Giraffes And Other Animals ~ Graceful In Their Own Unique Way


This week’s Daily Post photo prompt induced a ‘long ago when we lived in Africa’ moment, and thus a nostalgic trawl through the old photo files. It was giraffes I first thought of. They may seem an ungainly composite of various creatures, but to see them moving across the plains is a sight that cannot be forgotten. They lilt in time to some inner rhythm of their own. This is more apparent when you see several moving together. And you wonder what is this giraffe music, beyond your hearing, that they stride forth to with such synchronicity?


Some of the plains’ song you can hear of course – the wheesh of dry grasses, the ceaseless koo-kroo-ing of collared doves, the crickets’ whine. And as you scan the bush country, looking for any signs of wildlife, these are the sounds that fill your head. The sun is hot on your scalp, the light too bright, and the spicy scent of thorn trees too rich for the over-sensitive. But just when you think all the game has gone and there’s nothing more to see, magic happens:


This cheetah mother with six half-grown cubs, walked out of the undergrowth beside the park track. When we stopped the car to watch she didn’t so much as blink at us. It seemed we were the least of her problems. She was trying to make the cubs stay in one place while she went off to hunt. But they were not having it.


No sooner had mama parked them and moved out sight, than one (there always has to be one) goaded the obedient ones out of the cover that had sheltered them until they all decided to follow.


In the end, mama gave it up as a bad job, and gathered the offspring and disappeared into the bush. It is a mystery how she had ever managed to rear so many teenage cubs.

These photos, sadly ageing, were all taken in Nairobi National Park, a gem of a park that borders the city. It covers only 46 square miles, but when we lived In Nairobi during the 1990s the wildlife corridor to the south was still open, allowing for seasonal migration. Today there are all kinds of pressures from one of the fastest growing conurbations in Africa – the need for farm land and for better transport links. It’s a thorny issue however you look at it – wildlife versus humans: probably no happy solution; gracefulness seems not to be a natural human trait.


copyright 2017 Tish Farrell


Daily Post Photo Challenge Graceful

Out in the Midday Sun: Running Ostrich and Ngong Hills


This week over at Paula’s  Thursday’s Special she is inviting us to break rules with our photo taking. This shot of a camera-shy, and thus fleeing male ostrich was taken in Nairobi National Park. I expect when I started to focus on him, he was facing the other way; after all, who wants a snap of an ostrich bum. (I should say that ostriches, so G tells me, are the only birds with external genitalia, and believe me they are surprisingly impressive when glimpsed, though thankfully not visible here).

Also one of the main rules of photography in Africa, particularly when  you are close to the Equator, was simply not to bother trying during the middle of the day. All colour tends to leach away; there may be a heat haze and also dust in the air; and the landscape maddeningly flattens out and stops looking magnificent.

But that is all very well. What else can you do when you find yourself in a Kenyan game park is in the middle of the day. It’s the kind of thing mad dogs and English persons do. Photos had to be taken, and of course later discarded.

The thing I like about this photo, being hooked on Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa, and the ‘I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills’ line, was that while I was concentrating on the ostrich, I inadvertently captured the Ngong Hills in distant blue profile. Though largely static, earth tremors apart, they were also hard to photograph. Here, though, I caught them, and you can well appreciate how they got their name, derived from a Maasai word meaning  fist. See those four clenched knuckles.

Otherwise, nothing much is in focus here except perhaps for big bird’s blousy white feathers. All sense of movement is truncated, ‘frozen’ in time under the fierce tropic sun. I still like the photo though.


copyright 2015 Tish Farrell