The story of a rock kopje in the northern Serengeti, and daily life in the Serengeti's best new camp hidden within it.
Tue, Feb 17, 2015
We often take these primates for granted, they are particularly successful in northern Tanzania, highly intelligent and occasionally responsible for the systematic terrorism of picnickers, chefs, storekeepers and lodge managers silly enough to give them an opportunity for theft.
Scientific name Papio anubis - after the Egyptian God Anubis a deity with a mans body and the head of a jackal. The muzzle like quality of the Olive baboon's jaw reflects this.
We found them early morning, not far from the lodge. Their amber eyes are really striking at the right time of day.
You cannot help but see the similarities in our own behavior, they make for very entertaining safari observations!
If you don't look closely then you might mistake these padded prints for the tracks of one our large carnivores - the big toes and thumbs are a dead give away so don't get caught out by your guide!
Firstly the pedicure......
....then a wash, groom and blow dry......
....and I'll have my nails done please!
These two chums (a subordinate adult male and a young female) were such fun.
nothing like a catch up on troop gossip followed by a snooze in the sunshine.
Fri, Jan 30, 2015
Jana and I are massive chameleon fans....perhaps obsessively so.
During our first interview with Nomad a good portion of our allotted time was spent in the boss's bushes with a flash light - trying to teach him how to spot these little creatures at night. On the same interview I also got lost in his house trying to find the toilet (guide extraordinaire - without the sense of direction) there were a few baffled silences punctuated by a fair amount of eyebrow raising but he still hired us! A glutton for punishment.
Since October 2013 we have been scouring the Serengeti to find and photograph our favourite lizard for the blog, this week brought with it success!
Here's a few reasons why we love a chameleon......
The feet, five toes on each foot have been joined into two opposing bundles giving them a pincer like grasp that is perfect for climbing trees.
The Eyes have it, perhaps the most distinctive eyes of any reptile. The upper and lower eyelids have joined with only a pinhole for the pupil to see through, each eye can pivot and focus independently of the other giving the Chameleon 360-degrees of vision! Try doing that now..
The species here is a Flap Necked Chameleon - you can see the armour plated neck flap here.
Dragon spikes on the spine, belly and chin serve to make them look less digestible and as an outline breaker for camouflage.
Specialised cells beneath the skin can rapidly intensify and disperse pigment allowing them to change colour at will. Different species do this for a variety of reasons but it is behaviour most commonly employed for courtship, intimidation, temperature control, camouflage and those horrifying moments when you show up to a party wearing the same outfit as someone you don't particularly like!
Let's not forget that a chameleon hunts its insect prey firing a tongue longer than it's body out of it's mouth and onto it's unfortunate quarry. The "ballistically projected" tongue is powered by an elastic mechanism and can hit prey in under 0.07 seconds!
What's not to love?!
Sun, Jan 18, 2015
We were entertained for hours with this little breeding herd of Elephants.
It's fantastic to see such a lot of youngsters together and, as siblings and cousins so often are, they were full of nonsense in the cooling of the late afternoon.
Thu, Jan 8, 2015
On leaving the house yesterday morning a flash of pink caught the eye.
A closer inspection revealed an insect so intricately coloured, so psychedelically designed, that it is nearly impossible to imagine this could have occurred naturally.
The Eyed Flower Mantid.
Fact is stranger than fiction and this creature would fit on the cover of a Jimmy Hendrix record; even Dali would have found this painting weird!!
As the name suggests this design facilitates the ambush predator to stake out flowering plants awaiting the unsuspecting pollinators that make up most of its diet.
The eye on the back of the wings is most striking of all, it`s very unusual to see an asymmetric pattern like this in the natural world - I think that is why we find this thing so difficult to believe.
The triangular head and large, compound eyes are a signature characteristic of the order mantodea - an order containing nearly two and a half thousand species.
The forelegs, above and below, have developed into a fearsome, grasping apparatus - they lash out with lightning speed, digging vicious spikes into the insects on their menu and proceeding to eat them alive (often head first!).
Alert and calculating - the little predator pays close attention to Jana's camera.
Quite the poser - but as the saying goes; "if you've got it, flaunt it" - too right.
A close up of the eye design, if we'd have showed you this picture first and asked you what it was- what would you have guessed?
Sat, Jan 3, 2015
No need for a long introduction here - new arrivals on the kopje and we had one of those moments, the sighting couldn't have been better!
The perfect start to 2015, there are two leopard cubs being raised next door.
All our best wishes for your own New Year.
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