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"Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

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"Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  Safariman on Sun Feb 23, 2014 12:08 pm

As with the previous thread on my Nov. safari, I will keep this as a single thread, adding more photos and stories as and when I can organise them. I will also add a few short videos although I might post any longer videos (when I manage to edit them) under a separate thread.
As with my Nov. safari this trip was again to Offbeat Safaris' Camp in the Mara North Conservancy of the Masai Mara, Kenya. I followed Lai, arriving at camp just after she and Pete left, we even had the same tent!!! Therefore some of the photos and animals will be duplicated but seen through different eyes!!
Unfortunately the weather was not brilliant, although there was no rain there was constant low grey cloud which created a very flat light making photography challenging, so no photos with a beautiful blue African sky as a background, however the game viewing as always was superb.
The Offbeat Pride of lions who I had got to know very well from previous visits had gone walkabout along with all their cubs leaving Lion Hill, close to camp, fairly deserted. I will be posting stories about them in due course however it did mean that the leopard that also lives close to camp was able to move around freely in daylight which made for some great sightings.
The following photos are just a few that I quickly managed to sort and edit of the different animals I encountered, detailed stories will follow!!



Two cheetah brothers relax in the shade of a tree



"Mbirika" the young female leopard seen around camp in one of her favourite Fig trees



A very young elephant calf tries to get to grips with its trunk!!!



A sub adult male and two young cubs of the Cheli/Acacia Pride



A Yellow-throated Longclaw telling us we are too close and to move away by displaying. Probably its nest was nearby!!



A lone buffalo on the vast grassy plains of the Mara. (One for LW!!!)



Another young female leopard we encountered. Story and more photos to follow!!



A Black-backed jackal pup relaxing



The tailless elephant bull that I also encountered on my previous visit



A juvenile Striped Kingfisher happy to pose for the camera.



A young lion cub from the Cheli/Acacia Pride peers through the grass.



Another photo of Mbirika silhouetted in her tree

SM
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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  whitestarling on Sun Feb 23, 2014 5:33 pm

Thanks Safariman you've made my day, in a wet extremely windy Wales. Great photos, I love the baby Elephant trying get the grass with it's trunk, they are so funny, I got a short video of a really little one at Petes Pond trying to drink it couldn't manage it at all, only a few weeks old I think, but I'm no expert on that. Those Yellow Throated Longclaws are really something to see, but my big favourite is your photo of the female Leopard in the tree, that spectacular, and I hope you don't mind I've downloaded it as a screen saver, it's brilliant on full screen. I'm really looking forward to seeing more of your photos, and specialy the stories yopu put with them. Good idea to put the videos, on a separate thread, no problem at all.

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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  Laikipia on Sun Feb 23, 2014 6:22 pm

http://i73.servimg.c  Safariman.  You've started with your photos and beaten me to it   Embarassed   How funny that we had tent 3 too and we were probably luckier with the weather too.

Some really fabulous photos there.  I'm very envious as we didn't see cheetah at all.  

Look forward to more as and when.

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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  Doogs on Tue Feb 25, 2014 2:03 pm

 Those photos are a great start for us SM  http://i70.servimg.c 

What a fantastic tree that the cheetah are lying under, love it and of course them.
Never tire of looking at leopards - the young female standing in the tree is just beautiful  I love you 
Your Yellow-Throated Longclaw and juvenile Striped Kingfisher are lovely
10 out of 10 for the others as well  cheers 
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"Nelangu"

Post  Safariman on Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:24 pm

Thanks for the positive comments everyone. I could not resist the photo of the fantastic tree that the cheetah were sheltering under. The leopard standing and looking out from her position on the tree is Nelangu, Zawadi"s daughter and this post is about her.
I was out on our morning drive with David and Kapeen when we heard over the radio that someone had spotted a leopard. Fortunately we were close by and soon reached the scene. The young female leopard, Nelangu, who is probably about 5 years old now, was standing on the tree looking out over the surrounding area. Obviously she was not impressed by what she saw so quickly climbed the tree and found herself a comfortable position to chill-out for a while. It always amazes me the ability of leopards to climb trees, they are totally sure-footed. We decided to stay and wait to see if anything transpired; several vehicles came and went but eventually after about an hour and a half our patience was rewarded. Nelangu stretched herself and decided it was time to come down. I was then able to take a fantastic series of photos of her climbing down the tree head first, climaxed with a mighty jump. I don't think however many times I return to Africa I will be lucky enough to get any better photos!!
Having reached ground level she then walked straight in front of our vehicle, in fact so close that I was unable to get many photos. She then went onto a grassy area but was immediately greeted by a pair of very angry and vociferous Grey Crowned Cranes who proceeded to mob her ably assisted by a pair of very noisy Egyptian Geese. I think there must have been a nest nearby. Poor Nelangu was so distracted that she did not even notice a young impala fawn that raced by a few feet from her and would have provided an easy meal!!! Having made their point the cranes allowed her to proceed on her way with her tail held high saying "o.k. you win, I'm not hunting".
It was a wonderful sighting and we happily left to find somewhere for a well earned breakfast!



Nelangu surveying her territory



She quickly climbed to the top of the tree



Happily settled



"I can see you"



Chilling out leopard style!!!



Time to come down



Easy does it!!



So far so good!!



This is fun!!



Halfway down!!



What should I do now? Ah!! I know........



Jump!!!!



Walking past our vehicle



Out in the open



The noisy neighbours, the Grey Crowned Cranes with an unconcerned male impala in the background!!



Nelangu is distracted by the cranes as a young impala fawn rushes by to safety



When are you going to go away?



Nelangu walks off with her tail held high as a sign of defeat!!

These are just some of the photos I was able to take of a truly unforgettable encounter.

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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  Laikipia on Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:21 pm

  Safariman, those are wonderful photos of a very beautiful leopard. I had no idea Nelangu was Zawadi's daughter.

Now I am guessing this is the leopard I have pics of up the tree? I must do a quick check.

What a great selection of photos and a lovely commentary as ever. I am especially enjoying your pics and looking forward to more as we've just been at Offbeat Mara. Mara North is such a great conservancy and what I hadn't realised is that the camp is about 200 yards from where we used to camp on our riding safaris. Kapeen reminded me of all this and all the places we had been.

Thanks Safariman, looking forward to more ........................ http://i70.servimg.c 
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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  Safariman on Wed Feb 26, 2014 7:13 pm

Lai,if the leopard you photographed was close to camp, it would be Mbirika rather than Nelangu. Nelangu's territory is between Elephant Pepper camp and Leopard Gorge, quite a long way from Offbeat's camp. Mbirika tends to hang around the trees along the river close to camp and one of her favourite Fig trees is close to where you said the riding safaris camp. Mbirika has a very distinctive pattern of spots on her left shoulder forming a circle which makes her quite easy to recognise.
I will be doing a story with photos about Mbirika when I have sorted them out.

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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  Laikipia on Wed Feb 26, 2014 7:49 pm

Thanks Safariman.  We saw one leopard from our Tent (your tent) he/she walked past some few hundred yards in front of us in broad daylight.  I have a photo but not a good one.  We also saw this leopard up the tree close to camp (and where our vehicle broke down and we had to be rescued) and then one other whilst we were out and about.  So my guess is we saw 2 different leopards whilst there.  I will be posting soon (ish).

The leopard up the tree is my new avatar  Very Happy 

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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  gregrowlerson on Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:42 pm

Amazing leopard pics Safariman!!!! They are truly the world's most beautiful animal  I love you 

Sensational that you were able to take so many pics and create like a still motion pictures movie  Very Happy 

I like the jackal pic too.

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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  Doogs on Wed Feb 26, 2014 11:55 pm

WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW 

You lucky, lucky so and so SM !!!!  What absolutely fantastic, clear, amazing shots of the beautiful Nelangu, Patience is definitely a virtue when it comes to safari and like you we've been know to sit and wait for a few hours for what might be, it's so lovely when you're patience is rewarded and yours certainly was on this occasion.  Amazing shots up the tree but the shots coming down the tree are stunning   cheers 

Thanks so much for them and of course the story that went with it.  Quite amazing she didn't smell the Impala  Shocked and  Laughing to the Crowned Cranes for having a go !!!
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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  whitestarling on Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:02 am

I've got a busy day to day, so will come back, and check your photos, and story later SM. Just wanted to say I have your young female Leopard up the tree looking out over scenery as my screen saver, cropped it a bit, and it looks stunning on full screen. You've really captured essence of a Leopard with that shot

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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  whitestarling on Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:33 pm

http://i73.servimg.c SM that is a stunning sequence of shots of Nelangu, and as you say you would have to be extremely lucky to get anything better than that. Loved the way the Cranes went into harass mode, and Egyptian Gees are really aggressive, I saw one pair attacking an Elephant at Petes Pond in Botswana once on the web cam. I'm not surprised Nelangu stuck her white tail tuft up as a signal of surrender. Thanks for the pics and the great story line as usual SM

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Cheetah Brothers

Post  Safariman on Tue Mar 04, 2014 12:13 pm

Thanks everyone.
This post is about a pair of cheetah brothers I saw. Although cheetahs are out and about during the day they are not always easy to find. They do not have a defined home range in the way lions and leopards do but often travel vast distances. The only time they are fairly static is when a female has small cubs otherwise finding them is a hit and miss affair. I had seen the brothers on my last visit to  the Mara North Conservancy but my guide David told me he had not seen them for a couple of weeks and thought they were probably in the adjoining Lemek Conservancy. Luckily we managed to find them on my second day; they had just finished eating a young warthog and were resting while some vultures and a lone hyena squabbled over the meagre remains. They were not going to move so we left them.
The following morning we found them again, this time relaxing in the middle of the road where the bare earth was a lot warmer than the surrounding damp grass. They were very settled and not going anywhere so we decided to go and have our picnic breakfast and return later. By the time we returned they were on the move, quickly walking through the long grass. First one would lead and then collapse on the ground and wait for his brother to catch up and take over. It was fascinating to watch as they made steady progress and appeared to be heading back to the Lemek Conservancy. They were not in hunting mode as they had eaten the day before and when they walked past a herd of Thompsons Gazelles, the gazelles were soon on full alert and kept running towards the cheetahs before waiting for the cheetahs to progress further and then run towards them again. Interesting behaviour that I had not seen before. Eventually the brothers decided to take a break and flopped down in the shade of a rather exotic shaped tree. It was only when I looked at the timing on my photos that I realised that we had been following them for almost an hour. We left them happily resting and sadly did not see them again.
As well as the photos I have added a short video.



Relaxing after the warthog meal!!





Enjoying the early morning warmth from the bare earth on the road





On the move!!















The last I saw of them!!




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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  Laikipia on Tue Mar 04, 2014 5:00 pm

Lovely photos and as ever a wonderful commentary and post about the 2 cheetah brothers.  I haven't seen cheetah for ages so that was a real treat.  Some superb photos.  Thanks for  sharing Safariman.

Lai  Cheetah 
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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  gregrowlerson on Wed Mar 05, 2014 9:00 am

Terrific cheetah pics Safariman!!  WOW 

But seriously, you'd think that boy would have the decency to use a napkin after a meal. Especially as how is he meant to go off and attract the fairer sex in that condition for his dessert?  Laughing 
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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  littlewid on Wed Mar 05, 2014 9:24 pm

Hello Safariman
I am late to your wonderful post as I have been off but what a delightful catch up I have just had with all your glorious pictures and stories. Mbiriki is a stunning Leopard and in your first set of pictures I love the one of her stretching in the tree. In that set of photo's I also love the baby Ele and it always amazes me how their trunks have a mind of their own and the little ones find them fascinating, almost as if, does this belong to me!! The Yellow Throated Longclaw is one stunning bird, their colour is just so vibrant isn't it and I wonder if she did have a nest near by and if so how many chicks or eggs she had. The lone Buff Boy gave me such a huge smile  Very Happy  and I really thank you for that picture, I was drawn to the composition of that picture with the lone male and the tree in the background, it was really lovely. Nelangu is stunning isn't she but I suppose being Zawadi's daughter she would be wouldn't she  I love you The little Black-Backed Jackal is so sweet, the ears are amazing but what a soft little face it has, so beautiful. Kingfishers are always a WOW bird and that little Juvenile surely is a WOW and I loved the way his feathers round his neck made him look like he had a fluffy scarf on, so very cute. Another stunning photo was the young Lion peering through the grass, such a lovely capture.

Your second set of photo's, well what can I say Safariman, the series of photo's of Nelangu up and coming down the tree are something else and they are a match for any professional wildlife photographer. If those were mine I would be cock a hoop about them, they are just spectacular Safariman and so is Nelangu.

I do love Cheetahs and those brothers were very handsome.......had to look past the blood stained faces there though  Embarassed they are big boys aren't they but there is still something delicate about male cheetahs. That was quite bizarre behaviour from the Thompson Gazelles wasn't it, it was like if we approach and attack en mass, there is no way they will attack us, either very brave or madness, whatever it worked didn't it. The video was lovely and I liked the music.......even Tiga came up for a look when that was playing.

Thank you so much for your Safari news and pics so far Safariman, I have really enjoyed spending time catching up with all of that, as ever it has been a true delight and I look forward to the rest.

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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  Safariman on Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:26 am

Thanks LW glad you are now back with us and posting again. I thought you might like the buff pic and I will be posting some more buffalo pics in due course and the same with Mbirika who is rapidly turning into my favourite leopard. The Nelangu set of photos was just a one off and I am certain I will never be able to repeat it!! My problem at the moment is deciding which photos to post as I seem to have rather a lot of very good pics. It probably means that I will be able to keep this post going for a long time!!!

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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  littlewid on Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:39 pm

Thank you Safariman, it's great to be back again. I am looking forward to more of your Buff pics, I am excited already, I do so love them. Your Nelangu photo's really are special and I suppose it was one of those times when you were in the right place at the right time and she obliged with those gorgeous pictures but it also takes a really great photographer to capture them like you did. I think it's lovely that you have so many great photo's from your trip, it's always nice to have fantastic pictures but it's also lovely as it reminds you of such a wonderful time and if the photo's turn out just as you want them to it transports you right back there to that moment in time and we are just so lucky that you have so many more to share and the longer your thread goes on the better as far a i'm concerned  Very Happy 

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A morning in the Mara

Post  Safariman on Tue Mar 11, 2014 10:59 am

Whenever I stay at Offbeat's Camp in the Mara North Conservancy I always like to make a trip into the Mara Reserve proper at least as far as Musiara Marsh to see the birds and hopefully catch up with any members of the Marsh Pride. The weather was very dull, overcast, cold and with very low cloud unusual for the time of year.
Our first encounter was with a magnificent elephant bull, one of the few "Big Tuskers" still roaming the Mara. He was fitted with a radio collar so that when he wandered out of the reserve he could still be tracked and hopefully kept out of trouble. Apart from a few zebra drinking at a waterhole there was not much in the way of plains game which meant there was not much food for the predators hence the problem with the Masai  cattle! We did see a lone Defassa Waterbuck  bull and a young sub-adult female lion of the Marsh Pride who was on her own. Unusually there was not much in the way of bird life around the marsh so we decided to go and try and find some other members of the Marsh Pride. Eventually after much searching we came across about a dozen lions, a mixture of adult female and cubs relaxing in a wooded thicket My guide David has a theory about the Marsh Pride and also the Acacia/Cheli Pride in the conservancy that they are so used to vehicles that whenever one approaches they deliberately lay down and keep their eyes closed and totally ignore the intruders.This seemed to be the case as they didn't even raise their heads to see who we were. It is a tactic that obviously works as we soon moved off leaving them to their peace and quiet!!! A little further on we stumbled across another pair of lions hidden in a thicket and this time much to my surprise one was Sikio (I think), one of the Marsh Pride Musketeers, relaxing with his latest lady friend. It was lovely to see them lying nose to nose which made for a great photo. After a chilly breakfast we made our way home encountering a large flock of Grey crowned cranes who were preening and displaying and a big (20+) family of ostrich. It had been an enjoyable if quiet morning but I think I prefer the conservancy!!!



A magnificent "Big Tusker"





Zebra drinking





A Defassa waterbuck bull



Some members of the Marsh Pride ignoring us!!



"Lion Love"  Sikio and his latest girlfriend





Breakfast on the Mara with David and Kapeen



Grey crowned cranes





The Ostrich family!!



The Musiara Marsh in the early morning

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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  Laikipia on Tue Mar 11, 2014 1:02 pm

http://i70.servimg.c  Safariman. Lovely to see your next batch of photos. Funny about the weather, we were lucky although it did rain heavily overnight. Lovely to visit the Musiara Marsh to see the Marsh pride but I agree there is so much more to the area with the surrounding conservancies.

A great selection of photos (especially Kapeen and David at breakfast) and good to know that lovely tusker is being tracked, although I am sorry it has to be that way. The zebra at the waterhole are very fine looking and beautifully lined up.

Thanks for sharing.

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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  littlewid on Tue Mar 11, 2014 8:17 pm

What glorious photo's Safariman. I know you say the weather was not brilliant but it doesn't detract from the wonderful pictures. Tat was a really large family of Ostrich wasn't it, I'm not sure that either, you, Lai or Doogs have mentioned seeing that many together before, so is that a first?
I love the fact that the Lions ignore the intruders and just keep their heads down and sleep, not feeling the need to entertain anyone, that's so lovely, or is it a bad sign really that they are used to man in their territory? Isn't that just a special photo of Sikio and his latest girlfriend  I love you , its a real tender moment isn't it. What a shame the bird life was a little absent but the Grey Crowned Cranes are rather spectacular looking birds aren't they, they look very well to do with their crowns on their heads and their ruffles round their necks, like little kings and queens. The Lone Bull is super, its a shame he has to be collard but if it keeps him safe then its the best thing, it would be awful for anything to happen to him and his tusks are quite amazing aren't they. Is it unusual to see a lone waterbuck? I would have thought they wold have stayed with a herd to remain safe, he is a bit of a target out there on his own I would have thought. Zebra's always raise a smile for me, they are great animals and I love those shots of them, safety in numbers drinking like that I would assume. David and Kapeen look fairly well wrapped up against the cold but don't their legs get cold without long trousers? they always seem wrapped up at the top but dressed like summer at the bottom  scratch 
A great set of photo's as usual Safariman, thanks so much for sharing them.

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"Ellies"

Post  Safariman on Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:21 am

Thanks Lai and LW. I think the male ostrich will sometimes have more than one mate who then lay their eggs in a communal nest and jointly raise all the chicks together. The male waterbucks are often alone if they do not have a mate or occasionally they will form bachelor herds with other lone males.
A change today away from the big cats (more later), this is a post about the various elephant families I encountered. They were mostly in small herds of between 4 and 10 with lots of very small youngsters. They are obviously breeding well as whenever I visit I always see new babies. It is fun to watch there antics as they discover and explore the new world around them always running back to mum at the least sign of danger!! Kapeen was explaining that even 15 years ago, a lot of the open grassy plains we could see were covered in acacia woodland and it is through the efforts of the elephant followed by the Masai that they were created. First the elephant would eat all the new growth on the trees and when they had finished would push over the tree to get at the succulent routes. The trees would die and then the Masai would use the wood for fires and building their bomas. When the woodland had been stripped they would then graze their cattle on the new grass creating the vast plains of the Mara and Serengeti. I have watched elephant grazing on the plains and if they see a new acacia shout appearing they will immediately rip it up to devour it. The open savannahs of Africa are not untamed wilderness but the result of  of elephant and human landscaping. And that process is still happening as the few areas left of acacia woodland in the conservancy are slowly disappearing!!
There is also a short video which shows the antics of the young ellies in more detail.








"Everybody follow me!!!"



















Going down hill isn't easy when you are very small!!!



"I don't want to get my feet wet"



"Mum I got my foot wet..... what are you going to do about it!!!"







"Do you want to hear a good joke?"








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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  Laikipia on Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:32 am

I'll catch up with these wonderful pic and clip later Safariman, off to work now .............  Rolling Eyes 

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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  littlewid on Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:32 pm

I have just been jigging through that video Safariman, the music was brilliant, so lively and happy and that's just how you imagined the eles, they looked happy and carefree in that video and the music really portrayed that, I just couldn't help myself   
The photo's are tremendous from the follow me to the one with the mum and baby to the other little baby followed by the big ele in the water, what a capture that one was of them all staggered; to them drinking and the water dribbling to the tell a joke to the baby with the flappy ears, they are all so captivating and gorgeous. There really is something magical about elephants isn't there and they always raise a smile, they are such special creatures. You must have had a ball photographing all of those shots.

I didn't realise Male Water Bucks were mainly alone unless they paired up with another male, so thanks for that info. Also the info on the landscaping of the Savannah, it's always nice to know things evolve and gives a deeper understanding, unless you are able to visit somewhere you never truly get to understand or know how things happen.

Thank Safariman

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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

Post  Laikipia on Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:31 pm

http://i73.servimg.c  Safariman. Lovely ele photos and a wonderful clip. I just love watching the baby eles running around, they always look so busy. Great comments and another great selection.

Your comments about the land changing is so true, soon the acacia will be gone and it will savannah as far as the eye can see. Even I noticed a change since my first riding safari. I love these eles but they do tend to be destructive.

Thanks for sharing.

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Re: "Offbeat Safari" Mara North, Feb 2014

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