After breakfast on Christmas morning and many good wishes for the day, we drove off into the park again. We were hoping to see leopard, lion and rhino. The first animal to cross our path that day, was a giraffe.
The giraffe is the tallest animal in the world. The male stands 12meters tall, while the female measures 10.5 meters. The giraffe is also known for its spots. In fact, the Romans called the giraffe "camelopardalis" meaning "camel marked like a leopard." Like zebra stripes are unique to each zebra (I posted about these here), the giraffe spots are unique to each giraffe. In fact, people who study many giraffes can distinguish between the different giraffes just by looking at their spots. Another unique feature of the giraffe is its unusually long tongue. This pink and black tongue is almost 14cm long and is used to pull leaves and other juicy foliage (the giraffe's food) from trees.
Continuing through the park, near the spot where we'd seen a lion in a tree the previous day, Grant turned off onto a secondary road. We'd hardly been on this road for a hundred meters, when I spotted a lion in the grass beside the road. If you're not looking for this King of the Jungle, you wouldn't know he was there.
African lion in the grass. See middle photo left: the lion is almost invisible in the grass
When I viewed the lion in the tree through my binoculars the previous day, I'd noticed a wound above his left eye. Today this lion sat up and I saw the same wound above the left eye. Perhaps this male has been ousted from the pride by a younger lion.
The lion got up and walked off towards a small tree. (last photo) When he lay down in the shade, we couldn't see him at all. As I said before, lions are very difficult animals to spot!
Then just around the next corner we saw two rhino walking in the grass towards the road.
A pair of Black Rhinoceros in their favourite habitat; the borderland between the grass plains and woodlands in Lake Nakuru National Park
The Black Rhino can be differentiated from the White Rhino by its hooked, pointed upper lip. (See photo above) It feeds on any plantlife including leaves and twigs. The Black Rhino is found in Southern Africa and in conservation areas in Zimbabwe, Namibia and Kenya. Sadly there are only about 3600 animals left in the wild and are listed as severely endangered. Rhino poaching in Africa (particularly South Africa) is active and ongoing. The value of rhino horn has made it enormously profitable to poach these magnficent beasts (most poachers dart the animal and hack the horn off, leaving the animal to suffer once it awakes) and sell it on a thriving black market.
Black rhinos are not prolific breeders. The female is six years old before she mates and produces one calf every second year.
With no natural predator in the wild, the rhino's only enemy is man
We drove down to the lake and spent a fruitful hour viewing the beautiful birds there. On the way back to the lodge, we stopped at a signpost for me to photograph two young baboons allopreening. We also chuckled at the wording of the regulations below.
No sports in the picnic-and campsites?
Back at the lodge we were greeted with this work of art in the open reception area . The birds were already swooping down from the trees and taking bites out of the confectionery
The weavers nesting in the trees at the entrance to the lodge, were dipping their bills into the iced-cookie-house in the reception area
A Tropical bou-bou outside our room
Inside the room a gift awaited us. An edible dish of chocolates, sweets and cookies!
The restaurant was chockablock full of patrons. Not only with resident guests (like us) but families and large groups of people had arrived from Nakuru, Naivasha and further afield to sample the lodge's Christmas fare.
We enjoyed a delicious Christmas lunch and later that afternoon, after a short rest in our room, we drove out to the park for one last visit. We had one more night in the park and then it was time to go home!
To be continued...