Sunday, December 20, 2009
SAFARI (2): HIPPOMANIA
Normally you don’t even see this much of a hippo. You just see the tips of the ears and snout. Also, normally, you’ll see hippos in family pods of five or more. Clearly, this loner is socially dyslexic. Within minutes, he went from watching us to warning us. Check out the jaw and spray.
Hippos can crush a crocodile in their jaws. Curiously, this explains their co-existence. The hippos don’t mind the crocs, and the crocs... well they’re fairly lazy and disgusting. If they haven’t nabbed something at the water’s edge, they’ll happily lie underwater by the hippos rump and eat, well... Gives a whole new meaning to “Day Old”.
Anyway, we were fairly far back, so we didn’t feel too threatened. This pissed off our friend who decided to impress us with the following:
For more on hippos, the meaning of ‘hippo highways’ and other bush curiosities, check out the last half of Chanda’s Wars, in which Chanda and Nelson, a young tracker, go into the bush to rescue Chanda’s young brother and sister, who’ve been kidnapped by a warlord to become child soldiers.
In the meantime, let’s see a few more of the animals I promised in the last post. Here’s a warthog.
Lions generally avoid people. But when I was in Botswana seven years ago, a lion leapt into our encampment and took down a grazing warthog. It dragged it to the edge of the compound and dispatched it. (BTW, lions tend not to kill by ripping and tearing with their teeth. Instead, they choke their victims with a heavy paw pressed down on the victim’s neck. Check out the jungle in your little kitty cat when it rests its paw over your arm.)
How about something colourful? The yellow horn bill. When it gives birth, the female moults its feathers to make a nest in a tree hole. The male seals the female and chicks inside with a mud covering, leaving only a small hole through which he slips food to feed the brood. When the babies are able to fly, Mom grows back her feathers, pecks away the mud seal, and re-emerges into the world.
As the sun went down, the animals moved toward the river to drink. Here’s a water buck, a cousin of the impala antelope. Not nearly so cute, but much more less plentiful. Luckily for the water buck, it’s not a popular game animal. It has adrenalin glands running all over the place; if it’s panicked by a hunter, the secretions make its meat taste foul.
Dusk brought us to a herd of water buffalo.
But let's leave this safari in daylight, with one of my favourite animals: The giraffe.
Hey, take another bough.
In Chanda’s Wars, Mrs. Tafa makes the case for hunting -- an understandable position from her point of view, though not my own. But what I truly find appalling is that so-called ‘hunters’ can go to private game farms and shoot these magnificent animals while they are tethered to a post. They even ‘hunt’ endangered species like rhino. (I gather a rhino kill can be bought for $20,000 in South Africa, with the horn fetching massive amounts in non-African countries practicing traditional medicine.) Let’s close with another look at what future generations may lose.
BTW, I’ll be doing a short Christmas-in-Elandsdoorn post later this week, then a post on the pandemic here, one on producer Oliver Stolz, then back to the Chanda’s Secrets set, and all all the people and things you never see on the movie screen, but without which movies would never be made. That’ll bring us into the New Year and a whole new batch of stuff.
Oh, and I haven't forgotten about the hyena-scat-and-19th-century-missionary factoid I promised. But I'm a bit tired.Later, I promise.