Two days ago, I came back from a 14 days vacation to the richest continent I’ve ever seen in my life…AFRICA!! It is a land of resources in such abundance that it makes me feel that it can survive alone in this world! Well of course, I didn’t see it all and what I saw was a miniscule of the continent. I visited Kenya, Tanzania & Zanzibar!
I am going to write about all of them but for now, I want to write more about the strange and exotic wild life. Queer animals, their behaviour, and some strange incidences! Hmm…so what should I start with?
Lets see…may be with some “Did you know” questions. Now the answers to all my questions may not really be found on the internet but are a result of a little bit of observation, a little bit of knowledge given to us by our guides and simply an urge to know more about these beautiful wild creatures…
1. Do you know why predators like lions or cheetahs travel in the opposite direction of the wind while hunting?
Guess!! Well we learnt that they often hunt in the opposite direction of the wind so that their scent does not travel far enough for the herbivores to find out that they will be hunted down soon….
2. Did you know why the wildebeest, zebras and gazelles in Africa migrate together?
The wildebeest have a strong sense of smell while the zebras have an excellent vision and gazelles have both is abundance and hence they protect each other from predators. One sees, the other one smells and cries out in a specific way to indicate that its time to run!
3. Did you know the zebras are wiser than the wildebeest?
During migration, while crossing the Mara river, the zebras let the wildebeest cross the rivers before them..you know why? Its because they get eaten by the crocodiles and while the crocodiles are busy chewing their meals, the zebras get a free and hassel free passage through the waters.
4. Did you know that the black rhino is actually grey?
Sighting a black rhino…..woah…you are lucky! Thats what my guide told me!! Anyway as soon as I saw one! I wondered, why is it called a black rhino when it is grey. But well thats that…its grey and much smaller, shyier and timid than the common grey one!
5. Did you know there was a species of monkeys with “Blue Balls”?
I was shocked, so shocked seeing the common monkey…brownish grey, with a velvet black face and an exotic sky blue colour to its balls!!! I almost stared at them…why blue??
6. Do you know why hippos gape?
It is a genuine yawn where the jaws are opened widely but not always! Gaping is also a standard threat display, exposing the obviously large lower canines. Its funny to see them lazying with their open jaws. They indeed have very long lower teeth!
7. Did you know there are albino zebras?
Another very astounding sighting was the albino zebras! Well they are white with grey stripes on them! They are actually not albinos but another breed of our bold striped buddies though not so bold! Yeah…the albino zebra!!
8. Did you know that the hyenas eat everything under the sun but it is not commonly hunted for its meat?
The Hyenas are not only scavengers but they eat anything and everything! They hunt in packs and eat their prey alive starting from the abdomen area! They are the nastiest, ugliest and stinkiest animals. Almost all animals stay away from them unless the hyenas interfere in their business.
9. Did you know that a giraffe sleeps for 5 to 20 minutes in 24 hours?
I loved these animals the moment I saw them. The first herd we saw was in Masai Mara. I was very surprised to see one sitting down and yet seemed so high up in the bushes. I asked my guide whether they actually sleep like this. He told me that they sleep sitting or lying or even standing up and not more than 20 mins. These naps last them for quite sometime.
10. Did you know elephants mourn over their dead and also make graves?
I read this wonderful book once called To the Elephant Graveyard by Tarquin Hall which is a true story of an elephant on rampant human killings which describes the behaviour of the creature. In Africa this time, I actually witnessed how wise and mighty this animal is. Of course, I didn’t see it making graves, definitely! We were narrated a story by some locals in the Aberdares Forest…it goes like this…..The Ark Lodge at Aberdares National Park overlooks a floodlit waterhole. A lot of animals come to drink water and also lick the mineral rich soil around the pond. A few years ago, a rhino and its baby along with a herd of 30-35 elephants came to the waterhole. The mother rhino got threatened by the elephants and attacked one of the baby elephant and as a result got trampled by the herd and died. Even though she didn’t belong to the herd, the elephants went in to the forest and brought a branch each and lay it on her. The locals from the lodge witnessed this disheartening yet an amazing incident. Thus, proving that these mighty creatures, the elephants build graves…..
I am not sure if these little facts are very popular but I think they are incredible. The natural world blends and folds itself so perfectly in to each other that to imagine such wisdom and accuracy among animals is inconvinceible!