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Diary of a Safari - Day 7. A Land of Plenty

sunny 27 °C

The Serengeti National Park in northern Tanzania covers nearly six thousand square miles. It is home to millions of animals and has an incredibly diverse eco-system. While much of the park is a vast semi-arid savanna, there are oases and acacia forests. Many animals escape from the midday sun by sheltering under the aptly named umbrella trees that are scattered across parts of the landscape. This is a typical scene...
However, the wide open grasslands are preferred by many herds of prey animals, despite the poor vegetation, as it offers little cover for the predators. These three lionesses were part of a pride of nineteen on the prowl in the long grass as they stalked a herd of zebra...
The Serengeti is just 2 degrees south of the equator so temperatures remain fairly constant throughout the year. However, there are long periods of drought followed by torrential tropical rains. Wildebeest and zebra constantly migrate to take advantage of the new growth when a drought breaks, while resident animals and plants have devised survival strategies to see them through prolonged dry periods...
This giant baobab tree, (known as the upside-down tree because its branches resemble roots), can store up to a hundred thousand litres of water in its sponge-like trunk and can live a thousand years. Thirsty elephants rip off the bark and smash their way into the trunks of baobabs to get water during droughts.

Giraffes are able to withstand droughts because of their ability to eat the lofty leaves of acacia trees. The leaves are protected by long thorns, but the giraffe has evolved a specialised tongue which protects it from the needle like spikes...
Another variety of acacia is known as the umbrella tree because of its shape. Its leaves are the favourite of elephants, but its horizontal branches are great places for leopards to use as lookout points to spot their prey...
The yellow acacias are tall trees that make great perches for birds of prey and scavengers like this maribu stork...
Another creature that uses the acacia tree is the weaver bird. There are numerous varieties of weavers here and the males make elaborate nests out of a thousand or more strands of grass...
Once the nest is complete the male bird uses it to attract a female. If the female thinks it is up to snuff she moves in and quickly produces eggs.

One of the most unusual trees here is the sausage tree...
The sausage-like fruit are about a metre long and weigh upwards of 10lbs. Elephants love the fruit and it is said that it's a bad idea to rest under a sausage tree. If a falling sausage doesn't kill you an elephant will as it stampedes to get the fruit.

Christmas is coming and while we go to great lengths to decorate our trees, the Tanzanians let nature do it for them...
This is a flame tree (a.k.a. The Tanzanian Xmas Tree). It is a member of the pea family and survives here because it is drought resistant.

Now we are on the move again. Our final safari stop will be the world's largest complete volcanic caldera - the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater. See you soon.

Posted by Hawkson 07:14 Archived in Tanzania

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This is all so wondrous that I can’t begin to imagine what it is like actually be there,on the ground. So happy for you both that you get to see all of this with your own eyes. Xo

by Trudy

All gorgeous, can't wait to see your final Safari stop. A bit sad as the safari photos and commentary are so interesting.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Really enjoying your travelogue, both the spectacular photos and your informative comments. Never heard of the sausage tree despite the many National Geographic elephant specials I've watched over the years.

by R and B

I wonder about the language of wild animals - clearly they are able to teach their young how to get water from a baobab tree.

by Janet

Another set of really interesting photos. Stunning flame tree.

by Tom

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