PhotoPOSTcard: Can You Count to One Million?

I don’t know how many people have actually seen one million of anything. Counting one million seconds would take about 11.5 days. One million pennies lined up side by side would form a line 11.8 miles long. So how does one grasp the concept of 1.5 million wildebeests? That’s approximately how many take part in the migration in the savanna that straddles Tanzania and Kenya. For these grazers, the grass truly is greener on the other side. They constantly relocate in a never ending cycle as they look for edible greenery. We were fortunate to be able to see a small fraction of this migration during our game drive in Tanzania’s Serengeti. As far as the eye could see, lines of animals were moving, coming together, forming a mass that continued to move forward in an unending stream of bodies, driven by some instinct to keep going, and going, and going. An amazing sight to behold.

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Rose

PhotoPOSTcard: Just “Lion” Around

We had seen a number of lion prides on our game drives in Kenya – but none of the sightings included males with big, full manes. I really wanted to see a big MGM lion. I got my wish in the Serengeti in Tanzania, with not just one big lion but two! We came across this pride, just “lion” around, taking it easy. Our guide told us that brothers often establish a pride together so that they can maintain and protect a larger territory. It turned out that by the end of our day in the Serengeti, we saw three lion prides and a total of 16 lions (plus three leopards – but that’s another story).

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Rose

PhotoPOSTcard: A Mother’s Love

We saw quite a few olive baboons on our trip in Africa. Many of the baboons that we saw were sitting on the side of the road, picking at the trash that collected  there. We also saw quite a few in the various National Parks and Reserves. We came across this mom and her very young baby in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. An infant baboon is born with black natal fur which eventually changes color as the baby matures.

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Rose

PhotoPOSTcard: Maasai Rite of Passage

As we drove toward the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, we passed through Maasai tribal land once again. We often passed by groups of young boys hanging out by the side of the road, covered in black cloths and wearing white paint on their faces. We learned that these boys were undergoing their circumcision ritual. Boys in a village between the age of 12 and 15 are circumcised during a special ceremony. Part of the challenge for them is to undergo the procedure in complete silence (and without any anesthetics either). While their body heals for the next 3-4 months, they spend the day on their own out in the bush, dressed in black with their faces painted with white chalk designs. This rite of passage is supposed to take them from being a boy to becoming a warrior. The boys expect payment in exchange for being photographed, and our driver haggled a reasonable price ($2). Presumably, that was why we tended to see them on the routes frequented by the tourist vans.

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Rose

PhotoPOSTcard: The African Saddle Billed Stork

I knew I would see many amazing mammals on our game drives in Africa. What I did not expect was to see so many unique and beautiful birds as well. We were fortunate to get a close up view of this beautiful African saddle billed stork as it was feeding in the wetlands of Amboseli National Park. With a height of about 5 feet, it is the tallest stork in the world. These stunning birds are territorial and do not migrate. A male and female mate for life, and unlike many other bird species, the male and female have similar coloring, except that the male has brown eyes and the female will have yellow eyes. As this female took off to fly away, we experienced its 8-9 foot wingspan first hand – a breathtaking sight.

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Rose

PhotoPOSTcard: Duel at Dawn

To say that Grant’s gazelles were a common sighting on our African game drives would be an understatement – we saw them frequently in all the parks. Often times, the sightings were of a “bachelor herd” – that is, a group of younger males, hanging out together for safety, waiting their turn to establish a territory with a group of females. Normally, the boys just grazed and hung out together in a what appeared to be a convivial fashion. Except for this time. As we were leaving Amboseli National Park in Kenya in the early morning, these two males were going at it. They would face off, horns down, then violently lunge at each other and lock horns, then separate and start the process all over again. We watched as they fought for about 5 minutes which seemed like a long  time to maintain such intensity. Then, for no obvious reason that we could discern, they separated and each went his own way. Go figure.

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Rose

PhotoPOSTcard: It’s Tough Being At the Top of the Food Chain

Along with its large elephant population, Amboseli National Park also supports a large variety of other African safari animals and birds. We had another lion sighting when we came across a pride trying to hunt in the middle of the day. The attention of every single herd beast in the area was focused on the lions, ears up, watching intently and keenly tracking what the big cats were doing. Once it was clear that their presence had been discovered, the pride made a half hearted attempt at the hunt, but their cover was blown and it was hot. Eventually, the lions gave up and moved into the greener, swampy grass to cool off. The predators may have decided to rest, but all of the other animals around them maintained their intense vigilance, keeping their attention on the predators for quite a while – just in case.

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Rose

PhotoPOSTcard: Getting Comfort That Only a Mother Can Give

Why do we find baby elephants so adorable?

I just could not get my fill of seeing elephants at Amboseli National Park in Kenya, which is a good thing because the park supports a population of about 1200 elephants. Midday, we came across a herd that was cooling off in the park’s muddy swamp land. We watched this little guy for a while as he struggled to make his way through the mud puddle that was almost as deep as he was tall. Once he finally made it out, he went over to mom for a comforting nursing session. We learned that if a baby elephant can fit under his mother’s belly, then he is less than a year old. This little guy may have celebrated his first birthday, but he clearly still needed the comfort and nutrition that only his mother could give. Such a sweet sight.

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Rose

PhotoPOSTcard: Boys at Play

As we entered Amboseli National Park in Kenya in the early morning, we came across two younger bull elephants in the midst of a tussle. It looked like they were practicing for when they are older and have to fight it out for the attentions of a female elephant.

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Rose

PhotoPOSTcard: The Real Life Tusker

Amboseli National Park in Kenya is known for its vast elephant population. They come down into the park in the morning from the surrounding mountains to look for food and water. We had not even crossed the official park boundaries when we came upon this large male bull elephant with his huge tusks – a real life Tusker (Tusker is one of the African beer brands that features an elephant on the label). Our guide instructed us that such large tusks are a genetic trait, and not necessarily due to just age. This big guy though was clearly quite mature and very much in charge.

Thanks for visiting.

Rose