Unusually large numbers of pelicans at the waterhole
Another beautiful leopard
Stuck (almost) in ele prints in the mud
Maral at Kipon’s boma
Walking the Waterholes - Wild Dogs!
The waterholes were full and fun this season, providing some great new sightings and exceptional birding. 100 white pelicans made it their home for much of the season, in addition to the usual African jacanas, saddle billed storks and Verreaux eagle owls looming in the trees above. A big male leopard called almost every night and the elephants arrived, giving us their nightly spectacle throughout the whole season. We were fortunate enough to have a herd of 200 buffalo come in below our treenest one night, and the highlight of the season was the arrival of wild dogs, exceptionally rare in northern Tanzania. Wild dogs are very shy and have a tight pack structure with a dominant alpha pair and we spotted them on a walk and watched two linger around the waterhole for about an hour.
Update from the Maasai Steppe
A massive expanse east of Tarangire National Park, the Maasai Steppe is a crucial wet season dispersal area for wildlife. In some parts, it can be as good as the national park, but it is very seasonal. This season in early July, we hit it perfectly. It's an old favourite haunt of ours, nestled in a valley with dried riverbeds and waterholes, where we often came 'in the old days' for walking, camping and just getting away from it all. It is great to see it has retained it wildness and we carved out a new site, on a small bluff overlooking the junction of two small dried riverbeds. It is a fun, little spot and we had the good fortune to spend our first afternoon watching an elephant family pass by below, and on the next safari, come right into camp as we were having morning coffee. Some big lion tracks (very big!), a nice large herd of buffalo and some leopard grunts at night have shown the area to have maintained its health despite being outside a national park.
In addition to our usual safaris of private groups either on a walking or a luxury game driving safari, we continue to lead a couple student groups each year, focusing on taking high school and university students into the bush to learn about sustainable development, conservation and the wilderness. This past year we led two groups from MIT in Klaserie Game Reserve in South Africa and one large group from the Taft High School in Connecticut with whom we explored Ngorongoro Crater and our exclusive Serengeti wilderness area. The kids were a blast and had some fantastic eye-opening experiences from buffalo and bushpigs poking into camp to cheetah sightings and our interpretive bushwalks. More educational safaris are in the planning for 2008, some of which will include a service element for the students to provide a measure of useful training to Tanzanian kids.