The Faces of Africa

As I looked through our pictures it occurred to me that it would be nice to offer a close up of the various faces of the animals we saw.  I hope this jumble of pictures are as attractive to you as they were to Jackie and me.  There's no particular order or sequence.  We simply went through the pictures and grabbed the ones we liked.

HOWEVER, prior to going on this trip I had read the passage below in our Tanzania Guide book.  Consequently I was curious as to just what we would find as we looked for wild animals.   The longer we were on safari, the more I agreed with the author - whether Tanzania or Kenya, or even Ngorongoro, although it was the only place that could be described as small and confined, but about these stops not being a "bloody zoo."   I firmly believe these animals, while easily called "habituated", were far, very far from being "tame".   These were wild animals, in their native environment, paying little or no attention to we humans - as long as we stayed in the van.  The moment we were to step out, their normal environment would be challenged, and possibly we would see exactly how tame they actually were.  Recall, we were never allowed to jump out of the vehicle, we were always escorted to our cabins in the evening, warned to never walk about at night, and we were even protected by rifle carrying escorts while walking in the bush.  

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A regular criticism of the Ngorongoro Crater, one that in my opinion is desperately misguided, is that it is “'like a zoo”. .Aside from being yawningly unoriginal - I must hear this phrase two dozen times in the course of researching any given edition of this book - this allegation is-as facile as it is nonsensical. The wildlife in the crater is not caged, nor is it artificially fed, surely the defining qualities of a zoo, but is instead free to come and go as it pleases.  Yes, the crater's animals are generally very relaxed around vehicles, but that doesn't make them tame, merely habituated - no different, really to the mountain gorillas of Rwanda or the chimps at Mahale.


The point that many visitors to Ngorongoro miss is that, for all the elitism attached to Africa's more remote game reserves, it is only in places where the wildlife is almost totally habituated that casual visitors can watch the animals behave much as they would were no human observers present. And, trust me; this is an infinitely more satisfying experience than traveling through a reserve where the wildlife is so skittish that most sightings amount to little more than a rump disappearing into the bush. 

I suspect that the notion of Ngorongoro as a glorified zoo stems from something else entirely. This is the high volume of tourist traffic, which admittedly robs the crater floor of some of its atmosphere, and has some potential to cause environmental degradation, but is of questionable impact on the animals.  On the contrary, the wildlife of Ngorongoro is apparently far less affected by the presence of vehicles than, say, the elephants and giraffes in the Selous, which regularly display clear signs of distress at the approach of a vehicle.  The problem, basically, is that the high volume of other tourists in the relatively small and open confines of the crater jars against our sense of aesthetics - especially when game spotting entails looking for a group of vehicles clustered together in the distance rather than looking for an actual animal! 


Personally, I feel that the scenery and abundance of animals more than makes up for the mild congestion, but if crowds put you off, then there are other places to visit in Tanzania. Instead of adding to the tourist traffic, then moaning about it, why not give the crater a miss? Or, better still, make the effort to be in the crater first thing in the morning when, for a brief hour or two before the post-breakfast crowds descend, it really does live up to every expectation of untrammeled beauty.

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 So finally, no words, just images.


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Correct!  Some of those shots were less than perfect.  As we went along, some of these animals simply would not cooperate; they just would not pose.  Pam and I started calling the following pictures "Butt Shots".   We got more of them than we would like, butt we'd like to share some of them.

Well, there's a few that are betwixt and between - half face and half butt.  

After those - nothing but butt shots. 



Butts Galore




















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