Monday, 6/2. Serengeti National Forest.
We’re on the road by 6:30 a.m., a necessity for animal watching. (They rest at mid-day, then reappear in the late afternoon.) Highlight: A herd of zebras crosses the road to drink from a watering hole, and their endeavor seems fraught with a fear of crocodiles. A small alpha group leads, slowly approaching the water. As soon as danger is sensed, they rush out again. The same approach-and-flight is repeated three or four times in the 20 minutes we observe.
Safari jeeps are everywhere. Godwin stops to speak to the drivers and share information. In a sausage tree (Kigalea Africana) we see the carcass of an animal in the upper branches. Per Godwin, it’s probably a Thomson gazelle that was dragged up the tree by a leopard so lions can’t reach the kill. A baboon family climbs the same tree. Hyenas approach the pond beside it, making a wide arc around us.
With each sighting, the cameras come out and we five stick out heads through the roof of the jeep. Three lions wrapped around an acacia. A dozen hippos lounging in a pond. My favorite is an inseparable pair of giraffes, nuzzling and scratching each other’s necks. At one point they seem a single body with two long, articulate necks.
I like this description from Isak Dinesen: “I had time after time to watch the progression across the plains of the giraffe … as if it were not a herd of animals but a family of rare, long-stemmed, speckled gigantic flowers slowly advancing.”
Tse-tse flies torment us all day: they can bite you through your clothes and their bite hurts. A warthog runs. His tail stands straight up and the fluff at the end of it reminds me of a cheerleader’s pom-pom.
From Godwin’s School of Facts:
- Hippos weight three to four tons and eat 30 to 40 kilos daily. Their rear legs are webbed like a duck’s.
- Elephants weigh five to seven tons and eat 150 to 300 kilos daily.
- 125 different languages are spoken in Tanzania. Swahili is the lingua franca.