Herd of elephants under a tree in Serengeti

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Herd of elephants under a tree in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.

The African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana), also known as the African savanna elephant, is the larger of the two species of African Elephants. Both elephants, previously classified as exactly the same species, now prove different based from recent preliminary evidence which re-classifies the African forest elephant as a separate and distinct species (although this status is not conclusively accepted due to concerns over conservation strategies until the re-classification is formalized).

The African bush elephant has many distinctive features that sets it apart from the forest elephant. The bush elephant is much larger in height and weight, while the forest elephant has rounder ears and their trunk tends to be more hairy. The bush elephant has few predators, but still remains to be labeled an endangered species, mostly because of poaching. These elephants are known for being hunted for their tusks, ears, feet, and meat, so the population of bush elephants in the world have been increasingly declining. Their roaming has been limited to only specific areas, since they have been known for destruction of crops and landscape in certain areas. However they still travel in herds, with females being the primary leaders.

The African bush elephant is a very active and social mammal, since they are constantly on the move in search of food. Males often fight with each other during mating season, however they are considered to be very loving and caring toward relatives. Bush elephants also have strong social bonds, and when their herds are faced with danger, they tend to form a close, protective circle around the young calves. The elephants also tend to use their trunks to engage in physical greetings and behaviors.

The dramatic decline of the African bush elephant has resulted in various legal protections taking place in several states of Africa. Census reports show between the years of 2007 and 2014 there has been a decrease of 30% in the elephant’s population. The current rate at which the population is declining, leaves researchers to believe every year the African bush elephant will decline by 8%.

The Serengeti National Park is a Tanzanian national park in the Serengeti ecosystem in the Mara and Simiyu regions.

The park covers 14,750 square kilometres (5,700 sq mi) of grassland plains, savanna, riverine forest, and woodlands. The park lies in northwestern Tanzania, bordered to the north by the Kenyan border, where it is continuous with the Maasai Mara National Reserve. To the southeast of the park is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, to the southwest lies Maswa Game Reserve, to the west are the Ikorongo and Grumeti Game Reserves, and to the northeast and east lies the Loliondo Game Control Area. Together, these areas form the larger Serengeti ecosystem.

The park is worldwide known for its abundance of wildlife and high biodiversity.

The park was the location of filming for The Grassland Landscape Of Planet Serengeti along with Masai Mara. (Description from Wikipedia)

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Red-billed oxpecker eating ticks from giraffe’s mouth

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Bird eating ticks from Masai giraffe’s mouth in Ngorongoro District, Tanzania. Square format.

The Masai giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi), also spelled Maasai giraffe, also called Kilimanjaro giraffe, is the largest species of giraffe native to East Africa, also the tallest land mammal. The Masai giraffe can be found in central and southern Kenya and in Tanzania. It has distinctive, irregular, jagged, star-like blotches which extend to the hooves. A median lump is usually present in males. It is the largest-bodied giraffe species.

The oxpeckers are two species of bird which make up the family Buphagidae. Some ornithologists regard them as a subfamily Buphaginae within the starling family, Sturnidae, but they appear to be quite distinct. Oxpeckers are endemic to the savanna of Sub-Saharan Africa. Both the English and scientific names arise from their habit of perching on large mammals

Ngorongoro District is one of the five districts of the Arusha Region of Tanzania. It is bordered to the north by Kenya, to the east by Monduli District, to the south by the Karatu District and to the west by the Mara Region.

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Great Migration

RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Blue wildebeest during the Great Migration in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.

The wildebeests, also called gnus, are a genus of antelopes, scientific name Connochaetes. They belong to the family Bovidae, which includes antelopes, cattle, goats, sheep and other even-toed horned ungulates. Connochaetes includes two species, both native to Africa: the black wildebeest, or white-tailed gnu (C. gnou); and the blue wildebeest, or brindled gnu (C. taurinus).

Blue wildebeest have both migratory and sedentary populations. In the Ngorongoro most animals are sedentary and males maintain a network of territories throughout the year, even though breeding is seasonal in nature. Females and young form groups of about ten individuals or join together in larger aggregations, and non-territorial males form bachelor groups. In the Serengeti and Tarangire ecosystems, populations are mostly migratory, with herds consisting of both sexes frequently moving, but resident subpopulations also exist. During the rutting season, the males may form temporary territories for a few hours or a day or so, and attempt to gather together a few females with which to mate, but soon they have to move on, often moving ahead to set up another temporary territory.

Each year, some East African populations of blue wildebeest have a long-distance migration, seemingly timed to coincide with the annual pattern of rainfall and grass growth. The timing of their migrations in both the rainy and dry seasons can vary considerably (by months) from year to year. At the end of the wet season (May or June in East Africa), wildebeest migrate to dry-season areas in response to a lack of surface (drinking) water. When the rainy season begins again (months later), animals quickly move back to their wet-season ranges. Factors suspected to affect migration include food abundance, surface water availability, predators, and phosphorus content in grasses. Phosphorus is a crucial element for all life forms, particularly for lactating female bovids. As a result, during the rainy season, wildebeest select grazing areas that contain particularly high phosphorus levels. One study found, in addition to phosphorus, wildebeest select ranges containing grass with relatively high nitrogen content.

Aerial photography has revealed that there is a level of organisation in the movement of the herd that cannot be apparent to each individual animal; for example, the migratory herd exhibits a wavy front, and this suggests that there is some degree of local decision-making taking place. Numerous documentaries feature wildebeest crossing rivers, with many being eaten by crocodiles or drowning in the attempt. While having the appearance of a frenzy, recent research has shown a herd of wildebeest possesses what is known as a “swarm intelligence”, whereby the animals systematically explore and overcome the obstacle as one. Major predators that feed on wildebeest include the lion, hyena, cheetah, leopard, and crocodile, which seem to favour the wildebeest over other prey. Wildebeest, however, are very strong, and can inflict considerable injury even to a lion. Wildebeest have a maximum running speed of around 80 km/h (50 mph). The primary defensive tactic is herding, where the young animals are protected by the older, larger ones, while the herd runs as a group. Typically, the predators attempt to cut out a young or ill animal and attack without having to worry about the herd. Wildebeest have developed additional sophisticated cooperative behaviours, such as animals taking turns sleeping while others stand guard against a night attack by invading predators. Wildebeest migrations are closely followed by vultures, as wildebeest carcasses are an important source of food for these scavengers. The vultures consume about 70% of the wildebeest carcasses available. Decreases in the number of migrating wildebeest have also had a negative effect on the vultures. In the Serengeti ecosystem, Tanzania, wildebeest may help facilitate the migration of other, smaller-bodied grazers, such as Thomson’s gazelles (Eudorcas thomsonii), which eat the new-growth grasses stimulated by wildebeest foraging. (Descrition from Wikipedia).

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In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight!

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

African lion sleeping in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.

The lion (Panthera leo) is a species in the Felidae family and a member of the genus Panthera. It has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1996, as populations in African range countries declined by about 43% since the early 1990s. Lion populations are untenable outside designated protected areas. Although the cause of the decline is not fully understood, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are the greatest causes of concern. The West African lion population is listed as Critically Endangered since 2016.

The lion typically inhabits grasslands and savannahs, but is absent in dense forest. It is usually more diurnal than other big cats, but when persecuted adapts to being active at night and at twilight. A lion pride consists of a few adult males, related females and cubs. Prides vary in size and composition from three to 20 adult lions, depending on habitat and prey availability. Females cooperate when hunting and prey mostly on large ungulates. They are opportunistic hunters and prefer prey weighing 190 to 550 kg (420 to 1,210 lb). The lion is an apex and keystone predator.

Females form the stable social unit in a pride and do not tolerate outside females. Membership only changes with the births and deaths of lionesses, although some females do leave and become nomadic. Although extremely large prides, consisting of up over 30 individuals, have been observed, the average pride consists of around fifteen lions; including several adult females, up to four males (known as a coalition if more than one) and their cubs of both sexes.

The Serengeti National Park is a Tanzanian national park in the Serengeti ecosystem in the Mara and Simiyu regions.

The park covers 14,750 square kilometres (5,700 sq mi) of grassland plains, savanna, riverine forest, and woodlands. The park lies in northwestern Tanzania, bordered to the north by the Kenyan border, where it is continuous with the Maasai Mara National Reserve. To the southeast of the park is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, to the southwest lies Maswa Game Reserve, to the west are the Ikorongo and Grumeti Game Reserves, and to the northeast and east lies the Loliondo Game Control Area. Together, these areas form the larger Serengeti ecosystem.

The park is worldwide known for its abundance of wildlife and high biodiversity.

The park was the location of filming for The Grassland Landscape Of Planet Serengeti along with Masai Mara. (Description from Wikipedia)

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Leopard in tree in the Serengeti savanna

DSC_2997_ed_1280x_web

© RicardMN Photography

African leopard walking in tree in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.

The African leopard (Panthera pardus pardus) is the leopard nominate subspecies native to many countries in Africa. It is widely distributed in most of sub-Saharan Africa, but the historical range has been fragmented in the course of habitat conversion.

Leopards inhabited a wide range of habitats within Africa, from mountainous forests to grasslands and savannahs, excluding only extremely sandy desert. They are most at risk in areas of semi-desert, where scarce resources often result in conflict with nomadic farmers and their livestock.

The impact of trophy hunting on populations is unclear, but may have impacts at the demographic and population level, especially when females are shot. In Tanzania, only males are allowed to be hunted, but females comprised 28.6% of 77 trophies shot between 1995 and 1998.

Compared to other members of Felidae, the leopard has relatively short legs and a long body with a large skull. It is similar in appearance to the jaguar, but has a smaller, lighter physique. Its fur is marked with rosettes similar to those of the jaguar, but the leopard’s rosettes are smaller and more densely packed, and do not usually have central spots as the jaguar’s do. Both leopards and jaguars that are melanistic are known as black panthers. The leopard is distinguished by its well-camouflaged fur, opportunistic hunting behaviour, broad diet, and strength (which it uses to move heavy carcasses into trees), as well as its ability to adapt to various habitats ranging from rainforest to steppe, including arid and montane areas, and its ability to run at speeds of up to 58 kilometres per hour (36 mph).

The Serengeti National Park is a Tanzanian national park in the Serengeti ecosystem in the Mara and Simiyu regions.

The park covers 14,750 square kilometres (5,700 sq mi) of grassland plains, savanna, riverine forest, and woodlands. The park lies in northwestern Tanzania, bordered to the north by the Kenyan border, where it is continuous with the Maasai Mara National Reserve. To the southeast of the park is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, to the southwest lies Maswa Game Reserve, to the west are the Ikorongo and Grumeti Game Reserves, and to the northeast and east lies the Loliondo Game Control Area. Together, these areas form the larger Serengeti ecosystem.

The park is worldwide known for its abundance of wildlife and high biodiversity.

The park was the location of filming for The Grassland Landscape Of Planet Serengeti along with Masai Mara. (Description from Wikipedia)

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