Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader John Conoboy sent. . . CATS!  His notes are indented:

Here are some photos from my recent trip to Tanzania. I will start with cats. Lions, leopards and cheetahs are the big draws, and the guides all communicate by radio whenever there is a sighting and swarms of vehicles converge at the site and jockey for position so their clients can get a good picture.

The first three are of a lion (Pathera leo nubica) we managed to spot in Tarangire National Park when there were no other vehicles around, which is extremely lucky.  Our guide said that she probably had cubs hidden somewhere while she was hunting as she is obviously nursing. We watched her stop to take a drink and then she walked directly toward our vehicle. She stopped just under the window where I was sitting. Except for my fondness for having my arm and hand attached at the shoulder, I could have reached out the window and touched her. She paused and then went around the back of the vehicle and started moving towards some zebras. Before she could do anything, the zebras moved off. We were able to follow her as she stalked some other zebras and wildebeest. She waited patiently crouched low in the grass waiting for stragglers when another safari vehicle drove through the herd and spooked the wildebeest, which all ran off.  A while later, we, and a dozen or so other vehicles, saw her with two cubs, but I was unable to get any pictures of her and the cubs due to so many vehicles crowding around and blocking the view. As she had the cubs with her, it is likely that she had made a kill.

Next are two photos of two cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus raineyi) in Serengeti National Park. Our guide identified them as brothers. We first saw them just lying on a rock, but then they got up and started moving towards some wildebeest. They stopped and watched as a young wildebeast, possibly an orphan, tried unsuccessfully to join a group of adults. They watched as the youngster started to move away from the group and as it moved off alone, they started to close in.  We saw one of the cheetahs put on an amazing burst of speed and take the wildebeast down, but it was too far away to photograph. The second cheetah joined in to finish the kill and then they took turns eating.

We saw lots of lions, mostly sleeping and a few leopards (Panthera pardus). I include a few shots of both. In one photo of two lions eating a carcass it is clear that one has a radio collar.

A real treat, however, was getting to see an African Wildcat (Felis sylvestris lybica). It is rare to see this small cat during the daytime, and this one was quite close to the road. [JAC: this is thought to be the ancestor of the housecat.]

Finally is  picture of our first cat sighting in Africa at the Arusha Hotel, where the local moggie joined us for our initial briefing by our guide.


26 Comments

  1. Posted March 9, 2017 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mick E Talbot Poems and commented:
    Beautiful wild cats and a pussy cat, rebloged, source at bottom of post

  2. Gnu Atheist
    Posted March 9, 2017 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Nature red in tooth and claw. This is why I’m a gnu atheist.

    😉

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 9, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      Lions eat gnus. Just thought I’d mention that.

      (They also famously eat Christians, but only when they can’t get gnus 😉

      cr

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted March 9, 2017 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      And I’m a gnother gnu. The gnicest work of gnature in the gzoo.
      [leaving the field open for the next line]

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted March 10, 2017 at 5:08 am | Permalink

        How d’you do?

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted March 10, 2017 at 5:14 am | Permalink

          Call me “bison” or “okapi” and I’ll sue!
          (The link you need is probably this.)

          • HaggisForBrains
            Posted March 10, 2017 at 5:21 am | Permalink

            You really ought to k-now w-ho’s w-ho. And I don’t mean Russell Harty 🙂

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted March 10, 2017 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

              Gnor in the least, am I that dreadful Harty beast
              Oh gno, gno, gno, I’m a gnu!
              (Yes, I know it’s a Hartebeest, but my younger self liked the confusion.)

              • HaggisForBrains
                Posted March 11, 2017 at 3:29 am | Permalink

                Nice one, Aidan! I completely missed your pun (thought it was a worng link), but like it.

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted March 11, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

                I’ve kept that one in the folder of “things to trot out” for at least thirty years. First use.

  3. Debbie Coplan
    Posted March 9, 2017 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Really exciting post. I love the photos and descriptions. The lion with the belly hanging in the tree looks so harmless and just like a cuddly oversized cat. The thrill of seeing these cats live has to be incredible.
    I loved seeing a picture of the African Wildcat.

  4. Posted March 9, 2017 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    The close up of the lioness is stunning.

    • John Conoboy
      Posted March 9, 2017 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      Telephoto lens helps, but I was amazed at how close you can get to lions. They don’t pay much attention to the vehicles.

      • busterggi
        Posted March 9, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        Oh they’re paying attention, they just don’t want you to know that.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 9, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        I expect they’ve figured out that the vehicles are neutral, so to speak. No use for eating, but not dangerous other than getting in the way at times.

        cr

  5. David Duncan
    Posted March 9, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    “A real treat, however, was getting to see an African Wildcat (Felis sylvestris lybica). It is rare to see this small cat during the daytime, and this one was quite close to the road. [JAC: this is thought to be the ancestor of the housecat.]”

    Looks like a trimmed down version of Hili.

    • John Conoboy
      Posted March 9, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      It was a rare treat. Our guide was really excited.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted March 9, 2017 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      Looks like a trimmed down version of Hili.

      [In voce Hili] “Decidedly anorexic, like most things that pose on the catwalk. Me – I’m supremely comfortable with my body image.”

  6. darrelle
    Posted March 9, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Love the look the African Wildcat is directing right at you, John. It’s the same look my current feline master gives me when she is not in the mood for cuddles and she knows that I am.

  7. Claudia Baker
    Posted March 9, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Wow. Gorgeous close-up of the lioness!

  8. Richard Bond
    Posted March 9, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Beautiful photographs, but:

    the guides all communicate by radio whenever there is a sighting and swarms of vehicles converge at the site and jockey for position…

    This is a really irritating problem at times. In Kenya there are two alternatives:

    1) Visit the less popular and and more extensive reserves. It might take longer to see as many animals, but you are much less likely to be surrounded by other vehicles. That is one reason why Tsavo East is my favourite. Just take longer trips: you are on holiday, right?

    2) Visit in mid-March to early April. There is a small risk that you might catch the start of the rains, but that is why there are far fewer visitors. Also, at the end of the dry season, the animals are more concentrated within range of the remaining waterholes, and much of the bush has died off so that they are easier to see.

  9. busterggi
    Posted March 9, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Careful of that last one, it could be influenced by its larger relatives. I’m already nursing an infected cat bite on my wrist from a neighbor’s cat who came to my door a couple of days ago for attention & thanked me by ripping into me.

  10. rickflick
    Posted March 9, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Great lineup of critters today. The African cat looks very much like the domestics. It even sports the same squint of insouciance.

  11. Posted March 9, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Makes me want to go back.

    • John Conoboy
      Posted March 9, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Me too. I looked back at your pictures and recognized many of the places. We probably have pictures of some of the same cats.

  12. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted March 9, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Late to the party, but these are amazing pictures. I wish I had an adventure half this exciting.


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