Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kenya Diaries: Day 1 - Elephants and Giraffes and Crocs, Oh My! (Part 2)

After visiting the baby elephants on my first day in Kenya, I got to see a white rhino, Rothschild's giraffes, Nile crocodiles, and a few tortoises and ostriches. Here are the photos - enjoy!

On our way out of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, we visited Maxwell the blind white rhino. You can tell the difference between black and white rhinos by the lips. The black rhino is a browser, whereas the white rhino is a grazer, and they have differently shape lips to accommodate that. Of course, I can't tell the difference between them at all, but maybe it's obvious to Kenyans. Rhinos are horribly endangered, killed for their horns by poachers. The Swahili word for rhino, I have learned, is Kifaru.

From there we headed to the Giraffe Centre, which breeds the endangered Rothschild Giraffe. The other two types of giraffes in Kenya - the Masai Giraffe and the Reticulated Giraffe - are not endangered. Here, a mere 700 shillings ($8) buys you entry plus two handfuls of food to feed the giraffes. Giraffes in Swahili are Twiga.

"Here, giraffe!"

They don't have spots below their knees

The giraffes' warthog companions. These guys mop up whatever giraffe food falls on the floor.


Giraffe coming to get food.

Feeding the giraffe. Their tongues are black!

Giraffe begging for food.

Next up were crocs. We went to lunch at a place called Mamba Village, mamba meaning crocodile in Swahili.

Crocs are very aggressive to humans, much more so than alligators. They wait until you get very, very close and then they act quickly. They grab you and drag you under water until you drown. If necessary, they will whack you with their tails to bring you to their mouth so they can get you. Sometimes women gathering water are attacked in Kenya.

Big Daddy

Crocodiles have a dominance hierarchy. The croc above, Big Daddy, is the dominant croc here. He's about 40 years old and 3 meters long. Crocs can live to about 100 and they grow all their lives, so they can get much bigger than this. When they feel threatened, crocodiles hiss.

Crocodiles open their mouths to cool off when it's hot.

A nesting mama who fears her eggs are being disturbed (by us).

Coming to protect her eggs.

"Lay off my eggs, bitches!"

Crocodiles lay many eggs because adult crocs think that newborn babies are lunch. So many eggs are laid, many hatch, and few survive to adult hood. The females become more aggressive when they are nesting, and they do not eat for the entire 90 days it takes for the eggs to hatch. The eggs are sensitive to temperature - here it is too cold for them to hatch so they will not. She'll give up after 90 days have passed and nothing has hatched. However, where it is warm enough for eggs to hatch, the sex of the crocs are determined by the temperature.

Peter with a crocodile egg. They are about the size of chicken eggs and they are edible.

Baby croc with meat in his mouth. He was shaking it all over the place to get it to break into small enough pieces to swallow.

"Say ahh!" Notice that cros do not have tongues.

After the crocs, we saw some tortoises.

This is a female because her shell is U-shaped near her tail.

This is a male. His shell is V-shaped near his tail.

An enormous bird's nest. The bird is called a Hammerkop. Unfortunately, their young often become crocodile food. They picked a bad place for a nest.

And a few ostriches. These ones are female. Males have black and white feathers.

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