Baby Rhinos!

I’ve never been a great lover of zoos, in spite of the great conservation work many of them do, and have always liked my willdife as ‘natural’ as possible, but watching the final episode of Attenborough’s Africa this week, reminded me of my encounter with a young black rhino named Lola, in Kenya. 

Journey into Africa
Lola, the young black rhino

In my case the youngster had been born to a blind rhino mother and while she was large enough to defend herself, being blind she couldn’t defend her young calf from almost certain predation by lion or hyena.  Consequently reserve rangers always had to take her calves off her, ( she was a prodigious breeder), and raise her calves on the bottle.  This gave visitors to Lewa Downs a chance to get much closer to a very rare and hugely threatened species than would normally be  possible.

In spite of my doubts, this was a hugely uplifting experience; the calf tottered about, playing and ‘talking’ to us, eager for her very large bottle of milk, and then promptly fell asleep in the grass.  You couldn’t fail but love her!

Experiences like this and seeing black or white rhino in the wild, makes the current plight of rhino in Africa, where one animal is being poached every day, all the more horrific.    I’m sure if we all could meet a rhine like Lola,  this senseless trade would stop.

Black rhino and young calf, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania.

Black rhino and young calf, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania.


Birding in Africa

108Bridwatching Tanzania 3 (2)

If you watched the last Attenborough Africa program last week, (and the finale is tonight) amongst many other great scenes was the swallows crossing the vast Sahara, dependent on finding the one oasis to stock up on flies to continue their journey.

It’s truly astounding how many birds make just this passage each year, some crossing the vast expanse of sand to the west, others following the rockier, but just as dry, path down the Great Rift Valley to the east, but either way, they join the already amazing array of colourful and extravagantly wonderful birds that make up Africa’s birding list.                                                           .

At any time of the year birding in Africa is one of its real pleasures, I don’t think there’s anywhere in the world where so many different species of wonderfully varied and numerous species can be so easliy seen.  I once sat by a river in a national park in a rainforest in Borneo, after two hours of watching I’d seen one species, admittedly a very interesting gull-billed kingfisher, but sitting by a similar river in East Africa would have produced 10 or 20 times that number!

Even the most avowed ‘non-twitchers’ when sat in front of a marsh full of egrets, African spoonbills, storks, ducks, huge spurwing geese, with African fish eagles overhead, start ticking them off with the best of them!  It is truly one of the pleasures of being on safari.

And if you come when those migrants are down from the north, the cuckoos and the waders, the harriers and the storks, when the red-chested cuckoo calls all day and the soft prrrp of the scops owl calls all night, there is nowhere quite like it!


Cormorants and pelicans in huge numbers!

Bridwatching Tanzania 3

Abdim’s storks – an intra-Africa migrant, usually found with European white storks.

If you missed the show you can catch it on BBC iPlayer:
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