Bromances, Grooming Habits, and other Random Observations from the Serengeti

Posted by - September 30, 2013 | Category: Africa, Escapes, Tanzania

Who goes on safari to learn stuff? I mean, it’s all about watching exotic animals hunt each other down in fierce (fierce in the traditional sense, not the Tyra Banks one), grisly, slow-mo death matches isn’t it?

Wait, that may be National Geographic channel.

In an honest-to-goodness, hand-to-God, real-life safari, there is nothing slow-mo, but you learn a heckuva lot more than you would in an hour or two on the telly.

Our guide Timo with Tanzanian safari company Shadows of Africa was The Man when it came to interesting info. Here’s some random info he imparted:

It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white (or black AND white)

Zebras and Widebeests, Tarangire National Park Tanzania 371

Any unlikely pair, zebras and wildebeests are African BFFs. In between LOL’ing and tweeting about the Beibs, zebras and wildebeests are there for each other through the hard times. Since zebras have better eyesight and wildebeests have better hearing, they stick together to warn each other of impending predators. It’s bromance at its finest.

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Being tall has its advantages…

Giraffe in the Serengeti, Tanzania

The giraffe is a national symbol of Tanzania, and as such it cannot be hunted. (It’s also on every piece of paper currency in Tanzania — you may have to look closely, but it’s there.)

And its disadvantages.

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Sadly, there are no giraffes in the Ngorongoro Crater — it’s too steep for them to get down into the actual crater. There are plenty of them elsewhere in the Serengeti though.

Know when to walk away, know when to run.

Cheetah in a tree, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.

The Ngorongoro Crater isn’t home to any cheetahs either. According to our guide Timo, it’s because they are “polite animals.” With one lion and four hyenas per square mile (Ngorongoro Crater is 102 square miles) there’s just too much competition for food, so they gracefully bow out and let the others have at it. 

It’s not just about the fleas (although that is a nice bonus.)

Mother and baby baboons, Tarangire National Park Tanzania 511

If you’ve ever seen baboons picking the fleas off each other and eating them, you know what I’m talking about. Turns out it’s more than just a light snack. It’s called “social grooming” and baboons, among other animals, use it as a means to bond, reinforce social structures, and build relationships. Humans do it too, although usually not with fleas. But if you’ve ever seen your Mom picking your Dad’s zits, now you know why. 

Baboons aren’t the only ones in the animal kingdom that do this of course — zebras get in on the action when they can.

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It ain’t what you got, it’s how you use it.

Warthog in Serengeti, Tanzania

Warthogs kneel to eat. Due to the shape of their snout, their mouths wouldn’t be able to touch the ground otherwise.

Warthog keeling to eat, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

 Some folks believe they are actually just praying for a prettier face. 

No Deadbeat Dads here

Ostrich in the Serengeti, Tanzania

Ostriches share parenting duties. The males take the day shift and the females take the night. Purportedly there’s the added boost to their relationships since they don’t have to see each other that often. 

Note: I was a guest of Shadows of Africa, but they never asked me to provide a positive review or mimic grooming habits of baboons.

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23 comments
  1. Africa is so incredible. We backpacked for 5 weeks through Africa for our honeymoon. Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania and then to Zanzibar. The safari was so amazing and we even were lucky enough to see 3 Cheetahs take down a gazelle right in front of us.

  2. I love the bromance!! And, I love safaris. I’ve been on two in Sri Lanka, and cannot wait to go to Africa to see the big game in their natural habitat. So amazing to see these animals just being animals and not doing any work for tourists!

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