Ngorongoro National Park, Part II

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On the way to Ngorongoro, we passed a few villages of indigenous African called the Maasai. The Maasai are probably the most famous African ethnic group due to the colorful dress and their residence near many national parks, such as Ngorongoro. The Maasai are not farmers. They live on their cattle, goats, and donkeys. The Maasai believe in polygamy and today the Maasai men are still allowed to have many wives. I was told that some of these villages are actually consist of a single family: a father figure with dozens of the wives, and a huge group of children.

Closer look at their village. Believe it or not, in the last 2 pix are plants that the Maasai use as toilet paper.

The Maasai and their herd.

 

Let's move on with our safari. The castle in the first pic is the first building in Ngorongoro. In the last pic are dents formed from molten lava millions years ago, now occupied by hyenas.

 

Birds.

Filled with lakes, ponds and creeks, the Ngorongoro crate has abundant of Shore Birds and Waterfowls, such as these pretty Crowned Canes (Balearica regulorum).

On the lakes lives thousands of Flamingos.

There are two kinds of flamingos: Greater Flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) with a pink beak and black tip feed on invertebrates they sift from the mud; the smaller Lesser Flamingos (Phoenicopterus minor) with a dark bill feed on blue-green algae. Some flamingos are more pale than the others (pic 4). Our guide Hamisi told us it's due to the lack of carotene in their diet. So kids, eat your vegetable.

Storks are wading birds characterized by their stout bills. Here is a group of White Storks (Ciconia ciconia), which are large birds with wing span up to 2 meters. They feed on Frogs and large insects. White storks are favorable birds in Europe and they were believed to bring new babies to their parents in myths.

Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis). They feed by sticking the long bill under water and feel the fishes and frogs.

The Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus, 3 pix) is what the ancient Egyptian believed to be a physical form of their god Thoth. So these fortunate or unfortunate Sacred Ibis are often found mummified to be dedicated as a symbol of Thoth. Another sacred bird in ancient Egypt is the Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus, 2 pix), although it's probably not sacred enough to carry the spirit of god and thus was spared from the fate of being mummified.

A Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) is swimming pass a family of Hippos. Like yellow-billed stork above, it feed by sticking its huge bill under water to capture small fishes and frogs.

Herons and Egrets. a Gray Heron (Ardea cinerea, 3 pix); Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis, 2 pix); a Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides, 2 pix).

Black Wing Stilts (Himantopus himantopus, 3 pix) and Blacksmith Lapwing (Vanellus armatus, 2 pix).

 

The Raptors. In the first 3 pix are an Augur Buzzard (Buteo augur), a snake eater also know as African Red-tailed Hawk. The last 3 pix a Black Kite (Milvus migrans), another mid-sized bird of prey that feeds on lizards, small mammals, and insects.

Here we encountered this funny-looking fast-running Secretary Bird (Sagittarius serpentarius) again. Although capable of flying low, it seems to prefer running to prey.

The real terrestrial bird is the Ostrich (Struthio camelus), the largest bird in the world. Weigh up to 350 lbs, they're incapable of flying. The relatively small vestigial wings remain merely for mating display. Note that the darker is male and the red-face and neck signal the mating season.

Song Birds. A Coucal (2 pix); Wattled Starlings (Creatophora cinerea) and other birds live on the parasite in Wildebeests (3 pix).

A Sparrow (3 pix) and Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) nest in our lodge (3 pix).

Other interesting sights. In first 2 pix are branches of a Whistle Tree. Notice the small holes on their nuts, neat huh?

 

 

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