In this blog I have included more pictures from our days in the Samburu National Reserve. You can see the area on the map above- a little higher than midway towards the right. We normally left the hotel each day around six fifteen in the morning as the animals are most active in the early mornings and late afternoons. Often we ended up eating breakfast in the field- the one time when we did get out of the vans in the game reserve. Then around 11.30 as it got hot and the light became poorer for photography we headed back to the resort for lunch and a break before heading out again on safari around 3.30. We all loved going out on the game drives- there was always something different to see. I was never ready for the game drives to finish at the end of the day. Our van was almost always the last one back in the evening. My attitude was "just one more shot" which is probably why I ended up with over sixteen thousand photos. We never made it back by the deadline of 6.30 PM but somehow managed to avoid any fines. I should add that the safaris weren't just about photographing- it was also about watching the animals interact with each other and their environment and seeing the beautiful African landscape.
A very early morning shot. Most mornings we were out in the reserves by 6.30.
Early on this particular morning we spotted a waterbuck which is a large antelope. In spite of their name, waterbucks do not spend much time in the water but will take refuge there to escape predators. They are normally found in scrub and savanna areas near water where they eat grasses.
The Lilac-breasted roller perches high up in the tops of trees where it can spot insects, lizards, scorpions, snails, small birds and rodents moving about at ground level. This species is the national bird of Kenya and Botswana.
This bird is an African Fork-tailed Drongo. These fairly common birds in Africa are aggressive and fearless given their small size. They will attack much larger species including birds of prey if their nest or young are threatened.
These Yellow-necked Spurfowl are quite widespread in bushed grasslands and scrubland. This common, distinctive noisy bird is most active at dawn and dusk. They are generally found in pairs or small groups.
A White-browed Sparrow Weaver.
A spur-winged Plover.
We came across a group of baboons which was very exciting for me. I was warned to make sure the zippers on our tents were always zipped up from both the inside and outside as baboons are fairly common in the resorts and can be destructive. I would also put a chair in front of the tent. I actually never saw baboons in the places we stayed so I was happy to observe them in the wild. Later on in the trip, we were entering one of the parks and stretching our legs when we witnessed two baboons fighting over some garbage. They can be very aggressive so we quickly got out of the way although they had no interest in us.
This guy looked like he was staring right at me. The picture was taken at 500 mm away and heavily cropped so I was not as close to him as I looked.
I spent quite a bit of time watching the family- because I had my own van to myself I could spend as much or as little time as I wanted in the locations. Peter was my driver/guide for the whole trip and was a wealth of information. Our group consisted of three vans whose drivers all had walkie-talkies so they knew where each other was at all times. We tended to stay close together and often we would be able to talk to each other while photographing out of the roof.
We drove by some Zebras grazing. Their distinctive black and white stripes come in different patterns unique to each individual.
Zebras are generally social animals that live in small groups to large herds.
The stripes are typically vertical on the head, neck, forequarters and main body with horizontal stripes at the rear and on the legs of the animals. It was previously thought that zebras were white animals with black stripes since their underbellies are white. However, embryological evidence shows that the animals's background colour is actually black and the white stripes and bellies are additions.
This Cheetah was really far away and the photo is very heavily cropped in the software so the picture is terrible. However it is the best one I have of a Cheetah in a tree. These large cats are very difficult to find and are becoming exceedingly rare in Kenya. It was very exciting for us to actually see a few of them. We spent a long time watching a couple of them hoping that they would come closer to us. The Cheetah can run faster than any other land animal- as fast as 112 to 120 km/h (70 to 75 mph) in short bursts covering distances up to 500m (1,600 ft). They are able to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (63 mph) in three seconds. Unfortunately we never saw them running. We watched for quite a while and saw one of them walking in the forest but they were still very far away from us.
We followed the Cheetahs hoping that they would get closer to us and fortunately they ended up getting very close and actually walked right in front of the vans.
We watched a group of them walk around the vans, cross the road and finally disappear.
A Thompson Gazelle.
Next we came across a sleeping lion. Finally she opened her eyes but we waited a long time for some action.
The lion is one of the four big cats and is the second-largest living cat after the tiger. Wild lions currently exist in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia while other types of lions have disappeared from North Africa and Southwest Africa in historic times. About ten thousand years ago the lion was the most widespread large land mammal after humans. The were found in most of Africa, across Eurasia from western Europe to India and in the Americas from the Yukon to Peru.
The lion is a vulnerable species having seen a major population decline in its African range of 30-50% per two decades during the second half of the 20th century. Some of the reasons for the decline are habitat loss and conflicts with humans.
Lions live for about 10-14 years in the wild. In the wild males seldom live longer than 10 years as injuries sustained from continual fighting with rival males greatly reduce their longevity. Sleeping mainly during the day, lions are primarily nocturnal which explained why we often saw them sleeping in the shade when we were able to find them.
We were able to get very close to the lion-she was looking right at me.
We did not want her to go back to sleep!
The lions that I saw were often covered with bugs. This one was relatively clean.
A goodbye look as we finally left the area.
Looking for more animals we came across this pair of Impalas.
We headed down to the river we found a family of elephants eating.
I really enjoyed watching them.
This baby elephant was nursing. Although it looked so small against its mother, baby elephants are still huge.
You can see one of our groups' vans in the background. We were very close to the herd and I remember Peter telling me that he wanted to move further away as it could be dangerous if one of the elephants felt that she or her family was being threatened. She could easily flip the van over.
It was fun watching the elephants in the water. They like to spray themselves to keep cool. The mud also acts like sunscreen.
We came across some Vervet monkeys who are mostly vegetarian. These monkeys have been noted for having human-like characteristics such as hypertension, anxiety and social and dependent alcohol use.
Vervets live in social groups raining from 10-50 individuals.