Zambia: On Safari
South Luangwa National Park lies near the eastern border of Zambia, and is home to 60 different animal species and more than 400 types of birds. Now that sounds like a bird-lover’s paradise! My fellow travellers and I set off by jeep with our guide early in the morning, and didn’t have to travel far before we came upon impala, buffalo, zebras, and long-horned kudu. Our jeep slowly (and quietly) circled the waterfront, where I could see hippos’s ears and nostrils break the water’s surface. Even though they seem like fat, lazy creatures, hippopotamuses actually kill more people per year than lions, elephants, and crocodiles combined.
After a careful study of the hippos in their watery habitat, we headed to dry ground to begin the walking portion of our safari. I admit, I was somewhat apprehensive to be walking upon the same paths as elephants and lions, but I was excited to see what I would find. Our guides taught me several techniques for tracking different animals: by the size of their footprints, evidence from where they had been feeding, and even from what they left behind!
Perhaps the highlight of my walking safari was coming face to face with a Thornicroft Giraffe. Also known as the Rhodesian Giraffe, the Thornicroft Giraffe is native to eastern Zambia, but because of poaching and habitat loss, only about 1,500 members of this subspecies exist in the wild today. Known for its beautiful, star-shaped pattern and rich coloring, the Thornicroft Giraffe is truly a magnificent creature. However if something is not done to continue to protect this subspecies, future generations may not get to enjoy them as I did in Zambia.
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