In June we did a one-week inspection of Ruaha National Park and Selous Game Reserve lodges and camps. At 55,000 km sq, Selous is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Africa by far, and with lakes and ecosystems created by the mighty Rufiji River flowing through the it, has some wonderful birding as well as huge elephant and hippo populations, buffalos, lions, leopards, crocs, a variety of plains game, and some scarce rhinos. Thanks to the river and lakes, all the lodges offer boat based game-viewing in the afternoon, and walking safaris are also easy to arrange.
I've just finished editing my wildlife images from our June site inspection tour of the conservancies of Lewa, and Ol Pejeta in central Kenya, and Mara North, Naibosho, and Olare-Motorogi conservancies bordering the Masai Mara National Reserve.
Erroneously, some potential visitors look down on the conservancies bordering the Mara National Reserve, the state-run reserve, and think them an inferior safari destination. The conservancies are in fact the prime locations for wildlife viewing as they only have a limited number of lodges or camps on them, only half-a-dozen each, compared to over a hundred and thirty for the National Reserve, ensuring a much lower number of tourists and vehicles. There are no white minibuses here, and these reserves are the choice venues for film-makers and professional wildlife photographers.
Not only is the wildlife viewing superb, but the conservancies work closely with the communities whose land they lease, and provide incomes for many local families, as well as allowing grazing in times of need. The conservancies and camps have trusts that build schools, clinics, and develop grassroots projects that empower women and youths.
Ever dreamt of diving dramatic walls or coral gardens without another dive operation around? If you are going to Africa, Pemba could be the place for you.
A few shots from the varied diving in Chole Bay, from a macro muck dive to the big fish experience of Kinasi Pass and the numerous coral gardens,, there is something for everyone. In season the shallow wall outside the bay is fun too, and the west coast has seasonal Whale shark snorkelling. .
Some shots from a couple of days diving from Kendwa, Zanzibar with a 60mm macro lens on a Panasonic GX-8. It was quite the scorpionfish family festival.
Although revered by the ancient Egyptians in their religious artwork and jewellery, present on all continents except Antarctica, not many people know how important these excrement-eating insects are.
f ever you find yourself doubting whether or not you love your job keep this in mind; all these insects do is shuffle poo around, and eat it. Sounds pretty, well, shitty, but the dung beetle is so pivotal to so many ecosystems.
This is especially true among the great herds of Africa, which drop a staggering amount of doo doo.. Dung beetles are more than happy to pick up little bits and roll them around, distributing fertiliser and the seeds it can contain more evenly among the plains. Burying the droppings also has the added benefit of removing a food supply for flies, helping to keep their populations in check.
What's so good about eating dung? Well, African elephants have very inefficient digestive systems, only extracting around 40% of the nutrients from their diet, so there is plenty left for the dung beetles.
If you have ever been on game drive or even a walk in the bush you may have noticed these peculiar creatures, low flying with a loud buzzing sound and closely resembling a hovering helicopter. They always seem to be coming right for your face and somehow look as if they moving in slow motion.
Dung beetles are mainly broken down into 4 groups:
Telecoprid, Endocopri, Paracoprid, and Kleptocoprid.
Telecoprids roll balls of rounded dung. Endocoprids lay their eggs in a pile of dung. The Paracoprid digs down below dung and the Kleptocoprids, well, they steal balls of dung!
n relation to its size the dung beetle is not only the world’s strongest insect – it’s the world’s strongest animal. When moving balls of dung, a Telecoprid can pull around 1,000 times its own bodyweight – that’s the same as a human dragging six full double-decker busses along a road!