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Of old magazines and new travels

Just add larvae of Diamphidia and Plyclada…

About the small treasure at My father’s country house, my collection of Astronomy and Nature magazines dating back in the 80’s and 90’s.There is a small treasure at My father’s country house. It is my collection of Astronomy and Nature magazines dating back in the 80’s and 90’s. Today i was at home having a look at my old collection of “Airone” an italian magazine which tried to imitate – but with local interesting peculiar traits – the National Geographic Magazine in the 80’s. I noticed two interesting articles that probably i wouldn’t without having being part of my recent beautiful Botswana experience.

How do you tell a “yummy” snack from a deadly poisonous addictive for bushmen’s arrows?

It’s early in the afternoon near Kasane, Botswana. After several days in the bush our group stops in a small mart to finally buy stuff.  A “Local” offered us a “yummy” snack, a bag full of roasted Mopane Worms (Imbrasia Bellina) which (almost) everyone tried out. Well, having a look at my magazines collection, i found an interesting article about Bushmen in Botswana and their tools-of-the-trade for hunting. There was, though, a picture of these men that uses larvae of Diamphidia and Plyclada, two different genus of beetle. Their poisonous “juice” is used by the Bushmen to make their arrow deadly venomous for hunting. These larvae, though innocue at a first look, have enough poison to kill a man in a few hours. What if we were given a bag of this larvae? Who might have been so smart to tell the difference? Have a look at the photo below…

Snack of the month: larvae of Imbrasia Bellina

Exact! That’s why we took with us two talented biologists (or why they mercifully came with us). Of course, pure chance that three people of our group has been very very very sick that evening… 😉

Water then and now.

One of the sites visited that impressed me much with primeval feelings was the surroundings of the Savuti river. Our guides told us about the Savuti Channel, which stopped flowing between 1980 and 2008 becoming a ribbon of grassland that served as a corridor and feeding ground in the surrounding woodland for a wide variety of herbivores. The channel became a waterway again in 2008, welcoming back hippos, aquatic life and several varieties of waterbirds, and forcing wildlife to adapt to the new source of water impacting the territory.

“Then, one day, the Savuti disappeared”

Imagine how i felt when i read these pages (above) from 1992 about the processes which caused the slow disappearance of the Savuti…

I’m very happy to having been able to take stupid pictures like these today 🙂

Beautiful Savuti

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Frogs! Frogs everywhere!

Look, i’ve got a true passion for Amphibia. Rivers, creeks and the Okavango Delta are plenty of these tiny creatures, which are there on behalf of the autentic biodiversity. You may find (mainly) two types of shots related to these subjects, “Ambiented Portraits” and “White Panel Portraits”.

Ambiented Portrait is basically capturing the subject in its own environment with the help of one ore more flashes and a macro lens – typically a 24mm ora a 100 mm. White Panel Portrait resemble the Meet Your Neighboursâ„¢ project, a worldwide photographic initiative created by Niall Benvie and Clay Bolt dedicated to reconnecting people with the wildlife on their own doorsteps – and enriching their lives in the process (tech. features here).

A short list of sightings between Botswana and Zimbabwe:

Grey foam-nest tree frog or southern foam-nest tree frog (Chiromantis xerampelina) – Moremi Game Reserve

African Common Toad or Guttural Toad (Amietophrynus gutturalis)

Natal puddle frog (Phrynobatrachus natalensis) – Victoria Falls

Here are shots of the:

Ptychadena mascareniensis 

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata Class: Amphibia Order: Anura Family: Ptychadenidae Genus: Ptychadena

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II Lens: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Focal Length: 100mm Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec Aperture: f/20 ISO/Film: 125 Taken: April 25th 2013

Marbled Reed Frog (Hyperolius Marmoratus)

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Amphibia Order: Anura Family: Hyperoliidae Genus: Hyperolius Species: H. marmoratus

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II Lens: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Focal Length: 100mm Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec Aperture: f/20 ISO/Film: 125 Taken: April 25th 2013

 

Image courtesy Francesco Tomasinelli

Botswana and Zimbabwe: Travel Configurator photography trip with Emanuele Biggi and Francesco Tomasinelli

If this journey was a song it would have been “down under” for sure, and not only for the upside-down Ursa Maior in the sky. I’d like to think that this has been my second expedition to Africa (and yes, it has). After Egypt i decide to invest time + money to obtain a valid logistic (Travel Configurator and Delta Cruiser Safaris) and Scientific (Emanuele Biggi and Francesco Tomasinelli) support. Many hours of air travel (Milan Malpensa-Cairo-Johannesburg-Maun) allowed me to touch the Botswana ground and to sleep under southern sky for the first time in my life. The cleanliness of the sky, the thin, hot and dry air, the smell of the wild sage touched (punched) my eyes and my nose, especially thanks to the superb tolerability of the Malarone drug. A perfect assistance allowed my to “dive” into the Experience and worry only about taking (hoping) good pictures.

Image courtesy Francesco Tomasinelli

I spent 1 night at the Sedia Hotel in Maun, with a beautiful patchwork of spiders in the Room, 8 nights in a Tent (very confortable at the Delta Cruiser Safaris camp), and 2 nights “Like a Boss” at the Ilala lodge Hotel in Victoria Falls, with a 1-night-break for the “c’est l’Afrique” night at the Kwalape Safari Lodge in Kasane due to companions illness and the camp-carrying Toyota breakage.

It’s a long way to Kasane

I found a Company which has been going unite day after day, hardened by dysentery, gin tonic, photography tips, dust, open mouths (for wonder, nutrition, laughter, yawns) National Geographic style scenes, Better Beamers, Baobab, Night Walking Safari lotteries, and much, much more…

Image courtesy Emanuele Biggi

If i had to choose the moments to fix and keep in my brain Compact Flash even with no more space i would keep for sure the ‘Lioness Hunt’, the ‘Cobra Magic Moment’, the chorus of our guests the last night in Botswana near the camp fire. But this has been a Cornucopia of emotions rather than a simple holiday.

The ‘Cobra Magic Moment’

Game Driving took place in the Moremi Game Reserve, a National Park in Botswana which rests on the eastern side of the Okavango Delta and was named after Chief Moremi of the BaTawana tribe. We (Delta) set the camp, at Xakanaxa and Khwai areas. Then we moved to Savute with “a la Paris-Dakar” style 150 km white roads transfer, where we were settled near the Savute Channel, which stopped flowing between 1980 and 2008 becoming a ribbon of grassland that served as a corridor and feeding ground in the surrounding woodland for a wide variety of herbivores. The channel became a waterway again in 2008, welcoming back hippos, aquatic life and several varieties of waterbirds, and forcing wildlife to adapt to the new source of water impacting the territory. Last, we stayed in Chobe National Park, before leaving to Victoria Falls were we flew over the famous Falls and sailed over the mighty Zambezi river.

Image courtesy Francesco Tomasinelli

Colophon | SpiritsThe Ghost and the Darkness, Fitzcarraldo, Gods must be crazy movies. Adobe Lightroom software. Palladium Boots. Petzl Tikka2 Headlamp. Autan Tropical Mosquito Repellent. Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles. Malarone Malaria prevention drug. Canon gear. My mimetic € 10 Kefiah. Lexxar Compact Flash cards. Iphone 4 camera. Maui Gym Sunglasses. Cocoa butter. Kestine 10 mg antihistaminic. Crocodile skewers. Stewed Kudu. Coke. The stiff white porridge made from maize meal, also called mealie meal or papa, which is most commonly eaten with a gravy made from tomato and onions. Nardo’s Peri Peri sauce.

It’s because of the snakes