Saturday, February 26, 2011


"Just a little to the left..."                                        Picture courtesy of Andy Campbell
 I love this picture of a millipede going for a walk along the back of a monitor lizard. That face. I reckon that sensation is just on the good side of ticklish, and I doubt the monitor's minding it too much.

It was taken by Andy Campbell on the first of his two trips to Sand Rivers in February, which must be a record. More from Andy's educated camera to follow soon...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tree's Company

Lions very rarely climb trees. And in the few places where they do, it's assumed that the reasons for doing so are fairly humdrum - to escape biting tsetse flies, or just to catch a cooling breeze.

But there's likely to be a whole lot more behind this Selous lioness's decision to climb this particular tree recently...

 John and Juliet Hayward were out on a drive when they came across a pair of "honeymoon" lions, all lovey-dovey in the shade of a Tagalala tree. Then they noticed that the happy couple was not entirely alone - way above their heads was an older lioness, perched high up in the tree.

The old lady clearly wasn't comfortable, and moved about from one side of the tree to the other. Whether her discomfort was caused by the goings-on below, or by the unfamiliar vantage point, there was no way to tell.

The young lovers didn't seem at all aware of the lioness above, and if they were, it certainly never affected their ardour.

We had some fun discussing the different possible scenarios -was she lookout, voyeur, chaperone, or outraged spinster aunt? But judging by the ragged look of her - and what looks like an eye injury - there is surely a lot more drama behind this story. We'll just never know.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ain't She Sweet?

Photos courtesy Juliet Hayward
Just cast an eye in her direction...

Can you believe that some people consider hyenas ugly?

Take this lady right here; who could resist those smouldering eyes,
the sculpted features, the Mona Lisa smile?

Oh me oh my, ain't that perfection...
Aah, she's posing now, and why not?

Note the regal air, the beautific expression,
and the fine-spun golden down she wears about her neck.

See her walking down the street...
There she goes, displaying her distinctive curves as she
sashays along, all grace and innocence.

Now I ask you, (very confidentially), ain't she sweet?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Baby Elephant Blues

Pictures courtesy Adam Hackett

I've just read a blog post from our sister camp, Greystoke Mahale, about the dramatic hunt that two of their guests witnessed - chimpanzees attacking and killing a red colobus monkey. Sometimes these things are hard for us humans to watch, we who get our food ready-cut, cleaned, packaged and anonymous from the supermarket.

Recently, two of our guests, Adam and Anthea, were witness to a pride of lions killing a baby elephant. The lions tore into their prey in a frenzy, not waiting for the two-year old elephant to die before beginning to feed. The elephant's mother and herd watched from nearby, powerless to help.

It's difficult, maybe impossible, to view these scenes dispassionately. Nor should we. Nature's uncompromising brutality prompts respect, just as her beauty brings appreciation. As always, it's about balance.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Pool Monitor

Monitors - known for keeping an eye on things.
Isn't he a cutie? This is a young Nile Monitor (Varanus Niloticus) that was snapped while relaxing in our pool area.

Although he's a bright young thing with vibrant colouring and a shy smile, he's going to grow up to be a much darker, fiercer, carnivorous reptile that could reach up to 7 feet in length. Although Nile monitors religiously avoid conflict with humans, they're not to be trifled with, and have been described as being more dangerous when threatened than a crocodile of the same size.

Sadly, their youthful good looks and slow temper have caused them to be popular among the underworld of the illegal pet trade. After millennia in the wild, these ancient and surprisingly intelligent creatures don't fare well in backyards and tiny terrariums.

So, when I read recently of how the body of a man was found being devoured by his seven pet Nile monitors, my sympathies....well, were with the monitors.