Thursday, June 10

Steve: This morning was our last occasion for wildlife viewing in the Tarangire National Park, and it turned into a wonderful opportunity for us to spend time watching and learning about the behaviors of the large number of elephants that live here. We focused our drive today in the northwest section of the park, an area where we also found many animals that we had seen earlier in the Serengeti and Ngorongo, but not here. These included waterbuck (the common variety, versus the defassa waterbuck that we saw in the Serengeti) and buffalo, plus a large number of impalas, zebras, giraffes, and ostriches. But today the highlight was definitely the elephants.

We saw several elephant family groups today in a variety of situations. Some were lazily grazing on hills or by the road, many were drinking by the water, and others were traveling either to or from the river. For those that were moving, we again benefited from Nassibu's wonderful ability to put us in exactly the right spot so that the elephants crossed right in front of our Land Rover.

One of our more memorable encounters found us right in the middle of 32 elephants, all engaged in a variety of activities. There were new mothers nursing and carefully guarding their babies, young bulls engaged in "elephant wrestling", large bulls grazing by themselves and juveniles playfully running together. This was our first opportunity to really watch a large group interacting with each other, and this gave us a much better sense of the social characteristics of the elephants. Even in a short period of time, we could see that the elephants have distinct personalities. We sat and quietly watched this group for more than 30 minutes, most of the time surrounded on all sides by elephants - we had to keep looking all around so that we didn't miss anything.

Another experience will surely be something we won't soon forget. We arrived at a point on the road where a large family of elephants was getting ready to cross and head to the river for a drink. Three other jeeps were already parked there, and we stopped before them hoping that we'd be able to get a view of the crossing. For some reason, the elephants started heading directly our way, crossing directly behind our Land Rover. The elephants were getting very close, so I started taking a movie (since we already have several pictures of elephant crossings). Suddenly, a large female who was escorting her baby briskly approached our Land Rover, looked straight at us, raised her trunk and trumpeted loudly. Needless to say, this caught us all totally by surprise, and for a moment it looked like she was going to charge into us. Fortunately, she was just issuing us a very stern warning, and she abruptly turned and escorted her baby across the road behind us. Just for good measure, another elephant (this one at a greater distance) stared us down and also trumpeted at us. When it was all over, it took several minutes for our heartbeats to return to normal. Enough excitement for a day!

One other noteworthy sighting today was a large herd of giraffes, 14 in all, running across an open plain. We had never seen so many giraffes together like that, and it was great to see them running. The giraffes walk with both legs on one side moving together, and this creates a particularly unusual effect when they run.



We returned to the Tarangire Safari Lodge, somewhat sad in realizing that this had been our last opportunity to view wildlife with Nassibu. Nassibu has become very special to us, and we are extremely thankful for all the wonderful experiences that he has made possible. We are certain that we would never had so many wonderful encounters with wildlife if it weren't for Nassibu's amazing intuition and abilities.

This afternoon we returned to Arusha and checked back into the Kigongoni Lodge, where our adventure in Tanzania began three weeks ago. Tomorrow we have a long day of travel, with three flights that will eventually get us to Cape Town, South Africa. It's hard to believe that this we be the last stop of our entire adventure.















Animals seen today:

Common Waterbuck
Slender Mongoose
Dwarf Mongoose
Ground Squirrel

New birds seen today:

Saddle Billed Stork
Magpie Shrik
Yellow Lovebird
Martial Eagle













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