I have returned from my African vacation back to the ugly reality (which seems to be getting uglier every day). In Africa I went to two national parks, South Luangwa in Zambia and Liwonde in Malawi. Both are excellent, each in its own way, and well worth a visit.
I had good photographic equipment with me and took a lot of pictures. Here’s one of a lioness feeding on a buffalo that her pride killed the night before:
There is a lot of meat on a buffalo, enough for a pride of ten lions to feed on for two days. They stuff themselves so full that they only can lie down belly up:
And here’s one of a leopard:
I also learned a new bit of ecological lore (which I’ll use next time I teach my ecology class). It’s well known that elephants are one of the most destructive species (perhaps the most destructive, after humans, of course). It turns out that it’s not just because they are large and require a lot of food, but also because their digestion is extremely inefficient. They consume large quantities of low-nutrition vegetable matter, like this guy eating cattails:
But because they are not ruminants, they manage to digest only 20% of what they swallow. The ground in both South Luangwa and Liwonde is literally covered with elephant dung, and because it is so poorly digested, it provides a great resource for other animals, like this yellow baboon:
He is probably looking for marula seeds like these ones, which we found by picking through a large pile of elephant droppings:
Nice pics; welcome home!
What, no analogies of ruling elites and alpha predators? 🙂 Sounds like a great trip!
It was particularly good as an escape from ruling elites, immiseration, growing instability and other structural-demographic stuff! Maybe I should have stayed a zoologist…
You picked a fine time to not visit Kenya. The annual wildebeest crossing of the Mara is at its peak.
However, we have also just completed a rather bruising election. And all the elements of your model were in full bloom. Popular immiseration, elite overproduction… you should pay a visit to see how cookies crumble.
Otherwise the safari pics are very nice. And welcome to Kenya!
Kenya is definitely on the wish list. Not sure whether I want to visit it during the growing structural-demographic crisis… war correspondent I am not
South Luangwa is one of the best parks in Africa. I always wonder why it’s relatively little known. I did some of my Ph.D. research on performing arts of crocodiles there; still feel nostalgic.
Indeed, S Luangwa is a great park, on par with the best ones I saw, and better in some ways. And it is becoming much better known. There are some 15-20 lodges and they are well booked. There were many other vehicles in the park. Things were not quite as bad as in Serengeti, where it is apparently typical to have 20 vehicles mobbing a lion pride, but I saw close to 10 vehicles at one point.
This is why I enjoyed Liwonde equally well. It lacks the charismatic lions and leopards, but we hardly ever saw other humans there. And I only had 2-4 other people to share rides with.
Wow, things sure have changed since 2008!
Visit South Africa, enjoy great game parks and watch a society collapse.
What more could you want in a vacation!