Thursday, October 9, 2008

Elephants and relatives

We continue our journey through Tarangire National Park, still on day one of the safari (only a couple of hours past the entry gate, in fact!). And we come upon two very different looking creatures, who are in fact quite closely related (genetically and evolutionarily, at least): The elephant and the hyrax. I'm hoping I don't need to point out which is which in the above photos.

We saw our first elephants near a riverbed. We had a mediocre view past a herd of zebra (of whom we had a terrific view), but then we drove up onto a bluff overlooking the riverbed, and had a great view of the family of elephants. They were digging around on the side of the river, and sucking up water from the holes.

Later in the day we got to our tent camp (luxury tent camp, really), which was also situated on a rocky bluff, overlooking the forest, and in the distance, a lake. Scurrying around on the rocks, and in the trees, were many of these rock hyrax. They are the size of marmots, or large guinea pigs, and equally skittish. They are quite skilled climbers, though, and it was funny to walk up the trail between our bedroom and the dining hall, and see these small trees (12' tall, maybe?) with several hyrax weighing down the branches.

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