After you have seen the big boys at Shamwari, it does get to be somewhat anti-climatic to see all of the varieties of antelope and the other assorted “prey animals.” I feel bad about that. They are all remarkable in their own right, and it isn’t like I get to see loads of springbok and impala in my daily life.
Here are some impala. The lions are on to something, as I can attest from the impala I ate at braais, they really are delicious and so tender. They live up to their hind quarter’s reputation as the McDonalds of the African plain.
The impala and all of the other varieties of antelope species have fascinating herd behavior, though. The large herds are almost entirely female, save the young, and one dominant male. He has a tough task of trying to keep all of the ladies and the young together. The males in the herd get ousted when they are of a particular age, and either must live alone, or join up with one of the bachelor groups. In the bachelor groups, the males use each other for protection from predators, but mostly are honing their fighting skills. When they feel strong enough, they then can go challenge a dominant male and try to take over his female herd. So many of the herd animals are socially constructed in this way.
Here are some zebras, which are admittedly more photogenic than some of the other herd animals:
Probably the least photogenic of the herd animals are the wildebeest.
They are even uglier than the “fantastically ugly” warthogs who always seem to be running away (which is understandable in light of our lion stories).
You can’t see a kudu and not think of Ernest Hemingway in Africa. It just isn’t possible:
Just like, you can’t see a Springbok and not think of the South African National Rugby team, Nelson Mandela, and Matt Damon. We brought hom a stuffed Springbok mascot as a present for Knightley and he loves his little Bokkie.
Here are some animals that you probably have never thought anything about before.
An Oryx (Gemsbok):
Eland (the largest of the antelope species):
Wait, what’s this hippo doing here? Hippos aren’t prey. In fact, hippos kill more people in Africa than any other mammal!
Look, I just wanted to post a picture of a hippo, which I haven’t done yet.
Finally, here is the most dangerous game:
After all, every time we stopped the safari truck to do a walkabout or for sundowners, we too became potential prey for the predators of Shamwari. For all we know, we could have been watched by leopards from the trees above our tent at Bayethe each night too.