Monthly Archives: March 2014

Greater kudu.


The greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) is a woodland antelope found throughout eastern and southern Africa. Despite occupying such widespread territory, they are sparsely populated in most areas, due to a declining habitat, deforestation and poaching. The greater kudu is one of two species commonly known as kudu, the other being the lesser kudu, Tragelaphus imberbis.

1280px-Kudu_antelope Kudu_antelope_www_safari4less_com-kudu-2 greater_kudu_face633-29kuduKudu_Game_Reserve_037Kudu-bullkudubull1www_safari4less_com-Kudu Greater Kudu Running786px-Male_greater_kudu  Kudu_antelopes_by_Ssaash1-Large-kudu-bull-was-ambushed-after-being-chased581374_10151059935171400_146766014_n-640x374achab-kuduGreater_Kudu,_Greater_Kudu,_Et_2imgACCKudu-05kudu-bowKudu---bull2322554433_9a39006939_ogallery_6003_645_73891greater_kudu_largekudubull11greater_kudu_2




Range of the subspecies of the greater kudu

The kudu is a sub-species of antelope that is found inhabiting mixed shrub woodland, and savanna plains in eastern and southern Africa. The kudu relies heavily on close, dense thickets in which the kudu can escape to and hide when it feels threatened.

There are three subspecies of Greater Kudu: Southern Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros strepsiceros), East African Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros bea) and Western Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros cottonias identified in this post. These kudu species are closely related and look very similar in appearance but there are a few distinctive ways that the lesser kudu and the greater kudu can be distinguished from one another. The lesser kudu has ten white stripes which run vertically down the lesser kudu’s body where the greater kudu can have anyway between 4 and 12 stripes. The greater kudu is also generally bigger than the lesser kudu.


Kudus are herbivorous animals and therefore have a completely vegetarian diet. Kudus forage in woodland and around thickets of shrubs nibbling on leaves from the trees and bushes. Kudus also eat other varieties of plant life such as herbs, flowers, berries and fallen fruits.


Kudus are prey to a number of predators such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, Hun=mans, wild dogs and the occasional large python that will hunt the smaller and more vulnerable kudu young. Kudu are able to run very fast but often have a hard time outrunning predators so the kudu rely on their agile ability to leap into forest and woodland where large carnivorous predators find it harder to chase them. The kudu will then often hide in woodland until the predator have eventually given up and left.


Greater Kudu are found in the brush covered plains, woodlands and rocky hillsides of eastern and southern Africa. Kudus live in small herds of up to 24 kudu individuals. The kudu herds mainly consist of female kudus and their calves as male kudus tend to solitary and only come together with other kudus when it is time to mate. It has been known that groups of up to 8 male kudus will form a herd but this is very rare.


The kudu mating season occurs at the end of the rainy season. The kudu gestation period is around 8 months after which time the female kudu will normally give birth to just one baby kudu. The baby kudus tend to be born around February and March when the grass is at it’s highest and there is plenty of food to help the baby kudu calves to grow.

Kudus have both benefited and suffered from contact with humans. Humans find the kudu and easy target for hunting due to the fact that kudus tend to stop and look around after they have run away. Some local tribes people believe the kudu to be a sacred animal and therefore protect the kudu rather than killing it. Human settlements have also meant that the kudu habitat as changed and the kudu have had to move to other areas. This has actually done the kudu population the world of good as the kudu have been pushed into areas where there is a better source of water and therefore food.

Interesting Facts

Greater Kudu are the second largest Antelope in the world, the eland being the largest.


Greater Kudu and Lesser Kudu Range Map (Africa)


Md.County Pension System – Unfair and Discriminated.


RICHMOND, Virginia –  federal appeals court has ruled that a Maryland county’s pension system discriminated against older workers by charging them higher contribution rates than younger employees. Monday’s decision by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond upheld a ruling by U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Baltimore County in 2007 on behalf of two retired corrections officers, claiming the differing rates violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Legg initially ruled in favor of the county, but the appeals court reversed the decision and returned the case for reconsideration. The judge now must determine damages.

The county changed its pension system in 2007 so that newly hired workers contribute to the retirement system at a flat rate. Read more >>> The Daily Journal

See>>> the original story as reported by Baltimore sun before the county appealed the decision to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond in 2012.





The African lion.


The lion (Panthera leo) is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg (550 lb) in weight,. it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger. Wild lions currently exist in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia (where an endangered remnant population resides in Gir Forest National Park in India) while other types of lions have disappeared from North Africa and Southwest Asia in historic times. Until the late Pleistocene, about 10,000 years ago, the lion was the most widespread large land mammal after humans. (Read more)

african-lion-wallpapers-hd-660x330-african-lionAfrican-lion-loverslionsAfrican_lions_in_huntingafrican animals and wildlife safaris dangerous lions hunting    african-lion-pridelion-pack LIONS DRINKINGmale-lion- south-african-lion-puppy-Wild-African-Lion-r_Lionessimg_0608-copyFemale African Lionpack-of-lions-huntingwildebeest_migrationSyncerus cafferaFRICA_02721- Lionesses Hunting Buffalo 01 22- Lionesses Hunting Buffalo 09P1020231-1024x768 25- Lionesses Hunting Buffalo 12 Lions-Hunting-Buffalo-pics1437647_buffalo_hunt_JPG1956c2177edd1f452284df099ef3ad1d29- Lionesses Hunting Buffalo 21 - Resting and Dying

Relentless EnemiesLions_hunting_Africa        Lion-Hunt-3TvyamNb-BivtNwcoxtkc5xGBuGkIMh_nj4UJHQKupcCpy4PtgRVWVkCkf1pT4_sZO4HLULlDdoY3 Lion-Hunt-4african-animals-01

Lions are the only cats that live in groups, which are called prides. Prides are family units that may include up to three males, a dozen or so females, and their young. All of a pride’s lionesses are related, and female cubs typically stay with the group as they age. Young males eventually leave and establish their own prides by taking over a group headed by another male.

Only male lions boast manes, the impressive fringe of long hair that encircles their heads. Males defend the pride’s territory, which may include some 100 square miles (259 square kilometers) of grasslands, scrub, or open woodlands. These intimidating animals mark the area with urine, roar menacingly to warn intruders, and chase off animals that encroach on their turf.

Female lions are the pride’s primary hunters. They often work together to prey upon antelopes, zebras, wildebeest, and other large animals of the open grasslands. Many of these animals are faster than lions, so teamwork pays off.

After the hunt, the group effort often degenerates to squabbling over the sharing of the kill, with cubs at the bottom of the pecking order. Young lions do not help to hunt until they are about a year old. Lions will hunt alone if the opportunity presents itself, and they also steal kills from hyenas or wild dogs.

Conservation Status

Lions once roamed most of Africa and into parts of Asia and Europe. Now around 20,000-30,000 of these big cats live in sub-Saharan Africa, mostly in protected reserves. A small population of 200-260 inhabit India’s Gir Forest. African lions are considered vulnerable of extinction by the IUCN Red List while the Asian lion population is considered endangered.

Lion Distribution


Lions inhabit the grasslands, shrub, and open woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa. A small population also lives in India’s Gir Forest.


The long fight to save wild beauty represents democracy at its best. It requires citizens to practice the hardest of virtues and self-restraint. ~ Edwin Way Teale

Pr. George’s County and MGM National Harbor at odds over proposal for local contracting.


Before building permits are issued for construction of the $925 million casino resort proposed for National Harbor, Prince George’s County lawmakers say that they want legislation ensuring that residents get a fair shot at jobs and that minority and local businesses have an opportunity to bid for contracts related to the project.

But officials of MGM National Harbor say such legislation could be a “roadblock” that would jeopardize the project’s construction schedule.

MGM National Harbor and the office of County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) have been in negotiations for months on an agreement that is said to set conditions about contracting and other economic benefits to Prince George’s County. Proposed legislation would require that the agreement be finalized and approved by the county council before building permits for the project are issued.

The bill, “Video Lottery Facility Economic Opportunities,” is expected to be voted out of committee Thursday and could go before the full council next month. It has been sponsored by six of nine council members and has the support of at least two others. >>> Read More Washington Post



Nonprofit group hopes education can reduce Latina teen pregnancy rate.


The 15-year-old girl blushed when she explained the most important parts of her day to the instructor.

“I’m glad because I got good news today,” she said, as she averted her eyes from the other ninth- and 10th-graders sitting in a circle. “I’m sad, because I’m afraid my mom might find out.”

“Ohh,” the instructor, Reyna Trinidad, replied. “You’re in love.”

Trinidad and her co-instructor, Jonathan Bibb, have gathered this group of 10 Latino students at Wheaton High School after classes to aid them on their journey of self-actualization. On this cold March day, a simple question — Como estas, tu? — would open another week of discussions about listening to emotions, having a sense of self-worth and handling the feelings that can make an adolescent’s cheeks redden.

They hope these sessions will help fix a stubborn problem affecting some of the region’s most affluent suburbs: the great disparity in birthrates between Latino teenagers and other groups. For every 1,000 adolescent females in Montgomery County, an estimated 23 Latinas between 15 and 17 give birth.

Even as the Latino birthrate has fallen in Montgomery over the past two decades, it remains more than 2.5 times higher than the rate for the county’s black girls in that age group and more than three times the rate for white girls. >>>Read More Washington Post





A world map showing countries by total fertility rate (TFR), according to the CIA World Factbook‘s 2013 data.


Mom: Fifth grader cleaned toilets during detention in PGCPS.


Henry Hawkins’ mom says this photo was taken while he cleaned desks during detention at his Prince George’s County elementary school.

When an elementary school-aged child gets detention at school, what does he do with that time? One Maryland mom says her son spent it cleaning toilets.

Henry Hawkins is a fifth grader at Longfields Elementary School in Forestville. The 11-year-old says he got into an argument with a classmate. His mother, Neshanna Turner, tells FOX 5 she received a notice saying he would be in detention after school as a result.

But then came this photo. Turner says it shows Henry scrubbing a desk during detention. Henry also says he cleaned toilets, pushed a cart around, and put chairs on desks in classrooms.

When she heard that, Turner says she was enraged—and it’s even worse because Henry has asthma. He said there were a lot of chemicals around when he was cleaning toilets.

Henry stayed home from school and missed a test on Thursday. He says he’s not feeling well.

His mom says she thinks detention should be confined to academics.

“If you want to give them detention, that’s fine,” said Turner. “Have them come in, sit down, do their homework, give them an essay or a writing assignment.”

FOX 5 checked, but found no mention of cleaning in the Prince George’s County Schools Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook.

Prince George’s County Schools released the following statement on the situation:
“Although “In-School Work Detail” is an appropriate disciplinary response, the response must match a student’s infraction. In addition, the appropriateness of any disciplinary action taken is always subject to internal review and/or may be appealed.”

Some other parents told FOX 5 cleaning toilets should be the job of the janitor, while others said that depending on what happened, that punishment may fit the crime. Turner says the lesson, however, goes too far.

Read more:


Mountain Lion (Cougar).

Cougar_closeupcougarimage imageimage imagemountain-lion_637_600x450


 The cougar is native to the Americas, particularly south America and western North America and is often known by other names such as mountain lion, puma and panther. Cougars can be found mainly in the mountain regions of Canada and Mexico, but as the name cougar is often used to describe an un-spotted leopard.  The cougar is the fourth biggest feline in the world behind the lion, tiger and jaguar, making the cougar the second largest cat in the Americas. The cougar has longer back than front legs and a long heavy body. Unlike other big cats, however, the cougar cannot roar. Instead, the large feline purrs like a house cat.

Cougars also have similar body types to house cats, only on a larger scale. They have slender bodies and round heads with pointed ears. They vary between 1.5-2.7 m (5-9 ft.) from head to tail. While males can weigh up to 68 kg (150 lb.), females weigh less, topping out at nearly 45 kg (100 lb.).

The coat of the cougar is a grayish tan to reddish color with lighter parts on the underside. The tail has a black spot on the end.

Inhabiting various ecosystems from mountains to deserts to sea-level, the cougar’s range includes western North America, a small region in Florida, and most of South America. They make their home anywhere that there is shelter and prey.


Generally they prey on large mammals such as moose, deer, elk and stray wolves and can often go for long periods of time without food.  They are also known to feed on smaller animals if necessary, including domestic animals and livestock. Cougars have even been known to eat insects. Skilled and cunning hunters, cougars stay hidden from their prey until they can pounce with claws out-stretched. Cougars can also climb with ease and leap over 6 m (20 ft.). After killing a large animal, a cougar hides the carcass and eats in the coming days.

For the most part, the cougar has no natural enemies and sits atop the food chain. However, they occasionally compete with other predators such as bears and wolves for food.

During most of their lives, cougars are solitary creatures. They interact only to mate, which can happen at any time of year. Females can breed as early as 2-3 years old and give birth to 2-3 kittens at a time. They raise the young while the males return to their solitary lifestyles.

At around two years old, cougar offspring will leave their mother to start their own life. Some travel far to establish their own territory as cougars need a lot of room to roam.

A healthy cougar in the wild can live to around 10 years of age. In captivity, cougars can live as long as 20 years.

Conservation Status
Cougars have been long been killed by both sport hunters and farmers protecting their livestock. Other threats to cougar populations include habitat loss and fragmentation and automobile accidents. As a result, the cougar population has significantly decreased.

Although they once ranged throughout North and South America, they are no longer found in the eastern portion of the United States and Canada, the exception being a small population in Florida. The subspecies known as the Florida panther is considered to be critically endangered, and agencies are working to maintain the current population. There are still, however, several thousand cougars in the wild, and as a result, they listed as being of ‘least concern’ on the IUCN Red List.

What You Can Do To Help
It is difficult to stop habitat loss or reverse its effects, but there are some ways you can help. You can help persuade your congressperson to designate the cougar as a protected animal. This legally prevents the taking or injuring of cougars, unless they pose a threat. This law has been in effect in the state of California since the approval of Proposition 117 in 1990.

You can also appeal to your congressman or woman advocating the preservation of open land in order to maintain a livable habitat for cougars. In addition, you can donate directly to the Mountain Lion Foundation.

Cougar Distribution

Pumas are the most widespread of the American cats and have the largest distribution of any mammal in the western hemisphere. These large slender cats are found across a diverse range of habitats, from arid desert to cold coniferous forest, and although terrestrial, can swim and climb trees when they need to. Pumas are powerful predators and hunt by stalking and ambushing their prey. However, if ill or young, they themselves can become lunch for hungry wolves or bears. They hold the record for the mammal with the most common names – over 40 in English alone.



Inhabiting various ecosystems from mountains to deserts to sea-level, the cougar’s range includes western North America, a small region in Florida, and most of South America…

Cougar Resources
Mountain Lion Foundation
National Geographic – Mountain Lion
The San Diego Zoo – Mountain Lion (Puma, Cougar)
IUCN Red List – Puma concolor
Blog Posts about the Cougar
Featured Animal: Cougar (aka Mountain Lion) – September 30, 2013
Baby Cougars at the Cincinnati Zoo – November 19, 2010
Florida Panther Population Running Out of Room – December 21, 2008
New Additions to Animal Fact Guide – December 7, 2008

Did you know?
The puma has more common names than any other mammal.


Cougar distribution map worldwide.


2014 Elections.



The boss who decides how you are evaluated, the amount of planning time you have, and how much you are paid—as well as nearly every other condition of your profession—is probably not a seasoned veteran of public education.

Your boss, actually your bosses, are the local, county, and state politicians who win on Election Day—no education experience required— they get the job! So, like it or not, your job as a teacher, School Bus driver, Custodian, Administrator, payroll clerk, specialist etc.  is indeed very political because your bosses are politicians. They don’t have to have an education degree, pedagogical training, or any exposure to the complex inner workings of a school building, yet they set your pension, determine class size, fund your contract, mandate student testing, and appoint the people who decide your evaluations.

Education workers are special. Because our bosses are politicians, our struggle as Reform Sasscer Movement members isn’t only at the worksite, it’s at the voting booth this year. While some might see this as a curse, it’s really a blessing—we get to hire our bosses by choosing them on Election Day. This  year, we need to push for those leaders who are credible in order to create an accountable government which is responsive to the people.

Over the last few election cycles, Reform Sasscer Movement members have stepped up in big ways and pro-education candidates with Reform Sasscer Movement’s endorsement have won more than 80% of their campaigns.

With the 2014 primary elections on the horizon this June and general election in November, it’s time to work together to elect the bosses we need to help our schools, communities and students succeed. Send an email to to find out how you can help win the 2014 elections that matter most to public education in Maryland. This is the only way we are going to take back our schools and help with innovation in Maryland.





To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain. ~ Louis L’Amour

The wildebeest (Connochaetes).


The wildebeest, also called the gnu is an antelope in the genus Connochaetes. It belongs to the family Bovidae, which includes antelopes, cattle, goats, sheep and other even-toed horned ungulates. Connochaetes (Wildebeest) includes two species, both native to Africa: the black wildebeest, or white-tailed gnu (C. gnou); and the blue wildebeest, or brindled gnu (C. taurinus).
  • Mass: 120 – 270 kg (Adult)
  • Height: 127 – 147 cm (At Shoulder, Adult)

blue_wildebeest buff-eyeswildebeest_knp-9120-gkruger_posts-54Wildebeest 3Wildebeest_-l_unnamed  7-Connochaetes%20taurinusWildebeest crossing leapwildebeest_jumping_762x365

Wildebeest leap into the waters of the Mara River during their migration in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. It is one of the greatest sights on planet Earth – the annual stampede of one million wildebeest from Tanzania to Kenya. Bursting through the open plains, the seemingly endless procession of the giant beasts is only halted briefly by the treacherous Mara River…

greatmigration01  Wildebeest river crossing and crocodile Wildebeest_crossing_river_-East_Africa kenya annual migrationoriginal_wildebeest_1 serengeti-north-35 serengeti-north-36 serengeti-north-38 serengeti-north-40 serengeti-north-41 serengeti-north-42 serengeti-north-43 serengeti-north-45       wildebeest_migration

 wildebeest-Kenya_36895_990x742 wildebeest-leaping_2059202i0071b256240ab843b3cdaf89_wildebeest_3 Black_WildebeestWildebeest-Migration-Safari1crater_wildebeest1xRIQaeAnoA-5E5xYUyQrqk-hdNile-Crocodile-attacking-Wildebeest-calf-Mara-river-Masai-Mara-Kenya_MG_2817-Jcrock-attack-875ma36 wildebeest-crossing-1-2 wildebeest-crossing-1-41774477i5203549951_5089cc5568_bWildebeest-153011d58d6b4a32ec0ce9b_wildebeest_6wildebeest ma01ma12serengeti-north-72serengeti-north-59mara-saruni-wildebeest_940_529_80_s_c1

The Great Wildebeest Migration is a ‘must-see’ event on every traveler’s calendar. It offers spectacular sights of millions of wildebeest crossing rivers and always keeping one step ahead of the many predators that follow the herds. It is a wildlife photographer’s dream and the perfect opportunity for amazing photographs and video footage. The migration of the animals depend on the rainfall in the different areas and this can cause the movement of the wildebeest and zebra to be earlier or later than indicated.

It is important to keep in mind that the millions of wildebeest and zebra are always somewhere in the Serengeti and Masai Mara. The herds gather when they prepare to move towards the rains and fresh grass. Early in the year the wildebeest give birth to their young and it offers an incredible opportunity to appreciate the sheer numbers when they are spread out over the grass plains in their thousands.



PLEASE NOTE: The above maps indicate the general movement of the herds as observed over the past decades. The migration fluctuates from year to year and is dependant on the rain. Please check with your migration expert to plan your great migration safari and to establish when and where to visit.


The Blue wildebeest can be found in a number of locations including: East and southern Africa (see detailed map below).

Connochaetes gnou – black wildebeest
Connochaetes taurinus – blue wildebeest

Distribution and habitat

Wildebeest inhabit the plains and open woodlands of parts of Africa south of the Sahara as shown above . The black wildebeest is native to the southern most parts of the continent. Its historical range included South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho, but in the latter two countries it was hunted to extinction in the 19th century. It has now been reintroduced to them and also introduced to Namibia where it has become well established. It inhabits open plains, grasslands and Karoo shrublands in both steep mountainous regions and lower undulating hills at altitudes varying between 1,350 and 2,150 m (4,430 and 7,050 ft). In the past, it inhabited the highveld temperate grasslands during the dry winter season and the arid Karoo region during the rains. However, as a result of widespread hunting, it no longer occupies its historical range or makes migrations, and is now largely limited to game farms and protected reserves.

The blue wildebeest is native to eastern and southern Africa. Its range includes Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland and Angola. It is no longer found in Malawi but has been successfully reintroduced into Namibia. Blue wildebeest are mainly found in short grass plains bordering bush-covered acacia savannas, thriving in areas that are neither too wet nor too dry. They can be found in habitats that vary from overgrazed areas with dense bush to open woodland floodplains. The blue wildebeest is a notable feature of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya and the Liuwa Plain National Park in Zambia.

Threats and conservation

Today many wildebeest populations are experiencing rapid declines. Overland migration as a biological process requires large connected landscapes, which are increasingly difficult to maintain, particularly over the long term, when human demands on the landscape compete, as well. The most acute threat comes from migration barriers, such as fences and roads. In one of the more striking examples of the consequences of fence-building on terrestrial migrations, Botswanan authorities placed thousands of kilometres of fences across the Kalahari that prevented wildebeests from reaching watering holes and grazing grounds, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of individuals, reducing the wildebeest population to less than 10% of its previous size. Illegal hunting is a major conservation concern in many areas, along with natural threats posed by main predators (such as lions, leopards, hunting dogs and hyenas). Where it lives alongside the blue wildebeest, the two can hybridise, and this is regarded as a potential threat to the maintenance of the species.

The black wildebeest has been classified as of “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in its Red List of Threatened Species. The populations of this species are on an increase. There are now believed to be more than 18,000 individuals, 7,000 of which are in Namibia, outside its natural range, and where it is farmed. Around 80% of the wildebeest occur in private areas, while the other 20% are confined in protected areas. Its introduction into Namibia has been a success and numbers have increased substantially there from 150 in 1982 to 7,000 in 1992.

The blue wildebeest has also been rated as being of “Least Concern“. The population trend is stable, and their numbers are estimated to be around 1,500,000 – mainly due to the increase of the populations in Serengeti National Park (Tanzania) to 1,300,000. However, the numbers of one of the subspecies, the Eastern white-bearded wildebeest (C. t. albojubatus) have seen a steep decline. Population density ranges from 0.15/sq. km. in Hwange and Etosha National Parks to 35/sq. km. in Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park.



“The long fight to save wild beauty represents democracy at its best. It requires citizens to practice the hardest of virtues–self-restraint. Why cannot I take as many trout as I want from a stream? Why cannot I bring home from the woods a rare wildflower? Because if I do, everybody in this democracy should be able to do the same. My act will be multiplied endlessly. To provide protection for wildlife and wild beauty, everyone has to deny himself proportionately. Special privilege and conservation are ever at odds.” ― Edwin Way Teale, Circle of the Seasons: The Journal of a Naturalist’s Year

Lupita Nyong’o’s mother Dorothy visits Prince George’s County

…and samples the local cuisine.


Lupita Nyong’o’s mother Dorothy Anyang’ Nyong’o with Kevin proprietor of Swahili Village Bar and Restaurant on route 1 Beltsville, Prince George’s County, Maryland.


Earlier this month (March 2014) in Hollywood California, Lupita Nyong’o brought her entire family along including delighted parents Dorothy and Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, who congratulated the 12 Years a Slave star after her victory.