A sleepy leopard (Panthera pardus), one of Africa's 'big five' safari animals, resting on the trunk of a sausage tree at the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania on Friday (05/04). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Spotting Africa's 'Big Five' in Tanzania

BY : YUDHA BASKORO

APRIL 10, 2019

Tanzania in eastern Africa is most famous for two things: its natural beauty and incredible wildlife. And if you want to witness the country's uniquely rich biodiversity, you simply can't miss out on visiting its Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park. 

Ngorongoro is a protected area and a world heritage site located 180 kilometers west of Arusha, a multicultural city in northern Tanzania with a large population of Arab and Indian migrants. 

The Serengeti National Park is located within the Mara and Simiyu regions and famous for its annual migration of white-bearded wildebeests (similar to antelopes). 

It's also where most tourists in Africa go to spot the "Big Five" safari animals: a lion, rhino, leopard, buffalo and elephant.

Jakarta Globe photographer Yudha Baskoro visited the Serengeti for a three-day game drive (a less glamorous version of the safari) on April 3-5, organized by Ghoseni Safaris Africa. 

Peter Robert, the managing director of Ghoseni, told Yudha, "If you're lucky, you'll be able to see the great migration and spot the big five in two areas in the Serengeti."

At 6 a.m. on the first day, Yudha and the JG team climbed into safari guide Gabriel John's Land Cruiser to be driven to their first stop, the Ngorongoro Crater. Apparently, this is where people are most likely to spot elephants and rhinos. 

But it took more than half a day before the group finally met an old african elephant that had been separated from his herd and two rhinos near the crater, the world's largest inactive volcanic caldera. 

Though Yudha saw the animals from a distance, his Canon EOS RP’s 26MP sensor and Canon 600mm F4.0 L ISU II lens, which were provided by Canon Datascrip Indonesia, made sure he had no trouble taking sharp photos of the two black rhinos. 

In Tanzania, the rules mandate that a game drive starts anytime after 6 a.m. and ends by 6 p.m. sharp. After spotting two of the big five, the group drove to the nearby Oldeani Mountain Lodge to stay the night.

The next day, the group drove briskly to the Serengeti National Park. A lion welcomed the group with a roar near its entrance gate.

The Serengeti is a massive national park covering an area of almost 15,000 square kilometers. Guide John said, "The name Serengeti is taken from a Maasai word, 'siringit,' which means 'endless plains.'" 

The group drove for 10 kilometers before they finally saw black and white dots in the distance: this is the great migration.

More than 1.7 million wildebeests, 500,000 zebras and 200,000 antelopes were swiftly crossing the savannah from Ndutu to Maasai Mara. The zebras were out at front, and apparently they are often the de facto leaders of the great migration.

On the second night, the group stayed at Ole Serai, a camp-concept hotel located near the Rongai and Nyaroboro hills within the Serengeti ecosystem. 

"We haven't seen a leopard yet, so the Tanzania Tourism Board will provide you with a hot air balloon from Serengeti Balloon Safaris to get an eagle's eye view of the Serengeti and get closer to leopard territory," said Eugene Malle, the board's marketing officer.

The hot air balloon took Yudha and the Jakarta Globe team flying right on top of the great migration. From their new vantage point, they could see zebras, wildebeests, giraffes and a group of sleeping female lions. Carrying a Canon EOS RP which had a compact light body, Yudha was able to easily take photos of the magnificent beasts below.  

After an hour of flying and still no sign of a leopard, the hot air balloon landed in an area of the Serengeti where large sausage trees grow. This is where leopards usually hide to rest and sleep. 

It was nearly 6 p.m. and the group was getting restless. But then someone radioed John to take the group to a particularly massive sausage tree not far from where the hot air balloon landed.

And voila! An adult male leopard was lying on one of the tree's enormous trunks, yawning endlessly. John said, "After he yawns, he'll jump right off to the ground. Get your camera ready." 

Though the RP is not a sports or action-centric camera, its autofocus system, powered by Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology with 4,779 selectable AF point positions using Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM and Canon Extender EF 1.4x III to extend the lens' focal length, makes taking photographs of a jumping leopard easy even for a beginner wildlife photographer. The autofocus simply works incredibly fast.

"You’re so lucky, very lucky. Some people come here ten times and find nothing but gazelles," guide John said. 

Two cars passed between zebra and wildebeest flocks during the great migrations in Serengeti National Park on Thursday (04/04) The migration route is sometimes thought of as a set circuit that occurs between Tanzania
Zebras and wildebeests in their great migration across the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania on Thursday (04/04). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Gabriel John holds a map to explain location of the big five during the great migration on Thursday (04/04) Mr. Gaby is the profesional guide from Gosheni Safaris Africa. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Safari guide Gabriel John shows likely locations of the 'Big Five' on a map. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A hot air balloon from Serengeti Balloon Safaris flew above the great migration in Serengeti National Park on Friday (05/04) Mr. Mohamed is the captain during the flight. He flew the balloon in 1 hour in the top of the great migration (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A hot air balloon is a great way to enjoy the great migration. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Zebras are seen in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania on Wednesday (03/04) Zebras are the leader of the great migration. They can find location of water and food. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A zebra at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania on Wednesday (03/04). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
The great migration are seen from hot air balloon in Serengeti National Park on Friday (05/04) The Great Migration of the Serengeti was selected in 2013 as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A bird's eye view of the great migration from a hot air balloon. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A vulture is hanging on a tree waiting for a prey in Serengeti National Park on Friday (05/04) The status for some species of barbaric birds has declined from endangered to critically endangered because of their very slow reproduction rate (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A vulture scans for a prey at the Serengeti National Park on Friday (05/04). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
African elephants are walking on a group to protect their newborns in Serengeti National Park on Friday (05/04) (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
African elephants walking in a group to protect their newborns at the Serengeti National Park on Friday (05/04). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A male african lion hiding on the bush in Serengeti National Park on Thursday (04/04) The endless plains become world
A male lion hiding in the bush at Serengeti National Park on Thursday (04/04). The park is the world's largest lion sanctuary with some 3,000 lions. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania are seen from above hills nearby on Wednesday (03/04) The world
The Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, the world's largest inactive volcanic caldera. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Two rhinoceros are seen in Ngorongoro Conservation Area near the inactive vulcanic crater in Tanzania on Wednesday (03/04) Those are 2 from 26 black rhinoceros in Ngorongoro. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Two rhinos near the volcanic crater at Ngorongoro Conservation Area. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
African cape buffalo eats some grass in Serengeti National Park on Friday (05/04) They preserve as the deadliest animal in Serengeti because of its no emotion indication and  can charges at an average 50 km per hour to kill its enemy (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
African cape buffalo in Serengeti National Park on Friday (05/04) (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A hyena is trying to get closer to a group of flaminggo birds in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania on Wednesday (03/04) Usually Hyena steal lions prey but in Ngorongoro Crater, hyenas hunt most of their food themselves. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A hyena tries to get closer to a group of flamingos at Ngorongoro Conservation Area on Wednesday (03/04). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Two wildebeest are seen running in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania on Wednesday (03/04) Wildebesst is a group in great migration that has no purpose. They just follows where the Zebra goes (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Two wildebeests run after zebras during the great migration at Ngorongoro Conservation Area on Wednesday (03/04). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Three maasai giraffes are looking for food in Serengeti National Park on Friday (05/04) The african giraffes is the largest from every species of giraffes in the world. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Three Maasai giraffes stroll looking for food at Serengeti National Park on Friday (05/04). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Lilac breasted roller bird hanging on a branch in Serengeti National Park on Friday (05/04) These species usually live in grassland or savannah (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Lilac-breasted roller bird perched on a tree branch at Serengeti National Park on Friday (05/04). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
What
What’s on the menu today? A lion lurks for possible preys from the great migration at Serengeti National Park on Saturday (06/04). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

 

 

 

 

SHARE