Africa 2011, Part 2.

Let’s look at more herbivores, shall we? How about zebra? By the way, I am now broken because in Africa they don’t say “zee-bra”, they say “zeh-bra” and guess what? Now so do I. I learned a few fun facts about zebra while I was there. For example, if you shave a zebra, it’s skin is all black all over, so a zebra is black with white stripes as opposed to white with black stripes. Also, the reason you won’t see anyone riding one ever is because their spines are very flexible and if you were to sit on them, their spines would snap and kill them. I already knew this, but maybe you didn’t: their hind-kick can kill a lion, so lions have to attack them from the front if they’re going to try to eat them. Additionally, they are very skittish and most people only get pictures of their stellar rumps, so I feel really lucky to get some shots of them not nervously heading off into the underbrush.

Zebra eating as the sun sets.

More zebra eating.

Zebra mommy with baby (awwww).

We saw two profoundly cute types of antelopes. One is the steenbok, or as Cricket calls it, “an impossibly small impala”. I am smitten with them. They are very wee and the males have teeny horns and and I wish to snuggle them forever. Here’s a picture I found on the internet to give you a sense of scale.

That’s full-grown, people! And here are the pictures we took. My favorite thing is the little black smudgy on their nose. It makes it look like they’re wearing little Halloween skeleton masks.

The other precious antelope moment was with a mommy and baby bushbuck. Cricket, The Moomins and I had stopped in a small rest stop during our one of our game-sighting drives, and we went in to pick up some nibbles and water. On the left there was a female bushbuck eating, and one a little hilly area was the wee one looking like a drawing from Disney’s Bambi.

And then they both walked past us and, despite our pleas, refused to let us pet them and give them kisses. Because they’re selfish.

This is also where we had our first encounter with a highly aggressive hornbill. Hornbills are in the toucan family, I believe. This one wanted Cricket’s chutney-flavored chips something fierce. (Chutney-flavored chips are glorious. I’ve always said if you want to learn what is popular food-wise in a country, go to their chip section.) Hornbills get ornery and assertive in an attempt to get at your grubbins. Cricket kept having to make loud noises and wave his arm to keep this hornbill at bay.

After we finished at the rest stop, we all got into the car cautiously so as not to infuriate the bird even further, and after Cricket closed his door we heard a loud PLAPTH! against his side window, which caused all of us to jump. Mr. Hornbill had resorted to flinging his body against the car to get at the delicious snacking contained therein. “Must get… PLATPH!… at…PLAFTH! …chips!!” We left in great haste to prevent the hornbill from doing any damage to himself or to our rental vehicle.

I also saw a whole lot of elephants. I think elephants are the greatest. The craziest thing about them is that they are huge with no camouflaging spots to break up their great grayness, yet they can walk behind a scrawny leafless bush and disappear. Like, your eye can’t pick them out. I took a photo to show what I mean. This guy is a solid four or five tons, he’s fifteen feet away from me, and he’s behind two six-foot-tall crappy bits of scrub. And he’s invisible. The only reason I knew he was there was because he was swinging his trunk around.

If you can’t see him, I made a rough cutout for you.

Amazing, huh? So it’s extra-off-putting when they just materialize out of nowhere right next to you. Here is one hanging out doin’ what he do (which is eating).

Not surprisingly, we saw a whole heck of a lot of elephant babies. This one might have been the cutest. He didn’t know how his trunk worked, but his mom was pulling leaves off a tree, and he wanted to as well. If he was an elementary school student, he would have gotten a “good effort!” sticker. The little guy was trying so hard he didn’t notice the tiny ditch next to him and fell over in it. It was all very precious. The whole time his mom was like, “Doin’ great, kiddo. Momma’s gonna keep defoliating this acacia, but you let me know if anything important happens.”

And here is my sole solitary picture of a duiker. A duiker is another kind of extremely cute little antelope similar to the steenbok. I desperately wanted to see one up close, but alas, it was not meant to be. This is closest I got.

Leave a Reply