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Revealing the Leopard Facts

Revealing the Leopard Facts

Leopard facts Revealing the Leopard Facts

Leopards are the ultimate cats. They are the most feline, the most intelligent, the most dangerous and, until recently, one of the least understood. They hunt from South Africa to Siberia, from Arabia to Sri Lanka, and are the most widespread predator of their size on land. A leopard is a cat that walks by itself, unseen and secretive. Leopards are the beautiful killers that live in the shadows.

Additional Facts:
  • The animal’s name derives from the Greek word leopardus, a combination of leon (lion) and pardus (panther). Of the big cats, the leopard is the only known species that lives in both desert and rainforest habitats. Leopards are generally nocturnal and do most of their hunting at night. Their large eyes and dilated pupils allow them to see well in dark conditions.
  • Leopards are incredibly athletic and known for their climbing ability. They often carry food into trees to avoid losing it to scavengers like lions and hyenas.
  • They tend to be solitary animals and rarely interact with each other except to mate or raise cubs. Leopards breed perennially with a gestation period of approximately 3 months, giving birth to a litter of 2-3 cubs on average. Despite their names, the clouded leopard ( neofelis nebulosa ) and snow leopard ( panthera uncial ) are often considered a separate species.
  • One of the rarest subspecies of leopard is eastern Russia’s Amur Leopard. There are only an estimated 30 currently living in the wild. Leopards can go for long periods of time without water, living off the moisture of their prey.
  • Leopards mark their territory with urine and claw marks on the bark of trees.

Rudyard Kipling wrote the short story, How the Leopard Got Its Spots, to offer his own fictional explanation for the big cat’s attractive coat.

Leopards are Best at Going the Distance

Leopards are Best at Going the Distancemaxresdefault Leopards are Best at Going the Distance

When an Elephant charges

When an Elephant charges

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When an Elephant charges Lessons from Dereck  and Beverly 

An elephant’s age can be determined by its molar teeth, and the Jouberts conclude from them that both animals died at around 70, but still had a few years left to live. So what caused these bulls to die in the same place and at the same time? The mystery so intrigues the filmmakers, they decide to spend the next two years traveling through what would have been their home range, reconstructing the lives these elephants would have led, reimagining their birth and childhood, how they would have interacted with each other, their great migrations for water with their families and the inevitable encounters with lions.

To understand the lives of the two old bulls, the Jouberts paddle from one end of a river to the other in the Selinda Reserve, home to over 7,000 elephants in a remote corner of Botswana. Their journey brings them into extremely close contact with herds that, over time, seem to accept their presence as the couple film and photograph them.

They capture scenes of a mother teaching her new calf that he can’t have his milk until he stops his temper tantrum, and also manage to document elephants snoring. But there are moments when an elephant suddenly charges toward their canoe. When that happens, the experienced pair know it’s best not to move, but to rather remain quiet and wait. The filmmakers only discover what caused the herd’s agitation after they paddle downstream, and come upon piles of discarded bones and skulls that had been chopped away to remove the ivory.

The Jouberts explain that prior to 2014, hunting male elephants was legal in Botswana, and that it is traumatic for elephants to come across a killing field. The couple follow different herds on foot and place small cameras in strategic positions to capture them stopping to examine carcasses of dead elephants with their trunks, perhaps searching for the cause of death or remembering a friend.

The film likens the scene to a family in mourning and suggests that these elephants, whose brains are almost five times the size of ours, are feeling emotions similar to those we might feel, showing evidence of living beings with full lives and even souls. But not all threats are from man as an elephant’s raging testosterone can take its toll when one young bull is pitted against another, and a severe injury can signal death.

To track the herds as they head across the grasslands, the Jouberts take to the skies. They film the elephants following ancient networks of paths in search of their daily requirement of nearly a quarter pound of salt. Aerials also track each herd as it methodically crosses the floodplains, led by a matriarch giving commands with growls, trumpets and even the flapping of her ears. The families close ranks in a crisis.

When a mother loses her calf at a crossing and lions begin their attack, a small group of relatives helps her rescue the calf just in time. Botswana is home to over one-third of the elephants living in the wild today, and is one of the few places where these animals can still live out a natural life. The Jouberts take us into that world and bring the story of the two bulls to life. They even arrive at a solution to the mystery of their deaths. Those deaths remain a cause for celebration because when an elephant dies with its ivory intact, perhaps the soul of that elephant is at peace.

Mount Kilimanjaro Trekking FAQ

Mount Kilimanjaro Trekking FAQ

What are the main differences between the Rongai, Machame, Shira, Lemosho, and Marangu routes?

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The Rongai, Shira, Lemosho, and Machame routes are camping routes that take longer and are considered more scenic than the Marangu. On the Marangu route you will be staying in huts as opposed to camping, and you hike up and down the same path.

The Rongai route takes you up the north side of the mountain and you descend down the Marangu route. The Lemosho and the Machame routes traverse the mountain and descends down the Mweka route.

The Shira route takes you on the far west side, and is essentially the same as the Machame route, though you start at a higher altitude, which gives a good amount of time for acclimatisation.

How many days are the Rongai, Machame, Shira, Lemosho, and Marangu routes?

The Rongai and Shira routes both entail 6 days on the mountain while the Machame route has two options, a 6-day hike and a 7-day hike.

For those that need extra time to adjust to the altitude, the Lemosho route is best, with 8 days total on the mountain.

The Marangu route is the shortest route at a total of 5 days on the mountain. If you are concerned about altitude sickness, it is best to go with a minimum 6-day hike, give yourself enough time to acclimatize.

Do I have to be extremely fit to take part in this trek?

Yes. If you attempt to climb Kilimanjaro without the proper training you may not enjoy the trek as much as you would have with adequate training.  The best way to train for Kilimanjaro is to strap a pack on your back and go hiking as much as possible. By doing so your feet and joints will become accustomed to the constant walking you will face on the trek. Also be sure to hit the gym!

What is the success rate for the Rongai, Machame, Shira, Lemosho, and Marangu routes?

The success rate for the Rongai, Machame, and Lemosho routes are approximately 95%.

For the Shira route, it is approximately 86%, while the Marangu route is around 80%.

What are the accommodations along the trail?

On the Marangu route, trekkers stay in huts. Each hut has a dining room for eating as well as separate bathroom facilities (can be flush toilets or pit latrines). There is no electricity in the huts.

On the Rongai, Machame, Shira, and Lemosho routes, trekkers camp all the way up! For these routes travellers receive a private mess tent and they are shared pit latrines.

Trekkers on all routes are given a hot water bowl to wash their hands and faces.

Is drinking water provided during the trek?

On the first day we provide bottled water, but beyond that, water is provided on all routes. Water is taken from the mountain streams, boiled and treated to make safe to drink.

Do we carry our own luggage on the trip? If not, what is the weight the porters carry?

You will not be responsible to carry your luggage up Kilimanjaro. The porters can carry approximately 30lbs (15kg) of your luggage; the rest can be stored safely at the hotel.  You will only be responsible to carry your day pack with the essential and personal items you need to have with you at all times.

What qualifications do the guides have?

The mountain guides have to attend certified courses that are offered by Tanzania National Parks before they get their Mountain Guide Licenses.  A Porters Association also selects the porters; they will carry an identification card allowing them to carry your belongings, and assist you up the mountain.

Can we hire a sleeping bag with the thermal quality required for the trip? What about hiking gear?

We have rentals including clothes, hiking poles, shoes, as well as sleeping bags. There are shops and locals offering these services to you as well. It is best to come outfitted but if necessary here are the prices (USD):

  • Sleeping Bag (Normal) = $10.00
  • Hiking Poles (2) = $5.00
  • Hiking Boots = $10.00

**These rates are subject to change and are only a guideline.**

If the trek becomes too difficult for me can I turn around?

Yes you can. If you are in any physical danger or suffer from altitude sickness the porters will be able to assist you down the mountain.

How long is the trek and how many hours do we hike each day?

These times are based on physical ability of the group as well as the altitude (the higher you go, the slower you move).

Rongai route – 8 day tour:

Day 1:  Arrive Moshi

Day 2:  To Simba Camp 4 – 6 hours

Day 3:  To Kikelewa Camp 7 – 9 hours

Day 4:  To Mawenzi Tarn 4 – 6 hours

Day 5:  To Kibo Camp 5 – 7 hours

Day 6:  To Summit and Horombo Hut 11 – 13 hours

Day 7:  To Moshi 2 – 4 hours

Day 8:  Depart Moshi

 

Machame route – 8 day tour:

Day 1:  Arrive Moshi

Day 2:  To Machame Camp 4 – 6 hours

Day 3:  To Shira Camp 4 – 5 hours

Day 4:  To Barranco Camp via Lava Tower 4 – 6 hours

Day 5:  To Barafu Camp via Karanga Valley 7 – 8 hours

Day 6:  To Summit and Mweka Camp 11 – 14 hours

Day 7:  To Moshi 3 – 4 hours

Day 8:  Depart Moshi

Machame route – 9 day tour:

Day 1:  Arrive Moshi

Day 2:  To Machame Camp 4 – 6 hours

Day 3:  To Shira Camp 4 – 5 hours

Day 4:  To Barranco Camp via Lava Tower 4 – 6 hours

Day 5:  To Karanga Valley Camp 3 – 4 hours (extra acclimitization day)

Day 6:  To Barafu Camp 3-4 hours

Day 7:  To Summit and Mweka Camp 11 – 14 hours

Day 8:  To Moshi 3 – 4 hours

Day 9:  Depart Moshi

 

Lemosho route – 10 day tour:

Day 1:  Arrive Moshi

Day 2:  To Mkubwa Camp 2 – 4 hours

Day 2:  To Shira 1 Camp 4 – 6 hours

Day 2:  To Shira 2 Camp 1 – 3 hours

Day 3:  To Barranco Camp 5 – 7 hours

Day 4:  To Karanga Camp 3 – 4 hours

Day 5:  To Barafu Camp 7 – 9 hours

Day 6:  Summit Day and Mweka Camp 11 – 14 hours

Day 7:  Descend to Gate 3 – 5 hours

Day 8:  Depart Moshi

 

 

Shira route – 8 day tour:

Day 1:  Arrive Moshi

Day 2:  To Shira 2 Camp 2 – 4 hours

Day 3:  To Barranco Camp 5 – 7 hours

Day 4:  To Karanga Camp 3 – 4 hours

Day 5:  To Barafu Camp 7 – 9 hours

Day 6:  Summit Day and Mweka Camp 11 – 14 hours

Day 7:  Descend to Gate 3 – 5 hours

Day 8:  Depart Moshi

Marangu route – 7 day tour:

Day 1:  Arrive Moshi

Day 2:  To Mandara Hut 4 – 6 hours

Day 3:  To Horombo Hut 6 – 8 hours

Day 4:  To Kibo Hut 7 – 9 hours

Day 5:  Summit Day 7 – 9 hours

Day 6:  From Horombo Hut to the Marangu gate 1 – 3 hours

Day 7:  Depart Moshi

 

What is the coldest it is expected to be at the summit of Kilimanjaro?

Temperatures vary considerably with altitude and time of day.  On the plains surrounding Kilimanjaro the average temperature is about 30°C.  At 3000m frosts can be encountered at night while daytime temperatures range from 5 to 15°C.  Nighttime temperatures on the summit can be well below freezing especially with the strong winds at times.

What is hypothermia?

Hypothermia is a condition where the body becomes dangerously cold. It can be caused by brief exposure to extreme cold, or by prolonged exposure to mild cold.

Hypothermia occurs when a person’s deep-core body temperature drops below 35 degrees celsius (95 degrees farenheit). It is the lowered temperature of the organs inside the body that is important – an ordinary thermometer cannot measure this.

The person may not actually feel cold but if they stay in a cold environment and do little or nothing to keep warm, then they may run the risk of becoming hypothermic or becoming ill with bronchitis or pneumonia. Both are cold-related illnesses.

Danger signs to watch out for:

  • Drowsiness
  • Very cold skin on parts of the body normally covered, for example, stomach or armpits
  • Slurred or incoherent speech
  • Absence of complaint about feeling cold, even in a bitterly cold environment.

What is the highest altitude we will hit on this trek?

The highest altitude reaches 5895m.

What is altitude sickness and what are the symptoms?

During the trek it is likely that all climbers will experience at least some form of mild altitude sickness.  It is caused by the failure of the body to adapt quickly enough to the reduced level of oxygen in the air at an increased altitude.  There are many different symptoms but the most common are headaches, light-headedness, nausea, loss of appetite, tingling in the toes and fingers, and a mild swell of ankles and fingers.  These mild forms are not serious and will normally disappear within 48 hours.  Please visit your physician for any preventative medications.

How can I prevent altitude sickness?

1. Stay hydrated. Try to drink at least 4-6 liters per day.

2. Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and other depressant drugs including barbiturates, tranquilizers, and sleeping pills.

3. “Don’t go up until symptoms go down”. People acclimatize at different rates, so make sure that you properly acclimatized before going higher.

4. Before your trip, maintain a good work/rest cycle, avoid excessive work hours, and last minute packing.

5. Listen to your body. Do not over-do things the first day or two. Avoid heavy exercise.

6. Take your time. Pace is a critical factor on all routes. “Pole pole” (go slowly) is the phrase of the day.

7. Walk high sleep low: If you have enough energy, take an afternoon stroll further up the mountain before descending to sleep. (not if you have any symptoms of altitude sickness!)

Six factors that affect the incidence and severity of altitude illness:

1. Rate of ascent

2. Altitude attained

3. Length of exposure

4. Level of exertion

5. Hydration and diet

6. Inherent physiological susceptibility

Will the effects of the sun be stronger on the mountain?

Absolutely, so precautions are required. About 55% of the earth’s protective atmosphere is below an altitude of 5000m. Far less ultraviolet light is being filtered out, making the sun’s rays much more powerful, which could result in severe sun burning of the skin. It is strongly recommended to use a 20+ sun protection cream at lower altitudes, and a total block cream above an altitude of 3000m. It is also important to wear dark sun glasses preferably with side panels above 4000m in daytime and essential when walking through snow or ice. Snow blindness can be very painful, and will require your eyes to be bandaged for at least 24 hours.

How much do you recommend we tip the porters and/or local guides?

Tipping is an expected and highly appreciated component of your Mt. Kilimanjaro hike. It should be an expression of satisfaction with those who have assisted you throughout the expedition.  Tipping is one of the most direct ways that you can have a positive economic impact within the East African community. Although it may not be customary for you, it is of considerable significance to your guides, assistants, cooks, and porters, as an important source of, and supplement to, their income.

Giving a tip should be a seen as a formal ‘thank you’, and the action should in no way be awkward. The best method of tipping your crew is to plan in advance, and to pass over a tip for the entire crew to your guide upon completion of the hike on arrival to your hotel.

We recommend that you gather with your fellow hikers to discuss and compile this tip. What has been found to work well is for each group member to contribute anonymously by putting his or her tip into an envelope. An average amount of what previous Nature Bound Africa hikers have felt to be an appropriate amount of tip ranges between US$100-150 per hiker.

5 days on Mountain, common tip amount = $100-150

6 days on Mountain, common tip amount = $100-150

7 days on Mountain, common tip amount = $100-150

***Please note that these are only guidelines and tips can be based on personal opinion***

Ruaha National Park Tanzania

Ruaha National Park Tanzania 

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Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park is the largest national park in Tanzania. The addition of the Usangu Game Reserve and other important wetlands to the park in 2008 increased its size too. Located in the heart of the country, Ruaha is the ‘other park’ on the Southern circuit. Ruaha’s relative inaccessibility has resulted in a park that takes far fewer tourists than the Selous and far fewer than any park in the Northern circuit.

The rewards of travelling this far are a wild landscape with baobab studded hills and rocky escarpments, playing host to excellent levels of game including superb predator concentrations, huge elephant and buffalo herds and a cross over of game from southern and Eastern Africa. Birdwatcher’s can enjoy over 400 species of bird.

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