dung beetles

the cats are impressive predators, but if you want to see some real mano-a-mano combat, you won’t do better than the lowly dung beetle. dung beetles feed on dung, and they play with their food by rolling it into balls and pushing it into tunnels that they’ve built. brooding pairs also lay their eggs in the balls of dung as protection; the dung then serves as a food source for the beetle larvae. according to wikipedia, a male dung beetle can roll up to 10 times its own weight in dung; as an interesting side note, dung beetles are the…

cats

the cats of the serengeti: within an hour of arriving in the serengeti, our guide took us to a set of rocks where the lionesses hung out, and over the course of our stay we went back again and again to see what the cats were doing. we also came across lions as we followed the wildebeest: the lions go where the food is. sometimes, it helped to follow other vehicles.  we found four cheetah cubs when we pulled up alongside one carload of safari-goers; and when our scout heard from a passing driver that a leopard had killed a…

zebras

as you can see in the last post, the wildebeest are often accompanied by zebras; and if i’d been on this safari while i was in high school, i’d have majored in zoology at college and studied them. in addition to looking really fabulous – according to wikipedia, it really is white stripes and bellies on a black coat – they are remarkably social animals.  they move in herds (“harems”, usually one stallion and 5-6 mares) by themselves, but they also accompany other foragers on their travels.  we frequently saw lines of wildebeest plodding across the plain with a few…

wildebeest on the serengeti

the serengeti ecosystem, in the north of tanzania and the southwest of kenya, stretches over some 12,000 square miles. the serengeti is the home of the maasai, and the name itself comes from the maasai word “serengit,” which means “endless plain.” apart from a few rocky outcroppings, a few forests, and the rare hill, the name describes the area pretty well: unlike ngorongoro crater, there is almost nothing to stop you from looking miles into any direction … … that is, nothing except wildebeest. january is prime wildebeest migrating season, and the plains were full of them. by one estimate, 1.2…