Harriet Smith Photography


"For The Love of Africa"

AFRICAN SAFARIS - Trips Of A Lifetime

Crossing Paths

Country: Tanzania            
Location: Ngorongoro Crater
Lodge: Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

Crossing Paths

This picture shows two sub-adult male giraffes relaxing in a lush Ngorongoro Crater meadow, taking a break from their 'necking', the manner in which mature, adult males establish dominance - swinging or butting heads at one another in tests of strength. These giraffes have beautiful, spotted coats. While no two individuals have exactly the same pattern, giraffes from the same area appear similar and in groups, their coats seem to blend together as here in Crossing Paths, confusing predators. Red Billed Oxpeckers are seen on the necks and backs of the Giraffes, searching out ticks and parasites. Oxpeckers spend much of their lives riding on their hosts.

Looking at the two males shapes and extraordinary coats, one can see how early scientists thought the giraffe was a cross between a camel and a leopard, a mistake immortalized in the giraffe's scientific name of Giraffa camelopardalis.

This picture was taken in the Ngorongoro Crater, the largest intact caldera in the world, sheltering one of the most beautiful wildlife havens anywhere. Unmatched for its natural variety, there are few places on earth where such a tremendous diversity of wildlife and landscape exist inside a region this small. The Ngorongoro Crater is a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated along the eastern arm of the Rift Valley, part of the Serengeti ecosystem, and adjoins the Serengeti National Park. The Ngorongoro Crater is a natural amphitheatre created about 2 million years ago when the cone of a volcano collapsed into itself, leaving a 100 square mile caldron-like cavity. This caldera, protected by a circular unbroken 2,000-foot high rim, contains everything necessary for Africa's wildlife to exist and thrive. Estimates of the height of that original volcano range from  fifteen to nineteen thousand feet high.

The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world and research there has been instrumental in furthering understanding of early human evolution. Based on fossil evidence found at the Olduvai Gorge, it is known that various hominid species have occupied the area for 3 million years.

The Maasai are the current human inhabitants and are at liberty to live within the sprawling 2,500 square mile conservation area around the crater. The Maasai never cultivate land as they consider it demeaning. Instead they graze cattle, which hold a god-like status in Maasai culture.

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