Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What I do Every Day

Jambo, everyone! My name is Bobby, and I'll be your tour guide through this photo safari through Africa. Pay close attention, because if you miss an animal, you'll have to scroll up to look at it again.

Right as we enter the forest, you can see just back there, behind the bamboo, the hind legs of an Okapi. Those stripes may make it look like a relative of the zebra, but actually, it's closest relative is the giraffe.

Next up, just over that rise there – you're looking at the head of a Bongo. See how his horns tilt close to his head? That enables the bongo to move quickly through the forest undergrowth, without getting snagged on thorns or dense foliage.

Oh, we're in luck! On the riverbank there across the way, you can see a Black Rhino! Black Rhino are hunted for their horns, and poachers have gone after them so aggressively, there are only 3,600 remaining in all of Africa. It's sad that even on reserves, poachers do sometimes sneak in and kill these beautiful creatures.

Now, check out these big guys and girls in the water! Those are Hippopotamus, and fully grown males in the species will be almost two and a half tons!

Up on the tree branches, you can see those birds with large bills: those are Pink-Backed Pelicans, and they'll get their pink backs during mating season.

Now, look closely at these creatures. They're called Nile Crocodile and one full grown Croc can be almost 20 feet long!

Now we're entering the Serengeti Grasslands, where many of the more famous animals from Africa live – like this Reticulated Giraffe - the tallest animal on Earth! A baby, like the one shown here, is already 6 feet tall at birth.

Nibbling on some lunch, you can see a Thompson's Gazelle, and he's fully grown at only 60 lbs.

These big, horned bulls are called Ankole Cattle, and those horns can be as long as six feet on either side!

The Impala that are all along the rise here are very nimble: they're known to jump 30 feet in a single leap! Also behind them, you can see some White-Bearded Wildebeest. They're part of the largest land migration left on Earth, with over a million migrating across Africa each year.

Now, here's a picture-perfect view of the modern African Elephant family. Baby African Elephants will spend almost 15 years of their lives with their mothers. During that time, they learn where all the watering holes are and where the best food is. Aren't they cute? Unfortunately, both male and female African Elephants are targeted by poachers since they both have horns. It's sad, because poaching is largely the result of poverty and ignorance. Any person with a rifle can bring down an elephant and saw off it's tusks for more money than they could make in a year in most African countries. The best defense against poaching we have is education, and it's super important to ensure that folks here are aware of the problem of illegal hunting.

These Greater Flamingo are the largest of all flamingos and the lightest flamingos in Africa! Their color comes from their diet, which consists predominantly of shrimp and other sea creatures rich in keratin. They're not actually born pink, you see: it takes 18-20 months for them to develop that color.

Get a good look at this creature here, because the Bontebok is extinct in the wild. They were hunted so aggressively by poachers for their corkscrew-like horns that that's how bad it got: Today, they are extinct outside reserves like ours at Harambe. The bright side is that they are actually thriving on reserves. You could say that we're bringing Bonte bok. (Sue me, it's an inside joke).

Say hello to the White Rhino! Not actually white, the name comes from a mis-pronunciation of the Afrikaans word 'vite,' which means "wide" (after their wide-set jaws). The name stuck when westerners first heard it.

These Scimitar-Horned Oryx are named after the middle-eastern sword, the scimitar. See how their horns curve in much the same way a scimitar does?

The Warthog on this patch of grass here is actually a fierce little guy. See those tusks? They're razor sharp, and they use them to dig into the rock, creating warthog burrows. Once they're backed in, it makes a great defense.

Last but not least, the Ostrich is one of the flightless birds, but that's probably okay with them, since they can run at speeds of 40 miles per hour. Interestingly, they're not the smartest animals around; an Ostrich's eyes are bigger than its brain.

I really hope you've enjoyed a look at some of these amazing animals that I'm privileged to be able to share with you. Remember, no matter how far from Africa you are, there are always opportunities to help conserve and protect endangered species in your area. Guys and girls, it's so important to help protect threatened animals: like Dino-Land here at Animal Kingdom reminds us, extinction is forever.

Kwaherini and good day,