Category Archives: Nature

So Many Animals- The Trip of a Life Time

On our safari in Tanzania, I kept a list of the thirty different animals we saw as we made our way through the Serengeti and Tarangire National Parks and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. We were very lucky to spot all of the big five which people traditionally have on their bucket list when going on safari…..

the lion

the leopard

Unfortunately, we only saw the rhino through our binoculars- it was so very far away Dave couldn’t get a good photo but this one proves we saw itand we actually saw several

the rhino

the elephant

and Cape buffalo

But thanks to our amazing guide Malaki Samuel from Dashir Safaris we also saw many other interesting animals……..

The topi

The black-faced velvet monkey

The eland

The Warthog

The hartebeest

The baboon

The leopard tortoise

The hyena

The Steenbok

The Wildebeest

The dwarf mongoose

The impala

The Hippopotamus

The rock agama lizard

The zebra

The crocodile

The Thompson’s gazelle

The giraffe

The Grant’s gazelle

The Cheetah

None of these blog posts about our safari would have been possible without the AMAZING photography skills of my husband Dave and the expert safari guiding of Malaki Samuel from Dashir safaris.

There were a few animals we saw that Dave wasn’t able to photograph but I think he did an excellent job of capturing most of them.

The links in this post take you to other posts I have done specifically about those animals.

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Giraffes For My Granddaughter

My youngest granddaughter LOVES to read biographies with me and one of her favourites features a Canadian woman who was a giraffologist.

The Girl Who Loved Giraffes by Kathy Stinson is about Anne Innis Daag who in the 1950s when she was just a young zoologist went to Africa all on her own and became the first scientist to study giraffes in the wild. Her book about giraffes became the definitive textbook about the animal. She is often called The Jane Goodall of Giraffes.

While reading Kathy Stinson’s book my granddaughter and I have not only learned about Anne Innis Daag but have also discovered many interesting facts about giraffes.

Anne Innis Daag

I became enthralled with Anne when I saw a movie about her called The Woman Who Loves Giraffes and so I share my granddaughter’s fascination with the tallest mammal in the world.

That’s why I was absolutely delighted to get a close-up look at so many giraffes during our safari in Tanzania.

Both male and female giraffes have two hair-covered horns called ossicones.

A giraffe’s neck can be seven feet long.

A giraffe’s favourite food is the leaves from the acacia tree. They eat up to 75 pounds of food a day.

A giraffe can run as fast as 60 kilometres an hour.

Each giraffe’s colouration is different, so the pattern of its spotty patches is like a fingerprint because it is unique to each giraffe. The giraffe’s spots also act like a “thermal window” helping to regulate the giraffe’s body temperature.

Even newborn giraffes are taller than most humans.

Giraffes spend most of their life standing. They even sleep and give birth standing.

I can hardly wait to get home and share all these photos of giraffes taken by her Grandpa with my granddaughter.

Other posts……..

The Girl Who Loved Giraffes

The Woman Who Loves Giraffes

Rare and Momentous

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I Might Have Been Harvested by a Lion

On one of the first days of our safari, we pulled into a rest stop where there must have been fifty or more safari jeeps parked in the lot.

We were very impressed with the facilities at the rest stops in the Serengeti.

The rest stops were places where safari adventurers could use the washroom, and have lunch at one of the many picnic tables provided.

That morning I had become fascinated with all the acacia trees we were seeing and wanted to get photos of some with the thought of possibly doing a blog post about them.

After we’d had our lunch, Dave and I were waiting for other people in our group to arrive back at our jeep and I spotted an acacia tree a little distance away from the parking lot.

Handing Dave my camera, I ran over to pose in front of it. Dave took my photo.

But when I returned to the jeep and was in the middle of admiring the way the tree had cast a lovely shadow around me on the ground, the safari guide in the jeep next to ours started giving me a stern lecture.

He said stepping outside the perimeter of the parking lot like that all by myself had been dangerous. “You might have been harvested by a lion,” he said.

Later when I asked our Dashir guide about it he said his colleague had been right. As long as people are together in a group wild animals are most likely to stay away, but a lone person not close to buildings, or vehicles could be in danger.

It was a sobering thought but the truth of its possibility was illustrated to me when we saw the huge solar panels that provided power to the facilities. Resting under the panels were two male lions. They had been closer to me than I might have imagined.

Dave got some amazing photos of the lions.

I felt even worse later about my irresponsible behaviour when I found out that if patrons on a safari are injured or killed by an animal their safari guide can go to jail, even if it was the customer’s recklessness that caused it

For the rest of the safari, I did my picture-taking from INSIDE the jeep

Just another reminder that the national parks in Africa are animal territory first and foremost and we are just visitors in THEIR home.

Other posts………

Was The Lion Pride in Danger?

A Rare and Momentous Occasion

A Dream That Didn’t Come True

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Was the Lion Pride in Danger?

On the second morning of our safari, we came upon a pride of lions resting under a tree.

There was one male and several females

and at least ten children

of various sizes and ages.

We noticed that one of the females was wearing a collar around her neck.

Malaki Samuel our Dashir safari guide had told us that when we saw a lion wearing a collar that meant it was being tracked by researchers.

We sat in our jeep and watched the pride for quite a while and then the male lion got up to walk a bit and Malaki noticed right away that he was injured and was limping.

Most of the lions were all turned in one direction and someone in our group followed their line of sight through binoculars and reported there was a cape buffalo carcass off in the distance and a baby lion and a male were eating from it.

Malaki was relieved there was another male in the vicinity. He said if the injured male had been alone in the pride and couldn’t have protected the females and babies, males from another pride might have come.

They would have killed the injured lion and then KILLED all the babies so they could mate with the females in the pride who would give birth to their children.

The male off in the distance looked healthy so he could help protect the pride’s youngsters.

After a time some of the females and a few of the children stood up from under the tree and headed off towards the carcass to feed.

It was a fair distance away.

As they walked one of the babies straggled behind. It just couldn’t keep up. We wondered what would happen.

The baby was alone and vulnerable out there on the Serengeti.

But it wasn’t long before one of the females turned around and waited patiently for the little one to catch up to her. Then they walked together to feed on the carcass.

Later as we drove down the road we spotted a couple more male lions nearby.

Malaki said they belonged to the same pride as well since a pride’s territory is an 8 square kilometre range and no other males would have been there resting except ones from the same pride.

That meant there were at least three other males to protect the babies besides the injured one.

My friend Shannon imitating the lion she was hoping to see

Everyone was happy about that, especially my friend Shannon who loves lions and had been waiting to see one in the wild since she was eight years old.

We would go on to see many more lions on our safari but this encounter with a whole pride and their story would remain the most memorable.

Most of the photos in this post were taken by my husband Dave Driedger

Other posts…………

No Christians Fed to Lions and Other Things You Might Not Know About the Colosseum

Ten Good Things About Dandelions

How Many Mennonites Does It Take To Get A Picture of a Bird in Tanzania?

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Hip Hippo Ray!

A hundred hippos! That’s no exaggeration. At one point on our safari, our Dashir guide Malaki parked our jeep by a watering hole with almost a hundred hippos in it.

My husband Dave counted them.

The hippos were having a marvellous soak, most of them with their heads under the water and just their eyes sticking out

but every once in a while they would stretch and yawn and show off their formidable teeth.

They were all sandwiched together, resting their heads on one another, and their tails looked like little whirling helicopters as they swished back and forth. It almost seemed as if they were waving their tails at us but our guide Malaki said they were actually splashing water onto their backs to keep themselves wet. Hippos can get sunburned and then their skin cracks and bleeds.

This hippo seemed to be having a sweet dream

Hippos don’t eat in the water, they come out at night when the sun isn’t so hot and spend five or six hours grazing on plants. They eat about forty kilograms of grass, leaves and fruit. They are herbivores.

When we were staying at the Tortilis Lodge the workers told us hippos came into the camp while we were sleeping to graze on the plants near our tents.

The oxpecker bird eats parasites and other insects off of the back of the hippopotamus. The bird gets a meal and the hippopotamus is protected from the diseases it could contract from the parasites the oxpecker eats.

I have to say with our windows on the safari jeep ajar we could certainly SMELL the hippos.

The hippos looked kind of cute but they are the deadliest large land mammal on the planet. They are aggressive wild creatures.

This is evidenced by the fact that even crocodiles will not attack hippos and they co-exist peacefully and stay out of each other’s way.

Because the people on safari with us knew I was writing blog posts about our adventure they suggested several different titles for this hippo story including Hippo Partius and A Hip Place to Be.

Our Dashir safari group

I can’t remember who in our group suggested Hip Hippo Ray but I want to thank them for the idea.

And once again I am most grateful to my husband Dave who took all the marvellous photos in this post.

Other posts about animals in Tanzania………

Cape Buffalo

Cheetahs

Leopards

Zebras and Wildebeest

African Birds

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How Many Mennonites Does It Take To Get a Picture of A Bird in Tanzania?

Dave and Les are up at sunrise smiling and ready for another day on safari. – Photo by Shannon Kehler

We are on this trip to Tanzania with our friends Les and Shannon. Dave and Les have been buddies for forty years and have played all kinds of sports together- football, hockey, fastball and golf.

Dave steadies his camera on Les’ wrist to get the perfect bird photo

Les’ wife Shannon joked asking “How many Mennonites does it take to get a picture of a bird in Tanzania?” when Les got up in our safari jeep to help Dave steady his camera so he could get a photo of the Hildebrandt’s starling of Tanzania.

This is the photo that resulted. We tried to explain to Malaki our Tanzanian guide that Hildebrandt was a traditional Mennonite name so it was humorous that Les and Dave who are also both Mennonites were trying so hard to get a photo of this bird with a Mennonite name.

Dave is an amateur birder, so one of his quests on our safari was to spot and photograph as many unique birds as possible. By the time our safari was over I had written down the names of 37 different birds we had seen.

Malaki our guide from Dashir Lodge initially wasn’t pointing out African birds to us but as soon as he discovered Dave was interested he started looking for them and helping to find them. It is just another example of the personalized service Dashir offered on our safari.

Dave didn’t get photos of all 37 birds but here are what I think are some of his best bird photos.

Lappet-faced Vulture
Tawny Eagle
Egyptian goose
Great Crowned Crane
Abdim stork
Hadeda ibis
Bateleur eagle
Lilac-breasted roller
Ostrich
Black-headed heron
Blacksmith lapwing
Secretary bird
Laughing dove
Grey heron
Superb Starling

For those more serious birders who might be interested, here is a list of the birds we saw on our safari……. sun grouse, lappet-faced vulture, superb starling, tawny eagle, two-banded courser, Marabou stork, black-bellied bustard, Kori bustard, oxpecker, Egyptian goose, white-faced whistling duck, purple grenadier, Hildebrandt’s starling, northern white-crowned shrike, silver bird, African jacaranda, spring lapwing, Usambiro barbet, black-headed heron, guinea fowl, lilac-breasted roller, musk weaver, Bateleur eagle, whydah, secretary bird, grey-backed fiscal shrike, yellow-throated long claw, blacksmith lapwing, white stork, grey heron, great crowned crane, Abdim stork, laughing dove, hamerkop, pelican, white African banded vulture, hadeda ibis, kite, egret, ruffled weaver

Tanzania is a birders’ paradise!

Other posts…………..

I Kissed an Owl

Finding the Elusive Quetzal in Costa Rica

A Top Ten List About the White Storks of Portugal

The Dawn Chorus

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Wow! Wow! Wow!

Wow! Wow! Wow! That’s what our safari guide Malaki Samuel kept saying as we encountered a huge migration of wildebeests and zebras.

This is considered early in the year for the annual migration which begins in the southern Serengeti as the animals set off looking for greener grass to feed on.

We must have seen over a million zebra and wildebeests migrating together. It was just unbelievable.

Off in the distance, you can see thousands more wildebeests and zebras

Malaki estimated we drove some 8 kilometres with wildebeests and zebras in masses all around us for the entire distance.

Dave and I with Malaki Samuel one of the guides who work for Dashir Lodge. Dashir planned our whole safari for us and they did a phenomenal job! We can’t recommend them highly enough.

Malaki our guide who has worked in the Serengeti for 15 years said he had never witnessed wildebeests and zebras migrating together and as we kept seeing more and more he repeated over and over again Wow! Wow! Wow!

This is also the time of year the wildebeests give birth to babies and we were fortunate enough to witness that happening as well.

Can you see the baby’s legs just emerging?

Malaki spotted a mother wildebeest giving birth near a whole bunch of other mothers who’d just had babies and seemed to be grouping together to protect their newborns on the migration.

We watched for about 30 minutes as the wildebeest in labour walked around- the baby emerging from her rear end, first the legs and then the rest of the body.

The little thing had just plopped to the ground when we noticed a hyena nearby eyeing the newborn. Malaki told us he had seen a baby wildebeest harvested by a hyena before.

We waited with bated breath hoping that wouldn’t happen this time. And it didn’t! The hyena ran right by the newborn and its mother.

Did you know wildebeests are pregnant for eight and a half months almost the same length of time as humans?

Malaki our guide taught us lots about both zebras and wildebeests.

Something I thought was amazing about zebras was that the stripes on each one are absolutely unique.

A zebra’s stripe pattern is really like a fingerprint!

Something I didn’t know about wildebeests is that they are also called gnus. I thought those were two different animals.

Perhaps the zebra-patterned china at our safari lodge should have been a sign that we were going to see something phenomenal in the zebra world. The joint migration of zebras and wildebeests was certainly a spectacle we won’t ever forget!

Every day on our safari we keep having these amazing once-in-a-lifetime experiences that make us so glad we decided to embark on our African adventure.

Other posts………

A Rare and Momentous Occasion

My Second Novel Has A Cover

Sixties Girl- A New Book in Spring

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A Dream That Didn’t Come True

Lunch our first day on safari. Notice we are eating in a cage to protect us from wild animals.

As our safari trip was about to begin our guide Malaki Samuel asked each person in our group what we were really hoping to see. What would make the safari extra special for us?

My friend Shannon who is with me here sticking her head out of our safari jeep wanted to see cats- lions, cheetahs and leopards. I wanted to get a close up look at giraffes.

Our friend Les in front here on the beautiful patio of the Tarangire Safari Lodge wanted to see a chase in the wild- a predator chasing its prey.

Enjoying a drink by the pool at the Farm House Lodge on our safari

Deb on the left was looking to get her eyes on some zebras and Sue the woman beside her wanted to witness a migration scenario with large herds of animals.

My husband Dave, the official photographer for the safari, hoped to view a rhino in the wild.

Photo by Dave Driedger

On the second day of the safari we thought both Les and Shannon’s dreams would come true. Shannon was delighted when we came upon some cheetahs. She could check off one of cats on her wish list.

Photo by Dave Driedger

Shortly after spying the cheetahs we saw a little dik- dik nearby. It was standing perfectly still. It obviously knew the cheetahs were close. The dik- dik looked very scared. Les was hoping the chase would soon be on and that he’d see the cheetahs go after the dik-dik.

Photo by Dave Driedger

But the cheetahs didn’t seem to notice the dik- dik at all and eventually the little thing ran off fleeing at top speed. Les was disappointed.

Photo by Dave Driedger

But no sooner had the dik- dik left then Les was encouraged by spotting an impala nearby. Perhaps the cheetahs would chase it. The impala too was quite obviously aware of the cheetahs.

Photo by Dave Driedger

But the cheetahs remained steadfast. Why didn’t they look at the impala? Malaki our guide had told us that cheetahs had excellent eyesight.

Eventually the impala too sprinted off and Les’ hopes to see a predatory chase were once again denied.

Photo by Dave Driedger

Just when Les thought all was lost a warthog waddled into view. Surely this animal would attract the cheetahs’ attention.

Photo by Dave Driedger

But no ! One cheetah actually had wandered off by this time and the other stood still apparently oblivious to the warthog which happily trotted on its way. Could the cheetahs be full from a recent hunt and weren’t in need of a meal?

Despite the fact we sat and waited for almost two hours watching the cheetahs in hopes of Les seeing his dramatic dream unfold before him it was not to be.

All the rest of us however would have our dreams come true on the safari as you will discover in future blog posts.

Other posts………..

Wild Grasses A Love Story

Now I Really Want to Go to Botswana

Waking Up With the Cape buffalo

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Waking Up With The Cape Buffalo

We are on safari in Tanzania’s Serengeti Park and for two nights our accommodations were at the Tortilis Camp. In the Serengeti no fences are allowed so the tents you sleep in are open to the whole park and that includes the animals in it. Notice how the camp sign has Cape buffalo horns on it?

Dave getting a photo of the Cape buffalo from the doorway of our tent

Our second morning at the camp we woke to find three giant Cape buffalo in the front yard of our tent contentedly grazing as the sun rose. Cape buffalo are herbivores.

Dave had taken some great shots of Cape buffalo on our safari drive

We had seen plenty of the buffalo on our game drive and we had learned about them from our knowledgeable safari guide.

Malaki Samuel our safari guide is not only an expert driver but a virtual walking encyclopedia of knowledge about the animals of Tanzania

Malaki had told us that of the Big Five- the animals considered the most difficult to hunt in Africa- the lion, rhino, leopard, elephant and buffalo- the buffalo was the most dangerous. And its horns did look pretty scary.

The Cape buffalo’s horns can be used in defence of predators like lions but on our safari we saw a buffalo that had been taken down by a pride of lions who were feasting on it.

From what I knew about the Cape buffalo I was a little worried about having to walk by them when we left our tent for breakfast but a friendly camp employee was waiting for us when we were ready to go to the restaurant. He said he would walk us to the dining tent to keep us safe.

These gentlemen escorted us back to our tent after breakfast and they told us they had been guarding the camp while we slept. 

They said the previous night a couple of lions had been striding just behind our tent and a group of hippos had also been on the camp grounds eating grass. 

When you are on safari in the Serengeti you have to remember it’s the animals’ home and you are a guest. They get to go where they want and you have to find your way around them. 

Other posts………

Dancing With the Masai

Feel At Home

A Walk to Kikwe

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First Look at The Leaf

With my friend Marie by a stunning poinsettia tree

On Saturday we visited the new indoor horticultural garden in Assiniboine Park which opened recently.

The Leaf was all decked out for Christmas.

I was impressed with ………………….

………the waterfall you walk under as you enter the space

………the long wall covered entirely with plants

…………the stories you could read where people who had moved to Winnipeg from around the world talked about plants native to their country of birth

……….the amazing view from the walkway on the third floor

………….the beautiful flowers

.….. the colourful koi fish in the pond

…..the interesting plants like this one called The Rattlesnake

Although reservations at The Leaf are for two hours it is easy to see everything in less than half that time. On my next visit, I’m going to bring my book or sketch pad and sit down on a bench and just enjoy the atmosphere. I think I’ll also try to go at a time when there are fewer people there. It was pretty crowded and noisy on the weekend.

I have to say the Butterfly Garden was a little underwhelming. There weren’t many butterflies. I have visited Butterfly Gardens in other cities that were just teeming with thousands of different kinds of butterflies.

I was also disappointed that it was impossible to get into the restaurant since it was fully booked. I’ll have to go back for that another time.

I was a real fan of the old conservatory in Assiniboine Park and thought it was just a lovely venue. So it may take me a little time to develop the same affection for this very different and less intimate space. But I’m ready to try!!

Other posts…………

Assiniboine Park

Butterfly Wonderland

Discovering Peanut Park

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