Wildlife: An update from the last couple of weeks

14th August 2015
As a result, I have been on safari lots but not had much time at my computer to upload the photos! Here is a small selection from the last couple of weeks, including a wonderful lion sighting from around a week ago.

We were lucky to find a large number of giraffes milling around near a waterhole. Most were in the shade but a couple were enjoying a drink, performing their characteristic head-shake as they raise their necks after drinking.



At one point, the whole herd gathered together around a very small calf. I tried to get some shots of the calf in the middle but the melee was too tight, and I could only compose shots of their long legs all bunched together.



Crusing along the main gravel road through the park, we almost didn't see this leopard resting at the side of the road. When they are lying still and you are focussed on missing potholes, their concealing camouflage is very effective. As in domestic cats, yawning is a sign of waking up, rather than getting tired and this leopard was beginning to move around as the heat dissipated out of the day.



Returning to camp one evening, we had an extrodinary sighting of a large-spotted genet. Usually shy, the most often move away from the light and forage in the shade of a tree, using the shadow from the spotlight to hide. Not in this case; the genet approached our vehicle, appearing to follow the light and show interest in us as we watched. We kept the light nearby the genet but not on it, and eventually it came as close as 4m from the vehicle.



I've not had the chance to study one of these beautiful creatures so closely before. They are very cat-like but have an elongated snout which is more like a mongoose, and for this reason, they sit in a family of their own, between the cats and the mongooses. Some of their other anatomy and behaviour is different too.





Just after leaving camp one morning, we found a pack of 4 Wild Dogs approaching us on the road. Africa's rarest large carnivore have given us great sightings this year in the Luangwa, and I was the first to get out my camera out on this occasion! The light was still very low and dogs are actually quite a challenge for a camera as their dark areas are very black and it's hard to retain the detail, especially if the background is paler and likely to confuse the camera's meter.

Fortunately, one of the dogs was momentarily backlit by the soft morning light and it all came together for a nice portrait. We followed them for a while longer but they moved off the road into the thickets where the chances of following them was almost nil.



If you can find a habituated troop of monkeys or baboons, who are happy to continue their daily activities even though you are watching, it is a treat to sit and watch them play and interact. This female vervet was taking a bit of time out from the chaos of the troop and contemplating the buds on the sausage tree which are due to burst open anytime. When they do, it will be a feast for monkeys, birds, elephants, giraffes and of course bats.



The interaction between an elephant cow and her calf is always a pleasure to watch. Elephant calves are rarely spotted far from mum's side - one study claims that before their first birthday, a calf will spend 90% of its time within 3m of its mother...!



Discussion of lion cub behaviour to follow very soon!

























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