DungbeetleThe dung beetle lays 1 or 2 eggs and encloses them in a ball (shown here) it rolls out of animal dung. It then buries the ball about 6 inches underground. If the ball isn’t disturbed, the baby dung beetles will burrow out.

But the bat-eared fox ­ with its large ears ­ can actually hear the baby beetles 6 inches underground, and will dig them up, break open the casing, and eat them. Seems like an awful lot of work for a little bite to eat.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

Impala poop

This is impala poop; You see it everywhere! Grazers (like impala and gazelle) tend to have pellet-like poop.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

Hippo poop

This is hippo poop. Browsers, such as hippos, generally have poop that is big and grassy.

 

 

Our guide explained that hippos tend to spread their poop around—by using their little tails as dispersing propellers—in order to mark their territory. What a cute image!

 

 

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

 

Zebra poopThe grassy poop of a grazer. This is from a zebra.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

WildebeestThis lovely specimen is from a wildebeeste.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

To my mind, this is a scat scientist’s dream: Grant’s gazelle poop on top of zebra poop. Why are they right in the same place? Coincidence?

Did you recognize the zebra poop? Or am I silly to think you care?

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

Thompson's gazelle scatThis is from Thompson’s gazelle; it resembles Grant’s gazelle, but is a little smaller.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

Mystery poopThis is mystery poop; I neglected to write down what it was when I took the photo. (At the time it seemed so obvious; I was sure I’d remember!)

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

Dik Dik scatThese tiny little pellets are from a tiny little antelope ­ called the dik-dik.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

Wildebeest poopOK, now it’s time for the test. ­

Do you recognize this?

It’s wildebeest poop.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

The Equator

August 28, 2002 | Leave a Comment

Equator

Here we are at the equator sign and gift shop.

 

 

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

 

Equator

“Professor Lopez,” an enterprising young Kenyan man, uses a piece of grass floating in a bowl with a hole in the bottom to demonstrate that water drains clockwise in the northern hemisphere and anticlockwise in the southern. “The farther from the equator, the faster it [the grass] twirls.” And he shows us that it doesn’t twirl at all right at the equator. (From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

 

Maasai

August 28, 2002 | Leave a Comment

Maasai  manAt the Sarova Mara camp we met Solomon, who speaks English as well as Swahili and Maa (the language of the Maasai people). Solomon told us a lot about Maasai culture: clan structure and function, doweries, raising and herding cattle, use of herbs.

The Maasai are known for wearing red, but the plaid fabrics are a relatively recent development; they were brought to Africa by the Brits in the 19th century. I think they make the Maasai look like a bunch of very dark Scottsmen.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

Maasai Villagers

August 28, 2002 | Leave a Comment

Maasai menYoung male villagers — wearing traditional Maasai red clothing — have come to greet us, show us around their village, and perform some traditional dances. About 80 people live in this manata, and they’re all one family: brothers, unmarried sisters, cousins, and the women who have married into the family.

Our guides were Dixon and Peter, sons of the chief.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

Maasai Homes

August 28, 2002 | Leave a Comment

Maasai menIn the background are traditional Maasai homes, shaped like loaves of bread. The houses, made of sticks and plaster, last about six years before the termites make them uninhabitable, at which time the whole village moves to another location and rebuilds the compound.

If a man has several wives, he also has several houses; each wife “gets” to build her own home. Young girls learn to build houses from their grandmothers, and practice at it as children.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

Maasai warrior

August 28, 2002 | Leave a Comment

Maasai headdressThis Maasai warrior shows off a marriage headdress made from the mane of a lion.

Boys and girls both undergo the circumcision ceremony when they are about 14 years old. Boys are warriors from ages 14 to 18. At 19 or 20 they cut their hair, get married, and become men.

Girls are generally married when they are 16 to 18 years old. A young man’s first wife is chosen — and paid for — by his parents. If he can afford to buy subsequent wives (the bride price is 10 cows) he gets to choose them himself.

Maasai children

August 28, 2002 | Leave a Comment

Maasai childrenMany of the Maasai children dressed in second-hand clothes imported from Europe. Several wore inexpensive digital watches given to them by tourists.

These kids were barefoot (their compound floor was covered with cow dung), and had flies crawling all over their faces. But the flies here were nowhere near as bad as in rural Australia.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

Maasai mother and childMaasai mother and infant. In addition to caring for children, Maasai women are responsible for cooking; milking cows; fetching water (the women in this village had to walk about 1 km each way to get water from a stream); washing clothes; building and repairing houses; gathering wood and dung for cooking fires; planting, caring for, and harvesting crops (some Maasai now raise corn, wheat and barley); and making beaded jewelry for the family and for sale to tourists.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

Maasai grandfatherA Maasai grandfather entertains two little girls. This photo was taken in front of their house; notice the stick doorway and the “plaster” made of cow dung.

Each house has two rooms: one for the people, and one where the family calves sleep at night. The room for people just is just big enough to fit one bed for the parents, one bed for all the children to share, and a very small cooking area.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

Nairobi

August 28, 2002 | Leave a Comment

Nairobi, KenyaNairobi, a city of two million people, looks pretty much like any other city of two million people — except that here about half of the population lives in slums.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

Archaeologist in KenyaThis is Samuel Kirui Rotich, our archaeologist guide at Kariandusui.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

Kariandusui

August 28, 2002 | Leave a Comment

KariandusuiThe Kariandusui archaeological site in Kenya where Dr. Louis Leakey worked.The tools found here are probably more than half a million years old. There are three kinds: cleavers, hand axes, and stone balls.

Human skeletons are not often found here, because people who died were simply thrown into the bush, where their bones were scattered by animals.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

Poptop van in KenyaAt Lake Nakuru National Park we went on game drives in “pop top” vans that allowed us to get a good look at the wildlife, which included lions, rhinos, eland, Rothschild’s giraffe, impala, cape buffalo, Grant’s gazelle, baboons, waterbuck, a leopard, and many birds.

Over time, we learned to enjoy the “African massage” as we bounced along on very bumpy roads.

Here three baboons investigate us.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

Impala in KenyaHere’s a typical safari scene: a “harem” herd of female and young impala, with one dominant male, who has feeding and mating privileges.

When young male impala begin to grow horns, they are kicked out of the harem to live in their own “bachelor” herd. When they’re older, one may challenge a dominant male for his harem.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

Flamingo in KenyaLake Nakuru is famous for the huge numbers of flamingos — up to two million at a time — that gather here to feed on the blue-green algae which flourish in this alkaline lake (the pH can get as high as 10.5).

There were about half a million here the day I took this photo.

(From a 2002 trip to Kenya.)

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