Meet the Patas Monkey – the fastest primate in the world !

Vicky has already beaten you to it! She was fortunate enough to have met these beautiful animals in Murchison Falls and Kidepo National Parks during her recent trip to Uganda.

They really are stunning and very fast!  We hope you enjoy finding out more about them in our blog and if you fancy meeting them yourself – just give us a call……

Patas Monkeys:

These super speedy monkeys spend most of their time on the ground and with their slender bodies and long powerful legs they are able to run at speeds of up to 55 kph.

They’re common in dry areas throughout western and eastern Africa, living in open spaces in groups of up to 60.  They are omnivores, mainly eating fruit, gum, leaves, birds eggs, small reptiles, insects and crops.

The patas monkey uses different calls for different predators to alert the others and then uses its speed to evade pesky predators such as lions and hyenas.

Most of their time is spent foraging. They set out in the early morning to go find food and will continue this till sunset. At night they’ll find a tree to rest in.

After about 3 years the male infants will begin to leave the group and find their own territories or sometimes join an all-male group. Groups may consist of all males or females led by a dominant male.

5 facts about the Patas Monkey:

  1. Their ability to reach speeds of up to 55km/hr (34mi/hr) makes them the world’s fastest primate.
  2. This species frequently vocalizes but it is quite quiet. They can make a chirp, chutter, cough, grunt or squeal.
  3. Males can grow up to nearly 1 metre tall, with females slightly shorter more brightly coloured.
  4. To find a partner a female will crouch in front of a male and exhale her cheek pouches.
  5. Other names for the patas monkey include red monkey, military monkey, hussar monkey, Sergeant major monkey and dancing monkey.

 

The Okavango Delta

One of the world’s unique natural wonders, the Okavango Delta in Botswana is the world’s largest inland delta.  With 15,000 square kilometres of lush wetland, game–rich safari, flourishing eco-system and amazing birdlife – it really is a must-see destination for wildlife lovers seeking an adventure.

Sourced by southern Africa’s third largest river, the Okavango, the Delta contains over 150,000 islands. Many of these islands are just a few metres wide while some of the larger islands can be up to 10 km. The largest is Chief’s Island, at around 70km long and 14km wide.

The annual flood that feeds the area typically comes between March and June, originating from the Angola Mountains, 1.600 km further west, the Okavango River flows into Botswana but never makes it to the ocean, instead the water fills the delta before sinking in to the Kalahari Desert.

The Moremi National Park protects around 40% of the Okavango Delta area. Surrounding the National Park there are a number of conservancies with small, private safari camps to protect the rest of the area and its delicate balance. These low–impact lodges and camps leave only a small footprint ensuring the area is preserved in the most natural and unspoiled way possible for future generations  of both wildlife and visitors to enjoy.

The Okavango Delta is home to a wealth of game from the ‘big five’ to a great many animals you may never have heard of.  It’s also home to over 500 species of bird with numbers boosted by the migratory birds that join the locals around November each year – a must for all bird watchers. Other bird species found in the area include the Pel’s fishing owl, African fish eagle, the lilac-breasted roller and the hamerkop.

November to March is breeding time with lots of the Delta’s animals giving birth to their young.  As a result, there are also lots of predators around at this time, attracted by the venerable new residents of the Delta – giving visitors even more opportunity to witness the magic of Okavango Delta.

5 Facts about the Okavango Delta

  1. In 2014, the Okavango Delta became the 1,000th place to be enlisted as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  2. The Seven Natural Wonders of Africa were announced in 2013 and named the Okavango Delta alongside the River Nile, the Ngorongoro Crater, the great Serengeti migration, the Sahara Desert, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Red Sea coral reef.
  3. Mokoro (dug-out) canoes are still used in the area. These traditional boats were once made from a carved out tree trunk, however, now many are made out of more environmentally-friendly fibreglass but still offer a great way to get around and enjoy a water-based safari.
  4. There are strong numbers of Lechwe (antelopes found in wetlands of south central Africa) with around 60,000 living in the delta.
  5. Five tribes still use the area for fishing, growing crops and hunting.

Special offer: Kids go free to Botswana!

KIDS GO FREE TO BOTSWANA. Discover the beauty of the Okavango Delta with your children, silently floating across the delta in original wooden Mekoros watching the birds and animals come down to drink. You will walk on islands learning about the flora and fauna of this very special AND unique habitat. You can also visit a local village to see how the people of the delta live in this watery wilderness.

Spend 3 nights at Delta Camp inclusive of return air transfers from Maun.  This offer is valid for one or two children (under the age of 16) travelling with parents in 2019 and sharing a room.  Offer subject to availability at time of booking. Excludes international flights.

For more information on our special offers contact us on 0131 315 2464.

Amazing Special Offer – Discover southern Tanzania at LOW SEASON RATES ALL YEAR!

Great savings available across the Selous Safari Company range.  Start your wildlife adventure at Siwandu Camp in the Selous Game Reserve and/or Jongomero Camp in Ruaha National Park before kicking off your shoes to enjoy the Tanzanian coast.

Complete your beach and bush adventure on the powder white sands of the private island of Fanjove, watching the dolphins at play or at the idyllic barefoot hideaway that is the Ras Kutani resort where the deserted shores of the Indian Ocean meets a freshwater lagoon.

For more information on our special offers contact us on 0131 315 2464, [email protected].

 

Pel’s Fishing Owl

The Pel’s Fishing Owl is the second largest owl found in Africa next to the Verreaux’s eagle-owl  (also known as the milky eagle or giant eagle owl).  The Pel’s Fishing Owl is a nocturnal bird that loves to eat fish, crabs mussels and even the occasional frog or baby crocodile- if the fancy takes it.

They live in dense forest locations, choosing to perch high in thick foliage close to big rivers, so they can live and hunt with ease without being disturbed.  The Pel’s Fishing owl is as elusive as it is rare and for many birders it is a spot of a lifetime.

Found in sub-Saharan Africa, it is classified as threatened in South Africa due to the loss of habitat and pollution.  The Okavango Delta in Botswana is considered one of the best places to try and catch a glimpse, where there are believed to be around 100 mating pairs.

The Pel’s fishing owl is ginger-brown in colour with black spots on both their wings and breast area. Unlike most owls, they hunt by sight rather than sound as their prey is underwater.  As a result, they don’t have the usual concave facial disk which other owls use for detecting prey by sound.  Their legs and toes are also adapted to their hunting needs – having no feathers so they don’t retain excess water when grabbing pray out of the water with their claws.

The pel’s fishing owl usually hunts at night. It perches in the tree, looking onto the water and waits for its prey to get close to the surface.  The bird will swoop down and snatch the fish from the water.

Pel’s Fishing Owls are monogamous, choosing one mate for life. They breed once every two years, with the female laying two eggs.  Sadly, it’s rare for both chicks to survive. They build their nests inside a tree cavity, around 3 to 12 metres above the ground.  Chicks are considered a fledgling at about 70 days old but will stay with their parents for around 9 months while they learn the ropes.

Top 5 facts about Pel’s Fishing Owl:

  1. They don’t migrate on a seasonal basis and will only move to new territory if the food supply in their existing habitat becomes depleted.
  2. Male and female birds communicate using hoots. Males have a deep, reverberating call (hoom-hut) which can be heard up to three kilometres away!
  3. The female’s call is higher pitched and usually a single hoot followed by a double hoot-oot.
  4. The pel’s fishing owl is named after Hendrik Severinus Pel, a former Dutch governor of the Gold Coast (now Ghana) between 1840 and 1850.
  5. They can grow to around 60cm tall with an average wingspan of 150cm. Females are larger and heavier than males.

The Ngorongoro Crater

Located in the Eastern Great Rift Valley in northern Tanzania the Ngorongoro Crater was created around 2.5 million years ago when a huge active volcano (that might have once been Africa’s highest peak) collapsed inward following a ferocious volcanic eruption.  The implosion created the world’s largest intact, unfilled caldera. The crater itself is about 610 metres from rim to floor and covers an area of around 260 square kilometres.

The Ngorongoro Crater is now a phenomenal natural amphitheatre.  The caldera floor is predominantly open grassland, enclosing some 260km of plains and lakes, along with an estimated 30,000 animals including the endangered black rhino, lion, cheetah and flamingos. It is an awe-inspiring site offering an excellent opportunity for close up wildlife photography and a truly unforgettable safari experience.

The drive from the nearby town of Arusha to Ngorongoro gives you a real feel for the country and its people. From the floor of the Great Rift Valley, you can drive through colourful market towns, past rolling hills cultivated with coffee and tea plantations, past forests and streams before climbing up into the cooler tropical forest and to the rim of the spectacular 20 kilometre-wide Ngorongoro Crater.

5 facts about the Ngorongoro Crater:

  1. The caldera became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979 and is one of Africa’s seven natural wonders, including The Nile River, Sahara Desert, Okavango Delta, the Serengeti Migration, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Red Sea Reef.
  2. The Ngorongoro Crater has the densest known lion population in the world.
  3. In the middle of the Ngorongoro Crater there is a salt-water lake by the name of ‘Makat’ or ‘Magadi’ as it is also known, and to the east of the crater is a spring named Ngoitokitok Spring.
  4. It is believed that the volcano that created the Ngorongoro Crater was originally higher than, or as high as Mount Kilimanjaro, which is Africa’s highest mountain.
  5. In the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is Oldupai Gorge (often misnamed Olduvai) which is home to one of the world’s most important prehistoric sites. The remains discovered there by archaeologists Mary and Louis Leakey are said to be the earliest known evidence of the human species. A museum founded by Mary Leakey is situated on the edge of the gorge and displays exhibits, including fossilised footprints and artefacts left by our oldest human ancestors.

First confirmed sighting of an African black panther for 100 years

Researchers have confirmed that there are rare black leopards living in Laikipia County, Kenya.  This is the first confirmed sighting since 1909.  Black leopards are often referred to as “black panthers”—a term used for any big cat with a black coat. There have been reports of black leopards sighting in Kenya over the years, but no confirmed sightings for over 100 years.

Credit Burrard-Lucas Wildlife Photography

The discovery was made by photographer Will Burrard-Lucas, alongside a team of wildlife researchers and their guide who  set up cameras near to Laikipia Wilderness Camp to get undeniable proof of the extremely rare and elusive melanistic leopard.  Melanism is caused by a gene that creates a surplus of pigment in the skin or hair of an animal.  African black leopards are so rare that researchers have been unable to confirm if the genetic mutation responsible for their dark pigmentation is the same as the melanism found in Southeast Asian leopards.

Photographed with a Camtraptions camera trap. Laikipia Wilderness Camp, Kenya. Credit Burrard-Lucas Wildlife Photography.

The African Wildlife Federation (AFW) states there are nine leopard subspecies that are native to more than 25 African countries, with the black cats listed as “vulnerable” since 1986.  Hopefully we can now learn more about these elusive leopards and subsequently see their numbers increase.

5 black leopard facts:

  1. Leopards are powerful big cats closely related to lions, tigers, and jaguars.
  2. The melanism gives the leopard the appearance of being completely black but its rosettes are still visible.
  3. There are nine leopard subspecies ranging from Africa all the way to eastern Russia
  4. 11% of leopards are thought to be melanistic, however most are found in Southeast Asia, where tropical forests offer an abundance of shade.
  5. In Kenya, black leopards seem to prefer semi-arid shrub land.

Meet the Grey Crowned Crane – The large African bird that loves to dance!

Found in the grassland and wetland areas of the eastern and southern regions of Africa, the Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum) is over 1 metre tall with a wingspan of 2 metres!

These beautiful birds have a grey body, white wings with feathers ranging from white to brown to gold and a head topped with stiff golden feathers.

The grey crowned crane loves to dance and relays on its impressive dance moves to attract a mate. Both males and females will dance for each other moving their feet, bowing, jumping and spreading their wings – showing off their plumage to their best advantage.

Once their dance moves have paid off and they have chosen a mate females will lay 2-3 eggs at a time. Grey crowned cranes like to share their parental duties, with both the male and the female helping to build the nest, incubating the egg and caring for their young.  The chicks are ‘precocial’ which means they can run as soon as they hatch!

Grey Crowned Cranes have a long hind toe, making them one of only two species of crane (the other being the black crowned crane) that can perch and build nests in trees if they want – helping them to avoid predators on the ground.

They’re also omnivores, so they can eat both plants and animals. They aren’t picky eaters either and will spend most of their day foraging for food, feeding on anything from insects, lizards, amphibians, fish, grasses and seeds.

The grey crowned crane is listed as endangered on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation in Nature) Red List. They’re protected by law in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Kenya. There are also conservation projects in place to ensure their survival, with Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Botswana.

5 facts about the Grey Crowned Crane:

  1. They can flock in groups of between 30 and 150 birds.
  2. The Grey Crowned Crane is the national bird of Uganda.
  3. They don’t tweet, they honk (very loudly!).
  4. Grey Crowned Cranes are non-migratory but do make seasonal movements.
  5. Females can lay 2-3 eggs at a time, which is the largest clutch of any species of crane.

Meet the Aardwolf – The Earth Wolf

Found in  eastern and southern Africa, the aardwolf (Proteles cristata) means ‘earth wolf’ in Afrikaans but the aardwolf is not actually related to aardvarks or wolves, it is in fact the smallest member of the hyena family!

Like all members of the Hyaenidae family, their front legs are longer than their hind legs, giving them a sloped stature and resemble a small striped hyena. They also have bushy, black tipped tails with a mane that stretches down its back from the head to the tail, which rises up if it feels threatened or scared.

At around 3 feet in length and weighing up to 30 pounds, aardwolves consume between 200,000 to 300,000 termites in one night. With their acute hearing, they are able to detect termites in the ground and then eat them using their broad, sticky tongue. Maggots and other invertebrates with soft bodies are occasionally eaten too – along with small mammals, birds and carrion if food is scarce.

Aardwolves mate for life and pregnancy lasts for around 90-100 days with 2 to 4 cubs born.  The cubs spend first month of their life hidden in a den. The cubs drink their mother’s milk during the first 3 – 4 months, before being weaned on regurgitated termites.  They then join their parents in foraging for food. Aardwolves will leave their family group at the age of one year to begin an independent life.

These reclusive, nocturnal animals have a  preference for semi-arid, open plains, savannas and grasslands where they’ll live in a burrow in the ground. Even though they could easily dig a hole in a ground using their claws, aardwolves prefer the abandoned burrows of other animals such as aardvarks and porcupines.

5 Facts about the Aardwolf:

    1. Aardwolves have strong jaws and canine teeth, but the rest of their teeth have been reduced to flattened pegs, used for eating insects. Aardwolves will primarily use their canine teeth for fighting and defending themselves.

     

    1. Aardwolves will use their manes to appear bigger. If another aardwolf threatens their territory, they will raise their manes as a warning and chase the intruder away and will only fight if it needs to.

     

    1. They communicate largely through smell. Aardwolves have two anal glands that secrete a black, musky fluid that they use to mark their territories and send messages to other aardwolves. They smear these secretions on foliage to establish territories and attract potential mates. They tend to be vocal only when confronting intruders or predators.

     

    1. Aardwolves are nocturnal creatures (active during the night) but once winter comes they generally conserve energy by sleeping at night and feeding during the day.

     

    1. Vicky spent a sleepless night sharing her bedroom (it was actually his bedroom) with an orphaned but quite large aardwolf called Woolfie!! Vicky didn’t realise at the time they only ate insects!!

Something to wet your appetite for your next trip

We are delighted to announce the arrival of our new BPA free reusable water bottles which we give to you when you book a holiday with us.  (BPA = nasty chemicals).

These great, lightweight bottles have a handy wrist/belt loop, latch lid and 500ml capacity with measurement scale so you can easily keep track of your fluid intake in the sun.

We are also encouraging all the lodges and ground operators that we work with to provide filtered drinking water rather than buying  water in single-use plastic bottles.

Our new reusable water bottles will be sent out prior to your trip with your holiday documents.