This is Not a Tibetan Mastiff: Big Five Part One
If you regularly read the news, my title just told you what photo I’m posting today.
For those who haven’t heard the absurdity, a Chinese Zoo was found to be (temporarily) scamming visitors by posing regular animals as exotic ones. An “African Lion” at the zoo was videotaped barking, because the zoo had replaced it with a large, hairy breed of dog called a Tibetan Mastiff.
So yes, as some of you guessed, THIS is not a Tibetan Mastiff:
This young, male African lion, along with two other young lions and one lioness (see photos below) were lying together under shady trees on the edge of the Lower Sabie River during our second day in Kruger National Park. I will only be posting locations for certain animals. When we get to the rhino, I’ll tell you we saw it on Mars before I’ll tell you where in Kruger to look. But we’ll talk more about that again on rhino day. For today, let’s enjoy this often favorite of “The Big Five.”
We’ve been told that this is not a typical lineup, having three males and a female together, and the speculation is that since these three males are just getting in their beautiful manes, it’s possible the female is their mother and that within the year these guys will be on their separate ways.
As you can see from the photos, there is a lot of undergrowth in Kruger National Park. Visitors are not allowed out of vehicles except within designated areas. These areas are not always fenced in, however. After doing our best to grab some photos of this group from a safe distance at a pull-out on the road, we took a break at a rest area just down the road, and as we were sitting and eating lunch, realized there really was nothing but hillside and bush between us and those lions just a couple kilometers upriver. Thankfully, they did have a well-fed, impala-gorged look about them, so we just tried to relax and eat lunch, eyeballing the large croc in the river in front of us and the vervet monkeys filling the trees above us and staring down our coldcuts.
Many, many posts to come from our amazing Kruger trip, including a new weekly series I’m going to post titled “Dear South Africa” with my own tongue-in-cheek (and sometimes serious) suggestions for accommodating (and making bank off) spoiled, American tourists.
Hope you’ll join me for the next several weeks in looking at photos of not only “the Big Five” but (wait for it…) the BABY Big Five as well! This may be the “off season” here in South Africa, as winter comes to a close, but it was apparently enough springtime in the bush for a lot of wildlife.
Pop quiz, readers: Do you know (without *Quacking!) which animals of Africa are considered “The Big Five” and how they were designated “The Big Five”?
I have ONE Kruger postcard, all ready with an international stamp, to mail to one of you commenters! Please don’t look up the answer. Guess. Be creative. You can be right, wrong, funny, clever, poetic, or slick, as long as you comment! (And I just gave you one out of the five, today!)