The Big Cats of East Africa

Written by Andrew Muigai

Continued from page 1

The leopard isrepparttar strongest climber amongrepparttar 146511 carnivores. And they spend mostly their days inactive, draped over tree branches. So, to see them, set your sights torepparttar 146512 treetops. You are further advised to take your game drives very silently and watch out at rivers and water holes. The leopard is a stalking predator and lies ready to pounce at such places where prey would seek food and water. Some lucky people also come across leopards basking onrepparttar 146513 rocks early inrepparttar 146514 mornings.

The cheetah isrepparttar 146515 smallest ofrepparttar 146516 big cats of East Africa. It can reach up to 1.4 m in length; males can weigh up to 55 kg and females 40kg. Forrepparttar 146517 inexperienced, it is difficult to tell apart from a leopard. But you can distinguish it byrepparttar 146518 long teardrop-shaped lines on each side ofrepparttar 146519 nose, fromrepparttar 146520 corner ofrepparttar 146521 eyes torepparttar 146522 mouth. It also has protruding and streamlined neck and thin legs. This animal is specially adapted for speed and it is indeedrepparttar 146523 world's fastest mammal.

From a resting position,repparttar 146524 cheetah can reach a speed of 80 km/h in less than 3 seconds. It can run a stable speed of 105km/h, compared to a man's 37km/h. But take heart, it is not a man-eater. The cheetah lacksrepparttar 146525 stamina to be more than a short distance runner. It is not a very social species and lives either singly or in small groups. Females are ready to procreate from aboutrepparttar 146526 age of 2 years and after a gestation period of about 90 days give birth to up to 6 cubs. Hunting by day only, this solitary hunter relies on its famed speed and keen eyesight. It technique is to stalk stealthily and then take a short killer dash when prey is within 30 m.

The cheetah is mainly found in grasslands, woodland savannas and semi deserts. It survives best in vast ranges where prey is plenty. This cat has never enjoyed wide geographical distribution or high densities. And numbers have drastically fallen overrepparttar 146527 last few decades. Today not more than 12,000 remain worldwide, mostly in eastern and southern Africa. In East Africa,repparttar 146528 only areas where you can easily spot cheetahs are Maasai Mara in Kenya and Serengeti in Tanzania. Butrepparttar 146529 cat is also present, though in fewer numbers, in Tsavo in Kenya, Mkomazi in Tanzania and Queen Elizabeth in Uganda.

Scientists have classifiedrepparttar 146530 cheetah as an endangered species and think that it faces possible extinction. Only one species -jubatus remains today. The lack of genetic diversity, possibly caused by inbreeding, is yet another handicap in ensuringrepparttar 146531 long-term survival of this cat. In its daily life,repparttar 146532 cheetah faces competition from other carnivores such as lions and hyenas. In some areas, Maasai Mara of Kenya for example, instances of lions killing cheetah cubs are very common; hyenas too eat them. The lion killsrepparttar 146533 cubs only to destroy and never eats them -an extremely disgraceful show for an animal that would be regarded as king.

Cheetahs are active only by day. In East Africa's game sanctuaries, tourists interrupt critical activities like feeding and suckling ofrepparttar 146534 young. There are incidences of mothers abandoning their cubs underrepparttar 146535 pressure of human curiosity. Consideringrepparttar 146536 challenges facingrepparttar 146537 species, conservation options are yet limited byrepparttar 146538 fact that cheetahs do so poorly in captivity and almost never breed unless free. Spare a thought today forrepparttar 146539 cheetah, whose future is so uncertain. If you want to do more, talk torepparttar 146540 Cheetah Conservation Fund ( And hope that such glorious days as when it was honored as a cat-goddess in ancient Egypt will yet come again.

East Africa is a year round safari destination. The rains come around April- May and November-December. This does not however, much affectrepparttar 146541 travelers' ability to get around. In generalrepparttar 146542 best time to go on safari to seerepparttar 146543 big cats is overrepparttar 146544 drier months whenrepparttar 146545 grass is short and sighting animals is so much easier. But in areas such asrepparttar 146546 Maasai Mara,repparttar 146547 animals are so plentiful that you are going to see lots of them regardless ofrepparttar 146548 season. The peak tourist season falls around January to February and July to August. April to June isrepparttar 146549 low season and prices for accommodation inrepparttar 146550 lodges can be as much as 40% lower than inrepparttar 146551 high season.

Accommodation on safari varies from basic camping to luxury lodges and tented camps. Out there inrepparttar 146552 bush, you will be pleasantly surprised that there is a variety of East African safari lodges:-

- Kenya Hotel & Lodges

- Tanzania Hotels & Lodges

having allrepparttar 146553 trimmings of 5 star luxury. But if you want to rough it out, you will find campsites in almost allrepparttar 146554 game reserves and national parks. It is generally recommended to take an escorted safari package:-

- Kenya Safaris

- Tanzania Safaris

that includes transport, park fees and accommodation. The reason for this is thatrepparttar 146555 tour guides are usually well versed aboutrepparttar 146556 animals, where to find them and how to get there and have other such useful local knowledge. But if you have a lot of time and need more freedom as you get around, then taking a rental car is an option.

On safari, wear light cottons and linen. Warmer clothing is needed forrepparttar 146557 evenings and for your early morning game drive. Some rainwear is advisable between March and June and October and December. You should bring along a decent pair of sunglasses. The glare you experience in bright tropical light is a new and uncomfortable experience for most. It is also a good idea to carry a pair of binoculars. They are very useful for spotting animals and will earn yourepparttar 146558 envy of your less knowledgeable traveling companions.

Copyright Africa Point

Andrew Muigai is editor of AfricaPoint Insider online newsletter. It is part of the Africa travel website that has helped thousands of travelers discover Africa. You can view more info on Tanzania safari and tours at the website.

Southern Tanzania Safari

Written by Andrew Muigai

Continued from page 1

The Ruaha is located 128 km west ofrepparttar central Tanzania town of Iringa. It was previously inaccessible, but there is now year round road access. From Dar, road travel is a backbreaking 10 hours while a charter flight takes 1 hours. The best time for a safari is overrepparttar 146510 dry season- May to December. Then,repparttar 146511 Ruaha River is magnetic torepparttar 146512 animals and right atrepparttar 146513 banks,repparttar 146514 drama of their daily life is on display- feeding, fighting, courting and mating. The accommodation is currently limited, but there is a luxury lodge, and a few self-catering chalets and campsites.

Selous Game Reserve isrepparttar 146515 star ofrepparttar 146516 southern safari circuit. The reserve is named afterrepparttar 146517 intrepid Fredrick Courtney Selous, a celebrated Victoria era explorer and naturalist. He met his end here in a sideshow ofrepparttar 146518 First World War. The Great War had spilled over from Europe asrepparttar 146519 Germans then ruled parts of today's Tanzania. Located 500 km torepparttar 146520 southwest of Dar,repparttar 146521 reserve occupies a staggering 55,000 sq km - larger than Switzerland- and isrepparttar 146522 largest of its kind in Africa.

The Selous was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982 due torepparttar 146523 significance of both its flora and fauna. This immense wilderness has a diversity of habitats including savanna woodlands, swamps, open grasslands and forests. Over 2,100 species of tress and plants have been recorded. The mighty Rufiji River isrepparttar 146524 lifeblood ofrepparttar 146525 reserve and its numerous tributaries and oxbow lakes are ideal for boat safaris. The wildlife to see here includes buffalo, hippo, black rhino, lion and wild dog. Elephants in particular are numerous and are estimated to number over 60,000.

Other inhabitants of Selous are bush back, waterbuck, reedbuck, impala, eland, giraffe, baboon, zebra, and greater kudu. Birders will also find a trip to Selous worthwhile - over 420 species are on record. Inrepparttar 146526 very large game sanctuaries ofrepparttar 146527 south - Ruaha and Selous in particular, game is scattered and a slow pace is advised, with at least 3-4 days in each. Photographic safaris can be very rewarding here. Most visitors takerepparttar 146528 time to visit to Stiegler's Gorge, which also happens to be a spot favoured by leopards.

From Dar, you arrive after a 1- hour charter flight or by traveling for 7 hours by road. Travel by road is not advised, except forrepparttar 146529 most adventurous souls. Selous is nearrepparttar 146530 coast and is just a few hundred feet above sea level. The climate is hot and humid, particularly between October and March. Part of repparttar 146531 reserve is closed inrepparttar 146532 wet season between March and May. The best time to visit is overrepparttar 146533 dry season period of June to October. Then on safari you can walk, boat and ride a 4WD vehicle. Accommodation is limited to just a few luxury tented and no-frills camps.

The typical southern safari will usually combine Mikumi, Ruaha and Selous. Afterrepparttar 146534 safari, a stay in Zanzibar rounds off an unbeatable holiday experience. It is generally recommended you take an escorted southern Tanzania safari package that includes transport, guide, park fees and accommodation. Particularly inrepparttar 146535 large sanctuaries ofrepparttar 146536 southern circuit, tour guides bring valuable useful local knowledge - where to findrepparttar 146537 animals, and how to get where you are going.

On safari, avoid bright colours as this may get you in trouble with wild animals. If you are wise you will pack brown, beige and khaki clothing. It rarely gets really cold onrepparttar 146538 southern circuit and short sleeve shirts, shorts and trouser for men are adequate. For ladies, short sleeve blouses, slacks and skirts are ideal. But carry a jacket or sweater for possible chills inrepparttar 146539 evening and early mornings. Sunglasses will shield you fromrepparttar 146540 at times harsh tropical glare; and a hat can save you from sunstroke. Bring along a sensible pair of shoes that will allow you to walk comfortably inrepparttar 146541 bush. Binoculars will come in very handy for spotting animals.

Copyright Africa Point

Andrew Muigai is editor of AfricaPoint Insider online newsletter. It is part of the Africa travel website that has helped thousands of travelers discover Africa. You can view more info on Tanzania safari and tours at the website.

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