Wildlife TV

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Adventures with the sleeping Elephant

Life in the African bush is always an adventure. Exciting things happening all the time, most of them without any warning.

This is what happened yesterday. Me and Nick were having a “normal” busy day at the reserve when we found out that one of the elephant bulls was going to be darted from a helicopter to have his collar removed. The device had been placed on his neck a few years back for research purposes but the project had already been complete and was not necessary to have the animal with a man-made apparatus on his neck any longer so all the arrangements to have it removed were made.

Unfortunately as I just mentioned, me and Nick were quite busy and only one of us could go as there were other things to be done during that specific time. Nick volunteered to be left behind so I could go. He had heard the plans and we swapped vehicles without me knowing what was going on. It was not until he was gone that the other people informed me that he had “sacrificed” his position for me to go along. By the time I found out there was no more turning back and I had to keep on driving to meet the research and management team and he stayed behind working. Things like this remind me what a wonderful partner he is.

All the preparations with the people I was taking on the vehicle were done in a few minutes, we met the people in charge of the entire operation at the exact time they had requested us to join and we were briefed on what would happen and what to expect.

There were 3 male elephants together, one of them with the collar. The helicopter would arrive soon and within minutes would try to separate the one we needed from the other 2 and try to direct him close to the road (for easy access). Once the animal was darted and sedated using M99 we would have to rush, jump out of the vehicles, get as close of an adult big elephant asleep as we could only dream of, snap a few pictures while the collar was being removed and then rush out. And this is exactly what happened, extremely efficiently and extremely fast.

There were a few more vehicles than expected, the reserve had kept this operation a secret from the majority of people but by random chance a few safari vehicles were passing by and noticed the commotion and joined us on this once in a lifetime opportunity.

The animal was immobilized and surrounded by several people: management, guests, researchers, students, rangers, you name it. Taking photos was crazy but I managed to ask a colleague to snap a quick photo of me with the elephant in the background.

Sofia Santos with sleeping african elephant (Loxodonta africana) bull

Sofia with a sleeping african elephant (Loxodonta africana) bull

I think one of the funniest things about this situation is that the elephant bull was snoring… It had never occurred to me that such a big creature would snore when asleep.

Seconds after the above picture was taken we were all instructed to leave and return to the vehicles and drive away fast. We positioned ourselves a few hundred meters away in a way that allowed us to see him waking up in safety and observed him starting to stumble up back on his feet looking very confused.

He quickly got up and started running along the bush. We followed with the vehicle for a bit to check out if everything was ok and to our delight he dashed into in a small dam close by. He must have been flustered and quite hot and decided that a nice cold swim would be perfect. After getting in to his belly level he kept on running around looking for his mates. Unfortunately he was running on the opposite direction from where they had gone but I’m sure that as soon as he calmed down he would use infrasonic vocalisations to locate the rest of his group without any problem.

So overall yesterday was quite an adventure. I wonder what crazy and exciting experiences are still ahead of us!

Até à próxima!



If you liked this entry, make sure you check out our Research category.
Previous Research entries:
Elephants avoid a full moon when being naughty
What perfume to wear on an African safari
‘Ugly’ Animals: Can naked mole rats cure cancer?

[Photo] Cheetah with kill

One of the perks of living in the middle of the African savannah is getting to watch real life and death situations.

Just two days ago we were driving around in the game drive vehicle on a normal safari day when we encountered a female cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) with her two young cubs just next to the road with their fresh kill. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the chase (that would have been amazing) but we did see the end result, a dead baby kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) with a very badly damaged neck.

All three cheetahs were just resting by the shade next to the recently deceased antelope, probably trying to regain some energy after the afternoon hunt. The mother was laying down just in front of the carcass and the two young juveniles were on each of her side.

They were lucky enough to manage to eat the entire animal before one of the big cats (leopard (Panthera pardus) or the lions (Panthera leo) around the area) stole it from them so they got their bellies quite full. Took them 2 days to eat the animal completely and leave the area.

Check out the photos I took of them with the young dead kudu.


Female mom cheetah (Acynonyx jubatus) chases, catches and kills a prey baby kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) for her cubs

Female mom cheetah (Acynonyx jubatus) chases, catches and kills a prey baby kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) for her cubs (one of the right)

Female mom cheetah (Acynonyx jubatus) chases, catches and kills a prey baby kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) for her cubs

Female mom cheetah (Acynonyx jubatus) chases, catches and kills a prey baby kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) for her cubs

Hope you liked it.

Até à próxima!


If you liked this entry, make sure you check out our Photography category.
Previous Photography entries:
[Photo] Lion: The King of the Jungle
Photo Previews 14
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What perfume to wear on an African safari

Imagine you are planning on spending your next big holiday on an amazing African wildlife reserve. You book the lodge, purchase the plane tickets and arrange all the transportation. You are super excited about going on as many game drives as you can and really experiencing a full African safari with the sunrises and sunsets, dozens of wild species and the entire culture about living in the bush.

You inform yourself about what clothes to wear, items to bring and important health care considerations of which to be aware.

You can find dozens of websites with relevant information on any of those topics but what about perfumes? There isn’t much information around about what fragrance you should wear for the best African safari of your life.

Many wild animals, especially mammals, have a very good sense of smell and are able to detect a lot about you before you even notice them. They can use that to their advantage, either to escape predators or to hunt prey so it makes sense that different artificial smells can cause different reactions in animals.

The Wildlife Conservancy Society found out that Calvin Klein’sObsession for Men” drives all sorts of feline species crazy, whether we are talking about African species such as the lion, leopard or cheetah, Asian species like the tiger and the snow leopard or even American species such as the puma, jaguar and ocelot.

Scientists are using Calvin Klein’s perfume to lure wild big cats towards motion sensitive camera traps that photograph the animals as they approach to investigate.

So next time you go on an African safari and you desperately want to attract a lion or a leopard for a good photo shoot you can always consider spraying a bit of “Obsession for Men” on yourself.

I can’t promise that the big cats won’t try to get a bit too close though…

Take care!




If you liked this entry, make sure you check out our Research category.
Other Research entries:
Nonverbal communication between humans and animals
Elephants avoid a full moon when being naughty
‘Ugly’ Animals: Can naked mole rats cure cancer?