This is the 2nd installment of An African Journey by Yusuf Hashim, a co-owner of PhotoSafari.com.my. Yusuf Hashim has been traveling around the world in a 4×4 for more than 12 years. This is one of his episodes of his travels in Africa. It will give an insight on what to expect when you travel in Africa.
Yusuf is now planning to organize a PhotoSafari for photographers to Africa soon. So stay tuned.
An African Journey (continue)
No book on Africa is complete without the traditional pictures of the wonderful animals of Africa. Here are a few pictures of animals from Africa in my book.
Hippos are reputedly the biggest killer of humans in Africa. They are found in almost every river in Sub Sahara Eastern Africa, making hippo-human encounters unavoidable. They are aggressive and dangerous, and people often get killed by a charging Hippo when they inadvertently get in the way of a Hippo and his water. Hippos are the third largest land animals after the elephant and the White (wide-mouth) Rhino. They eat only grass and despite their huge size and weight of between two and three and a half tons, they can easily outrun a human being. My African friend told me that if you are ever chased by a Hippo, try to run up an embankment. It seems that Hippos don’t have knees, and they simply cannot climb an embankment. Given the high number of human deaths caused by hippos, obviously there aren’t too many convenient embankments available for people to run up on when charged by an angry hippo.
This is a Meerkat or Mongoose, a small animal weighing on average only about 800 grams. They are found usually in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. They eat mostly insects, but they also eat lizards, scorpions, spiders, plants, eggs, small mammals, millipedes, and on Nat Geo, you often see Meerkats catching and eating poisonous snakes. Meerkats demonstrate fascinating altruistic behaviour within their colonies. One or more meerkats will stand as a sentry while others are foraging or playing. The sentry will warn the others of approaching dangers by giving a warning bark, and other members of the gang will run and hide in one of the many bolt holes they have spread across their territory.
Nyalas are medium sized antelopes with a dark blackish grey coloured head and body, with whitish grey stripes along their body. Their lower legs are a lighter shade of brown, and they have a fringe of hair along their underside, and a thin crest on their back. They have horns that are different from those of the Kudu below.
I saw this magnificent Greater Kudu buck in some thorn bushes in the Kwazulu Natal region of South Africa. The thing that struck me most about the greater Kudu is its incredible grace and delicacy. When they hold their head up high like this, they rival Lions in regal splendour. Mature males like this big Kudu, have muscular necks and long, spectacular horns with two and a half spirals. Their horns can grow up to 2 meters in length. I have nothing against F1 drivers (except maybe their good looks and exciting lives where globe trotting is a job) but a Kudu’s neck is a little like the necks of Formula One Drivers whose heads look relatively smaller than their necks..
Below is a male impala. Females don’t have horns. Impalas are medium sized African Antelopes. The name impala comes from the Zulu language meaning “gazelle”. Impalas are probably the most numerous wild animals in Africa and there are an estimated two million of them in Africa. They have white underbellies and a characteristic M marking on their rears. M could be for the animal world’s version of MacDonalds perhaps, because impalas are the main prey for predators like leopards, cheetahs, Lions, wild dogs and hyenas.
I shot these Zebras in the Serengeti. In the Maasai language, Serengeti means “endless plain”, a fitting name for this 14, 763 sq. kilometer expanse of grasslands and forests. The Serengeti National Park is the largest in Tanzania and one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in the world. The park lies in a high plateau between the Ngorongoro highlands and the Kenyan border and extends nearly all the way to Lake Victoria in the west. The landscape of the park, with its low vegetation and vast seas of open plains, is ideal for game viewing. There are tens of thousands of Zebras in the Serengeti, making them one of the commonest animals you can see in the Serengeti. Did you know that no two Zebras have the same stripes? They may look similar but each is different. There are three types of Zebras in Africa . The most common and numerous are the Plains Zebras, or Burchell’s Zebras.
A question for you……Is a Zebra white with black stripes, or is it Black with White stripes?
Its not a trivial question, because black or white is in your own mind. Its you that create the black or white boundaries in your own minds. Travel broaden minds, ridding it of bigotry and prejudices that often plague many minds. I believe that wherever we visit another land, we will always return with our minds somehow enriched, expanded, and forever changed by the experience.
This is the Nile crocodile. Although it’s called the Nile Crocodile this species can be found across almost all of East, Central and West African rivers, lakes, marshes, dams, swamps and even in the sea off St Lucia in South Africa. Of course they can also be found in the Nile. I understand that in Madagascar they have even adapted to living in caves. Crocodiles are dangerous because they will attack and eat anything. Their bite force have been measured at 5000 lbs, although the muscles that open their mouths are weak, and a brave man can easily hold a crocodile’s mouth shut with very little force.
There are five main Prides of lions in the Ngorongoro Crater, with each pride numbering between 10 and 20 lions, making a total of between 60 to 100 lions living in the Crater. Each pride fiercely guards its own area. They feed on grazing animals and because of the abundant prey, and the rarity of outside males coming into the crater area, the lions in the crater are fat and big and don’t usually leave the crater. This has caused genetic problems arising from inbreeding. The Ngorongoro Crater is the largest unflooded and unbroken caldera in the world – 20 km in diameter, 610 m deep, and 304 sq. miles in area. A Caldera is the collapsed cone of an ancient volcano. Lake Toba in Sumatra is a Caldera, but it has water because of heavy rainfall in the tropics. The Ngorongoro Crater is dry because of low rainfall in Tanzania. The rich pasture and permanent water of the crater floor supports a large resident population of wildlife of up to 25,000 mainly grazing animals. These include wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, buffalo, eland, and warthog. The swamps and forests support hippos, elephants, waterbuck, reedbuck, bushbucks, baboons and monkeys. The steep inner slopes support rare mountain reedbuck. Jackals and bat eared foxes live in the short grass areas. Predatory animals such as Lion, leopard, cheetah, serval cats and hyenas live off the abundant wildlife. There are about 20 black rhinos in the crater. The alkaline lake in the centre of the crater is Lake Magadi. It is never more than 3 meters deep and during the dry season it shrinks dramatically. It is home to thousands of pink flamingos and when they are spooked and take to the air in their thousands, they are a sight to behold. I remember seeing a spectacular photo of such an event in the US shot by our Birder Mod Troy Lim.
These are White Rhinos in the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Park in South Africa. Despite their names, both the Black and White rhinoceroses are grey. White rhinos are square-lipped, and eat grass. They do not have incisor teeth and instead use their hard lips to crop grass. Black rhinos have a hooked upper lip and they eat leaves and branches. The name White Rhino is probably derived from the Afrikaans/Dutch word “weit”, meaning wide. Over time, wide became mistaken for white.
I have strong feelings about sharks fins and rhinoceros horns. Rhinos are an endangered species because there are people in the East, mostly in China and Hong Kong, who believe their miserable dicks can be helped by consuming powdered Rhinoceros horns. These magnificent animals have been mercilessly hunted and poached for their horns to satisfy a demand that could easily be satiated by alternatives. The reality is that rhinoceros horns are in fact simply keratin, which is a family of fibrous structural proteins, the same structural material making up the outer layer of human skin, and hair and nails. If you believe rhinoceros horns can help your dicks, it’s easier and cheaper to save your own hair and fingernails when you next go for a haircut, or when you next cut your fingernails. Chop your free keratin up into little pieces, mix with wine used to ferment a dead body of the common house lizard, drink the concoction, and go forth and fornicate. If that doesn’t work, that’s proof that keratin does nothing for dicks. Try sildenafil citrate, tadalafil or vardenafil. I guarantee they will be a thousand times more effective. Enjoy your fornicating and say a prayer for the poor endangered rhinoceros. When you see these magnificent animals in their habitat, you cant help but add to your prayer, a hope that the dicks f those who take rhinoceros horns pills, will wither and die a permanent death. And may their owners live long to enjoy their misery. I saw a few Rhinos whose horns have been sawn off by Park management rangers, to save them from poachers.
Stay tune for the 3rd part of this series where Yusuf visits the Ngorongoro Crater