cats

because no one goes on safari to see the rock agama.
because no one goes on safari to see the rock agamas.

the cats of the serengeti: within an hour of arriving in the serengeti, our guide took us to a set of rocks where the lionesses hung out, and over the course of our stay we went back again and again to see what the cats were doing. we also came across lions as we followed the wildebeest: the lions go where the food is.

sometimes, it helped to follow other vehicles.  we found four cheetah cubs when we pulled up alongside one carload of safari-goers; and when our scout heard from a passing driver that a leopard had killed a wildebeest and dragged the carcass up a tree, we were able to find him without too much difficulty. however, it was just by chance that we found some cheetahs that had just killed a wildebeest. the sight was amazing: well-fed and happy, the cats were alert for hyenas that might come in to try to steal their bounty, but they didn’t feel the need to run away when we got close.

on to the photos: first, the lions, because we saw the most of them.

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other cats: you have your cute cheetahs …

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you have your predatory cheetahs …

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and you have your leopards (finally).

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ngorongoro crater

from dubai, we flew to arusha, tanzania, to go on safari.  we chose ngorongoro crater and the serengeti because the wildebeest migrate through southern tanzania in january, and who doesn’t want to see a wildebeest migration?  fun fact: ngorongoro crater was formed by a volcano that exploded and collapsed in upon itself 2-3 million years ago.  it is about 2,000 feet deep and 100 square miles in area, with unbroken walls all the way around the crater.

it's pretty damn big.

it’s pretty damn big.

in going through my photos, i see that i shot 49 photographs – at least half of which i’ve already deleted – of cape buffalo in 12 minutes so let’s get to them first:

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the cape buffalo are one of the “big five” that you’re supposed to look for on a safari: the cape buffalo, the elephant, the lion, the black rhinoceros, and the leopard.  as it happened, we came upon the lion fairly quickly, although it wasn’t quite what we expected:

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now i know that my dog isn’t sunbathing in the driveway: he’s practicing to be a lion.

the lionesses were a little more attentive, but this group had eaten recently enough that they weren’t in a mood to hunt … which isn’t to say that they didn’t think about it.

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as it happens, we’d seen this group with their kill the previous afternoon, but we were too far away to get a good detail shot.  note the hyenas on the periphery; the lionesses had been eating for a while.

note the hyenas on the periphery; the lionesses had been eating for a while.

finally (for this post), the black rhinoceros proved to be the most difficult to find. as we drove through the crater, we managed to spy some off in the distance.  using the best rhino-enhancing software, this is what i got:

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apparently, rhinos are pretty social creatures.

next: more critters.