Solbit Says, “Put a Land Rover on My Wish-list, Please!”

*New reader? Get oriented below.

Dear Nicalai,

Our walking safari is terrific!  Of course, that’s easy for me to say, because Nona and Papa carry me most of the way.  They do all the walking.  I’m glad we have a Land Rover though.  You’ll see why soon. First, I get a great perspective out here, because Papa put me on the end of a stick that he holds up, so I can see the animals in the distance.  This is what I can see in the distance.

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Now this is what I get to see a little closer up.  Those are Africa buffalo.

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Those buffalos are huge. You wouldn’t want to get in front of one!  These are warthogs (some people call them the “pig of the plains.”).

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The warthog looks harmless by comparison, but it has tusks, razor sharp teeth, that could slice open your stomach!  Again, Australia is looking less dangerous as we walk through Tanzania.

When we get too near really big animals, it’s time to climb into our Land Rover.  It has an open top, so we can stand on our seats and look out the top.  Nona said, “We take sanctuary in the Land Rover.”  I think she means we go into a safe space inside our four-wheel drive car.

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Here are our friends Jack, Ellen, and Chagamba (in the center, he’s one of our guides.)  Jack (on the left) is from Atlanta.  He likes the big animals, and he thinks birds are for the birds, if you know what I mean. Ellen (on the right with binoculars) is from Reston, and I think her favorite animal must be the warthog.  These “pigs of the plains” seem to fascinate her.  Me, too! Here’s why we all got back into our Land Rover.

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Yeah, these African elephants are really cute, but you wouldn’t want one of them to step on your toes.  Oh, girl, that would hurt.  Don’t worry, though.  We’re safe when we “take sanctuary” in our Land Rover.

See those big ears on the elephants, I thought they must be for hearing, but, later, someone said that elephants pump their blood through blood vessels in those ears to get rid of body heat.  I heard Papa ask, “Do you mean that elephants have ear radiators?”  I wonder what a radiator is, but I haven’t had time to ask him, yet.

Later, after the elephants, I saw what I was sure were horses, but they had dazzling black and white stripes that I had never seen before.

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Betsy said, “Solbit, they do look like horses, but their black and white stripes tell you that they are zebras.” “Wow,” I said, “My first time to see a zebra, and I get to see a herd of them!”  That’s when Jack corrected me, “Solbit, that would be ‘a dazzle of zebras,’ not a herd.”  Gosh, did you know that?  Well, I can see why a group of zebras is called a dazzle, because when all those black and white horses — I mean zebras — get together in a big group, they sure dazzle the eye.

What was that?!  I just heard something.  Something like a low growl. No, more like a purr or rumble.  “Solbit, don’t be frightened,” Nona just said, “It’s probably just a lion walking by our tent.”  Hey, I gotta go get under the covers.  This tent is too thin, if you ask me.  If my spelling is bad, you’ll know I didn’t have time to check it. I wish the Land Rover was nearby. I’d take sanctuary in it.  Bye. I’m your friend.

Love,

Solbit

June 2014

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit’s Dung Pooh Series

*New reader? Get oriented below.

Dear Nicalai,

Today I’m writing about poop! I almost stepped in it today on our walking safari.  You could say that we had a special day, a Dung Pooh Day.  I can’t remember all the names I heard for that stuff that everyone who eats has to get rid of:  poop, pooh, dung, scat, castings, and droppings are the names I remember now. (Actually, I remember a couple others, but Nona doesn’t want me to say those.) Here’s what I almost stepped in.

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Solbit almost walked into a pile of Olive Baboon poop.

Well, actually, the thing is so big that I almost walked into it.  Yuck!

Do you know how many different kinds of poop animals make?   Each kind of animal makes its own kind of scat (that’s a tracker’s word for animal poop).  Here’s another one.

Here’s some warthog poop. (At least, I think that’s what they said it is.)

Do you know that, if you’re smart and well trained like our guides Chagamba and Mika, you can tell which animal made the pile of poop on the ground, how long ago, whether it was one or a group, and, maybe, what they’ve been eating.  I guess you could say they “read dung.”

OK, hold your nose. Can you “read” what animal left this behind its behind? No?  Hint, see how widely spread out these things are?  Well, the source would have to be pretty high up to get that much spread.  What kind of animal has really long legs?

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A giraffe has really long legs and drops these dung balls from a height.

By the way, it really didn’t smell much.

OK. Now, here’s a different kind of distribution of dung pooh.  Look how close these little things have landed together?  Well, that’s a hint that more than one animal pooped in the same place.

So, our guides said that this kind of poop pattern makes a “latrine.”  (“Latrine” is another word for toilet room, I think.)  There we were walking in a field going right through someone’s toilet!  I think latrine sounds better than toilet, don’t you?

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A dik dik latrine looks like this.

This long and tightly wound piece of dung is almost as long as an adult’s foot.  Well, maybe half as long. What do you think?

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A porcupine left this one.

Papa did step in it.  He got some elephant dung on his hiking boots.  He didn’t get it all off, and, when we got back to our room, Nona asked him, “Papa, did you just do something? What’s that smell.”  That’s when he realized what was on his boot.  Let me tell you elephant dung really smells awful. Still, I saw our guide Mika pick some up to “read” it.  Yuck.  Wish Nona had taken a picture of him doing that!

Here’s my last piece of pooh for today.  These are small pellets but bigger than the dik dik pellets, right?  So, maybe the animal that made these is small too but bigger than a dik dik.  What animal of the Maasai Steppe would leave these?

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Impala dropped these behind.

Well, that’s the poop on dung.  Next time you go walking in the woods or out in a field, maybe you’ll look for scat and try to identify the animal that left it.  Nona and Papa said they have a book about scat at home, and I can use it when we get back.  I’ll share it with you.  Hey, we can play a game:  Name That Dung Pooh!  We could have a Dung Pooh World Series! OK?

I’m your friend.

Love,

Solbit

June 2014

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”