Sunday, May 10, 2009

More travel photos

At popular request — okay, one loyal reader asked — I am posting a few more photos I've done over the years. I don't pick up the camera often. And many photos are scattered around. But here are some of the animal photos I took in Africa. (Click to enlarge.)

Warthogs look nasty but, for the most part, are the cowards of the bush. Their skinny tails go straight up in the air when they panic, and it doesn't take much to panic them. If you were lion food you'd panic too. On one trip we had one of these ugly sows actually approach us as we were eating breakfast on the veranda. We ended up giving it a piece of toast, which seemed to satisfy it.

Every time I look at this photo I think of an elderly couple sitting on a park bench early in the morning. It's a couple of meerkats, one of my favorite animals.

My banker wanted me to take some photos of him. So we went to a local preserve where they had these lion cubs. Cute, cuddly but just wait. Luckily most lions are afraid of humans. In the bush don't worry about too much about lions, just watch out for them. The place to be afraid is near water: hippos and crocs are the most deadly of the animals to man. If I heard a rustle in the bush I looked to see what it was. If I heard it near water I high tailed it out there without looking. Contrary to popular assumptions hippos are fast and mean. Believe me, one bite and you are finished.

I took this from inside a car. Depending on which preserve you are in hiking is not possible. My favorite preserve was Bonamonzi in Hluhluwe. We rented a tree lodge a few times a year and spent the weekend there. The lodge was in the heart of the preserve and there you could hike with the animals. I well remember a troop of the little fellows below deciding to play on our lodge roof early one morning.

You had to make sure you closed up your lodge otherwise these guys would get in and ransack the place. When I wasn't anxious to travel the distance to Bonamonzi I would instead stay at a game park outside Warmbaths. One friend who went with me was walking back to the lodge in the dark when this rather horrified boy came running out of one the lodges. He had forgotten to close the patio door when he went out and discovered the place filled with about a dozen monkeys having the time of their life. The boy was about 11 and the monkeys had no fear of him and sent him running.

He came up to my friend begging him to help as the monkeys were destroying the place. My friend is 6'2" and played rugby (why, I don't know). When he opened the door and walked in the monkeys evacuated the premises immediately.

In the Cape area the baboons are a real menace. I remember taking a hike up to a lighthouse to look out over the ocean. There was a wide path with bush on both sides. Apparently the baboons would hide in the bush and mug tourists—for food. One women came running down the path screaming because the baboons attacked her to take an ice cream cone she was carrying. But I've read reports that the baboons are stealing rucksacks and purses as well, then carrying them off to search through them for food. If they figure out how to use credit cards, things could get uglier. The baboons are big, mean and violent. Nothing like the cute little guy above.