Sorry once again for the long delay! Work drowning me, literally! I am eager to go to KTP!
Going on with the sightings in H7, January 6th 2011, in a great trip to KNP. It was only the fourth day and it was unbelievable not only the amount but, above all, the diversity of animals we had already seen.
The next appearance in H7 were 6 (African) White-Backed Vultures. It was great to find this endangered species once again! It was the end of the day and there they were, watching the world from above a dead tree trunk, making it evidently clear why they are often seen as bad omen. Dark animals indeed! Fascinating animals in fact! And beautiful in their own way of being beautiful! One of them was in backlight, just a silhouette against a day going to end. I liked the pic.
And then another one arrived. Gathering together for the night, or so it seems.
And the silhouetted guy took a good look down. What could it be? No clue.
And then there were two guys looking down.
A third came. This was becoming a tree of vultures!
It was hard because of the bad light, but we managed to get some close-ups. And we were only with Canon powershots. I am eager to see what I can do in KTP with my new Canon EOS with a telezoom.
In the same tree with so many vultures, there were two Tawny Eagles. A very rich tree indeed. It was the end of the day, so, not much more than a silhouette, but I still think it is a worthwhile picture.
Fortunately, this eagle shows stable populations, classified as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List. Even though it is not threatened globally, its range in southern Africa has been diminished due to persecution. It is locally Endangered in Namibia.
This species is distributed through most of Africa, in a small region in the Arabic Peninsula, a small spot in Iran, and in the Indian subcontinent. For a map, see http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=106003532
This eagle generally prefers lightly-wooded savanna, but it also occurs in treeless grasslands, provided that there are pylons and alien trees to nest in. It is a resident bird, only locally nomadic, moving in search of local abundances of food, for instance, Red-billed Quelea colonies. This eagle is not only a predator, but also a scavenger, feeding on a wide variety of animals. Its usual strategy of hunting is to search for food from a perch, swooping down to catch a bird in flight or pounce on prey on the ground. It is also a regular behavior to scavenge roadkills, sometimes competing with vultures and Marabou storks at carcasses.
Some time before reaching Orpen, we had to stop again, increasing our risks of getting there late. We found a group of Warthogs, very brave guys, which came in our direction, distinctively threatening us. Quite funny scene to see, above all because they were still small Warthogs.
The Common Warthog is fortunately not threatened, classified as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List, with stable populations. Not only is this species relatively widespread and abundant, but there are no major threats resulting in significant population decline. However, the species is very susceptible to drought and hunting, and this may result in local extinctions. But notice that they are highly dependent on protected areas, where they are common animals, but outside those areas they have often been exterminated by people, often through hunting them.
Its geographic distribution can be seen here: http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=41768
It occupies a large part of sub-Saharan Africa. The overall number of warthog in Southern Africa has been estimated at about 250,000.
They form groups consisting either of sows and their piglets or bachelor groups. This group we saw in the way to Orpen was a bachelor group. Maybe that’s why they were so brave.
Warthogs use Aardvark and Porcupine burrows as dens, but they can also dig their own burrows if necessary. They use the forefeet and snouts for digging and then shovel the excess sand out of the burrow with their snouts.
They are grazers who spend most of the time looking for food. They can also eat succulent rhizomes.
They live from 12 to 15 years.
Before Orpen, we saw two herds that may be residents: (1) 32 Blue Wildebeests + 3 Burchell’s Zebra + Impalas (Aepyceros melampus); (2) Burchell’s Zebras, Blue Wildebeests, and Africa Buffalos (Syncerus caffer). Here, some pictures of the herds. Look at the nice Blue Wildebeest cubs. And the nice Blue Wildebeest butt, for the calendar!
Finally, the landscape looked beautiful by the end of the day.
It was not stressful…. (who could be stressed since so many nice animals!), but we reached Orpen just in time to check-in for Tamboti, and then go to the camp which would prove to be the most fantastic in the whole trip. Tamboti made us want wilderness camps forever!