Saturday, July 6, 2013

Pieces of Learning

Heading for the wilderness of Manna Pools with friends Jon and Nisse next week has inspired me to think about the animal tidbits we've learned over our last eleven months on the African continent.  As we prepare for another respite in the bush lands, here are some things you may not know about African wildlife:

-A group of giraffes is called a tower.  Recent travel buddy Abbie was desperate to see a large one on our trip.  No worries; the family all came out to say goodbye just as we were leaving Hwange National Park.

-A group of standing zebras is called a herd or a zeal. A group of moving zebras is referred to as a dazzle.

-A group of vultures is called a wake, venue, committee, cast, meal, vortex, volt, or kettle.

-I was desperate to see one notoriously evasive animal while we were last on safari.  No luck.  The pangolin, so rare that our guide of 20 years experience, Ray, has only ever seen one in his lifetime, did not come out to play.  Do look up this crazy animal if you've never heard of it.  (This is obviously not my picture!)

-Rhinos are one of the most endangered animals in our country, due to loss of habitat and poaching.  To help the population, rhinos in almost all national parks are preemptively de-horned.  This prevents poachers from killing the whole animal for one piece.  Many a fashionable rhino, like these guys we saw in Lake Chivero National Park, is walking around without a horn.

-This is a "boma." (pronounced boe-mah)  This Swahili word refers to an enclosure often used for livestock.  The boma above, located in the Mukuvisi Woodlands, has netted sides that are put down when new wildlife are dropped in via helicopter or delivered by truck.  The boma is used for animals being newly introduced to the woodland, usually as part of conservation efforts.  The (usually drugged) animals need space to awaken safely before acclimating to their new environment.  It's an eyesore in an otherwise beautiful landscape, but serves an important function.