Antelope: So Many Varieties!

Okay, we think we got these names all correct. There are Dik-Dik, Klipspringer, Topi, Reedbuck, Impala, Thompson’s Gazelle, Grant’s Gazelle, Waterbuck and Bushbuck. That makes 9 different species we photographed. A few others were too far away to get good pictures. We are not counting Wildebeest as they doing their great migration and were on a previous post. So here it goes:

The Dik-Dik is the smallest antelope we photographed and weighs 3-6 kg: smaller than most dogs. They are monogamous and are found in pairs. Very small and very cute.

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The Klipspringer is slightly bigger than the Dik-Dik at 8-18 kg. They are nocturnal and prefer rocky terrain which they navigate quite easily.

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The Impala is a very abundant medium sized antelope. They can be found in large herds when food is plentiful.

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The Waterbuck is a large antelope with the males reaching 300 kg. They always live near water and use it to escape from predators.

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The Thompson’s Gazelles is one of the smaller gazelles and are very fast. They will run in a zig-zag pattern when pursued by a predator like a cheetah.

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The Reedbuck is a very plain coloured antelope that has a distinct dark circle under it’s ear. We found these along the river in the reeds so hence the name.

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The Topi has very unique colouring and are a medium sized antelope. The males can weigh up to 155 kg. This female has calves with her.

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The Grant’s Gazelle looks very similar to the Thompson’s Gazelle but is much larger. They are often seems together which makes identification much easier.

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Finally, The Bushbuck which we think is the most beautiful of the 9 we photographed. These antelope live in pairs but we did not see the female.

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Meeting Cheetahs in the Serengeti

We might as well admit it. Yes, we were more than lucky on this trip. Not only did we see numerous lions and a leopard with her cub (a very rare experience) but we also had the opportunity to get very close to some cheetahs which is not a common occurrence. We suspect that these four cheetahs were either a mother with her 3 older cubs that will soon leave her or four young siblings hanging together since recently leaving their mother. Escaping the hot African sun is always a priority so finding a tree with a bit of shade to sleep under is important.

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Cheetahs have spots just like leopards but are easy to differentiate because their face has a “teardrop” marking under their eyes. They also have very long legs and their head is small in proportion to their body compared to other cats in the Serengeti.

 

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The cheetah finds a tall lookout to scan the horizon for potential prey. Here they are using an old termite mound which is just slightly higher than the surrounding savannah.

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The cheetah is the fastest animal in the world and can reach speeds of 110 kilometers per hour. They can accelerate to this speed in just 3 seconds which is the technique they use to hunt. However, this speed can only be maintained for a few seconds so they must make their kill fast or the prey will escape.

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Elephant Memories In The Serengeti

Elephants have great memories and apparently never forget, but our memories are not as good and fade with time so it is best to capture them in photographs. The Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater have been an incredible experience for us with such diversity of life. As we continue to share our photographs of this trip we thought about how surreal it is to be 20 feet away from a 10,000 pound elephant. They are huge and can weigh as much as 14,000 pounds but are very graceful and coordinated. The older males are often solitary but the younger males often hang out in small bachelor groups.

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Solitary Male Near Grumeti River, Serengeti National Park

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Pair Of Elephants Along Grumati River, Serengeti National Park

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Elephants inside Ngorongoro Crater. Notice the water line halfway up their bodies as they have just come out of the water that is behind them.

The females which have a older, experienced matriarch leading them hang out in herds which vary in size. The herds we saw ranged in size from about 10 to 40 elephants.

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Babies of any animal species are so cute and adorable and the elephant calf is no exception. It stays close to its mother but there has to be time to be a kid and just play.

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The baby in the photographs above was the star of the show and came within 5 meters of our vehicle. Although we do very little GoPro video we couldn’t resist doing one here.

We have many photos of these magnificent animals and it is hard to just pick just a few to share with you. Here are a few others that seemed to capture our attention.

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And of course, one final photograph which is my favourite picture of the elephants.

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Feeding Children at Village of Hope Mwanza in Tanzania

We were fascinated with the large scale food preparation that occurs each day by these wonderful women for the children at the Village of Hope Mwanza. Many photos we share in our posts are situations or events that were unexpected from our perspective. Cooking for 200+ children is an enormous effort but must start with wood for the fire. This man uses a machete to cut the wood. I asked him if I could try it. The wood was very hard and after about 10 swings I had only cut about 1/2 inch (1cm) into it. He does this for hours.

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Cutting the wood to be used for cooking

 

The house moms are responsible for the children’s homes but are also tasked with preparing the food which includes two nutritious mid day meals for the neighbourhood kids that attend school. The women are inspecting the food prior to cooking to remove any impurities. This seems to be a social time for the women as a great deal of talking and laughing was be taking place. Good to see all those smiles! Vegetables, fish and maize are part of the meal in these photos.

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Removing impurities prior to cooking

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Smiles always seem to be present

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Women carrying water on their heads

Now the hard part of cooking on these large outdoor pots starts. With the temperatures outside approaching 30 degrees Celsius we can only imagine how hot it gets standing next to them stirring the food.

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Fish being cooked on the outdoor pots

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Getting close to the finished product

Here is a video of the final stages of making the mid morning porridge:

 

Village Of Hope & Farm, Bulale Tanzania

Tanzania, like many African countries, faces some big food challenges in the future. A current population of over 50 million is expected to increase to 134 million people by 2050. Global warming may cause severe food shortages and this beautiful country could be faced with a challenge to feed its population.

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Rice Planting

For the past few years we been looking to get involved in a project that could increase the quality of life for people in Africa. It is easy living in Canada to take for granted all that we have from homes, cars, clothing, food and education. An opportunity has presented itself to us in Tanzania. A new Village of Hope (Bulale) is in its initial phase of construction and plans to open to students in January 2018.

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Entrance to Village of Hope Bulale

A few hundred metres from the Village of Hope complex is their 70+ acre farm that has been under utilized but has great potential. This is our short exploratory trip to view the facilities and see if we can contribute to the development of the farm. We would like to spend time here each winter helping out at the farm.

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Planting Corn

The future direction of the farm is in it’s initial phase but some goals would include meeting the food needs of the Village Of Hope, increasing the production of the farm to generate income and to provide agricultural training for the surrounding community. Hopefully our nearly 25 years in business will help us contribute, in some small way, to the success of the project.

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It is our desire that some of you reading this post will take the time to investigate the Village of Hope website and decide to sponsor a child or contribute financially to one of their great programs.

 

Village of Hope Mwanza

We had a great visit at Village of Hope Mwanza.  Village of Hope is an amazing organization that gives help to vulnerable children by providing education, nutrition, healthcare & housing (when needed). They currently have 9 locations in 6 African Countries (Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe & Burundi) and provide help to 3,000 children.

We were very impressed with what we saw at the Village of Hope Mwanza.  Not only do they house 86 children ranging in age from 3 years old to early twenties, they also have about 200 kids from the community that come each week day for school & nutritious meals.  All of the older children go to community high schools as VOH Mwanza currently offers classes from pre-school through Grade 6.

In total they have 10 houses, each with 8 to 9 kids and one house mother.  Every house has both boys & girls as well as mixed ages which feels more like family to the children. The kids are also required to help with chores such as laundry, cooking & cleaning so that they learn the skills they will need to be independent. The meals are cooked in a traditional Tanzanian outdoor kitchen.

There is also one large outdoor kitchen where all of the house mothers cook a mid morning & mid day meal for all 250+ kids who go to school on-site.  Watching them cook was very fascinating which may deserve a blog post on its own!

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The grounds were well cared for and kept clean both by the kids and staff.

One room is set up for sewing  as well as a dedicated man who does beautiful beadwork.

There is also a large garage/machine shop where many pieces of equipment, large & small, get fixed.

The kids were a lot of fun to meet! Huge smiles, happy greetings and a lot of silliness 🙂

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We will be back!

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