Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader John Conoboy sent some photos from Africa; his notes are indented:

Here are a few pics from Tanzania.

Giraffes (I think this is a Maasai giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) and African bush elephants (Loxodonta africana), are, of course, very  common to see. It is amazing how close you can get to them, although our guide was very good about keeping far enough away so as not to disturb the animals. It is obvious, once you visit, that it is so easy to get close to these beautiful animals that people who go on trophy hunts, such as the Trump spawn or “restaurant” owner Jimmy John Liautad, do not deserve being called “sportsmen” as there is no sport involved. All you have to do is drive up relatively close to these mostly passive animals and blast away. There is no challenge at all in hunting almost all of the African wildlife including the predators like lions, cheetahs, etc.  The argument that these people help conservation of the animals because they pay big fees for the hunts is bogus. If they really cared about the animals they could just donate the money to help conserve them. The collective noun for a group of giraffes is a tower and for elephants it is a herd (how dull) or, better yet, a memory.


We happened upon a large group of banded mongooses (Mungos mungo) scampering around. Apparently, there is no collective noun for a group of mongooses. We also saw a dwarf mongoose (Helogale parvula), but it did not stick around long enough for pictures.

The black backed  jackal (Canis mesomelas) was not a common sighting and we were lucky to see this guy just hanging out.

Finally, a non-wildlife photo, but part of the safari experience. We visited what was ostensibly a traditional Maasai village. I am not totally sure what to make of this, as it appears that this village exists primarily for the purpose of tourist visits, as many groups of tourists were arriving as we visited. We were told by the travel agent to bring some school supplies to donate to the village school, so we did. We were met by a large group from the village who performed for us and invited us to join in. We threw spears, they showed us how to make a fire, and we visited the school and taught the kids how to do the hokey pokey, and went into one of their houses. We then had the opportunity to buy various locally made jewelry and other items and were asked if we wanted to make any additional donation to the school. I felt a bit uncomfortable about all this, but at the same time the people were so nice to us and it was clear that they have come up with a way to try to make some money from the tourist trade. So good for them; I do not regret buying some souvenirs and donating some money. For years, I always thought that the Maasai people were very tall, so I was amazed to find that they were almost all about my height (5’7″).



  1. Randy schenck
    Posted July 22, 2017 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Very nice pictures and even better commentary.

  2. rickflick
    Posted July 22, 2017 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Thanks for showing us your trip. It looks like a great visit. I’ve been to Africa once(SA) and this brings me back to my own experience.

  3. Debbie Coplan
    Posted July 22, 2017 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Love the photos and they information.
    Thanks for sharing-

  4. Merilee
    Posted July 22, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    I think the Masais’s extraordinarily slender limbs make them look tall.

  5. Steve Adams
    Posted July 22, 2017 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Great photos and commentary. My wife and I went on safari to Tanzania back in 2012. It really was the trip of a lifetime! I had dreamed of going to the Serengeti since I was a boy. I grew up watching Wild Kingdom and the various National Geographic documentaries about East Africa, but I never thought I’d actually get there. Thanks for bringing back some great memories.

    We also had a similar experience to the one you related. On our last day we were taken to a fishing village. We were treated to an ostensibly spontaneous gathering of schoolchildren who sang for us. After their performance we were encouraged to donate to the school. The children were lovely and friendly and we certainly didn’t begrudge them the money. However, our entire visit to the village felt a bit staged and forced, which was entirely opposite of all our other experiences.

    Like you, I think they’re just trying to partake in the tourist trade. It seems fair that not all the money should go to the safari companies.

  6. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted July 22, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Very interesting. Since the village existed as a tourist site, populated at times by locals, could it be that the individuals were not particularly Maasai? It might be similar to other historical tourist sites you can see anywhere, where the participants are basically actors.

    • John Conoboy
      Posted July 22, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      The people were definitely Maasai. It was a genuine village with the addition of many tables full of locally made jewelry and other items. But they are definitely performing for the tourists.

  7. prinzler
    Posted July 22, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Great pics, John. Looks like a great trip.

    Cousin Paul

  8. Mark R.
    Posted July 22, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    African fauna is always a pleasure to view. Thanks for the entertaining photos and commentary. I liked the mongoose’s binomial: Mungos mungo

  9. charitablemafioso
    Posted July 22, 2017 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    I saw mongooses on my trip to southern Africa in 2015, but didn’t know what they were until now. Thank you for solving that little mystery.

    I think like many people who have visited parts of Africa, our group also met members of a local tribe (I think it was in Namibia) who partook of the tourist trade by selling souvenirs. Our guides on the Okavango delta also sang traditional local songs, again for the tourists. It was an odd feeling, like Steve Adams said…a bit forced for the sake of the tourists. But, everybody still has to make a living, so…

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