ADORABLE BABIES, AMUSING WARTHOGS, WILDLIFE AND PLANT LIFE IN THE SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK

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Puku babies are fawn colored and dotted with white spots to blend with the bushes and flowers at the edge of the meadows. At nap time, their mothers hide them in the brush, and the baby puku knows not to leave that spot until the mother returns. Each group, or harem, of puku, has a dominant male who has won the right to breed, watch over the herd, and stand guard over all of them while they graze. He seems very proud. Now and then he stops grazing and lifts his head high, nostrils working overtime to see if he can detect the scent of an intruder. Our guide Manda knew to park upwind from the herd so he can’t smell a motley bunch of tourists who haven’t showered yet.

 As the days warmed, the parade of characters changed. Nocturnal animals slipped away into their hiding places before the sun rose, and we watched for bigger game that forages by day—zebra, giraffe, Cape buffalo, and warthogs. Warthogs were much cuter than I expected. They eat plant roots and spend most of their time on their knees digging with their snouts. Their tusks are for protection. They sleep in burrows at night and back into them, with their tusks aimed at the opening ready to attack invaders. They have wiry hair on their faces that reminds me of a wire brush that looks as though it would be just as sharp and harsh to touch. When frightened, and they frighten easily, warthogs run with their little piggy tails in the air squealing like pet pigs, their young trailing after them in a zigzag fashion.

Written by Patricia Cole

An Africa Hope Fund board member for 7 years, Pat is a writer and a conservation activist. After traveling to Zambia, she became dedicated to helping Africa Hope Fund provide education to the next generation of Africans and ensure their future by protecting wildlife. Find Patricia on Facebook and Twitter, or on her websites www.writepatwrite.com and www.patmcole.com

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Carol Van Brugen