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Contest at#love-new-artists

Collaboration Contest by ZeeShiKing 1 day ago Hobbyist General Artist
Hi, this is Syed from love-new-artists group. We are affiliated with you.
We are having a contest called "collaboration contest" which is about people writing poem about the artwork that they like (after getting the owner's permission of course). You can find more about it here:…

Since, it is allowed for the members in the affiliated group to take part in the contest, we would really appreciate if you write about it in your group profile to let your members know.



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Features and Journals

Focus On - Vultures

Journal Entry: Thu Nov 26, 2015, 11:35 PM
This Feature is dedicated to ScarabsCorner :iconscarabscorner: and her attraction to vultures! Katey, you asked for a vulture - here's a few.

Focus On - Vultures

In retrospect, I should have known. There are an awful lot of vultures in the Tanzanian National Parks, not just dozens, scores, hundreds, but thousands of them - everywhere: wheeling about in the sky, soaring higher and higher before diving down to head height,  scrubbing about on the ground, scavenging dead meat, squawking and screeching, and turning an inquisitive eye on passing strangers just on the off chance that we may fall out of the vehicle and present a fresh juicy snack! Sitting quietly on a log is just about the last thing they do, but Image 1 caught this group having downtime before the next feed.

Vultures - 1 by Okavanga

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, as we all know, but why did I not realise that there would be so many of these flying scavengers? The answer is simple, because I had not realised how many animals there are in the Serengeti and other areas - millions of them in total - wildebeest (over a million in their own right), antelopes of every description, zebras, Cape Buffalo, warthogs, giraffe and so on. What is more to the point is that all these animals die (perhaps about 50,000 per year), and their bodies ought to be littering the bush and the grassland and the rivers, and the swamps. But, there is scarcely a corpse to be seen. A few skeletal remains, perhaps, can be found, especially in the drier areas, and no self-respecting camp is without its Cape buffalo skull and horns at the entrance to welcome you, but no stinking putrefying cadavers. The reason is, of course, scavengers of which vultures are the most obvious and most vocal. Hyenas and jackals probably account for just as much scavenging as the vultures, but somehow their profile is lower, more discreet, quieter. No doubt about it, vultures are the go-to guys for quick, efficient (if a little noisy) garbage disposal.

Vultures - 2 by Okavanga

There are several species of vulture in East Africa, and Image 1 shows two such. There is (I think) a white-headed vulture at the left, and then 5 lappet-faced vultures. Image 2 shows these guys at work - tough or what?

Lappet-faced vultures ((Torgos tracheliotos), the name means flaps of skin, are said to be rare and in decline, but they were in plentiful supply over the Serengeti and in the Tarangire National Park. Images 3 and 4 are close-ups, and Image 5 shows a nesting pair sunning and/or cooling their wings at Sundown.

Vultures - 3 by Okavanga       Vultures - 4 by Okavanga

Vultures - 5 by Okavanga

We came across another species that is, I think, the white-backed vulture (corrections please from the knowledgeable) at a lion kill site near the Mara River, Images 6, and 7. Although the plumage is similar, the beak and head shape are quite different.

Vultures - 6 by Okavanga   Vultures - 7 by Okavanga

The question remains as to why vultures, the World over, have bald heads and necks. Other carnivorous birds like eagles and buzzards are fully feathered, but not vultures. According to the literature, it is because a lack of plumage makes sticking the head into body cavities to eat much easier than if there were feathers. However, another evolutionary pressure would be that such eating would damage feathers and damaged feathers are a problem for birds, not least because they would inhibit efficient flying, and would render them odd looking to the opposite sex, hence less appealing (yes, they are appealing to themselves).

There we have it - a quick look at vultures - don't you just love them. If not, you should because along with the other scavengers they have the important role of keeping the grasslands and savannah clean of decomposing bodies.



This Journal Skin was designed by Night-Beast modified by Okavanga

The Leopard and the Lions

Journal Entry: Sun Nov 22, 2015, 3:10 AM
Just South of the Lemala Camp, in the central Serengeti, stands a solitary statuesque sausage tree (Kigelia africana)… Rising to 15 meters, with its convoluted branches covered in dense foliage and with its large sausage-shaped fruits hanging ripe to fall, this tree casts a wide shadow over a dry gulch of an ephemeral river that floods the land in the rainy season. Parched land covered in long but dessicated grass lies all around, an occasional thorn bush breaking the local monotony. This is where we found the lions that morning. I say "we" found the lions, rather our amazing guide/driver Alfred the Great, he of the lucky belt (more of which in a later Feature) had found the lions after a careful study of tracks and patches of flattened grass. Standing up in the Land Cruiser, scouring the landscape, my wife and I saw nothing until Alfred whispered, "There, in the gulch - a paw!" Carefully manoeuvring the vehicle nearer, a small pride of four female lions and two cubs, lounging in the shade, became visible. They took no notice of us.

Alfred told us that the pride comprised two older females, probably sisters, and two younger females, probably the daughters of one or both of the older females. The cubs, from one of the young females, were only a few months old and had only recently (perhaps in the last few days) been brought into the pride to be socialised. Images 1 and 2. When born, lion cubs are kept apart from the rest of the pride by their mother for fear of attack from other members of the pride, especially itinerant males. Once they can stand and run about, the mother shepherds the cubs to the pride for the next stage of their development. Nevertheless, the cubs still need to be weaned, Image 3, as they are too young to digest meat.  

Lion Family 1 by Okavanga      Lion Family by Okavanga       

 Lion Family 2 by Okavanga         Lion Family 3 by Okavanga

Yet, from the first moments of our arrival, we could see that all was not well in the pride. The lions, particularly the young mother, kept looking up into the sausage tree. Image 4. The reason for this disquiet suddenly became obvious - with a hiss, a spit and a low growl a female leopard appeared in the lower branches of the tree. Image 5.

 Leopard in Tree 1 by Okavanga

   Lion Family 4 by Okavanga

Leopards and lions do not mix - mortal enemies, they kill and compete with one another. Lions will normally dispatch leopards with ease if they get the chance because of their bigger bulk, but leopards are faster and more agile, escape being the preferred option. However, leopards are always on the look out for a tasty lion cub for starters! What had probably happened here was that the lions, ever conscious of the need for shade from the African Sun had taken the ground under the sausage tree, unaware that there was a sleeping leopard high above. The leopard, upon waking, had found itself surrounded by lions. What to do? No leopard is going to take on a lion in  straight confrontation, unless cornered, let alone four. Flight would be the best option. Indeed, with a leap from a lower bough and given a 5- 10 meter start, the leopard would be gone in a flash, the lions too lazy to give chase once the threat had gone. So, why has the leopard stayed? Indeed, as we watched, the leopard kept provoking the lions, clambering down to lower levels, hissing, strutting about, then climbing high. Probably, the leopard stays on the off-chance that she can catch one of the lion cubs. The leopard is in no hurry; she is well fed, well protected, and can outrun the lions if needed. A cub would be a useful prize for her - one less competitor, one less enemy, one tasty snack.

At one point, the young lion mother makes a half-hearted attempt to climb the tree, Image 6, but that would have played into the leopard's paws, so to speak; the lion would never have got purchase in the branches before a hefty leopard swipe would have disabled her. So, the leopard remains. Image 7.

 Leopard in Tree 2 by Okavanga

What to do? - the lioness ponders options. Image 8 She sends the cubs into the grass to hide. Image 9  But, you can't fool a leopard that easily.

Lion Family 5 by Okavanga  Lion Family 6 by Okavanga

After another few minutes of the stand-off, and with the other lions losing interest, the mother settles down as the African heat overtakes her - she decides after a final way glance that a nap is calling. Images 10 and 11.

Lion Family 7 by Okavanga  Lion Family 8 by Okavanga

What of the leopard? She is still there!

 Leopard in Tree 3 by Okavanga

We had been observing these events for nearly one hour, and reluctantly we had to leave, the final outcome of the encounter undecided. Later in the afternoon we returned but the drama had finished - another vehicle had seen the lions and cubs get up and leave to find a better, cooler spot (we saw them there subsequently), and once gone, the leopard had climbed down and vanished into the long grass. Despite the best efforts of that driver/guide, the leopard could could not be found. All in all, probably the best outcome.

Many thanks for viewing and listenimg to my tale of the leopard and the lions.


David aka Okavanga :iconokavanga:

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ArtWorldToday is a Group for anyone who enjoys art. You don't have to make it to be a member. Art comes in all forms and what is art to one person might not be art to another. So you must be kind to other members. We will have beginners as well as established artists in this group, so there is a variety to look at.

My husband and I used to live in a town that had a active Art Walk. We enjoyed going on the First Friday of every month. There were so many talented artists in the town we lived in, and this was a way for people to notice them. We have since moved and the town we live in now doesn't have a Art Walk that show cases artists the way our old town did. I miss the environment of the Art Walk, I miss the getting to know the artists and I miss seeing all the new artwork.

I thought fine I will make my own First Friday Art Walk here on the web. I hope that we will build a fun group with lots of networking, interaction and support amongst artists of different types and abilities.

Not everyone can go to an Art Walk but here on the internet we can have our own form of Art Walk. On the First Friday of every month we will feature new artists for the month!
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