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Diary of a Safari - Day 4. The Prey

semi-overcast 26 °C

This post is about the millions of prey animals in the national parks of Tanzania, but we can't resist starting with this handsome creature...
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We saw thirty one lions today along with cheetahs and leopards. There are simply hordes of animals for the predators to choose from, but for the prey there is nothing safer than playing the numbers game. No need to outrun the predators - just keep ahead of the herd. And when it comes to safety in numbers, nothing beats the wildebeest. More than a million of these large herbivores constantly migrate around the Serengeti and the Great Rift Valley as they follow the annual rains through Kenya and Tanzania in search of fresh grazing. One of Africa's most incredible spectacles is the mass migration of wildebeest, but you have to be in exactly the right place at the right time...
Today, as we drove across the Serengeti, (a Maasai word meaning land without end), the entire horizon was blackened by a moving wall that slowly morphed into a fast moving river of wildebeest flanked by zebra outriders...
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The seemingly endless living tsunami was pouring across the road just ahead of us and seemed to be blindly following the herd irrespective of obstacles...
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“How do we get past?” we asked Charles and he said “Hakuma Matata” (meaning 'no problem' in Swahili) and just kept driving. At the very last minute there was a biblical parting of the seas as the tide of fast moving flesh and bones turned back to let us through. To see hundreds of thousands of migrating wildebeest on the run was an exhilarating experience but when we returned the next morning for a second look it was all over. The wildebeest were calmly grazing on the fresh grass. Timing is all...
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Another creature playing the numbers game on the Serengeti is the cape buffalo...
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These huge animals, weighing upwards of a ton and armed with massive horns, make a formidable fortress as they stand shoulder to shoulder. However, size doesn't always ensure safety. Young hippopotamus can be a tasty treat for the many Nile crocodiles here and the fact that their massive parents have powerful jaws and an aggressive disposition doesn't always ensure safety. Even a giant crocodile caught between the jaws of these three ton monsters would have a bad day...
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The numerous giraffes are gentle giants and are usually above the fray...
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However, even giraffes have to come down to earth to sleep and that's when the predators can attack. The giraffe's long legs can deliver a lethal kick to any would be predator. - but only when they are standing and running.
Speed is the preferred method of escape for many of the Serengetti's herbivores. These zebras are fast, they also have good eyesight and their stripes are designed to confuse any would be attacker.
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Perhaps the fastest prey animals are the various antelopes and gazelles. These young impala have an impressive turn of speed when in danger...
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All young animals, even the offspring of predators, are at risk, and tomorrow we will show you some of the many cute babies we've encountered on our safari in the Serengeti.

Posted by Hawkson 08:00 Archived in Tanzania

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Comments

Love to see these wild animals and to learn about how they escape or try to escape the jaws of predators.

by Janet

You seem to be having exceptional good luck. The photos are so good, the experience must be overwhelming. Such an honor to be among these splendid creatures.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Trusting someone to drive you through a herd of wildebeasts is a whole lot riskier a test of trust than the classic falling backwards into a group of friends test!

31 lions is a good title for your memoirs.
Great photos.

by Tom

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