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Marie Knock
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Marie Knock

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It's world elephant day today, here I recall my first encounter with a wild elephant...

For many, our relationship with these vulnerable giants begins as a child. Whether it's a fleeting glimpse of an elephant at a zoo, or an introduction to the species though nature documentaries, it's hard not to be mesmerised by these giants of the African Savannah. But nothing, yet nothing compares to your first sighting of an elephant in the wild. It's an experience guaranteed to catapult you back to childhood, to an age when adults towered

over you and elephants were the largest giants to roam the planet. A time when you perceived elephants to be so large that you'd have to crane your neck to glimpse the sky above their bulk.

So dominant, so overwhelming. You'll struggle to take a breath the first time a wild elephant walks by. Rooted to the spot you'll want to reach out, overwhelmed yet unafraid of the magnamity that is this wild beast. You'll notice details you never have before. The long, seductive eyelashes, slowly fluttering to protect the tiniest of eyes. The whiskers protruding from the mouth, drawing further attention to the stature and age of the matriarch. The minimalist tail, naked but for a few tatty end hairs which the young cling onto.

As the elephant ambles by, you'll notice the plodding nature of the giant feet and your attention will be drawn to the footprints left behind in the sand, their size somewhat magnified as the youngest of the herd gingerly follow in the elders' footsteps. It's almost hard to spot the smallest among the herd. So protective, so loving, the elder females will encourage the young to walk in the centre, ever mindful of potential dangers yet seemingly oblivious to the risks of such small and fragile frames underfoot. Morphing between giddy with excitement and shy and retiring, each elephant calf will transform before your very eyes as they gain confidence with each step and they explore new landscapes.

The trust that these young have in their elders is evidence in their body language, their cries and their gazes. Reaching up to the sky with what little strength and trunk control they have, the youngest fondly caress the trunk and mouth of stooping elders. With delightful squeals and a skip underfoot, they exhibit a freedom and a soul that's seemingly untouched and unrivalled by humans.

This is how an elephant's life should start.

Extract from the TarajiBlue book, Vulnerable Giants. http://www.tarajiblue.com/books/
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We dedicate this week's 'Close Encounter' post to NASA's Curiosity (The Mars Rover) who landed successfully yesterday morning circa 6:31am...may it roam, explore and inspire us all in the same way these brave astronauts on NASA's last ever night shuttle launched inspired us.... 

http://www.tarajiblue.com/2012/08/close-encounters-with-another-world/
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Looking forward to the men's 100m sprint tonight?

Whilst we wait, check out these cheetahs running up to 62mph in three seconds!! Lets hope they're not on the starting line against our country's athletes.
Cheetahs are incredible athletes. They achieve by far the fastest land speed of any living animal—between 112 and 120 km/h (70 and 75 mph) in short bursts covering distances up to 500 m (1,600 ft),. T...
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This one's for #reptilemonday  and macro monday,  #macromonday   curated by +Kelli Seeger Kim +Kerry Murphy +Jennifer Eden 

I have called it 'Boo'. It's a tiny wee lizard who came to visit us in France last year. I spent a lot of time around him and he eventually became a little more accustomed to my presence and allowed me to take a macro shot of him

#lizard   #wildlifewednesday   #wildlife   #reptilethursday   #reptile  
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If you are interested in reducing the spread of cancer in the UK this link might be for you... The Government is considering making cigarette packs less attractive to children by stripping packs of their glitzy style and branding. Watch the video to see why this is an opportunity we can’t afford to miss.

Plain packaging means removing all branding from cigarette packs, so that all packs, from all tobacco brands, will look the same.

Plain packs won’t stop everyone from smoking, but they will give millions of kids one less reason to start.

But it’ll only happen if you make it happen. Please show your support while the Government is listening by signing the petition.

This campaign is about smokers and non-smokers, coming together to protect the next generation from taking up the habit in the first place.

If you want to join in and support this very worthy cause please sign the petition today. 
#cancerresearch   #stopsmoking   #stopsmokingmonday  
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Marie Knock

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Hi all, I have been doing a bit of admin and have merged my google accounts. I am no longer active in google plus on this account but I am now operating at https://plus.google.com/u/0/109753865843215863550/posts

If you have previously circled me, the transition will take into account my new profile....this post is for anyone new who is just viewing this post / account.
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I have changed the Africantuesday Top 5 circle to show your new account. Will be active only with next update sent out.
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Fuelled by caffeine and excitement we were always up and out early on our  holiday in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. On this special day we'd headed out towards the Auob riverbed seeking big cats.  We'd barely been out and about an hour when we stopped dead in our tracks having spotted the unmistakable silhouette of two cheetahs high on the riverbank. Cast into shadow by the rising sun, the cheetahs were clearly on the prowl. Feeling lucky we decided there and then to take a gamble and we drove off in the direction the cheetahs were heading to find the closest herd of animals in the hope that the cheetahs would join us for breakfast later. We cracked open the Thermos and enjoyed strong coffee and rusks surrounded by a herd of wildebeest and our patience paid off - an hour later we saw two shadows on the top of the riverbank but we barely had time to register their presence before they took off at speed toward the herd, causing utter chaos and panic both inside our car and out. We scrambled for our cameras and threw ourselves towards our open windows to capture the moment. After a few seconds of chaos the cheetah locked onto one wildebeest and started to drive him away from the herd and straight towards us. Heart pounding, I took my eye away from the lens to see the cheetah running toward us at full speed and we realised she was not going to deter her path. Ali swore, I screamed and the wildebeest roared...the car filled with dust from the chase and for a second we could see nothing - we could only hear the panting of the cheetah by our side as she captured and suffocated the wildebeest right next to us. Absolutely incredible!

#africantuesday  +African Tuesday curated by +Morkel Erasmus and +Johan Swanepoel 
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Thanks +Carl Stovell
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It's world elephant day today, here I recall my first encounter with a wild elephant...

For many, our relationship with these vulnerable giants begins as a child. Whether it's a fleeting glimpse of an elephant at a zoo, or an introduction to the species though nature documentaries, it's hard not to be mesmerised by these giants of the African Savannah. But nothing, yet nothing compares to your first sighting of an elephant in the wild. It's an experience guaranteed to catapult you back to childhood, to an age when adults towered

over you and elephants were the largest giants to roam the planet. A time when you perceived elephants to be so large that you'd have to crane your neck to glimpse the sky above their bulk.

So dominant, so overwhelming. You'll struggle to take a breath the first time a wild elephant walks by. Rooted to the spot you'll want to reach out, overwhelmed yet unafraid of the magnamity that is this wild beast. You'll notice details you never have before. The long, seductive eyelashes, slowly fluttering to protect the tiniest of eyes. The whiskers protruding from the mouth, drawing further attention to the stature and age of the matriarch. The minimalist tail, naked but for a few tatty end hairs which the young cling onto.

As the elephant ambles by, you'll notice the plodding nature of the giant feet and your attention will be drawn to the footprints left behind in the sand, their size somewhat magnified as the youngest of the herd gingerly follow in the elders' footsteps. It's almost hard to spot the smallest among the herd. So protective, so loving, the elder females will encourage the young to walk in the centre, ever mindful of potential dangers yet seemingly oblivious to the risks of such small and fragile frames underfoot. Morphing between giddy with excitement and shy and retiring, each elephant calf will transform before your very eyes as they gain confidence with each step and they explore new landscapes.

The trust that these young have in their elders is evidence in their body language, their cries and their gazes. Reaching up to the sky with what little strength and trunk control they have, the youngest fondly caress the trunk and mouth of stooping elders. With delightful squeals and a skip underfoot, they exhibit a freedom and a soul that's seemingly untouched and unrivalled by humans.

This is how an elephant's life should start.

Extract from the TarajiBlue book, Vulnerable Giants. http://www.tarajiblue.com/books/
#worldelephantday   #elephantwednesday   #elephantfriday   #elephant   #africantuesday  
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This is a re-share of a previus blog post, but it is a memory so precious to me and fits perfectly with the TarajiBlue theme of ‘Close Encounter’s…

I love nothing more than encountering new wildlife when on holidays, and my ultimate favourite has to been the Floridian manatee…

My first encounter with a manatee was during a trip to SeaWorld, Florida when much younger. My family and I immediately fell in love with these giant gentle beasts of the rivers. I recall standing in a circular underground theatre in SeaWorld, watching a film narrated by a wee girl who had spotted a strange animal in the water. Her father explained it was a manatee and invited us all to walk through to doors at the back of the room to meet one for ourselves. There we entered an underground aquarium and behind a 20 foot high glass wall a manatee ‘hung’ in the water, flipper bent and its face scarred from a collision with a outboard motor. I immediately fell in love with the animal and was enraptured by its gentle gaze, its comforting presence and its vulnerability. I was rooted to the spot for an hour, refusing to be moved by tour groups, parents or officials. There and then, with tears in my eyes, I named it my most favourite animal and vouched never to forget it as it rotated slowly, round and round in the water, powered by the one working flipper it had. That’s when my manatee obsession started.
You can only imagine, therefore, how ecstatic I was when, 20 years or so later, I had the opportunity to swim with manatees in the wild for my 30th birthday. It was a dream come true and I struggled to keep my emotions in check both during the experience and in the build up to it.

Read on @ TarjiBlue
#wildlifewednesday  
#wildlifephotography   #manatee   #underwater   #underwaterphotography   #underwaterthursday   #closeencounters  
This is a re-share of a previus blog post, but it is a memory so precious to me and fits perfectly with the theme of 'Close Encounter's... I love nothing more than encountering new wildlife when on h...
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I wouldn't want to put anyone off their dinner by sharing this picture of this guy having his :) 

(This was the aftermath of the Great Migration which we witnessed in Kenya a few years back. This croc is enjoying munching on a wildbeest after catching and drowning it, before twisting it to shreds.)
#crocodile   #wildlifewednesday   #wildlifephotography   #wildlife  
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Well at least he had no interest in you whilst he was dining +Marie Knock 
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The ‘Close Encounters’ theme currently running on Taraji Blue’s facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/tarajiblue)  (and shared here) is not about displaying our perfect and favourite photos – it’s about giving you glimpse into our travels, the things we have seen and the encounters we have had with people and Mother Nature. It’s about sharing a moment in time which changed our perspective on the world or humbled us to realise what a precious planet we inhabit.

This photo shared today is a prime example of this… it was taken in Danko Harbour, Antarctica on New Year’s Day 2007.  It’s by no means a great photo – but it captures a moment in time that is so, so precious to me. ……

We’d all celebrated a little but too much the night before and I was among the many who were feeling a little delicate the morning after. After a bouncy zodiac ride into the harbour (!!) some decided to sleep on the ‘beach’ whilst the rest of us set off to hike up the hill. I very quickly fell back, taking the opportunity to collapse in the cold snow and recover. Lying on my own in the warm sun and cold snow I closed my eyes for a moment. I was awoken by the pitter patter of penguin feet – a Gentoo penguin was starting the long walk up the hill toward me. I sat up very slowly and watched him struggle to walk up the slippery slope – He was on a definite course towards me and it must have taken him 15-20 minutes to reach me.

Upon arriving at my left hand side he proceeded to arch around me onto the flat, rock covered ledge upon which I had been propping myself. He then proceeded to collect stones and build a nest around me, proudly taking his time to pick the best stones and build them up. I daren’t move. I had seen similar behaviour on tv and knew that this was very symbolic – he was building a nest for me! I dared not breathe or move a muscle…all I could hear was the delicate pitter patter of his wet feet on the rocks and the ‘chink’ as he placed the stones by me. Every now and again the silence would be broken by a fellow passenger on the top of the hill who was sobbing with joy at this sight. She’d whisper loudly when she felt I could turn to see and not disturb the penguin and at this point I’d capture a glimpse of him and the nest.

I stayed with the penguin for over an hour until I had to return to the boat. I considered myself betrothed to the Gentoo Penguin at that point in time and had the largest smile across my face.  Upon returning to the ship I sought the expedition staff and shared the experience with them – they’d never heard anything like it. People shared their images of me and the penguin and we chattered into the night.

This was a close encounter of the best kind - truly once in a lifetime.

Additonal images from our trip to Antarctica are available in our Taraji Blue Antarctica photo gallery (http://photo.tarajiblue.com/p407203345)
#arctic   #penguin   #wildlifewednesday   #wildlife   #closeencounters  
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Have her in circles
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Digital Marketing Manager full time, travel, wildlife and macro photographer all other times
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Amateur wildlife photographer fuelled by wanderlust and a desire to see the world. C-founder of Taraji Blue, our photography, website & video production label. http://www.tarajiblue.com
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Amateur wildlife photographer fuelled by wanderlust and a desire to see the world. C-founder of Taraji Blue, our photography, website & video production label.
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TarajiBlue