Saturday, September 08, 2012

Tanzania - Wildebeests

I came to appreciate the wildebeests.  They have a calm, solid presence and this soft call they frequently make to keep everyone in touch.  They are a type of large antelope, with a grandfatherly beard and expression, even the younger ones.  Collectively, the ones on the edge of the herd would stop and turn their faces to keep both eyes on us.

Tarangire National Park. 

The lookout - It was very typical to see self-appointed guard wildebeest standing on alert on top of a termite mound, rock or other high place, while the others moved about, grazed or rested.  

The wildebeest herds migrate great distances, and yet it isn't a leader or social structure that makes sure they get there.   "Any individual can start walking and tens of thousands might follow...If a lion or a crocodile eats the very temporary leader, the rest barely notice, the migration continues..." 

They will all hold up on one side of the river, even for days, until one is willing to take the plunge.   Then everyone follows.  Our guide said, "Well, if you could be eaten by a crocodile, you might pause before jumping in too."

Ngorongoro Crater - It's the world's largest intact volcanic caldera and the 8th Wonder of the World. There was a wildebeests line marching from place to place that day.

The Serengeti.   We didn't see the largest groups sometimes seen moving together, but we saw plenty. 

See the mounds in the shadow below?   There had been a lion laying by one, with wildebeests and zebras nearby.  He stood up to move toward the trees and we watched all the wildebeests and zebras cautiously move away.   In the Serengeti, we quickly learned those clumps are favored by lions, cheetahs and leopards.   I kept an eye on the clump next to our tent.

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