Saturday, August 09, 2008

More animals

A parade of wildebeests observes our caravan with some suspicion.

When rains come to the Masai Mara, the zebras and wildebeests migrate with gazelles, impalas, etc., northward into Kenya. Zebras travel in herds but the wildebeests tend to form long trains. Sometimes you can't see the beginning or the end of the line. Wildebeests look to me like they were put together by a committee. When they run, it is a loping gait, so you see horns and heads bobbing up and down through the line. Because these herbivores migrate, the carnivores follow them.

Gazelles are slim and swift. We didn't see many of them this time, but I think our driver was looking for the more dramatic animals for us to see.

Our driver took us to a bend in the river where hippos congregate. Here is Cat standing near our Masai guide with hippos in the background.

Unfortunately, the hippos were not particularly interested in putting on a display. They submerged for about a minute before surfacing with a blast from their nostrils. Here is one that yawned for us--facing the opposite direction, of course. Every evening the hippos clamber up the river banks to graze in the savanna. Typically each animal will tuck away 100 pounds of grass a night. So the river is where they catch up on sleep. This is the safest time of day to observe them because they can be vicious when coming out of the water. Maybe it's because they are hungry.

These zebras are carrying along some birds that remove the lice and other pests from their backs. The birds are yellow-billed oxpeckers. Yeah. Zebras when threatened will gather and mill around. The stripes help them confuse the predator by making it difficult to distinguish one individual. We saw a number of foals whose coloring tended to be reddish brown rather than black. Note that no two zebras have identical markings. You did note that, didn't you?

You might think that lions and leopards were most dangerous to humans, but it is the cape buffalo which can be most threatening. They just don't think twice about attacking.

While the others in our group looked for big animals, I was fascinated with the birds. The martial eagle is Africa's largest. This one is probably a female, exhibiting more of a brown color than the males. We saw several of these perched on treetops. I did see a couple in the air, but they were far away. This bird has a wingspan of about 6 feet and can take down an impala.

Here is an eland, the largest antelope in Africa. We only saw one of these on this trip.

It was very nice to come across this group of lionesses and their cubs. We watched them nap for a while. One of the cubs (the one in the center) played with a stick, but could not arouse the interest of any playmates. But he entertained us.


annie said...

Are you sure no two zebras have the same markings? LOL

If I had horns like that buffalo, I might not think twice about attacking either!

Was it really hot there, or bearably hot?

little david said...

Actually, annie, the weather was about perfect. There were light clouds and a nice breeze both days. My face got sunburned a bit because I neglected to apply lotion. It is winter in Kenya, but the Mara is near enough to the equator that it remains temperate all year.

SpookyRach said...

A Chevy impala?

The lions look verrrry cool. Naps are good!

little david said...

Well, maybe not a Chevy Impala, but probably a Corvette. Just pick it up and fly off with it.