Reader Richard sent a photo that is very likely to be Satao, the huge-tusked elephant recently slaughtered by poachers who wanted his ivory; I posted about his tragic murder yesterday. You can see the big guy in the lead here, with his tusks almost touching the ground, and the photo was also taken where Satao lived. Richard gives details:
I believe that the front elephant in the attached photograph might have been Satao. I have seen many elephants, but never tusks bigger than this. It was taken near Voi in 2005. We had to follow him and his companions for about 30 minutes; you do not overtake elephants! They then turned off into the bush, and we were never able to get photographs from a better angle. The photograph above gives no real impression of just how enormous he was. It is shocking to hear of his death.
I asked for details:
I took it, near Voi in Tsavo East in early April 2005. Bing maps gives the location as -3.335340, 38.551696. At this point, the main Mombasa-Nairobi road is only about two kilometres away, providing easy access for poachers. Tsavo East is about the size of Connecticut, so far too large to patrol adequately.
On a happier note, reader Pete Moulton sent four lovely pictures of dragonflies from Arizona. (Click to enlarge)
The dragonfly season has started a little slowly in central Arizona this year, so here’s a selection of western and southwestern species from the last couple of seasons. These are all members of the skimmer family Libellulidae. They hunt from perches, darting out to take flying prey, and returning to their perches to feed, much like flycatchers or Accipiter hawks. This behavior makes them a bit easier to photograph than some of the other families, which seem never to perch during daylight hours.
Erythrodiplax basifusca also goes by the name Plateau Dragonlet. This is mainly a Mexican species, which reaches the US in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. It’s the other candidate for Arizona’s smallest dragonfly, slightly longer than the Mexican amberwing (up to about 30mm total length), but more slender. This one’s a male. The pale blue-gray abdominal coloration is called pruinescence (sometimes pruinosity–the jury’s still out on this). It’s a waxy coating secreted by the males, and occasionally the females, of certain species of Odonata. I haven’t learned what, if any, selective advantage this confers.
Libellula saturata is the flame skimmer, another widespread western species. Of all the Arizona dragonflies, this one is probably responsible for attracting more photographers to the Odonata than all our other species combined. The big orange males are real eye-catchers.
Perithemis intensa is commonly known as the Mexican amberwing. A very small dragon – Arizona’s smallest, in fact, at least in overall length (23-26mm)—but easy to see because of that glowing golden coloration. This one’s a female; males have uniformly amber wings.
Sympetrum corruptum is commonly known as the variegated meadowhawk. Like several other species of dragonflies, this one is migratory, so while its breeding range is mainly western, vagrants can be found almost anywhere in North America from the southern Canadian provinces southward, especially in the fall.