From big cats to…little cats!

I’ve shown you a lovely lady leopard and some very satiated lionesses.

So how could I not post some adorable lion cubs?

lioncub2

I’m jumping ahead a little bit – to near the end of the safari when we were staying at Mfuwe Lodge in the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia – but I just couldn’t wait to share these wonderful photos that were taken by Marilyn, one of the other ladies in the tour group. (If my memory is correct, it was Marilyn who gained a tent-mate after Wendy’s tent blew away.)

lioncub1

Look at that face! How could you blame me for leaping ahead with the safari photos?  I’ll have more photos of the cubs later. I promise.

 

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Lion around

Yes, that title is a terrible pun. But I love puns, so there.

These lovely ladies are obviously very relaxed, and their bellies full, enjoying an afternoon snooze. Our safari jeeps were only parked a few feet away but they paid us little to no attention.

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What’s interesting about these scenes, however, is what’s downwind from the lionesses. It’s hard to tell from this picture of our jeeps, but the lions are just to the left out of frame and just to the right out of frame is a large bush. Inside that bush, gnawing on the remains of whatever that rib cage belonged to, is a leopard.  (Yum! Does that come with honey-flavored barbecue sauce?)

According to our guides, Mike and Josh, and our tour leader Andre, the leopard was fully aware that the lionesses were only a couple yards away because the wind was blowing in her direction. But should the wind change, they cautioned, alerting the lionesses to the presence of another predator so close by…well…those sleeping lions wouldn’t have been sleeping any more.

We patiently waited, circling slowly and quietly in our vehicles, but the lionesses snoozed away and the leopard kept chewing. No fighting. No territorial disputes. Just dinner and a long nap. This wonderful close up shot was taken by our leader Andre.

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Things That Go Bump In The Night…

Well, maybe not bump but roar or grunt or snuffle as they skitter and skulk.

Quick, all you amateur trackers, what animal made this print? (Yes, there’s a quiz at the end of this blog.)

hyena_print

Yeah…it’s not the best photo. I couldn’t identify what left this track either. So it’s a good thing we had expert guides at our mobile tented camp in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

But first we’ll rewind to the night before (our first night on safari). Exhausted, stuffed with the excellent food prepared by the camp chef, we collapsed on our cots inside our tents (I think I hadn’t bothered to undress)…but unable to fall asleep quickly because of the heat (November is late spring in the southern hemisphere). Well, I was unable to fall asleep. My friend, Bobbie, began softly snoring after a bit, almost unheard against the roars and grunts of the lions off in the distance. There were other animal sounds too, being that we were the middle of the African bush with all manner of wildlife surrounding us. But the lions were the loudest.

So it was rather startling, around 1 am, to hear something walk stealthily across our “porch” (the green fabric in front of the tent with chairs and water bucket) – something with four legs. tent_wbobbie

Then it left. I thought. The faintest of noises made me turn my head to the screened window at the head of my cot just as a four-legged shadow darted back around to the front of the tent again. A lion? It was maybe lion-size (a small lion), but I couldn’t tell, so I lay frozen wondering what it was doing, daring myself to turn my head toward the front screen. (Safari-goers are, of course, instructed to never leave their tents after dark for safety reasons.)

And then…”lap, lap, lap, lap, lap” (Ever have a large dog? You know that lapping sound they make as they’re slurping up water from their bowl? Yeah – that noise.) The animal, whatever it was, was drinking water from our bucket! It then slipped away into the night. waterbucket

So we had an interesting tale at breakfast the next morning and the guides came to see the tracks left around our tent.

So the answer to today’s quiz? Hyena! (Did you get the answer right?)

Of course, the real question of the day is: is Bobbie washing her face (in the middle photo) before or after we asked the camp staff if they could replace the water in the bucket?

Safari Time!

Here we are outside the airport in Maun, Botswana, ready to drive four hours over really bad dirt roads to our tented camp in the Okavanga Delta. Do I look ready?

I know Penguin About Town is ready!

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Believe it or not, as much as I love taking photos of Penguin (and my own feet), I’ve got way more (lots and lots more) photos of elephants, leopards, lions, giraffes, hippos, impalas, water bucks, cape buffalo, wildebeest, and even a banded mongoose. Ever seen a banded mongoose? Here’s one to whet your appetite while I try to get iPhoto to play nicely with me.

dsc_0081Well, okay, that’s more than one banded mongoose. Bonus!

More photos – and the “joy” of rupturing one of your lumbar discs while on vacation – next time!