When working in a game reserve in South Africa one has many opportunities to take images of Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Giraffe, Zebra, …….

Going to a Zoo in Switzerland presented me with some – for me – unusual images.

The first image is of a baby Golden Lion Tamarin – my nieces thought that this little one was the cutest creature in the zoo. The second image is of an Elephant Shrew – one of the small five :-). The third is of a Carmine Bee-eater, one of my favorite birds.

I love the African Wild, but I also enjoy well run zoos! They have such an important role in education, research and conservation. They are an important “tool” to ensure that the 99% of mankind – who will never see the animals in their wild habitat – have an appreciation for the need to preserve nature.

20130527 - CS3_0047 - E - SIGThe Golden Lion Tamarin is a small New World monkey. Native to the Atlantic coastal forests of Brazil it is an endangered species with an estimated wild population of approximately 1,000 individuals and a captive population maintained at approximately 490 individuals among 150 zoos.

20130527 - CS3_0148 - E - SIGElephant Shrews are small insectivorous mammals native to Africa whose name comes from a “fancied resemblance” between their long noses and the trunk of an elephant, and an assumed relationship with the shrews in the order Insectivora.

20130527 - CS3_0165 - E - SIGThe Carmine Bee-eater occurs across sub-equatorial Africa. This species, like other bee-eaters, is a richly colored,striking bird, predominantly carmine in coloration, but with the crown and under-tail coverts blue.



Don Giovanni - Zurich - 20130527Well, this is not a blog about wildlife, but quite a few people have asked me what I am doing during my vacation in Germany and Switzerland. So, here is a short update:

Today I went to the premiere of Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the opera house in Zurich, Switzerland (see picture collage). It was a very modern interpretation. Half of the audience enjoyed the 3.5 hour opera and half of them “buuuhhh-ed” at the end. I was part of the first group 🙂
For more info about the opera go to http://www.opernhaus.ch/en/activity/detail/don-giovanni-26-05-2013/ 
The singing was superb, no matter how one thought about the staging and acting!

Besides getting a good rest and reading a lot, I am having lots of lunches and dinners with family and friends. I will also visit the Basel Zoo, the Zurich Zoo and the Wildlife Park in Arth Goldau (not to be without animals for too long 🙂

Watch out for more vacation blogs!

PS: I will be back at work on Thanda on 10 June 2013

Lions and Leopards on My Mind!

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I was playing with various images today and this is a resulting collage. I have called it “Lions and Leopards on My Mind”.

PS: I will not be at Thanda from 20 May until 10 June so there will be less Wildlife posts during that time (I will be in Europe on vacation :-)).

I am big and you better watch it!

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This small male White Rhino calf put us in our place!

He came right up to the vehicle (which was standing below his level) and showed us his “big” horn, jumped up and down and snorted a bit. When we did not react he retreated quickly back to mum. She was undisturbed by his “manly behavior”.

They were grazing in a beautiful area surrounded by trees. A fabulous sighting for my guests.

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A Good Look!

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Thanda’s dominant male Lion gave us “a good look” when we spotted him on the way to the lodge after bush dinner.

The guests on my vehicle were very impressed with the beautiful cat at moon light.

And the answer is …

… the Jacobson’s organ inside the mouth of an African Elephant.

This was a really tough one!

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More about the Jacobson’s organ:

The Jacobson’s organ or vomeronasal organ is an auxiliary sense of smell organ that is found in many animals. This organ is the sense organ involved in the flehmen response in mammals. The Jacobson’s organ is mainly used to detect pheromones, chemical messengers that carry information between individuals of the same species. Its presence in many animals has been widely studied and its importance for reproduction and for social behavior has been shown in many studies.

Its presence and functionality in humans is controversial, though most studies agree the organ regresses during fetal development. Elephants transfer chemo-sensory stimuli to the Jacobson’s organ in the roof of their mouths using their “fingers”, at the tips of their trunks.

Wet, Dirty and Sharp!

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These were the three adjectives that came to my mind when I saw this young male Lion displaying his sharp claws. He was very wet and very dirty when we encountered the Thanda North Pride on our morning game drive.

Sky over Thanda

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On today’s Thanda Game Drive we encountered this Giraffe on a hill top under a beautiful sky.

Have a good week!

I want that stick!

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Dedication is everything. One of Thanda’s youngest Lion was jumping over his uncle to get to his brother and retrieve the small wooden stick that had been taken from him just a few seconds ago. Their sister was watching for a few moments before  joining the game.