22nd October 2010
At 6am we are driven in an open Landrover into the national park. AH remarks that open vehicles were considered too dangerous in Kenya.
I can see his point. After all, those elephants over there, which we are currently trying to stir, may not be particularly big, but are tall enough to wack us with their trunks. It's little consolation that many are tuskless.
We learn later that all the big elephants have been killed years ago and that the elephants in the park still hold a grudge against people and remember what happened to the previous generation, which makes the wisdom of provoking them even more questionable...
We learn that there are different types of zebras and giraffes.
I must confess that the only thing I remember about zebras are the bachelor herds, which are like „a Roman Catholic order among the animals.“
The national park was first set up to protect one particular type of giraffe. Giraffes are apparently great in pruning trees.
We learn that elephants were seen as „free for all“ as they are seen as destructive feeders. However, our guide Philemon points out that this is our limited human point of view. Yes, elephants may lay waste to acres of trees and the area afterwards looks like a disaster zone, but their actions benefit many other animals. It's only our human intervention that creates long-term imbalance.
We learn about species-specific communication calls (I guess this would include „dating and mating“) and territorial calls, in contrast to the alarm calls that are universal. The homeguard of the bush seem to be the monkeys, especially baboons. So Disney painted quite an accurate picture of animal cooperation.
We learn about the flexibility of the impala which can live anywhere because it is a dual feeder (grass and leaves). By contrast, bukus are only found near water, as they only feed on grass.
The only key animal we don't see are lions, although our guide claims to have spotted them in the distance.
My favourite animal is the zebra. It looks so arty, and yet is perfectly camouflaged. My favourite trees are the baobab trees that look like giant aliens and the sausage trees whose „sausages“ range from a Bavarian white sausage to a salami.
I later learn that the vegetation is still unusually green because of late rains and that the clouds that have accompanied our journey through Zambia are signs of the coming rainy season. (There is also a winter season in Zambia when the temperature can drop to 12 C).