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

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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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Grand Canyon at twilight.

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Grand Canyon at twilight.

Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in the United States in the state of Arizona.
The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,000 feet / 1,800 metres) Nearly two billion years of the Earth’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. While the specific geologic processes and timing that formed the Grand Canyon are the subject of debate by geologists, recent evidence suggests the Colorado River established its course through the canyon at least 17 million years ago. Since that time, the Colorado River continued to erode and form the canyon to its present-day configuration.

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Albi Cathedral Nave

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Cecilia (French: Basilique Cathédrale Sainte-Cécile d’Albi), also known as Albi Cathedral, is the most important Catholic building in Albi, France, and the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Albi (in full, Albi-Castres-Lavaur). First built as a fortress in the aftermath of the Albigensian Crusade; begun in 1282 and under construction for 200 years, it is claimed to be the largest brick building in the world. In 2010 the cathedral was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The present cathedral was preceded by other buildings. The first dated from the fourth century and in 666 was destroyed by fire. The second is recorded in 920 by the name of Saint Cecilia, the present-day patroness of musicians. It was replaced in the thirteenth century by a Romanesque cathedral in stone.

The Brick Gothic cathedral was constructed in brick between 1287 and 1480 in the wake of the Cathar Church, a Christian non-trinitarian dualist movement with an episcopal see at Albi around 1165 AD. Pope Innocent III initiated a brutal crusade (“Cathar Crusade”, 1209–1229) to extinguish Catharism in southern France, with great loss of life to area residents. In the aftermath of the bloodshed, the cathedral’s dominant presence and fortress-like exterior were intended to convey the power and authority of the trinitarian Roman Catholic Church. The instigator of the cathedral’s construction was Bernard de Castanet, Roman Catholic Bishop of Albi and Inquisitor of Languedoc. Work on the nave was completed about 1330.

The cathedral is built in the Southern Gothic Style. As suitable building stone is not found locally, the structure is built almost entirely of brick. Notable architectural features include the bell-tower (added in 1492), which stands 78 metres (256 ft) tall, and the doorway by Dominique de Florence (added circa 1392). The nave is the widest Gothic example in France at 60 feet (18 m). The interior lacks aisles which are replaced by rows of small chapels between brick internal buttresses, making Albi a hall church. Compared with regular Gothic, the buttreses are almost entirely submerged in the mass of the church. The principal entry is on the south side through an elaborate porch entered by a fortified stair, rather than through the west front, as is traditional in France.

The side chapels in the nave received overhead galleries in the 15th century, diminishing their impact.

The elaborate interior stands in stark contrast to the cathedral’s military exterior. The central chœur, reserved for members of the religious order, is surrounded by a roodscreen with detailed filigree stone work and a group of polychrome statues.

Below the organ, a fresco of the Last Judgement, attributed to unknown Flemish painters, originally covered nearly 200 m² (the central area was later removed).

In the middle register of the painting, angels blow trumpets announcing the resurrection and the judgement. The dead rise up from their tombs.

The composition marks the rupture between Christ and the condemned, separated by a gloomy, greenish sky. The dead all carry around their necks the book of their good and bad actions, indicating that each shall be judged by their deeds on earth and that holy mercy alone does not suffice to assure salvation.

Hell appears as an underground world of despair, far from God. Disorder and chaos constitute its fundamental structure: swarming promiscuous masses, pandemonium, foetid, nauseating odours and an infernal din. Monsters proliferate; hideous clawed, flabby skinned demons arouse fear and loathing. Some have the heads of goats; putrid, diabolical creatures, symbolising lust.

An immense garden of torment, hell is represented as a furnace. Streaks of colour show the omnipresence of the fire burning, but not consuming, the damned. Other tortures are represented, the breaking wheel, forced feeding, boiling in giant cauldrons and impalement.

In this terrible world physical suffering (we see mouths pathetically screaming in horror) is accompanied by moral suffering which goes with the eternal separation from God.

Hell is organised into seven sectors, the same as the number of deadly sins. The first, at the left, corresponds to pride, which led Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge and to fall into lust, which, with its accompanying punishment, features at the far right.

Between the two we see successively the punishments meted out to the envious, the wrathful, the slothful and the greedy. The lazy and their punishment were lost in the 17th century.

The frescoes on the enormous vaulted ceiling comprise the largest and oldest ensemble of Italian Renaissance painting in France.

The origin of the classic organ whose actual case remains, is attributed to Christophe Moucherel (1736). This gigantic organ (width : 16.2 m) has been restored by Francois & Jean-Francois Lepine (1747), Joseph Isnard (1779), Antoine Peyroulous (1824).

It was then transformed into a romantic organ by Claude brothers (1840), Thibault Maucourt (1865), Puget Co. (1904).

After the study of the Historic Organ Committee in 1960s, they confirmed a restauration to a classic instrument by Schwenkedel in 1971 and by Bartholomeo Formentelli in 1977 who restored it in 1981.
(Description from Wikipedia and mypipeorganhobby.blogspot).

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Banff National Park

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

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Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest national park, established in 1885 in the Rocky Mountains.

The park, located 110–180 kilometres (68–112 mi) west of Calgary in the province of Alberta, encompasses 6,641 square kilometres (2,564 sq mi) of mountainous terrain, with numerous glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forest, and alpine landscapes. The Icefields Parkway extends from Lake Louise, connecting to Jasper National Park in the north. Provincial forests and Yoho National Park are neighbours to the west, while Kootenay National Park is located to the south and Kananaskis Country to the southeast.

Over the past few million years, glaciers have at times covered most of the park, but today are found only on the mountain slopes though they include the Columbia Icefield, the largest uninterrupted glacial mass in the Rockies. Erosion from water and ice have carved the mountains into their current shapes.

Johnston Creek is a tributary of the Bow River in Canada’s Rocky Mountains. The creek is located in Banff National Park.

Johnston Creek originates north of Castle Mountain in a glacial valley southwest of Badger Pass and south of Pulsatilla Pass, at an elevation of 2,500 meters (8,200 ft). The creek flows southeast between Helena Ridge and the Sawback Range, and then south through a gorge known as Johnston Canyon. The stream empties into the Bow River, south of Castle Mountain, between Banff and Lake Louise, at an elevation of 1,440 meters (4,720 ft).

As Johnston Creek approaches the Bow River, it flows through a large canyon formed by erosion over thousands of years. The creek has cut through the limestone rock to form sheer canyon walls, as well as waterfalls, tunnels, and pools.

A popular hiking trail follows the canyon and leads to a meadow within the Johnston Valley above the canyon. The first part of the trail consists of a constructed walkway with safety rails and bridges, while the last part of the trail is natural and more rugged. Within the meadow are the Ink Pots, which are six blue-green spring-fed pools.

Ice climbing is a popular activity on the frozen waterfalls in winter. (Description from Wikipedia).

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Operation Motorman mural in Derry

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Mural painted by ‘the Bogside Artists’. The mural was completed in July 2001 and is situated on Rossville Street in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. The mural depicts some of the events that occured during ‘Operation Motorman’ on 31 July 1972.

The Bogside Artists are a trio of mural painters from Derry, Northern Ireland, consisting of Tom Kelly, his brother William Kelly, and Kevin Hasson (b. 8 January 1958). Their most famous work, a series of outdoor murals called the People’s Gallery, is located in the Bogside neighbourhood of Derry and depicts the events surrounding sectarian violence and civil rights protests in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

Operation Motorman was a large operation carried out by the British Army (HQ Northern Ireland) in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. The operation took place in the early hours of 31 July 1972 with the aim of retaking the “no-go areas” (areas controlled by residents, usually Irish republican paramilitaries) that had been established in Belfast, Derry and other large towns. During the operation, the British Army shot four people in Derry, killing a civilian and an unarmed IRA member.

The Bogside is a neighbourhood outside the city walls of Derry, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The large gable-wall murals by the Bogside Artists, Free Derry Corner and the Gasyard Féile (an annual music and arts festival held in a former gasyard) are popular tourist attractions. The Bogside is a majority Catholic/Irish republican area, and shares a border with the Protestant/Ulster loyalist enclave of the Fountain.

The area has been a focus point for many of the events of the Troubles; in 1969, a fierce three-day battle against the RUC and local Protestants, known as the Battle of the Bogside, became a starting point of the Troubles.

Between 1969 and 1972, the area along with the Creggan and other Catholic areas became a no-go area for the British Army and police. Both the Official and Provisional IRA openly patrolled the area and local residents often paid subscriptions to both.

On the 30 January 1972, the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association organised a march against internment that was put into effect the year before turned into a blood bath known as Bloody Sunday. The British Parachute Regiment shot dead 14 unarmed protesters and injured 14 more; this resulted in a large surge of recruitment for both wings of the IRA in the city.

After Operation Motorman and the end of Free Derry and other no-go areas in Northern Ireland, the Bogside along with the majority of the city experienced frequent street riots and sectarian conflict lasting all the way to the early 1990s.

In 1974, the Official IRA declared an end to their armed campaign, and with volunteers on the ground already mad about the ceasefire in mid 1972, that crossed the line to hardliners. In result, Seamus Costello and other socialist militants formed the Irish Republican Socialist Movement. This new movement included the Irish National Liberation Army the paramilitary wing of the IRSM.

Derry and particularly the Bogside became one of many strongholds for the INLA; in fact all three volunteers who died in the 1981 Irish hunger strike were from Derry or County Londonderry. The Irish People’s Liberation Organisation, a breakaway group of the INLA, made a small but effective presence in Derry engaged in a feud with the INLA in the city along with other areas in Ireland from 1987 to 1992. The feud ended with the Provisionals stepping in and killing the main Belfast leadership while letting the rest of the organisation dissolve in the rest of Ireland. Throughout the rest of the 1990s, the Bogside became relatively peaceful compared to other localities of Northern Ireland at that time such as Belfast, even though street riots were still frequent. (Description from Wikipedia)

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Our Lady Chapel detail in the Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder Amsterdan BW

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Our Lady chapel detail in the Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic), a 17th-century canal house in the city center of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The canal house on the 14th century canal Oudezijds Voorburgwal, currently on number 40, was built in 1630. Between 1661 and 1663 the top three floors of the house were changed into a house church. The building was renovated in the 18th and 19th century.

The Catholic Church was built on the top three floors of the canal house during the 1660s. It is an important example of a “schuilkerk”, or “clandestine church” in which Catholics and other religious dissenters from the seventeenth century Dutch Reformed Church, unable to worship in public, held services.

Since there is no room for an altar to Mary in the Attic Church, the area behind the main altar has been set up as a chapel to Our Lady. Immediately alongside the altar, there is a multi-coloured limewood statue of Maria (circa 1690) thought to originate from the Attic Church. She carries Jesus under her arm and is standing on the crescent moon. She has a snake caught under her feet, a symbol of all evil.

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