Where the Ruminants Roam

Mambo! Time is limited here in the internet cafe, but I thought I would let you all know about my recent safari experience. We spent the past few days at Tarangire National Park. As part of the ruminants group, I studied ruminant populations in the morning. Ruminants are animals that have more than one stomach compartment and chew their cud (e.g. wildabeast, dik diks, hartabeast, impala, gazelle, etc.). If you haven’t heard of the dik dik, I highly recommend you google image search them because they are among Africa’s most adorable animals–(apologies if any inappropriate images come up in the search.) One of the most amazing experiences on our safari was watching a stampede of about 30-40 cape buffalo while we were doing a focal scan to study their behavior. When we first spotted the cape buffalo with our binoculars they were very far away, but after a few minutes we noticed the whole herd become vigilant and look in our direction. Suddenly, they started charging toward us. Although cape buffalo are very large animals, we couldn’t hear their hooves pounding the through the grassland, which made the image of the silent stampede all the more incredible. My fellow students and I got nervous seeing these huge ruminants charging, but Babu Liki, our wonderful and seasoned safari guide assuaged our fears and told us that this was a good thing because they would be easier to study if they got closer to our car. Mind you, Babu Liki is Maasai and probably wouldn’t bat an eye and anything charging him. As the dust clouds behind the cape buffalo began to disappear, they slowed down and eventually stopped to graze. Although we saw no predator in pursuit, we assumed that there was probably a big cat in the vicinity. These often sublime encounters with animals on safari are among the most amazing experiences I have had so far this semester, but they also remind us of the safety (and vulnerability) of our safari cars and our tents when we camp in the bush. Don’t worry mom and dad; I’ll be fine. Tomorrow is the first day of what will be a bittersweet last week with my family in Bangata and then we head to Mazumbai rainforest. Salama (peace) to all!

Note: Since comments are disabled on this blog, I invite anyone who has any questions or comments to send me an email at pmembrino@pugetsound.edu. Please keep in mind that I can only access internet at internet cafes, but I will try to respond within a week or two.

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