The rest of the Big 5 – they are Elephants, Rhinos, and Cape Buffalo.
Seeing a herd of these suckers in the wild made me think, “Wow they are big, like really big, and not really that friendly.” Emmanuel told us the elephants are stressed out this time of year (end of the dry season and their food source and water supply is drying up), and of all the animals we saw I think he was most wary of the elephants.
Elephants will hang out in:
- Breeding herds
- Bachelor groups (all younger males called Bulls)
- Solo for older males (he called these the losers)
Their vision is poor but their sense of smell (from their trunk) is amazing. The herds we saw had elephants of many ages including tiny cute baby elephants. The young are very close to their mothers.
In Linyanti, we spent an afternoon in a research bunker (with a man-made watering hole attached). One of the males decided to come up close for a drink. Wow. Heart thumping.
Before the Safari one of things I did in Livingstone was to go to an Elephant Experience which is a preserve for animals including elephants. I am occasionally skeptical on these kinds of places but the animals seemed healthy and were pretty free to roam wherever. We learned about the elephants, rode them for about 45 minutes (all the elephants came), then fed the elephants. It was definitely up close and interesting.
In 1998, the White Rhino was determined extinct in Zambia, the victim of poachers who only wanted the horn. Unfortunately the demand through Asia for the horn remains exceptional as it is used in traditional medicine (although the horn is just keratin like hair and fingernails). Fortunately Zambia started an aggressive anti-poaching and reclamation program for this animal that has been around for between 600,000 and a million years. Our first evening we visited Mosi O Tunya National Park outside Livingstone, Zambia to see this amazing herbivore. We met a dedicated and knowledgeable man who protects the animals in the park from Poachers.
We left the Gomoti River area and passed through a grove to trees to see a very large herd of Cape Buffalo. Emmanuel was clear in directions because if the herd charged it would not be good. These are strong animals with sharp horns and there were a whole lot of them. Notice the males standing guard around the herd – five of them including the dominant bull looking right at us. Birds hang around Buffalo because the buffalo scare up insects.
Next post is African Safari Part 4 – Other Carnivores.