Readers’ wildlife photos

April 15, 2015 • 8:15 am

We have many felids today, and a damn duck as well—with two photos (including the duck) taken by Professor Ceiling Cat. Most of the cat photos, lions (Panthera leo) come from reader Bob Lundgren:

Attached are some photos of lions from my trip to Tanzania in January. The first two photos are a front and rear view of tree climbing lions in Lake Manyara National Park. There were six lions in the tree that we could see.  We were told there had been at least eight before we got there.
The lion in the third photo has apparently just returned from his mane stylist. Quite rakish in my opinion. He was hanging out in an place called the Ngorogoro Conservation Area.
The fourth and fifth photos are of lions hanging out on rock outcroppings called “kopjes” in Serengeti National Park.
The sixth and seventh photos are from an area my wife and I called the sex den, also in Serengeti National Park.  There were several pairs of lions here, all in an amorous mood.The lion in the background of the sixth photo is the same lion seen in the seventh photo.  That lion and his partner had an intimate interlude about five minutes after the photo was taken.
The last two photos were taken in Ngorongoro Crater (actually a caldera, but popular terminology is difficult to overcome).  This was the end of a lion feast of cape buffalo.  We counted twenty-three lions on this kill.  The males had first dibs and were digesting in the road oblivious to the vehicles. They weren’t moving for “nobody” – except for one that decided to go down the line of vehicles and mark each one.  Our guide was keeping count and told us we saw 102 lions in nine days. We were happy.
From PCC: Here are two snaps I took at the Stone Zoo outside Boston on Easter. First is some damn duck; I don’t know the species and can’t be arsed to look. But I’m sure a reader will tell me within ten minutes! It had a crest that could be erected.
And a Lonely Puma (cougar; Puma concolor).  It was a beautiful cat, but also paced back in forth in its cage: one of the reasons I have really mixed feelings about zoos. In fact, my dislike of seeing free-roaming animals caged like this is making me go to zoos less often, though of course as a biologist I am delighted to see live animals. Cougars are not endangered and so should not be caged, especially alone and even more especially in a small enclosure. The lions of the Serengeti are much better off.

31 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

    1. I agree, it’s Barrow’s, not common. The common goldeneye has more green around his head, while the Barrow’s is more blue. The white wing spots also match the Barrow’s.

      I suspect these would be fairly uncommon around Boston – my field guide shows them in Nova Scotia and the Pacific Northwest in winter.

    2. I agree, Barrow’s goldeneye. The white area on the cheek is crescent shaped, not circular. Also the pattern of white stripes on the black wing indicates Barrow’s, as well as the black “spur” down into the white feathers. Beautiful birds, always a treat when we see a few on our Christmas Bird Count. Common goldeneyes are far more common here (Downeast Maine).

  1. Fine pictures.
    I too am not so happy as I was as a kid visiting zoos. But, its nice to know many zoos have modernized and have large spaces set up. One zoo I saw (can’t remember where now) had many animals roaming about a large range while the visitors passed overhead on a observation train. As I recall the animals looked quite happy.

        1. A New Romantic lion. Lots of hairspray and brooding looks down at the local big cat disco. Give him earrings and some eye-liner and he’ll be all set.

  2. I take the point about keeping big cats in captivity. I’ve been fortunate enough to go on safari in both Africa and India, and partly as a result I’m now much less keen on visiting zoos than I used to be in my youth, before I’d ever seen big animals in the wild.

    But in defence of zoos (the good ones, at least) it must be admitted that the puma in the photo will never have to go hungry, will enjoy the best available veterinary care for its entire life, and will probably pass away peacefully in its sleep at the end of a long life. The wild lions on the other hand, face a constant struggle to find food, to fight off disease and parasites, and to avoid falling victim to other lions, hyenas or human poachers. Most of them will eventually die horrible deaths one way or another. None of us can say which life a big cat would go for if it was able to choose, but it isn’t self-evident to me that the captive puma’s option is worse.

    1. That’s an interesting point. Are we actually annoyed by the conditions in zoos for the sake of the animals, or ourselves. Our discomfort is to some degree based on how we would rather see them in an ideal natural setting. Perhaps, if you could ask the creature in the zoo, she’s say that’s a romantic notion.

    2. I too am often uneasy seeing animals in captivity. But, like you, I take some comfort that these animals (as long as they’re looked after well) will not have to deal with the hunger, thirst, disease, parasites, competition or predation that they would have to in the wild.

      I can remember watching cormorant fishing in Japan and being a little disturbed by the way the cormorants were being treated (rings around their necks to stop them eating the fish, tied to lines on the boat etc.).

      But after the fishing was done, the cormorants were unhooked from the lines and happily swam over to the boat, hopped on board, and received a generous portion of fish each. All told, they probably had much more comfortable lives than their wild counterparts.

      I like to think that modern zoos treat their animals well enough, contribute enough to research and conservation, and promote enough enthusiasm for wildlife that they offset any problems with keeping the animals captive.

      Then again, maybe I’m just trying to convince myself.

    3. I do not agree at all. Unless endangered & in a breeding programme aimed at re-introdution in the wild, I am dubiuos about keeping large predators – or herbivores – in zoos.

    4. It’s probably fair to ask if animals in captivity don’t stimulate sympathy for those in the wild and therefore conservation efforts. Some animals are just “cute” and inspire protection (pandas for example) but others I think really benefit from being exposed to the public. Even the cute ones on display cause animals to be held in higher regard in my view.

    5. Most people can never afford to go on Safari, and would otherwise have no opportunity to see such a variety of animals. That opportunity surely encourages, raises awareness, educates etc. Zoos these days mostly make an effort for animal enclosures to be as large and natural as possible and go to great lengths to enrich the lives of the animals. I think that the existence of modern zoos does a great deal to help animals in the wild.

  3. Wild pumas live mostly solitary lives. This one may have problems about living in the zoo, but a wish for company (except at breeding time) isn’t one of its objections.

  4. I love the photos of the lions on the kopjes especially – they look so content in their realm.

    There was an article by Ernest et al. in PLOS ONE last fall about diminishing genetic diversity in the Santa Ana population of pumas in California. Obstacles such as interstate highways and large urbanized areas significantly reduce migration, and I seem to recall recent news reports of a puma killed while crossing a California highway.
    (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107985)

      1. Right. Recently I saw a deer sail past a car bumper and over a roadway and into a ditch. I’d say that’s half way to a winged even-toed ungulate.

  5. Wildlife rehabilitation programs I had some contact with at one time would try to place unreleasable animals in zoos or education programs if possible. (Few places were available.) Although that puma might have been wild-caught for a zoo, it’s probably more likely that it came from a rehabilitation program and is unreleasable, even if physically healthy.

  6. Again, evidence that the most comfortable cats are the ones contorted into the most uncomfortable position. That one on the branch, especially….


    1. Actually, the Lake Manyara lions are the classic tree climbing lions. It’s a standard stop on the safari circuit. I’ve read that there are some lions in the Serengeti that have adopted the behavior. We did not see that, however. Not aware of any instances of Ngorongoro lions climbing trees, but it’s not impossible I suppose.

      1. I was in both places 40 years ago and believe it must have been Lake Manyara where I saw the lions in trees like that (also some leopards where we just saw their velvet tails hanging down like bell-pulls;-) Did not see nearly as many lions as Bob, though.

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