Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Lions tongue

Spotting some vultures circling in the distance, we jumped on the opportunity to find what they had seen. The vultures were heading towards the Miombo up near our airstrip, after fiifteen minutes we reached the them. Our resident pride had mangaded to bring down a female Eland ( the largest antelope). The kill was a few hours old, the two males had already had their fill and it was the turn of one of the females. It gave a chance to get some up close photos of the scene.

Interestingly in the second photo you can clearly see the hairs (papillae) on the Lionesses tongue, these hairs are used for grooming and eating,  and possibly to help the lions drink. It has been said that a lion can lick the skin off a human.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Red-Billed Quelea

Recently, dark fast moving clouds have been starting to appear on the horizon in the Selous, these dark clouds dodge and weave around trees, appear upwards out of the ground as if from nowhere, they are of course large flocks of Red-Billed Quelea.

Some estimate the total population of this small passerine to be over 10 billion. They occur in Sub Saharan Africa, traveling in large flocks that can take up to 5 hours to pass you by. Feeding in the morning and evenings they can have a devastating effect on farmer crops, clear fields in minutes. Control action has been taken to protect the farmers and up to 180 billion have apparently been killed over the years, this has had little or no effect to their population, sometimes effecting other innocent bird populations in the process. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Can Pangolins Swim?

 Every once in a while an extremely exciting and unusual sighting comes about. On one of our morning boat trips up to Stieglers Gorge, our guests Mark and Amanda spotted a rather strange animal that looks like a pine cone. It was in fact a Ground Pangolin the Holy Grail of animal sightings, these creatures are as hard to find as water is in the Atacama Dessert. They walk on two legs using their tail to balance and wander round in search of termites or ants, which they dig for. The Pangolin is covered in extremely hard scales, when it feels threatened in curls up into a ball to protect its vulnerable belly. What made this sighting even more unusual and special was that the Pangolin was swimming!!!!!!!

 Is it a pine cone?
 Nope its a Pangolin!
Practicing its doggy paddle

When the Pangolin Finally reached the shore of the Rufiji river it walked up through the rocks and into the leaf litter, eventually putting its head into the ground and rolling into a ball. Many thanks to Mark O'Sullivan who kindly let us use his fantastic photos for our Blog.