dominant blue color.  Here we are at the end of our trip but not yet of the report.  Indeed, there are still a few late-processed photos which will be presented in chronological order.

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Bush dog

First batch of late-processed pictures

 

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Bush dog

Thanks a lot, Peter @BRACQUENE

 

Second batch of late-processed pictures

 

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offshorebirder

Wow @Bush dog - thanks for the vivid storytelling sequence of the baboon drama.  

 

I did not know Nyala occurred as far north as Zimbabwe!   @everyone - do they occur across the river in Lower Zambezi NP?   I just checked Kingdon's Field Guide to African Mammals and it seems to have a strip south of the Zambezi shaded but not north of the river.

 

Also some very nice photos of wild dogs Mike - thanks for sharing.

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Bush dog

@offshorebirder

 

Thanks a lot for your nice comments!

 

From my experience, I've never neither seen a nyala nor heard from the guides of their possible presence in Lower zambezi NP.

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Bush dog

Last pictures and end of the report.

 

A big thank you to all those who followed it.

 

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@Bush dog

Very interesting trip report and beautiful pictures as usual. We stayed on the opposite side at Old Mondoro from where we could see Tembo Plains. One afternoon we came close to the Zimbabwe river bank to photograph the white fronted bee eaters. You were very lucky with your lion sightings.

We did not see many on our side of the river. We have booked Mana Pools for next August, so your trip report and @BRACQUENE's were particularly

Interesting for me. Thank you for sharing it.

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I followed along and happily enjoyed this report from start to finish.  Such fabulous photos!

Thank you.

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