This past week our family had the opportunity to get away for a few short days (since we are in the southern hemisphere the days were literally the shortest of the year). Along with my brother and sister we took a trip to Pilanesberg National Park, about 5 hours north of Welkom. We spent a day on safari around the park looking for all the African animals. Africa has what is known as "The Big Five". The Big Five consists of the Elephant, Lion, Rhinoceros, Leopard, and Cape Buffalo. I'm not sure why these have been selected, but amongst all the animals unique to Africa, these are the ones people usually like to see. I think The Big Five concept is artificially generated for commercial purposes, kind of like Valentine's day. Unfortunately, we were only able to spot one of the five. However, we did get a chance to see many of the other splendid wildlife and landscape of Africa. After our safari we were able to spend a couple days at Warmbaths, a hot mineral springs. Even though we are in the midst of the winter season the pools were fantastic. As most vacations do, ours ended much too quickly but we're excited to be back at The Pines and back into the work here.
Impala - seen by Amber. Note the bird giving it a facial. 5 points awarded to Amber.
Zebra - seen by Louis. 8 points awarded to Louis.
Cheetah - seen by Sam. It was walking right along the road, then as we drove up it slid into the bush. We got a couple good pictures before it disappeared. 10 points awarded to Sam.
Another Impala - Seen simultaneously by everyone. No points awarded
Water Monitor Lizard - Pointed out by some European dude. No points awarded.
Helmeted Marsh Terrapin - Seen by Amber. 3 points awarded.
Giraffe - Seen by Louis, although Sam claims to have seen it first. No points awarded because of Sam.
Blue Wildebeest - Seen by everyone simultaneously. If you've ever seen nature shows you'll know the wildebeest is the rabbit of Africa, basically the bottom of the food chain. Their main defense mechanism is to reproduce faster than they can be eaten. No points awarded.
White Rhinoceros - Seen by Rosina. 16 points awarded.
Hippopotamus - Seen by all simultaneously. Hippos kill more humans than any other African animal. No points awarded.
Crocodile - Seen by Louis. 10 points awarded.
Not pictured is Warthog. Seen by Amber. 8 points awarded but we didn't get a good picture, at least not at Pilanesberg.
Two classic quotes by Sam heard throughout the day: "There's something over there." He was frequently wrong but he thought that if he just claimed it and then there turned out to actually be something over there he would attempt to claim the points. The other quote was "There is a ____________." When we all turned to look he would say "Oh, there it goes bounding away through the underbrush." So you can't really believe anything he said.
I am asking for help from our reading audience. During our safari we had a minor debate as to which animals would generally be considered the "Quintessential African Animal". We want to settle this Family Feud-style. If each person reading this would take the time to email me their personal list of the top five animals they think of when they think of Africa (besides snakes) I would appreciate it. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.