“Pic of the Week”, March 27, 2015: Black Rhino, Ngorongoro Crater

1999 Tanzania 001.  Ngorongoro Crater.  Black Rhino

Rhinos are rare and endangered animals, as most people know.  Hunted to near extinction for their horns — used in traditional Asian medicine and for making dagger handles — they now mostly survive in protected areas and zoos.  They’ve made a modest comeback, and hopefully the trend will continue.

I’ve only ever seen 4 rhinos in the wild, all in the Ngorongoro Crater.  They’re magnificent animals — imposing, unforgettable.  In the above photo, the massive lumbering rhino is contrasted with dozens of small, graceful Thompson gazelles (Tommies) leaping across the floor of the crater.  I wish I’d captured the scene on video.  It sort of crystallized the African game-watching experience for me  — the great admixture and fluid interactions of all …

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“Pic of the Week”, Oct. 25, 2013. Ostriches, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

1999 Tanzania 044.  Ngorongoro Crater.  Ostrich

Ostriches are odd creatures.  They are the tallest birds in the world — about the height of a man (2 m) — have larger eyes than any other land animal, and proportionately an itsy bitsy brain.  They are flightless but are exceptionally good runners, known to have burst speeds up to 70 km/h and sustained running speeds of 50 km/h.  While they look awkward and vulnerable, their powerful legs legs make good weapons easily capable of killing a man or gutting a lion.

Ostriches are mostly found on the African Savannah and live in small herds of less than a dozen birds, like you see in this photo.  Males have the dark plumage and females are a drab gray-brown color.  It’s said …

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“Pic of the Week”. January 25, 2013. Maasai tribe, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

2013-004-January 25 (2)

The Maasai are a distinguished tribe residing in eastern Africa (Tanzania and Kenya).  Tall, with handsome features, Maasai people can often be recognized at a distance by their brightly colored (mostly red) garments.   They are herders, raising cattle, and have a semi-nomadic life.

While on safari in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, we spent an hour visiting a Maasai village near the Olduvai Gorge.  We were invited into their homes and treated with kindness.  The village consisted of a series of small huts constructed of sticks and cow dung, surrounded by a tall thorny fence — a rather primitive and dismal place.  Still, they seemed quite content.  A highlight of our visit was when the Massai entertained us.  The …

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Perspectives on East Africa: 2) Ngorongoro Crater and the Ulduvai Gorge.

1999 Tanzania 001.  Ngorongoro Crater.  Black Rhino

In all my travels, visiting the Ngorongoro Crater remains one of my most precious experiences.  The setting of this collapsed volcanic crater, its many animals and beautiful landscapes are still fresh in my mind.  A nomad I met in Guatemala once described his visit to the Ngorongoro Crater like “visiting Noah’s Ark” — now I know why, because there are so many different animal species here.  It’s a destination worth flying half way around the world to see by itself.  When you combine it with a visit to the Serengeti and a trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro, you’ve an itinerary that’s hard to beat!

The journey to the Ngorongoro Crater:

From Serengeti National Park we drove overland heading …

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