My Travel Blog

Oh, Just Another Safari Animal

I have to admit that after just five days of game drives we were starting to become a little jaded.  We had seen so many animals. The typical encounter with the more common animals just wasn’t as exciting.  Now we were looking for those special experiences. When we arrived at our first safari camp and saw the zebras just grazing it was electrifying.  After a while seeing zebras were no longer quite so exhilarating, though still just as beautiful. Impala are the McDonalds of Africa.  They are everywhere and an easy meal. They also have what looks like an “M” on their butt. Leechwe were also relatively common along with warthogs and giraffes. Even elephants were becoming everyday, though as I have already said they were my favorite animals especially if there was a herd.

Note the shadow stripe in between the black stripes.

Note the shadow stripe in between the black stripes.

One of many Giraffes.

A face only a mother could love. Note the wart under the eye thus the name.

You would think that an animal as big as a giraffe or elephant would be easy to spot in the sparse Kalahari desert brush. When you are in the jeeps, even though you have a trained guide, you’re constantly looking for wildlife.  I can’t count how many times we would be driving along and pass by an elephant or a giraffe, and the only reason I saw it was because the guide pointed it out. You would think that an animal as large as a giraffe with its variegated coat would be easy to spot, but they’re not.  All of the animals blend in with the surrounding vegetation.

Note how the elephants coloring is almost identical to the tree.

The lion is the same color as the dried grass.

A beautiful male Kudu.

A young male elephant kicking up some dust to go along with his attitude.

No problem spotting a tree full of bee eaters.

Fires across the border in Namibia.

Our group of seventeen always had three jeeps.  Each jeep had three rows of seats, so nobody had to sit in the middle seat, and that’s important.  It was bad enough having to shoot over Lisa’s shoulder if the action was on her side of the jeep.  It would have been impossible had there been another person in the middle seat. All of the jeeps had radios.  The guides were constantly talking to one another. It was not uncommon for our guide to get a call from one of his associates who had found a lion or leopard. One day we got a call that a pride of lions had killed a cape buffalo. We turned around and off we went bouncing down the dirt road to find the lions.  It didn’t take long. As soon as we arrived the other jeep backed off so we could get a closer look.  The lions were so bloated and full it was almost funny.  They looked like they were in pain from eating so much. We were told that a lion could eat up to 50 KG of meat at one sitting.  That’s 110 pounds. It reminded me of that old Alka-Seltzer commercial where the guy kept repeating, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”  At least this time the lions did eat the whole thing, and it was a buffalo.

I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.

I heard that MGM was looking for a new lion.


Most animals have an order of primacy within their group especially a pride of lions. The more dominant the animal the more he gets to eat.  When we came upon the lion pride one lion was still picking at what was left of the buffalo carcass. This lion obviously had the lowest standing in the pride, and only got to eat what was left over.  Mother nature is a tough taskmaster especially for the weak.  We saw a number of lion prides where the big males looked strong and healthy, and the cubs were emaciated. The females were typically in between even though they do most of the hunting while the big males just lay around. Lisa’s noted, “So what else is new?”

-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave”  and “When Stones Speak”– 
Chuck Palmer Adventure novels


About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.