S: Serengeti - Jim Griggs
BC: Sunset at Naabi Hill
FC: SERENGETI | Photography by Jim Griggs
1: Since first visiting Serengeti in 2001, Jim Griggs has made it a point to go back as often as possible and to introduce as many friends to this most exciting of locations. The Serengeti ecosystem is without parallel in the rest of the world. Where else can you step back in time, a place where little has changed in thousands of years? The wildlife is astonishing; the landscape is primeval; the air is clean and has an aroma hard to describe. If you have a bucket list, are a photographer or a wildlife enthusiast this place needs to be on the top rung! There are other places wild and beautiful but none as accessible or tourist friendly as Serengeti in Tanzania. The photos in this book are a selection of images from 2001, 2007 and 2011. Jim's next scheduled Tanzania trip is in 2013 where he will be leading a birding trip and a photo safari. | Photo by Linda Hanley | Sunrise along the rim of Ngorongoro Crater is framed with acacia trees
2: The lions of Serengeti are a big reason I fell in love with the place during my first visit in 2001. They are a major reason I want to keep going back as long and as often as I can. Whether it is a big male in the early morning light or cubs and females, the cats are graceful, powerful and silent when they need to be. In 2007 we were awakened by a large male, bellowing somewhere near our tents. He and two others had lost a fourth during a night hunt and were looking for him. Shortly after sunrise we found the three and the fourth showed up to a lot of licking and caressing. The trip in 2011 brought many lion encounters including a mother with three cubs who were threatened by some hyenas. She promptly led the cubs up a nearby tree with the exception of one little male cub who struggled getting up to the high limbs. When he finally made it, he bee-lined it to mom and rubbed noses with her, letting her know he made it. We also watched a pride of 37 lions with 17 of those being small cubs. We spent a little over 2 hours with them watching behavior and being stalked by the smallest of the cubs!
3: Two nursery females were trying to ride herd over the 17 cubs. I think the cubs were getting the upper hand! The females were getting tired of having their tails bit, legs chewed on and ears pawed. Eventually the cubs spread out along a ridge and watched us in the vehicle wondering what we were and if there was anyway to play with us.
4: A pair of leopard cubs provided over 2 hours of entertainment and several hundred photos. One of three cheetah brothers relaxes on a termite mound. A female rests regally in a tree practically looking down into the vehicle.
5: Kopjes are unique to Serengeti National Park in this part of Tanzania. A Dutch word meaning "caps", the piles of rocks are the tops of mountains left stranded between the plains. Volcanic ash from prehistoric eruptions along the rift valley provided the ash. Erosive forces whittled the mountain tops into these monoliths. The kopjes are home to predators, lions, cheetah and the occasional leopard as well as Agama Lizards and the Rock Hyrax. They are also the models used by top zoos world wide for their lion enclosures.
6: Ngorongoro Crater, a significant part of the Serengeti ecosystem is the world's largest unbroken caldera and home to a microcosm of East African wildlife, With both a wet and a dry side plus several lakes and its own forest, the crater is an amazing place to spend a few days or months! With spectacular scenery and ever changing weather, it is a photographers delight without even mentioning the huge array animals resident there.
7: Early morning game drives can encounter fog, rain, a mix of clouds and sun and always the crater wall as a backdrop for photographing the wildebeest, zebra and other game who choose to habituate the floor of the caldera. Lake Magadi is home to flamingo and hippos while the Lerai forest has Vervet monkeys, baboons and leopards. This is also home to a few resident black rhinos. | A lone wildebeest hustles across the open plains in the Ngorongoro highlands just outside the crater. | Ngorongoro Crater 10 miles in diameter and over 2000 feet deep!
8: Black Rhino in the crater; resident Maasai herdsman with his cattle in the highlands adjacent to the crater; and sunrise through the fog along the crater rim
9: A male elephant dines on grass and leaves to the tune of about 500 pounds per day! This old bull walked within a few feet of our vehicle but was unfazed by the shutters firing away from inside. Thompson's gazelle's, or Tommies are easy to identify with their black racing stripe and twitching tails. Some of the locals refer to them as "Happy Meals" since they make a nice size meal for a cheetah. Central Serengeti is home to literally hundreds of these and the larger Grant's Gazelle. Always on the lookout for a scrap from a kill, this black-backed jackal posed perfectly for me along side our vehicle. | A solitary vervet monkey stopped beside our vehicle and climbed up on a stump to get a better view of his cousins in the Rover!
10: Zebra use their stripes as a "form" of camouflage. An attacking predator has a difficult time telling where one animal stops and another starts. As the zebra scatter, the predator hesitates to figure out what to chase. This slight hesitation is the zebras chance to escape. Part of the never-ending wildebeest migration spreads out across the plains in Serengeti National Park. Up to a million and a half wildebeest along with a half million zebra make the annual pilgrimage from the southern Serengeti plains to Masai Mara in Kenya and back every year.
11: The graceful, curving horns of a male impala are matched by the grace and speed they exhibit when running. This particular male posed nicely in the rich vegetation. Below, a Topi grazes. Topi is a Maasai word meaning five colors and this large antelope is both colorful and swift afoot. | The curved horns of a Hartebeest are both graceful and strong and act as a deterrent to predators.
12: Fischer's Love Birds are threatened by collectors who sell them as pets around the world. The buffalo weaver weaves its nests from sticks and grass in acacia trees. The national bird of Tanzania, the lilac-breasted roller, is colorful sitting on a branch and even more colorful in flight with wings extended.
13: Burchell's Starling, White-fronted Bee-eater and Secretary Bird. Superb Starling and Rufous-naped Lark
14: Flamingo in a low speed fly-by. Below, Lake Magadi in Ngorongoro Crater is home to migrating flamingo in east Africa. A white-rumped shrike checks out the camera at lift off from his perch in Serengeti.
15: A black-shouldered kite descends to the ground. A perfect day on the short grass plains of Serengeti with clouds and acacia trees.
16: Elephant and calf in Central Serengeti. Mud splattered face of a young bull who wandered over to see who was in the vehicle. He looked us over, waved his trunk and went about his business of covering himself in mud. A vervet monkey stares at us, obviously looking for any genetic resemblance. | Zebra and their reflection along a stream bed in central Serengeti, Seronera Area.
17: A Verroux's Eagle-Owl perched in a tree in northern Serengeti National Park. Our drive/guide spotted this beautiful example while we scrambled to get into position for photographs. | Cheetah brothers adorn the top of a termite mound in central Serengeti. A lone cheetah moves through the grass, constantly aware of the surroundings, always looking for a meal.
18: One of two leopard cubs who played on this downed limb for almost two hours! Together, they occupied over 12 gigabytes of storage on the memory cards! | A drying stream bed in the Ndutu Region of Serengeti provides excellent reflections of the gathering clouds. | A young male lion struggling to get up a tree to join mom and his siblings, pauses long enough to pose for me.
19: Sunset in central Serengeti with zebra and dust. Below: a Golden Jackal stalking mice in the Crater | Zebra crowded together in their most protective scheme, graze in the grasses around Gol Kopjes.
20: A solitary lion cub keeps an eye on me. This little guy was one of 17 cubs from a pride of 37 lions we watched and photographed for over 2 hours. Not far from Klein's Gate, this was the largest group we had seen and even astonished our driver guide who said he had never seen so many lions in one pride. They all looked very healthy indeed. Must get all they want to eat!
21: Sunset in central Serengeti with acacia trees scattered along the ground. This is always a special time in the park with very exciting sounds coming from the predators waking up and getting ready to hunt. The temperature starts to drop around 4 pm in the afternoon and by 6 pm people are putting on light jackets.
22: A lone bull elephant grazes in the thick vegetation along the road at Ngorongoro Crater. With flamingos providing the color, a solitary zebra grazes along the shore at Lake Magadi in the Crater. | One of the nursery lionesses plays with a cub in the huge pride of 37 lions near Klein's Gate in northern Serengeti.
23: A pair of older bulls with the crater wall as a spectacular backdrop. | Leopard cubs playing and wrestling on downed tree limbs while mom is off hunting. She returned after about two hours, gathered up the cubs and headed off to a ridge where a line of zebra were making their way toward a water hole. The leopards were stealthy all the way up and out of sight.