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Bill_H Mar 11th, 2008 05:51 AM

20 Tanzania pics from Bill & Carolyn
Back two days now and still shaking off the jet-lag, but here are a few photos from our recent trip to Tanzania, Feb 21 - March 5.

Two nights at Lake Manyara, four nights at Ndutu, three nights central Serengeti, three nights Ndutu, one night Manyara, then Amsterdam and then home.

Some random comments and observations:

- the Lion Kings at Ndutu, the three aging battle-scarred pride males we photographed the past two years, have been deposed, replaced by stronger younger males with short manes. All good things must end but at least these males left a legacy of many cubs (and great photo opps for us). RIP - you were my favorite lions.

- highlight was seeing 27 cheetahs at Ndutu, a record for us. This included four mothers-with-cubs groups, with 6 cubs ~ 10-12 weeks old, four big cubs nearing separation (12-14 months old), three cute tiny cubs 8-9 weeks old and three 8-9 month old cuties. Incredible cheetah sightings as most moms had to kill every day just to keep up with feeding their offspring.

- the cheetah mom with three tiny cubs was our favorite sighting by far, the cubs were soooo adorable. And we found them ourselves and got to shoot them for almost two hours before a second jeep showed up (most were lQQking for the mom with six slightly larger cubs, but we got tired of the over-crowding ... but this mom - I call her Maxi - was easily the # 2 sighting of the trip).

- far more crowding than we've seen before at Ndutu as more tented camping areas were opened and people flocked to see the cheetahs, including at least three film crews. We just turned off the radio and found our own sightings to avoid the crowds, but it was disheartening to see so many jeeps crowded around the cheetahs at times.

- in 2007 we saw zero elephants near Ndutu but this year we probably saw 200 or so. The biggest factor in what you will see is the amount and timing of the rains, I've found.

- bulk of the migration was first west of Ndutu near Kusini, then well south in the Maswa district outside the NCA, so we saw thousands and tens of thousands of wildies and zebras, but not hundreds of thousands like on two previous trips.

- some awful driving by guides who should know better ... # 1 incident was eight drivers from three companies continually moving between Maxi and gazelles she was trying to hunt, blocking her from hunting. How can you do this to a mother with six cubs to feed? # 2 incident was an idiot getting out of the jeep near Maxi, panicking her and the cubs into a headlong flight which took them near zebras, who attacked and almost killed the cubs. Incredible. # 3 incident was someone chasing at high speed a wildebeest mother with calf just to watch them run ... the calf tired and stopped while the mother kept running far over the horizon, abandoning the calf, which essentially means the calf is dead. Unbelievable a guide would do this.

- here is our 'cat count' from this trip ... I realize you can manipulate these numbers by simply heading to each radioed site and ticking off the cats or, as some do, by counting them more than once per game drive, but at least it gives you an idea of what's available. We spent a lot of time with cheetahs and little time looking for lions once we saw the cheetah cubs and realized the lion kings were gone, skewing the numbers a bit I'm sure. Anyway ...

74 lions - 2 at Manyara, 44 at Ndutu, 28 in Serengeti. Last year's tally was 71 at Ndutu and 29 at Ngorongoro crater (which we skipped this year) for an even 100 (and 170 sightings counting repeaters) but we saw no large prides this year and didn't spend as much time looking for lions.

28 cheetahs - 1 Manyara, 27 at Ndutu. With multiple sightings (we saw most cub groups three different days) we had 64 total cheetahs (counting repeats), which was unbelievable. 2007 was wonderful with 20 sightings (17 at Ndutu), 2006 was good with nine cheetahs but 2008 was out of this world.

2 leopards, both on the ground and at some point passing close to the jeep, though in challenging light. One at Manyara, one at Ndutu. Surprisingly, didn't see a leopard near Seronera, where we saw seven in April 2006, so you never really know with this cat.

5 African wildcats, most running at high speed chased by birds.

2 servals, though none catching mice like the great sighting in 2007.

Not as many bird photos this year, I think we've mined that vein and it's getting repetitious, though we did photograph several birds with prey (snakes, frogs, bugs, smaller birds).

Also a great honey badger confrontation, see the last photo on the link above ... and an aardvark and a zorilla, so A to Z :)

OK, that's about it ... will flesh out the cheetah pics next, we probably have 200 nice interesting cheetah shots and will cull it down to a manageable number as time permits.

Bill & Carolyn

HariS Mar 11th, 2008 06:44 AM

Bill and Carolyn,

Thanks for sharing your pictures! Superb as always!!!


PacoAhedo Mar 11th, 2008 06:51 AM

Welcome back Bill and Carolyn.

It looks like you had and excellent trip with awesome cheetah sightseeings(probably this is the best place for cheetah viewing around the world)

The picture gallery is fantastic,as usual and some amazing moments like the cheetah and honey badger confrontation or the daylight aardvark encounter.

It is very very sad to hear about the crowding around Ndutu and the terrible experiences with some of the guides(with these news probably this will not be the best place for cheetah viewing any more)

Look forward for some more pictures.


Chris_GA_Atl Mar 11th, 2008 08:46 AM

Bill, splended images as always. Thank you for sharing these, and I am looking forward to more as you get through the processing.


Patty Mar 11th, 2008 09:02 AM

Fantastic photos as usual, Bill!

The cheetah cubs and charging ele are adorable. It was hard looking at that snared hyena :(

An aardvark in daylight! We've had 2 aardvark sightings but only at dusk/evening.

Looking forward to more, especially from the honey badger series :)

SDtravelers Mar 11th, 2008 09:59 AM

Bill - funny I just checked your website yesterday looking for your report. Told my husband I was bummed there was nothing from your Feb Tz trip. Thanks so much!


cary999 Mar 11th, 2008 10:13 AM

"near zebras, who attacked and almost killed the cubs. Incredible. # 3 incident was someone chasing at high speed a wildebeest mother with calf just to watch them run ..."

Sounds like they need to get some of the camp rangers from South Africa Sabi Sand up there to straighten things out.

regards - tom

cary999 Mar 11th, 2008 10:56 AM

Super photos as always, each one better than next. Notice many taken by your charming Mrs. Hill.

What would you say is the typical shutter speed and ISO of the photos?

Sad to hear about the stupid behavior of guides and guests. I hope they realize the hurt they cause the animals. Probably not, but I hope the guides feel guilty about it.

regards - tom
ps - for those few of us that need reminding to crop our photos, note that at least half of these are cropped.

Alejandra Mar 11th, 2008 11:19 AM

Unbelievable pictures again.
Very impressive.
I m off to the Masai Mara tomorrow for 10 days....Will try to write down a report and post upon return.

rsnyder Mar 11th, 2008 12:17 PM

Bill, Simply WOW!

andybiggs Mar 11th, 2008 12:23 PM

Great photos, Bill. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to seeing more!

jmartmd Mar 11th, 2008 01:10 PM

Fantastic pictures.

The wildebeast story breaks my heart. Poor baby and poor mom. :0(

Also, that poor hyena wound. Ouch!

Thanks for sharing though. If my pics turn out half as good as yours I'll be happy.

Kavey Mar 11th, 2008 01:37 PM

Oh, my god. I'm not worthy. I can't even pick a favourite. Honestly, one the one hand it makes me want to throw away the camera as I'll never get to that level. On the other hand it makes me want to get straight back out there so I can try!!!!

Thank you again for sharing your images, it always makes my day.

Oh and I'm ever so envious of the aardvark sighting and the honey badger fight.

Kavey Mar 11th, 2008 01:39 PM

Have just read the rest of your post (couldn't get past the photo link first time around) and am so sad to read about the outrageous guide behaviour you witnessed. Very sad indeed.

keah05 Mar 11th, 2008 02:15 PM

What fantastic photo's ************
can't wait to see more, what great sightings you had.
I can't believe the behavior of those guides.

safarimama Mar 11th, 2008 03:08 PM

AWESOME PHOTOS!!!! I loved the Secretary bird - fantastic! Maxi is of course in a league by herself.

It's too bad about the unprofessionalism of those driver/guides. Please name names: I for one would never book those companies. This is not hearsay as you observed it with your own eyes. We all have choices if we know what they are. If you feel uncomfortable doing so on this forum, please email me at kristina at winwins dot com

atravelynn Mar 11th, 2008 04:26 PM

First, your photos are stunning as usual. The cheetah and honey badger encounter is most amazing. I take it the honey badger backed down. Ironically I've been told and read that cheetah cubs resemble honey badgers--with all that white fluff--for protection, so they look like that aggressive species.

You also got the Audubon quality bird photos, this time adding a reptile. Your carcass in the sunset is surprisingly beautiful.

Now for the @$$hole drivers. Was it you who mentioned that a government big shot was urging some of the poor behavior so reporting the guides would end up only hurting the individual guide? If you can name names, like Safarimama requested, I'd be very interested in knowing who to avoid. I'd be interested in a private email as well if that worked for you.

Thanks for the pics!

africaddict Mar 11th, 2008 05:32 PM

Great shots as usual Bill ;-)
My 3 fav's are the Eurasian Roller, the Cheetah & Honey Badger and the Secretary & Puff Adder interactions.
A rare treat to experience AND photograph! Well done :-)
A quick question Bill, have you had a chance to use the D300 or D3 yet, I know your a Canon man, but I have seen some great low ISO shots with both these bodies in conjunction with the new 500/600 VR's !
I have the D300 and my new 200-400VR
and have been very impressed with the low ISO results and can't wait for Botswana next year.


bearable Mar 11th, 2008 06:35 PM

The pictures are, well, picture perfect. Thanks for sharing.

Percy Mar 11th, 2008 07:12 PM

I know this sounds boring ,but as usual very terrific pictures.

Thanks for sharing


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