"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The 2021 Africa Journals, Ch. 14: In Which We List Lists



Chapter 14

In Which We List Lists

I love the way a list makes a big hodgepodge of things settle down and behave.

--Blue Balliet



Sunrise on our first morning game drive since we arrived at Samburu National Reserve paints backdrop of the duom palm trees with gold as we drive the riverine forest of acacia, wild fig, and palms that line the banks of the Ewaso Ng'iro river.  We wind in and around the trees, watching for animals to  photograph.

Many, many years ago, a list of the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot in Africa was compiled.  To me, it sounds like some barroom bragging played a large part in composing that list, which became known as the Big Five.

Google "Africa safaris" and up pops a whole bunch of parks, reserves, conservancies, lodge and camps that promise you the best chance of seeing the Big Five.  They are the lion, leopard, elephant, Cape buffalo, and rhinocerous.   Originally, only the black rhino was on the list but with its dwindling numbers, the white rhino was included.


The Big Five:

 They say an elephant never forgets.  What they don't tell is that you will never forget an elephant.

Bill Murray

“Until the lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”--Zimbabwean proverb




“This world without a leopard…I mean, who would want to be here?!

 -Diana Vreeland



So is the savage buffalo, especially delighting in dark places, where he can wallow in the mud and slake his thirst without much trouble.--John Hanning Speke







A charging black rhinoceros is nothing to mess with. When it is headed straight toward you, it is the ultimate exercise in sphincter control.--Boyd Norton



That's the most frequently cited list in Africa.   There are also a few other lists, such as the Ugly Five, the Small Five, the Shy Five, etc.

Samburu has a list, too, and yesterday we saw four of the five on the Special Five. 

Beisa oryx.


                                Reticulated giraffe and Grevy's zebra.

And the fifth and final, the Somali ostrich, which we saw today in the more arid grasslands of Samburu National Reserve.   It varies from the usual ostrich by having a gray neck and legs, whereas the common ostrich has a pink neck and legs.   During breeding time, the common ostrich's neck and legs flush to red and the Somali's neck and legs are bluish.



Sociable weaver

Tawny eagle

Grevy's zebra and foal

 Female dikdik


 Male dikdik



Vervet monkey


Impala calf

Next:   Obama pays us a visit.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

The 2021 Africa Journals, Chapter 13: In Which Samburu Works Its Magic


Ch: 13

In Which Samburu Works Its Magic


“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
W.B. Yeats 


    There is nothing subtle about the magic of Samburu National Reserve.   It doesn't have to wait until sunset to impress you with exotic animals on the horizon in multi-colored hues. 

    There's no coy teasing with just the right animal in just the right light at just the right spot  No drama, no sleight of hand, no deception needed.

    Samburu's magic jumps right out and gobsmacks you.

    That's what happened to me on our first game drive after reaching Elephant Bedroom Camp on the banks of  the  Ewaso Ng'iro river.  The name means "brown water" and is pronounced U-aa-so-Nyee-ro)



 I leaned back in my chair at lunch and gazed at the river slowly moving past.   Baboons, elephants, impala....all sauntering along the far shore.   I wasn't expecting this beauty.


     The lunchtime entertainment was this red-billed hornbill in the trees that shaded our table.

    As well as a plethora of chattering white-browed sparrow weavers with their rich coffee browns and white eyebrows.



Or the gorgeous, striking Superb starling with its creamy eyes and its blues and russets and blacks.


        We didn't have to go far from camp before we saw this scene.

     This is a reticulated giraffe, one of what is called the Special Five  that gives Samburu its fame.   The reticulated is smaller than its cousins, the Maasai giraffe, but much richer in color.

        And then, a rainbow arrived to up the grandeur many times over..


    =Soon, the elephants arrived!

    What could be better than an elephant and a rainbow?   How about two elephants and two rainbows!

 It's very faint.   Look over the elephant calf.



A scenic shot with the rainbow and the river.






The reserve was very dry and locals were hoping for rain, but that rainbow was far away and no rain fell here.   The elephants are reduced to eating dead vegetation.


    If rainbows weren't enough to charm you, then Samburu offers this strange looking gazelle.   So slender, such a long neck, such beautiful colors.

    This unusual animal is called a gerenuk and is also one of Samburu's prized unusual animals called the Special Five.    Another name is giraffe gazelle.



    Here's the magical part of the gerenuk:     It also has the unusual ability to stand on its hind legs to eat leaves off  bushes! Proof is in the photo.




    Believe it or not, there was more magic to come.

    Take a close look at this zebra, our third sighting on the Special Five list.   This Grevy's zebra appeared just when the light was getting almost impossible for photos.   Grevy is pronounced like "gravy."

    It is the largest of the zebras, with large ears, long legs, and thin stripes.   It, also, is endangered.   That's a Grant's gazelle behind it.



    Here are two Grant's gazelle sparring in the twilight.   Took some powerful software to bring them into the light.



     In the photo below, the fourth of the Special Five is behind the two Grant's gazelle.   It is a Beisa Oryx and as the population is dwindling, it is considered endangered.

    These large antelope live in arid grasslands and have the ability to raise their body temperature to avoid perspiration, thus saving water in their bodies.

     The two small animals are Grant's gazelle.    Notice the elephant in the background.


                                                                            Beisa oryx.


    Just when I thought we were heading back to camp, the guide took us off in a hurry.   Another guide had located a female leopard and her juvenile in a tree.    It made for some nice silhouette photos. 


     Then, after seeing four of the Special Five in less than two hours, it was back to camp and my lovely tent.   It was also time to inspect that hole in the floor of the deck:





    My very own plunge pool right on my deck!   Does it get any better than this?