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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Are Monkeys Cuter Than Baboons?

It was inevitable. The Olive Baboons and the Vervet Monkeys in the Serengeti National Park finally got there own post. Both of these primates have so many different sides to their personality and looks. First, let’s look at the Vervet Monkeys which I think most people would agree are cute.

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Next, let us look at the much larger Olive Baboons which I think most people would agree are not so cute. Especially with that butt, although admittedly, it is colourful.

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So then, I guess a Vervet Monkey mother with her small infant becomes even cuter.

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But does an Olive Baboon mother carrying a small infant become more cute? I don’t know but I would argue that a baboon infant is cute even when it’s a baboon.

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Vervet Monkeys are just at home in the trees or on the ground. They are never far from a tree and if a predator shows up then up the tree they go.

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Olive Baboons tend to spend a lot of time on the ground walking from spot to spot. We found them in the trees when they were feeding. I assume they sleep in trees at night.

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So in conclusion, we think monkeys are cuter than baboons so they get an extra picture!

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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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The King Lives Up to His Reputation

Lions were out in full force in the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater during our 4 day safari. We came across 4 different prides and a number of solitary lions. Although they are relatively abundant compared to the other big cats you never get tired of seeing them. However, they tend to sleep a great deal which doesn’t make for the best photos but every now and then something catches their attention and they perk up.

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Pride near the Grumeti River

If you are the king of the pride you need to live up to that reputation. This male is waiting for his lioness to wake up because he has something on his mind.

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She seems to be waking up. Ahhh, things are beginning to look promising for him.

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She is now awake and seems receptive so I guess it’s time to get down to business.

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The deed has been done (it lasted about 30 seconds) and she seems happy with his performance. Shortly after this photo was taken they both lay down and fell back asleep.

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Just like a domestic cat it seems that sleep is a big part of a lion’s life. You can sleep on the ground or you can find a comfortable fallen tree. The wildebeest are migrating at this time of year so you sleep, get up for a few seconds to watch the wildebeest go by and then you get some more sleep.

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We came across another pride laying in the long grass near a river. The male was there with his lionesses. Although the noise from our vehicle didn’t bother the lions as they kept sleeping, it did cause two small cubs to come running out from the long vegetation to find mama. Although it is fun to explore, there is nothing like being next to your mother when potential danger arises.

 

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Pride inside the Ngorongoro Crater

Giraffes of the Serengeti, Tanzania

Many animals are extremely difficult to spot in the wild. Giraffes, however, are probably the easiest because they are so tall and can be spotted from a long distance. Occasionally you find them alone but more often you find them in groups. The colours vary a bit as you can see but all are beautiful. Despite their large size they are so graceful when they run but photographs just can’t capture this. However, we hope you will enjoy some of our photos of these majestic Masai Giraffes.

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Hoped To See A Leopard But Got Much More

Growing up in Africa, Tricia has been in about 20 game parks but had never seen a leopard. They are largely nocturnal and very elusive. She told Vincent, our guide from Exotic Expeditions, that she wanted him to find her a leopard today. Well, it was our lucky day as we came across a leopard. High in a large rock outcropping you could see some movement behind the trees. It was difficult to tell it was a leopard but Vincent said he could see it. Patience and luck are the keys to wildlife photography – and a big telephoto lens! After about 30 minutes, the leopard came out from the brush and appeared ready to have a few photos taken.

 

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We were thrilled to see such a majestic animal. However, it seemed a bit odd that a nocturnal cat was active during the day. Usually they find a nice shaded tree to sleep in and avoid the heat. Then it became clear – she had company. Her small cub also came out to get it’s picture taken as well. Although difficult to photograph at approximately 50 metres away we were able to capture a few good pictures.

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