While I was in Tanzania and Kenya I saw so many breathtaking sights, but one of the highlights of the trip for me was the incredible wildlife. Even just around camp we discovered some amazing creatures, but a day on safari in Tarangire National Park took it to another level!
Our guide for the day was really awesome; his name was Ben and he knew so much about everything we saw. There was another boy in my group who shared my interest for birds so it became a bit of a joke that we were calling for the truck to stop every few minutes for them, and nobody else was that bothered about them…
This blog post however will focus on mammals.
Some of the first creatures we saw on the day were mongooses – there were stripy-backed mongoose running around near the entrance and further along some dwarf mongoose perched on a mound of earth.
We then saw warthogs – Ben told us that the mongooses often follow the warthogs as the two species have a mutualistic relationship: when the warthogs lie down, the mongooses groom them and remove ticks and parasites which they then eat.
We saw several herds of zebra throughout the day; most of them seemed unphased by the safari trucks but some cantered away and then stood in pairs nose to tail – this is a defensive behaviour. It means that the two zebras have eyes in all directions (there are effectively no blind spots) and they are less vulnerable to attack when standing together with hind hooves at either end. Unfortunately I didn’t actually manage to snap any pictures of this behaviour.
Where we stopped to eat lunch there were a few Vervet monkeys sat on the railings and tables – we were warned to be careful as they had sharp teeth and claws, but our poor team leader had her lunch snatched from her – before she had chance to react the monkey had torn open the box and run off with her sandwiches and banana. Everyone was very wary after that as the monkeys sat in a tree above our heads watching us carefully as we ate.
My personal favourite out of all of the mammals we saw was the elephants. On the safari day in Tanzania we did see some standing together quietly and also watched a group crossing a river, but nothing prepared me for what I was going to observe in Kenya.
On one of our rest days we visited a restaurant by a waterhole and to our amazement six herds of elephants passed through while we were there!
This was a fantastic opportunity for me to actually watch for a decent length of time as previously we had had to move on fairly quickly. It was fascinating to see the elephants enjoying the water and interacting with each other.
One of the elephants went right into the middle of the water hole and actually lay down – I hadn’t realised how dusty the elephants were until this – this particular elephant came out a completely different colour!
There was a huge female elephant (she looked to be one of the oldest there) with a calf following her, and when she walked underneath the platform we were standing on we realised that she was already pregnant again.
When new herds arrived, some of them mingled and appeared to be greeting each other whereas others seemed to have staring matches before one group slowly moved away.
This experience has definitely fuelled my interest for animal behaviour and I hope to travel to Africa again in the future.
On a side note, I have just moved to Manchester where I will be studying for a degree in zoology. This means that the focus of my blog posts may change slightly; there will be a couple more about Africa and then perhaps something slightly different to the usual write-ups – but fear not, it will still revolve around animals!