Two years ago, in the midst of a visit by brother Sam O'Tool and my sister Rosina, we made a trip to Pilanesberg Nature Reserve. During that safari (which you can read about by clicking here and scrolling down - with apologies for the formatting change) we began a point system for being the first to spot a particular animal. That created some debate, as Samuel and Louis vied for the victory.
As a result, we took a poll, to which we received many responses. People ranked their own personal quintessential African animal list, and except for Doug Diers chihuahua nomination, we received much valuable feedback.
This time there arose no debate as one contestant indisputably rolled to crushing victory. In fact, the win was so dominating that we didn't even have to assign specific points to each animal. As you read below you can tally who the champion is. I will give you a hint - this person is now the two-time reigning champion.
|Hippo: Seen by Tim. Hippos kill more humans than any other African mammal. Worth mega points.|
|Warthog: Seen by Rosina, and then again many more times. We only saw two tails on our last Safari so it was kind of surprising that we got so many good glimpses this time. Worth a few points.|
|Impala Herd: Seen by Louis. Not normally worth many points but since it was a whole herd, including a male, it was worth a few points.|
|Female Kudu: Seen by Amber. We saw lots of different types of buck, but not many males. Most of the females tend to look alike. Not worth many points, although amazingly delicious.|
|Baby Baboon: Seen by Rosina. We have other photos, but this is a family site and given the nature of baboons they aren't exactly G rated. Worth several points due to the opposable thumbs.|
|Crocodile: Seen by Louis. Worth lots and lots of points, as both a predator, reptile, and it's awesomeness.|
|Monitor Lizard: Seen by Tim. Interestingly, Komodo Dragons are in the monitor family. This not worth many points because it isn't the Komodo.|
|Turtle: Seen by Louis. Worth only a couple points.|
|Turtles and Birds sunning themselves|
|Skink: Seen by Amber. Not worth any points because we have them at our own house.|
|Starling: Seen by Rosina, but worth no points because it was lame. Not physically lame, just not cool.|
|Giraffe: Seen by Rosina. Worth mega points as one of the quintessential African animals.|
|Some kind of marmot or rodent: Seen by Rosina. Worth only minor points.|
|Guinea Fowl: Seen by Tim. Not worth many points because the O'Tool family has owned these in Iowa. So not as cool as you might think.|
|Rhino: Seen by Amber. If a Rhino charges you, get behind a tree and freeze. They have terrible eyesight. Worth also mega points since it is another quintessential African animal.|
|Elephant: Seen by Louis. This particular one was the first we saw and had two baby elephants with it. Worth jumbo-mega points as one of the top two quintessential African animals.|
|Look closely in the upper left corner. You'll see how close we were to this elephant.|
|Impala: Seen by Tim. Not worth points because Louis already saw a whole herd, but with this male so close it was pretty awesome. Tim thought maybe he could catch it, but he isn't very fleet of foot.|
|Elephant: Again, seen by Louis, but not worth points as the second sighting. This one and another were hanging out together and were both huge.|
|Female Kudu: Seen by Tim. Not worth points.|
|Mama and Baby Kudu: Seen by Tim. Not worth points but a fun view nonetheless.|
|Female Lion: Seen by Louis. Worth mondo points, as THE QUINTESSENTIAL African animal. Two years ago the Lion came in Numero Uno in our formal poll.|
|Male Lion: Seen by Louis. Worth Gargantuan mega points as both the King of the Jungle and the QUINTESSENTIAL African animal.|
|Power lines. No, just kidding. Sunset: Worth 0 points but very cool regardless.|
I would like to thank the following people for making this win possible. First, my lovely wife Amber who planned this trip for us. Second, to myself, for driving everyone else through the park. Third, to my children who behaved very well throughout the drive. Fourth, to siblings Rosina and Tim, for not being very good at seeing animals so that I was able to both keep my eyes on the road and spot the most highly ranked animals. Fifth and finally, to my brother Sam, who's second-place finish last time helped sharpen and hone my animal spotting skills. Thank you all for making this defense of my championship possible.