Tuesday, 31 July 2012

A Lion Kill

On our second day, we set-off for a particularly early game drive, hoping to catch the African sunrise. The morning air was so cold that I had to wrap myself with thick blankets before heading out to the bush.

We drove around for a while before coming across a large herd of African Cape buffalo roaming languidly across the dry yellow plains.

We sat in our vehicle and enjoyed the company of these massive bovines from a distance. They grazed peacefully, save for the occasional bellow or grunt. The calves stuck close to their mothers whilst the bachelor bulls, their lethal horns proudly displayed, kept to themselves. Colourful ox-peckers followed their every move; frantically picking at the abundant parasites.

In the distance, we spotted a pride of seven lions stalking the buffalos. Their tawny bodies, rippling with muscle, blended seamlessly into the background.

The lioness leading the hunt stood majestically next to a termite mound. She surveyed the herd of buffalos, searching for a straggler or a weakness in the herd.

The lions picked up their pace and quickly moved into position to launch an ambush. A red lechwe sensed the danger and quickly fled the scene.

Can you spot the four lionesses in the background?

Suddenly, everything began to happen so fast. A francolin gave out an alarm call and the spooked buffalo herd took flight.

The lions spotted a cow lagging behind. She seemed to be having difficulty in keeping up with the others.

Sensing an opportunity, the hunters moved in on their quarry. Within seconds, they were wrestling with the buffalo. One grabbed her rear while another pounced on her back. A third clamped its powerful jaws over the buffalo’s snout and delivered the ‘kiss of death’.

The buffalo was soon pinned to the ground. It struggled desperately, frantically kicking its hooves in an attempt to break free.

The rest of the buffalos regrouped like a huge black wall and marched towards the lions in an attempt to rescue the stricken cow. However, the lions stood their ground and defended the kill. One of them charged at the buffalos and they hurriedly backed-off. Each time the buffalos moved forward, the lion forced a retreat.

We watched, transfixed, as these events played out and were lucky enough to capture some of the action on video.

The hungry lions began to gorge on the dead buffalo.

To our surprise, the lioness which had been fending-off the buffalo herd, did not partake in the feast. After a short rest, she got up and walked away.

We were puzzled by this strange behaviour. I thought to myself, after all of that effort, why would she simply walk away from her meal?

Our experienced guide suggested that we should abandon the kill and follow her.

The answer was soon at hand. She had returned to collect the pride’s cubs.

Her pride (and joy).

The playful youngsters struggled to keep up…

…but persevered.

Upon reaching the scene of the kill, the ravenous youngsters made a mad dash for the carcass.

“I am the King of the castle!”

An adult lioness and her cub.

We remained with the lions for the next few hours. We were engrossed by the spectacle, despite the foul stench emanating from the dead buffalo.

The lions begrudgingly tolerated our presence, giving an occasional growl of disapproval.

Not knowing when its next meal would come, this cub kept eating until its little belly was engorged.

Eventually, with the carcass stripped down to bare bones, we left the cats and headed off for our ‘sun-downers’. I sipped my drink and pondered over our amazing experiences with the lions.

As the day came to an end, I marvelled at the beautiful African sun as it slipped below the horizon like a dying candle flame. This would be our last night at Kwando concession. The following morning we were due to travel to our next camp. I wondered to myself, what adventures would be in store for us.


Sunday, 29 July 2012

An Introduction to the Wilderness

“If you are a regular reader of my blog, you should know by now that I don’t usually write about stuff that is unrelated to Yours Truly. Occasionally, though, I make an exception. So, for the next few postings, I will hand my blog over to the Missus who will tell you all about her experiences in Africa.”



Having spent most of my life growing up in the city, I never dreamt that one day I would go to Africa; let alone fall in love with the place. The thought of travelling to remote and undeveloped places simply had not appealed to me.

So, when my husband proposed to go to Tanzania on a safari trip in 2009, many nightmarish thoughts went flashing through my mind: ferocious predators, disease-carrying insects, venomous snakes and a whole host of other creatures whose domain was totally alien to me. Hmmm… Curious? Maybe. Convinced? No.

However, after a lot of cajoling, he finally convinced me to take the plunge. After all, I love adventures and I am always up for a challenge. So, without further ado, I traded my ‘Manolos’ for a pair of hiking boots; bought a pair of binoculars; invested in a basic DSLR camera and headed down to the Serengeti for the annual wildebeest migration. And I’ve never looked back.

Following that initial trip, three years ago, I have had two further expeditions to Africa: journeying to Botswana in late 2011 and returning to Tanzania at the beginning of this year. For the next few posts, I shall be blogging about my wildlife experiences during these latest two visits.

During the course of my holidays, I took literally hundreds of photos and it would be impossible to show every one of them. To keep it simple, therefore, I will only select some of my favourites. For those who have been waiting to see them, sorry it took so long. (I did not realise that photo processing and writing could be so time consuming!)

Anyway, I hope you will enjoy these blogs as much as I enjoyed my time in the African bush.

The Missus


Linyanti, Botswana - September 2011

The first few days of my safari in Botswana were spent at the Kwando concession in Linyanti. This concession is located on the northern edge of Botswana, close to the Namibian border. Due to its location and climatic extremes, it does not attract as many tourists as some of its sister concessions in the Okavango Delta. This is a great pity – those who overlook this gem are missing out on a mind-blowing wildlife experience.

Map of Kwando Concession

It was 6am when we set-off on our first game drive. The morning air was cool and crisp with a distinctive smell of African wild sage. The hyenas were whooping in the distance; zebras were communicating with each other in their high-pitched barks and hippos could be heard snorting and grunting away from their riverbed. A herd of doe-eyed impalas were grazing on the plain, oblivious to our presence. The entire scenario seemed so surreal. I looked at the wilderness in awe and it felt good to be back in the African bush.

We drove for a while. A low rumbling noise came from nowhere. We scanned the woodlands and spotted a herd of elephants in the distance. They were busy stripping off the tree bark with their majestic tusks.

Sensing our presence, they began to congregate and shielded their little calves from us. The matriarch took a few steps forward, flapped her huge ears and shook her head as if she was doing a little dance. “Dancing elephant” I chuckled to myself.

We drove past them quickly. I turned back for one last look and managed to get a glimpse of a baby elephant emerging from the adults. What a wonderful way to start the morning!

The African Elephant, Loxodonta Africana, belongs to Africa’s ‘Big Five’ animals; the other four being the African Cape Buffalo, the Lion, the Leopard and the Rhinoceros.

My interest in bird-watching began when I saw my first Batelur in Kwando. It was a ponderous looking bird with striking orange facial features. It stood next to the riverbank, preening its feathers and admiring its own reflection. I managed to sneak a couple of shots of this pretty looking eagle before it flew off.

A ‘narcissistic’ Bateleur.

We continued our drive and later made a quick stop for a coffee break. We chose a spot right next to a leafless Baobab tree. It looked like it had roots sticking up in the air. Baobabs are massive trees, with trunks measuring up to eleven meters in diameter. Some of them are reputed to be thousands of years old!

Enjoying our coffee break next to a Baobab tree.

It was time to move on once more. We still had a couple of hours left before we had to head back to our camp. We drove aimlessly for a while and suddenly our tracker signalled to our guide to stop the vehicle. He reached out for his binoculars and scanned the trees. He had spotted something moving amongst the thick foliage.

“Look. It’s a leopard!” he whispered.

We focused intently in the general direction of his gaze but, with our untrained eyes, we saw nothing. Grabbing the binoculars, I trained my vision on an innocuous looking tree in the distance. Lo and behold, there she was, staring right back at us!

A Leopard, Panthera Pardus, enjoying her siesta. According to our guide this was an adult female.

What a magnificent creature!

She must have been at least three storeys from the ground.

Suddenly, she took a few leaps and bounds and landed gracefully on the ground, just like a ballerina.

She moved swiftly into the tall, yellow grass, camouflaging herself in the plains. I was worried that we might lose her but our experienced tracker did not let her out of his sight.

She looked across the dry plains. Her loud rasping calls pierced the air. Was she looking for something?

She certainly was. By the time we caught up with her, she was already reunited with her beautiful cub. They stayed together, enjoying each other’s company for a few precious moments, before they finally moved on.

The sun was setting. As the colours of the sky became intense and vibrant, I couldn’t resist but to take a couple of snapshots of the African sunset.

Can you spot the leopard?

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Labrador Park. (But not just for Labradors!)

Woof! Woof! Remember I told you about my birthday a few days ago? Well, I wanted to show you some photos of the wonderful outing I had after eating my cake.

Ahem… after all of that cake, I desperately needed to work off some calories. What better place to do that than Singapore’s ‘Labrador Park’.

The park is located at the southern tip of Singapore’s mainland. It has historical significance and is now one of Singapore’s few remaining nature reserves

…The most interesting thing for me though, was the name. Why is it that Labradors get their own park, and not Golden Retrievers???

Anyway, I didn’t dwell on the name, I just decided to carry on with my walk.

The only question was, which way to go?

My first instincts took us down to the waterfront. (You know how I love to swim.)

I pleaded with Dad, but he said it wasn’t safe for me to go in.

So, what to do? After a quick stop to leave my ‘calling-card’, we decided to explore the rest of the park.

As usual, my walkies were interrupted by strangers. This time they were all wishing me a ‘Happy Birthday’.

Pretty soon, there were well-wishers coming from every direction!

I had to find a hiding place - quick!

Fortunately, me and Dad shook-off my ‘entourage’ and headed again around the park promenade.

There were plenty of spots for me to sniff around.

“Mmmmmhhhhh… smells good!”

Unfortunately, all of the sniffing soon got me thirsty. Luckily these ladies were on hand to offer me some water…

…Of course, they had ulterior motives. They also wanted to gain my affections!

Phew! Me and Dad were ‘knackered’ after all of that attention.

It was OK for Dad, but I still had to sit for my portrait shots…

Here I am with the whole promenade to myself…

…and here I am again looking as booti-ful as ever!