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1724670-982768-thumbnail.jpg 'Kulafumbi' is our family home in Kenya, East Africa. 'Kulafumbi' is a play on the Kiswahili words "kula vumbi", which mean "eat dust", because it was so hot and dusty building our house in this remote, wild, wonderful place. Kulafumbi borders the Tsavo National Park - with no fences between us and the Park, the wildlife comes and goes of its own free will and treats our land as its own, which is exactly how we like it. In turn, we provide a protected area for the wild animals to do as they please. This protected area also creates an important buffer for the river, which forms the boundary between us and the park.
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« 27th January 2008 : Birds, Planes & Pachyderms | Main | 23rd January 2008 : Birds, Skinks & Politics »
Monday
Jan282008

26th January 2008 : Leopards, Falcons & Flowers

leopard-tsavo-west-26jan08-bcu

OK, you guessed it, we had the most fabulous sighting of a leopard today. It was truly amazing, completely unconcerned, not minding at all about us or our car. We were over in Tsavo West National Park, visiting our friends, Danny who is the Senior Warden there, his wife Nana and daughter Chloe.

On his way to meet us for a drink at Kilaguni Lodge, Danny had seen a young zebra which had been badly wounded by a predator, and was lying down, unable to move. He asked us whether we would be willing to take the young zebra home with us, clean up its wounds and try to nurse it back to health, then raise it as an orphan. Needless to say, we said we would be delighted to do so, but sadly – upon getting back to the poor little thing, it had already succumbed to its wounds. Upon looking at it more closely, it was clear we would never have been able to save it anyway, for the puncture wounds in its neck and underparts were too deep and too severe. It looked like it had been attacked by jackals, which had bitten at it from below, and then probably had been chased off by the mother zebra, for there were no jackals to be seen anywhere nearby.

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The leopard showed no interest in the dead zebra foal
click any image to enlarge
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Possibly the most beautiful cat in the world...
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Majestic Tsavo West Leopard










Completely by chance, as we approached the little dead foal, we suddenly saw the leopard. Even more surprising was that it was totally disinterested in the dead zebra, ignoring it completely, and intent instead on eyeing up a herd of nearby impala. It was obviously not a very hungry leopard. We stayed with the beautiful beast for half and hour or more (during which time it completely ignored us), but eventually, with the fading light, and a long drive home, we reluctantly left the magnificent cat to himself. We passed a small herd of five or six elephants in the grey twilight, which was lovely, and when we got home, Jean-Genie (the name we have given to our genet cat) was catching bugs on our balcony.

Bull elephant in grey fading light
elephant-tsavo-west-26jan08.gif

Earlier in the morning, a Falcon was hunting along the river – flying low over the water, and trying to catch smaller birds as they flew up startled from the sandbanks. He also did several fly-bys of the house, whizzing by at eye level and even beneath me so I got some fantastic views of him. That’s the advantage of having such an elevated vantage point from the balcony – much of the bird activity occurs at eye-level, if not down below you. At one stage, the Falcon started chasing a Hadada Ibis, and pursued it for a long way down the river – this was the most extraordinary thing to watch, for the Ibis is about four times (or more) the Falcon’s size, is a more cumbersome flyer, and could hardly be confused as prey for a Falcon…but perhaps it was just something between them that we’ll never know about!

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A hunting Falcon, flying fast and low over the river
click any image to enlarge
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The fastest birds on the planet...
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Perfect symmetry in the air...











Believe it or not, the Bauhinia are flowering again…it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on this year in terms of the weather and the flowers and trees…Lots of other plants are fruiting, like this creeper with the most extraordinarily red berries growing up behind the house.

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Prolific red berry creeper behind house
click any image to enlarge
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Bauhinia flowers are breath-taking in their beauty, with a delicate aromatic scent to match...
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Red creeper berries, hairy like gooseberries!












More in Pictures:
[January's Wildlife Pictures from Kulfumbi & Tsavo West]
[Wild Flowers & Fruits photographed in January 2008]
[Kulafumbi's January Birds]



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    Tales from Kulafumbi, Tsavo, Kenya, East Africa - Wild Kenya Diary - 26th January 2008 : Leopards, Falcons & Flowers
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    Tales from Kulafumbi, Tsavo, Kenya, East Africa - Wild Kenya Diary - 26th January 2008 : Leopards, Falcons & Flowers
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    Tales from Kulafumbi, Tsavo, Kenya, East Africa - Wild Kenya Diary - 26th January 2008 : Leopards, Falcons & Flowers
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    Tales from Kulafumbi, Tsavo, Kenya, East Africa - Wild Kenya Diary - 26th January 2008 : Leopards, Falcons & Flowers
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    Tales from Kulafumbi, Tsavo, Kenya, East Africa - Wild Kenya Diary - 26th January 2008 : Leopards, Falcons & Flowers
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    Tales from Kulafumbi, Tsavo, Kenya, East Africa - Wild Kenya Diary - 26th January 2008 : Leopards, Falcons & Flowers
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    Tales from Kulafumbi, Tsavo, Kenya, East Africa - Wild Kenya Diary - 26th January 2008 : Leopards, Falcons & Flowers
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    Tales from Kulafumbi, Tsavo, Kenya, East Africa - Wild Kenya Diary - 26th January 2008 : Leopards, Falcons & Flowers
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    Response: Guy Hayenga
    Tales from Kulafumbi, Tsavo, Kenya, East Africa - Wild Kenya Diary - 26th January 2008 : Leopards, Falcons & Flowers
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    Tales from Kulafumbi, Tsavo, Kenya, East Africa - Wild Kenya Diary - 26th January 2008 : Leopards, Falcons & Flowers
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    Tales from Kulafumbi, Tsavo, Kenya, East Africa - Wild Kenya Diary - 26th January 2008 : Leopards, Falcons & Flowers
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    Tales from Kulafumbi, Tsavo, Kenya, East Africa - Wild Kenya Diary - 26th January 2008 : Leopards, Falcons & Flowers
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Reader Comments (6)

What a magnificent cat! And your photographs really do it justice. I'd have to agree with your photo caption: Possibly the most beautiful cat in the world.

January 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBobbie

Thanks for stopping by, Bobbie. Yes, there is something about a leopard that is so all-consuming, so all-powerful...if there were hypnotists in the animal kingdom, then surely the leopard would be the master...

January 30, 2008 | Registered CommenterTanya

Hi! What beautiful photos of the leopard! What a privilege to see this spectacular cat so well. I've seen a few on my travels around the world, unfortunately well before I got my current DSLR. The last big cat I saw was a cougar in western Canada, but he was carrying a raven carcass off into the forest and wasn't going to wait around for me to get a picture! What camera equipment do you use?

Regards, Adele

February 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAdele / Sittingfox

Hello Adele,

Thanks for visiting...yes, we were incredibly fortunate that this leopard was so unconcerned by our presence, allowing us to spend such a long time with him. Can you believe it, the next evening, he (we assume it was the same leopard, as it was so close by), caught and killed an impala right in front of the lodge where everyone was staying for the Tsavo Elephant Count - he came right into the light, just meters from the balcony where everybody was sitting watching, and crept right up to the impala, before springing into action and killing the antelope right there.

I'm afraid I don't use a very fancy camera at all - I'm saving up for a DSLR. In the meantime, I am shooting on a Lumix (Panasonic) - but the lens is Leica and is astoundingly good for static subjects like flowers. Because there is a delay when you press the trigger (unlike with an SLR), it is not so great for moving subjects, so I have to try to predict what is going to happen and then press the trigger a fraction of a second in advance. Sometimes it can be very frustrating!

I'm off to take a look at your blog now....

February 4, 2008 | Registered CommenterTanya

That leopard is beautiful.

Is that a tick on its left cheek?
You must have been quite close to get such nice pictures.

February 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNina

Hi Nina,

Yes, we were really lucky with this leopard - it was so unworried by our presence. We were only 10-15 meters from it, and we were able to stay with it for over half an hour, in the beautiful evening light.

That is a tick on its left cheek. If you look carefully, you can also see a tick near its right eyebrow.

February 10, 2008 | Registered CommenterTanya

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