Beho Beho Bushblog – Godlisten – 18th August

godlistenblogIt’s getting better and better as the grass is getting drier and drier everyday here in Selous, we are seeing a kill every day. Lion kill, Hyena kill, even a Monitor Lizard busy digging out Crocodile eggs around Lake Tagalala. Dry season is a good time for female crocodiles to lay their eggs on a sandbank, they lay anything from ten to fifty depend on their size and age, normally the temperature is what determines the sex of the hatchlings.

 18081

It’s normal to see Lions kill other animals like Wildebeest, Zebra and Buffalo, but it was different this time; one of our Lionesses was killed by a clan of Hyenas. Normally predators kill each other to reduce competition for their food but it is different for Hyenas as they kill other predators as food. With lots of Hyenas around the camp it makes the Lions life very hard as they scavenge Lion kills or even kill them.

 18082

We have different types of animals visit the camp every day, Hippo, Buffalo, Water-buck and Leopard come around looking for water, it’s lovely having your drink or meals and enjoying all this game right in the camp. The Msine valley is busy now with big herds of Buffalo and Wildebeest, we hope a pride of Lion will move in anytime soon.

18083

18084

Posted in Godlisten, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beho Beho Bushblog – Roel – 16th August

roelblog

They say a leopard cannot change its spots, next to that they are really rosettes, they kind of can. In rare cases animals, like humans, can develop pigmentation disorders that change their outward appearance. It is caused when the parents both carry a recessive gene that expresses itself in their offspring. So, in the case of leopards, there are individuals that are completely black and even (in extremely rare cases) strawberry colored.

From time to time, while out on a safari we see animals that differ in appearance from the rest of the group, they can be darker (melanistic) or lighter (leucistic) in color than their counterparts. In my time as a guide I have seen melanistic Gabar Goshawk, leucistic Baboon, white Lions and a melanistic Giraffe bull amongst others. But in truth it is quite rare to see, as these individuals do stand out and might be more prone to predation.

Recently while out on an afternoon Jacopo, Alessia and I went out to the hippo pool to enjoy our sundowners, as luck would have it there was also a troupe of Yellow Baboons on the opposite bank getting ready for the night. As we got back to the vehicle I heard a low rumble coming towards us, these were likely buffalo coming to the springs to drink. But what made them run? As we found the herd they looked like nothing was wrong and were slowly moving towards the water, leaving us with a bit of an anti-climactic feeling, we were hoping for lions on their tails. We then heard the alarm calls of some guinea-fowl lower down in the forest near the Msini River itself and of course we went to investigate. As we drove down we found the birds to our left, still in a bit of a panic and as I looked around I found the source of all the panic, a young male leopard resting in a large Sausage Tree on the banks of the river. We stayed with him until he got up and disappeared into the undergrowth and listened to the various alarm calls by small birds and mammals that betrayed his general direction through the forest.

Leopard

After that great sighting of a leopard, the second one for Jacopo and Alessia, we continued slowly back to camp only to be stopped by another herd of buffalo just outside the forest. We took some time to check this herd out as they were nice in the open and quite relaxed. As the buffalo were milling around we noticed an abnormality amongst them, a white buffalo. I had never heard of this before and got quite excited. I took quite some photos myself and encouraged Jacopo and Alessia to do the same, they might win the photo-competition with a good shot of this rarity. Eventually it got too dark and we had to start heading home for a couple of celebratory drinks.

White Buffalo

Leucism is a condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales or cuticle, but not the eyes. Unlike albinism, it is caused by a reduction in multiple types of pigment, not just melanin.

 

 

Posted in Roel, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beho Beho Bushblog – Roel – 9th August

roelblog

    The ways we use to find the animals we are looking for are quite varied. In its simplest form, we get “lucky” and just bump into the animal(s) on or along the route we are driving or walking. This is not the most skillful method, but it works just fine. The other ways involve a bit more skill and experience in the bush; you need to be able to read the signs and signals around you to lead you to the things you want to see.

The first one is using the tracks and signs that animals leave behind and follow them to where the animal has gone. These are usually footprints that betray an animal passing by and those can be supplemented by dung/scat, urine, scent-marks and evidence of feeding. Looking at all those things can give you a direction of travel for the animal and give clues as to how long ago the animal came through the area. We then try to follow those tracks and signs to where the animal has ended up and hopefully get a good look at it. Unfortunately it can also lead to nothing as the tracks go into areas we cannot follow or they just “disappear”. Although a bit frustrating it can be an interesting exercise to go through and learn about. Guides will pretty much spend their whole careers improving on this skill.

We can also use cues given to us by other species, like the other day when a herd of about 7 giraffe were standing a bit bunched up and all staring into the same direction, they must have seen something that they do not trust and are keeping an eye on it. As we went to have a look in the direction they were staring at we found two lionesses resting under a Leadwood. Without the giraffes we would have never spotted them. Many herbivores will look intently at a predator if it is spotted, sometimes accompanied by alarm calls and they will even follow them to keep an eye on the threat. In my time here at Beho Beho I have also used the excited calls of the spotted hyenas to find interesting sightings like lions and wild dogs. When there is a kill or a dead animal, eventually there will be birds that will go in to see if they can get a meal out of it, with vultures being the most obvious ones, but the bateleur and tawny eagle will also see if there is something in it for them. Seeing large congregations of different species of vultures and eagles sitting in trees is something to look out for.

So to help us find some of the more elusive species there are various ways we can use to help us find these and a bit of knowledge and experience definitely helps with that.

09081 09082 09083 09084 09085

 

Posted in Roel, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beho Beho Bushblog – Phil – 2nd August

philblog

Our luck with leopards this season is continuing. Usually leopard sightings are few and far between, but this last week we have had a secret weapon in our search for this most secretive of cats! Sam Ridgley came to stay with us and Sam was soon given the nickname the leopard whisperer. Sam joined 6 drives and enjoyed 3 separate leopard sightings.

 

The first tried to take one of the Impala we were quietly watching before realizing that there was a vehicle full of humans sitting quietly and wide eyed watching and promptly let go of the lucky impala before slinking off!

 

A few days later and as all three game drives headed home after sundowners, Heribert spotted a young leopard walking near the airstrip and although dark everyone got to have a good view before heading home for dinner.

 

The next day and another leopard, this time baboons alerted us to the presence of an impressive male in the Msine river valley, who turned out to be rather relaxed, once he had eluded the baboon troop that had chased him off that is.

 

A 50% success rate in leopard spotting definitely earns the nickname the leopard whisperer and we would happily of kept Sam on as part of the staff in charge of big cat spotting.

Unfortunately for us Helen, Phil and George Ridgley did take him home after their safari and we had great fun with both the Ridgleys and with repeat guests David, Imogen and Isobel Fox along with Isobel’s friend Emily. It was great to see them again and enjoy another safari full of cats, hippo, elephants, fancy birds and lots of laughs.

 

It was not just the Fox/Ridgley group who benefited from the presence of the leopard whisperer though: The Durnford family, on their first afternoon drive were treated to a leopard on the airstrip on the way home, and then the very next day the Bradbury family enjoying their first afternoon drive got to see a big male leopard who sat calmly for a few minutes posing before heading off into the darkness.

 

A big thank you to Keir Davidson for his great leopard pictures he provided for this blog.

02081

02082

02083

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Phil, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Beho Beho Bushblog – Tricia – 26th July

triciablogPerhaps more widely used than English or Spanish, football is the true international language. A game that crosses divides created by location and generation. And it is surely a past-time that extends into the bush. This year the Beho Beho team is sporting a new kit, and this week we finally got a chance to get them dirty during a friendly scrimmage of the Wazee (elders) in new kit against the Vijana (youth) in red.

 

5pm – kickoff time here, as the sun is finally low enough to make the temperature comfortable for a match. Mr Simba – who most of you know as our longstanding barman – comes to the pitch, ball in hand, whistle to mouth.

 

And so it begins, the youngsters have a promising team with the fancy footwork of Karim and racing strides of Zachariah, both from the kitchen team, and Suddy, a newcomer to our front of house team. But their attempts are always hindered by the Wazee goalkeeper, Mr Godfrey, our head chef, who displays skills extending beyond the culinary.

 

The Wazees have a few tricks up their sleeves as well; with skilled dribbling from Rajabu of housekeeping and Jerry at the front of house and strong defence from Rahim and Nguzo in housekeeping. 30 minutes in, it’s not the Youngsters, but the Wazee in the lead after an impressive goal from kitchen crew Martin.

 

It’s halftime. Mr Fulgence assumes the role of coach for the Wazee congratulating the guys on the first half and encouraging them to continue their attack on the Vijana with great enthusiam. Mr Simba blows the whistle and the teams come back for the second half.

 

Although the chaps in red make several eager trys on goal, there’s no joy for them with Nguzo and Rahim defending, and Mr Godfrey moving with an agility I didn’t expect, to make some key saves, keeping the Wazee in the lead. As the 90 minute mark approaches, Saning’o scored, making the Wazee’s victory definite. The whistle blows one last time. Almost immediately and without the need for much deliberation, Mr Godfrey is named Man of the Match.

 

As the sun sets, I’m thankful to have shared an evening enjoying a ‘friendly’, watching our Beho Beho team improve and become a stronger family. Working in Selous has innumerable benefits, but one of the greatest gifts I have is my endearing extended family, and an evening like this is a heartwarming reminder. The green jerseys have enjoyed their first victory. And we hope, that when there is time, this experience can be repeated.

26071

2607226074

26075

26076

26077

 

 

Posted in Tricia | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beho Beho Bushblog – Heribert – 25th July

heribertblog

We always hear a lot about terms like conservation, biodiversity and ecosystems, we talk of the Serengeti ecosystem for example, or should we say the Selous ecosystem. We hear of the tropics having a high biodiversity, the reefs etc. We hear about poaching and global warming and conservation. What is all this? For many, all may be concepts we know or understand. Today I thought I would share with you in brief all these, just to recap our understanding and perhaps play a better role as part of it all.

 

Let us start with ecosystems. Simply, a dynamic complex of living things, here including plants, animals, insects and microorganisms and, non-living environments meaning air, water, and soil functioning as one interactive unit. So when we look at a forest, a wetland, an agricultural landscape or a mangrove forest, we are looking at an ecosystem. Every individual form of living thing in an area(non-living environment) plays a role in the survival of the other. A good example is a gazelle cannot survive without plants and without the gazelle predators including man can’t get protein, but again it’s the waste products from the gazelle and the predator that makes the soil fertile for a plant to grow. It can be very complex in other cases all depending on the scale one is looking at.

 

With the above concept, when we talk of living things we are really saying biodiversity. This means the variety of life on earth in all of its forms and considering all of its interactions.( E. O. Wilson. 1988). This includes not only species, but genus, communities and at the much bigger scale, ecosystems. All plants, mammals, insects, fish, sponges, corals and microorganisms such as bacteria. What are we saying with this?, biodiversity builds to an ecosystem, one can’t be without the other.

 

How do we benefit from all of this?. Looking at the two from a human perspective and not forgetting that we are a part of it all. It is actually essential to our survival. Ecosystems/ biodiversity provide us with goods and services we need to survive, whether direct or indirect. Think about how we get our food (honey, fruits, vegetables, meat), water, clothing etc, we also need good weather, defence against hazards, nutrient cycling etc. Barrier reefs prevent floods due to tidal changes or Tsunami, forests absorb approximately 218 gigatonnes of carbondioxide that we emit and in return gives us oxygen we need to breath. Without photosynthesis which again is facilitated by insects, animals etc, there is no life. We also however benefit cultural and aesthetic values from just the beauty and wanders, think Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti migration, great blue whales etc. It’s for sure one major reason we have the tourism industry.

 

By now I believe we are getting a lit bit of an idea where we stand in this we call natural world. Knowing the benefits we get and actually need for our survival and well-being, we come to the concept of conservation. Conservation can simply mean, preserving the natural world for future generations.

The human population is growing fast, and more so in the tropics where we obviously get high biodiversity per area. Regarding the many demands we require as humans, the natural worlds biodiversity is put to the test. Over utilization leading to habitat loss, or simply eradicating a species off the face of the planet. I am sure you have herd of the Dodo and of the West African Black Rhino, all gone extinct due to human demand. We have put many species like the wild dogs, the black rhino or the elephants at a high risk of becoming extinct. We forget that we are part of the whole process and if we do so for any longer the natural world will unbalance and may result to our own downfall.

 

What I am saying here is that we all have, or better yet are a role to play in saving these ecosystems that we know for sure are the basic infrastructure to our survival. Efforts are ongoing worldwide, we have about 15% of the world protected, Tanzania sits at about 25% of the country as protected, conventions(CITES) and other efforts like community based conservation where education and awareness is passed on to communities. It is a game that requires funds, and here is where tourism will play a part and make us all be able to play a role in saving our planet so that our children’s children will come and enjoy the same benefits.

 

I hope this has opened our thinking a little better on what ecosystems, biodiversity and conservation mean and how.

 

Posted in Heribert, Wildlife | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Beho Beho Bushblog -Saningo – 18th July

saningoblogThe lion sightings have been seldom for a few weeks, which I felt was a bit odd. This situation can make sense though because the hunting areas for lion prides tend to occur around the permanent water courses especially in the bulk of the dry season. At the moment there are still a few water puddles all over and a lot of the puddles seem to be right in the thick forests where there are no roads to and this is maybe why we have not seen them. The general game has been very good and we have had some nice leopard sightings in the early evening at main camp before we migrate to our dinner venue. Breeding herds of elephants have been incredible with their youngsters, herds of buffaloes and zebras have also been prevalent. In the last few days lion sightings have increased, although some prides seems to be slightly shy, but it is still exciting to watch them from 15 metres away nevertheless.

 

The 12th July was among one of my most unique days as it’s my birthday. That morning I went out on a drive and I was thinking that it would be so nice to have an incredible morning out, by seeing at least a lion pride or some of the secretive game like wild dogs or leopard, but unfortunately it didn’t happen, although the rest of game was very active and we saw two big bull hippos on the shores of the lake, nice numbers of giraffe and other general game that made that morning active. There were nice fresh lion tracks that gave me hope of seeing them but that didn’t happen.
Later that afternoon during our cake time I found Tricia, Nico and the kitchen team had done a really great job organizing my birthday cake, I felt very thankful, and it was a great surprise to me. The next morning as I went out on drive, full of joy as I drove toward the roller coaster was where we saw this nice pride of lions up the little hill looking down towards a little water puddle, as we watched, we saw some zebra coming to drink, so I drove so I couldn’t bother the lions hunting attempt and so we went to the opposite side so we could see the lions and zebra together, it was more open making it easy for the zebra to see the lions from a distance, but they only saw the lions after they drank and walked away. This time they were lucky.

18071

18072

18073

18074

Posted in Saningo, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment