Saturday, September 10, 2011

TEDx Phoenixville




Join us at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, PA for an inspiring and educational day of speakers and performers organized by TEDx Phoenixville.

TEDx Event Them: MindBlender
Date: Saturday September 24, 2011
Location: Colonial Theater - Phoenixville, PA

Speakers/Performers:

Stacy Cruise
Kyodaiko
Albert Maysles
Josh McLane
Amy Ellis Nutt
Amy Walker
The Wittchen Initiative
Team Darwin

For tickets and more information click here: http://www.tedxphoenixville.com

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Success!

At last I have pictures of the completed project for you.  When I departed on December 21st we had completed the pig barn and a water system to support the project.  With the remainder of the funds that I raised I purchased building supplies and worked with the family to plan how they will construct a storeroom for food and a small residence for a worker.  Finally, with the help of some of Kao La Amani's friends in Ireland, we connected the family with the Arusha branch of Heifer International that agreed to help educate them about efficiently raising the pigs.  I think that this project was a good start in the direction of helping the orphanage become financially sustainable.

I spoke with Pastor Tukai last week and he told me that they have begun work on the store room and workers quarters.  "These Tanzanians are funny" he said in reference to the fact that work was restarting slowly due to the holidays.  I laughed at the irony of this statement, remembering how much time it took pastor, a Tanzanian himself, to go about the day's business.  As the phrase goes: "No Hurry Africa."  He recently moved the pigs into their new home!


A Day in the Life:  Nearly every day when I was working on the project, a group of children would walk by on their way to the river to fetch water.  "GOOOD MOORRRNNING SIR!" they would yell.  Despite the fact that they made their water trips in the afternoons, I loved to smile and wave back.


Nearing completion, the pig barn stretched fifty one meters long.


The view down the front of the completed barn.


We painted the doors, frames and rafters with used motor oil.  The oil repels water and cost us nothing.


The life of a pig: We plastered the walls with a strong ratio of cement to sand because pigs are rough.  The trough in the corner will be used to feed and water the pigs.


This is the view down the barn.  Each room is capable of housing two adult pigs or an entire litter of piglets.  There are twenty seven rooms.


We sloped the floors of each room to a drainpipe to facilitate easy cleaning.  Eventually the pastor plans to plant fruit trees along the edge of the barn so that the waste water from cleaning the stalls will fertilize the plants and help generate more food for the orphanage.


Water is life.  This goes for both humans and pigs.  The second phase of the project was to construct a water tower and install a water tank.  This mason (left) and his day laborer (right) designed and constructed a ten foot tower that would create enough water pressure for water to reach the last stall.


Nondo or "rebar" was used to reinforce the cement slab holding the water tank.


The mason carefully poured concrete over the rebar  to create a solid slab.


Day laborers work hard in Tanzania.  Mixing cement as a mason's assistant earns 5,000 shillings per day (about $3.33/day).  No shoes are necessary for this work.


This five thousand liter water tank will hold the water for cleaning and watering the pigs.  The black, three inch input pipe delivers water into the top of the tank.


Plumbers in Tanzania have just as much of a markup as plumbers in America.  We paid each of these plumbers the same amount for a half day of work that we did a mason for an entire week of work.  Explain that?  The head plumber connects a three quarter inch output pipe from the bottom of the tank to a faucet.


Pendol, one of the farm hands, and I connect the flexible pipe between the water pump at the river and the three inch input pipe.


A third of the way down the barn, a second facet sticks up from the ground.  Cold, abundant water is now available to the entire barn.


Completed:  This is the view of the barn from the river.  (click for larger)


On the opposite side, this is the view of the barn across a dormant corn field.  (click for larger)


This signature plate wouldn't have been possible without a lot of financial support and encouragement.  Thank you to all who contributed.


Monday, December 20, 2010

The Harsh Reality

I have met a lot of people while I have been here, and I have gotten very good at recognizing who is legitimately interested in talking and who is looking for a way into my wallet.  It's actually not very difficult to tell in most cases once you understand the culture and the economy.  On the streets of Moshi and Arusha local “artists” or “guides” called “fly catchers” latch onto tourists who stand out easily in a sea of black faces.  “Hey brotha, how are you my man?” they clamor as you walk along.  After about two minutes of “making friends” the “artists,” who are little more than stoned street salesmen try to get you to “support them” by buying their run of the mill screen prints. The “fly catchers” attempt to “help” you around town or refer you to “their” shop or tour company.  They latch onto the hope of a few coins at the end of the interaction and complain angrily when you tell them that you are not interested.

Though it is annoying at times, this disturbance is harmless.  Tanzania, unlike some of its neighbors, is very peaceful.  While in “Nairobbery” (Nairobi, Kenya) you might lose your shirt at knife point, you don't have to worry about much more than a picked pocket in Boma, Moshi or Arusha.  Understanding this I don't fear people on the street and my response flows easily without worry, although it varies by the day.  Some days I smile and say “hapana asanate” (no thank you) or politely listen to whatever the salesman is trying to say.  Other days, my response is barely short of “go f--- yourself.”  While I have learned that I am a very patient person, everyone has a limit and there is only so much begging I can take.  However, despite the occasional disturbance, being open to interaction has led to some very interesting conversations.

Perhaps the most interesting and truly unpredictable place to meet people is on the dalla-dalla.  I am often traveling to or around town alone in the over packed early nineties buses, and for obvious reasons I am always the center of attention.  When the mzungu boards the dalla-dalla everyone stops and looks with curious eyes.  Sometimes the curiosity wears off quickly, but more frequently I become the focus of conversation.  Typically a particularly outspoken man, having imbibed on too much Konyagi or local brew too early in the day, starts talking about white people in Africa, “America's” wars across the globe, or Africa's favorite black man, Barack Obama.  The conversation typically shifts focus to my role in one of these topics, and there is a funny point in nearly every ride when the passengers realize that I understand what they are saying about me.  It usually happens when they say something in Swahili and I laugh or begin to smile.  “He knows Swahili?” they ask each other in bewilderment.  As the forty five minute drive between Boma and Moshi nears completion people are in high spirits and laugh either at the absurdity of the conversation, the fact that I speak some Swahili, or the boisterous personality of the drunkard.

While many of the rides are memorable because they are particularly funny, others stick with me because of the people that I meet.  Two months ago I was on my way to Moshi on a seemingly uneventful ride.  About halfway through the ride, the man sitting across from me began asking about where I was from, what I was doing, and what I thought about Tanzania.  My first impression was that he was very nice and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say, but his eyes had a sadness to them.  We talked about Tanzania, Africans in the United States, the upcoming elections, and his job.  Hashim works as a technician for TPC, a massive sugar company that was started by natives seventy-four years ago.  Ownership changed hands between international stakeholders multiple times before the current Mauritian owners purchased the corporation.  This is a common theme in Tanzania.  Despite abundant natural resources, nearly all of the revenue from these resources gets exported.
When we reached Moshi, Hashim asked to stay in touch and said that he hoped I would come visit TPC and see where he worked.  I am not naive enough to think that he would have been as interested in getting to know me if I was a poor African man, but I was also very intrigued to learn more about his work.  I have learned over the past month what to watch out for in Tanzania, and I felt that Hashim was relatively harmless so I promised that I would take him up on the offer.

A few weeks later, I had a bit of free time so I headed into Moshi to meet Hashim.  After a long wait and plenty of confusion caused by a terrible cell connection through Tanzania's pay-as-you-go phones I met Hashim.  We walked quickly to the end of town to a run down petrol station where we hopped in the cab of a dump truck headed towards the mountains to haul sand.  Ten minutes outside of Moshi, we entered TPC's campus.  We breezed by the security checkpoint and entered the sugar cane plantation.  The sight was incredible.  Sugar cane was planted neatly in grids for as far as I could see.  Hashim commented as we went and I sat in silence awestruck by the shear scale of the plantation.  We headed for the heart of the campus and for more than 30 kilometers there was nothing but sugar cane, disrupted only by the road through campus.  In the distance I saw a massive plume of black smoke.  When I asked what this was, Hashim explained that the workers burn the sugar cane fields before they cut the cane in order to remove the leaves and kill any animals such as snakes that might pose a threat to the workers.  Judging from this country's almost non-existent environmental policy, it did not surprise me to see vast quantities of CO2 billowing into the air.
 
  
Sugar cane as far as the eye can see

  

 TPC: Tanganyika Planting Company 
 
The first sign of life was kids walking along the road dressed in school uniform.  We passed a secondary school and then approach more buildings.  Hashim explained that this was a company owned school and he pointed across the way to the company hospital.  We jumped down from the truck and Hashim welcomed me to his home, a small single room with a couch decorated in tacky doilies, a bed oddly covered by stuffed animals, and a coffee table upon which cheesy looking birthday cards were displayed.  There were so many knickknacks packed into this four by four meter room that I could barely move.  TPC gives single rooms to workers without children and homes with two rooms to workers with families.  Though the workers do not have to pay rent, this is hardly something to get excited about.

Something that I never quite got used to in Tanzania was Tanzanians' idea of a house visit.  When someone invites you into their home they tell you to “be free” which I supposed means something along the lines of “relax” or “be at ease.”  Though Hashim did not have any to share, families nearly always offer you tea and something to eat if it is available.  This offer involves very little choice because refusing chai (tea) is very offensive.  I say that I had trouble getting used to all of this not because I felt uncomfortable in the presence of strangers or new friends, but because when visiting you often do nothing.  It is common to sit together on a leopard or tiger print couch and drink tea without talking much.  I suspect that for many Tanzanians there isn't much to get excited about and simply being in the presence of a visitor, particularly a white visitor, is enough of a treat.


Hashim and his new white friend


Two single room homes for workers

After sitting and taking a picture with his new white friend, Hashim took me for a tour of the center of TPC's campus.  We passed the golf course and clubhouse where the “staff,” who are the better paid and better treated workers can pass their free time.  We also passed through different “camps” or groups of homes where workers reside.  The presence of classism overwhelmed me as we passed signs that read “staff only” posted on a chain link fences around nicer sets of buildings.

We rounded a bend, and I covered my face as a huge tractor rolled by pulling a large cart filled with cane, displacing a cloud of dust.  We neared the main factory and the pungent odor of molasses wafted in my direction.  Open railroad cars filled with cane waited on a track to enter the factory that operates twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year.  Hashim explained that as an engineer he works one eight-hour shift six days per week alternating between the morning, day and night shift.  Working conditions are dangerous and the work is relentless.  Everyday, workers go through the same routine with no end in sight.

When I was in Costa Rica six years ago I visited a banana plantation where workers make pennies, live in horrid conditions and spend their lives in contact with pesticides and chemicals that planes dust not only over fields but also over the homes of workers that are proximate to the fields.  In comparison I was initially impressed with TPCs campus.  However, as Hashim explained his life I realized that the conditions at TPC had the same rough foundation as those at the Dole Banana plantation but were simply glossed over with a shiny veneer.  TPC provides free health care and housing for their workers.  However, the salary that they pay workers is so miniscule that after buying food, at the end of the month there is nothing left.  After years of working, employees will own no home, have little personal property, and have no money to support life when they are too old to work.

What struck me as interesting was not the dismal salary, as low wages are common through most of Tanzania, but that the system is set up to keep the money within the TPC campus.  Workers go to the overpriced markets and shops on the campus to buy food and living needs and workers with children pay school fees to the company to send the children to company owned schools.  As I thought about this life, the sadness in Hashim's eyes began to make sense.  He talked about wanting to change jobs and change his life, but without any money left after paying to support his life, how could he manage to do so.  The conditions at TPC are a sad reality, but unfortunately they are more reflective of Tanzania's economy as a whole than of bad intentions of a single, large, multinational company.


A hooded and masked worker pulls a train car to the tracks where it will be driven by train to the factory


 Tractors load rail cars laden with cane onto the tracks where they sit awaiting an engine.

  
Sugar cane lined up on train tracks waiting to enter the factory 


Cane overflowing the rail cars


The Central Factory

At the end of the afternoon at TPC, I hopped in the bed of a dump truck filled with sand that was headed for Moshi.  As the wind swirled the sand into my face and eyes I thought about the many Tanzanians that travel like this frequently because they cannot even afford to ride dalla-dallas.  This is one of the things that I was referring to when I mentioned in a previous post that Tanzania's government is failing its people.  Measured by GDP per capita, Tanzania's economy ranks two hundred and third in the world ($1,500/year) with thirty six percent of the population below the poverty line (according to the CIA World Factbook). 

As my thoughts came full circle I began to understand the boys on the streets of Moshi.  With few job opportunities, especially for those with little education, the boys have little alternative than to try to make a living off of tourists that they see as their financial savior.  Can you blame them for looking at a white man wearing a pair of hiking boots that is worth more than four months of wages and seeing a dollar sign?  While waiting for a ride in Moshi I spoke to a boy about my age who makes bracelets to sell to tourists for a living.  “That's cool,” I replied after he told me what he did.  “Is it though?” he returned.  He told me he didn't like that he felt he was annoying tourists by trying to sell his bracelets.  He never asked me for a thing and I respected him for it, but I sympathize with his situation.  These kids don't stand a chance in a system that is set up against them.


The Company "Town" and a dalla-dalla

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Maji

I mentioned in one of my previous posts that near Boma on the slopes of Kilimanjaro the climate is quite different than that producing Boma's parched earth. Yesterday I traveled with pastor and eight other passengers to one of these towns where despite long droughts, tropical crops such as bananas manage to grow year round due to heavy biannual rains. As we drove through the town, a steady downpour persisted, flooding the streets and running off into a new above ground storm drain system resembling an oversized gutter. I gazed out the window and the sight of two kids jumping down into the storm drain to fill buckets caught my attention. I don't know if they intended to to drink the brown street runoff, cook with it, or clean with it, but the sight caused me to contemplate the power of water in Africa and it's global inequality of distribution.

I thought a lot about water distribution across Tanzania and the burden and blessing of the biannual rain cycle. Tanzania is actually incredibly lucky to have biannual rains. Many regions receive rain only once a year and subsistence farming is a never ending struggle. Despite this fact, even life with biannual rains is difficult. While some regions such as the slopes of Kilimanjaro receive excess rain that causes floods that damage roads and homes, others only receive brief rains during this time. Mama explained to me how a few Australians have been working in the dry Masai lands to build water catchment systems that enable year round availability of clean water. As I learned about this exciting technology I thought about the importance of clean water, something that most westerners take for granted.

Though simple in concept, access to clean water is one of the great struggles in Africa and across the developing world. According to National Geographic's April water issue, one eighth of the world's population lacks access to clean water. That is about eight hundred and sixty people plagued by the risk of deadly diarrheal disease caused by water bourn pathogens. It seems to be a needless waste of life and cause for struggle. I thought back to the two children in the street gutter and wondered what their fate will be.

While we are very lucky to have a water pump at the farm, flooding the fields comes at great expense and with great sacrifice. As we struggled to fix the machine's pipes with strips of old tire tube I turned to Pendol, one of the farm hands, and said, “Kwa Africa, maji ni kazi. Kwa America, maji siyo kazi” (Water is work for Africa, but for America, it is not.” To this he replied, “Kazi, kazi Joshua, Africa kazi” (Work work, Africa is work). Pendol is correct. Still, the stream fed by Kilimanjaro's glacial melt that runs through the farm is a true blessing that many Africans do not have. Women living in developing countries including many throughout Africa walk an average of 3.7 miles at least once a day to fetch water and many of their families subsist on less than five gallons per day. This is a great contrast to American home's average use of one hundred gallons per day where plentiful, clean, piped water is the norm. To give context to this, you probably use more than five gallons if you flush your toilet two or three times per day. Consider this the next time you leave the sink running and walk in the other room.

Water will be the great issue that defines the next millennium. While technology offers some hope for improving water availability particularly to the developing world, the status quo of water consumption is not sustainable in the long run. We are depleting aquifers faster than they can naturally recharge and polluting many important water sources. I had a long conversation with mama last night over candle light after heavy rains had knocked out the electricity. We compared examples of water use and I explained the situation in America. We are incredibly lucky with our current water availability across the country, but I explained that many regions are quickly depleting their water resources. The depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer in the midwest and the draining of the Colorado river by thousands of farms and major cities are just two examples of the ticking time bomb that we are creating for the coming generations.

Water is life and some economists and ecologists have projected that water will be the oil of the next millennium with high prices and international conflict resulting from its scarcity and unequal distribution. While we consider this very real threat to the future of the developed word, the developing world is currently feeling the impact. “We are still building our Africa,” says one Tanzanian, and infrastructure, particularly related to water has a long way to come. Many of Tanzania's problems such as access to clean water are so fundamentally simple that it drives me crazy. However, they are so vast in scale that improvement comes “pole pole” (slowly, slowly). Water is one area where I have seen many non profit organizations and international aid organizations making great strides. I can only hope that with improved infrastructure comes education in order that the developing world does not repeat the mistakes that the developed world has made over the past century.





 
Source: The global water facts in this post are from National Geographic's April 2010 special edition entitled “Water, Our Thirsty World.”

Muizi

I've thrown the word out a few times while I have been here in a joking manner, but it is not to be taken lightly. Muizi means thief and robbery is a very serious crime in Tanzania. Villages punish thieves by placing a tire securely around their body, lighting it aflame, and letting them burn to death in the middle of town. Apparently the logic is that if they take the thief to the police and the police pay a bounty, the thief will return to the village to steal the bounty. Apparently this is no longer very common, but the official punishment is no cake walk. Police punish thieves by throwing them in jail and beating them with a club repeatedly. Needless to say, you don't want to end up in a Tanzanian prison. For this reason it is not a good idea to seriously call someone a thief unless you intend to sentence them to a very harsh punishment

A while back I was leaving the farm with pastor when a neighbor flagged us down. He asked pastor to come settle a dispute. Pastors are highly respected in society and their word is as strong as that of a judge. We walked over to the neighbor's home where about ten men sat in the shade of small trees excitedly discussing the topic at hand. The topic, I soon realized resolved around a mangy looking young man who stood with his eyes cast downward, looking guilty as all hell. I watched the debate rage on for over twenty minutes about what to do with this young muizi. Apparently the neighbor had bought a cell phone from the man that turned out to be stolen. While there were some other details, I couldn't get a clear picture of what exactly happened. The important fact that I held onto was that they were arguing over a matter of fifteen thousand shillings (about ten dollars). Pastor soon realized that this discussion was going nowhere and we left, but the experience stuck with me and raised a lot of questions.

The prominent question in my mind was why ten fully grown men would sit around and talk for hours about such a trivial amount of money. The answer came to me without much thought. First, fifteen thousand shillings is not trivial. This is the daily wage of a highly skilled mason or carpenter or three times the daily wage of a day laborer. Second, the day's events offered something to do. One thing that continues to surprise me is how many men do nearly nothing for many days. This is the same reason that when the car breaks down five to ten people stop by to lean under the hood and offer their unsolicited and uneducated two cents. These seemingly uninteresting and disruptive events offer an exciting break in aimless lives. It seems like a rough thing to say but many people are simply existing and not really living their lives. In many areas, particularly outside of the center of Boma, there is very little work, even less education and absolutely no potential for change. Offering one's opinions in a forum such as this gives life a purpose.

I was curious what would have happened to the arguing men if they had gone to the police considering the value of the stolen property was so small. Pastor explained to me that the muizi and likely the neighbor would spend a few days in jail where they would be beaten repeatedly by the police for bringing a disturbance. This of course seemed well worth arguing over ten dollars.

On Monday I had a truly thought provoking experience. I walked over to the duka near the farm with the mason and carpenter that I was working with for the day as we waited for the perpetually late pastor to give us a ride. A duka is a shop that sells everything from soda to phone credit to cooking oil and this particular duka is nothing more than a seven by seven foot box with an iron barred window and a corrugated roof. I bought a three cokes and a bag of peanuts for the workers and myself as a thank you for working late.. After we had eaten most of the peanuts I watched as a young girl walked up to the counter, pretended to be interested in something and sneakily snatched the plastic bag of nuts. The sight of this provoked a series of conflicting emotions and thoughts.
 
My initial thought was somewhat parental and made me feel much older than my twenty three years. Perhaps it came from living with nearly thirty children for three months or perhaps it came from watching so many poorly parented children around town. Whatever the case, my initial reaction was to confront the child and teach her that stealing is not the way to improve her unpleasant life. However, the big picture quickly clicked in and I considered the fact that the girl had likely eaten nothing but ugali, beans, and corn for days. A handful of peanuts would not only give her a small amount of much needed nourishment but would mean the world to her. I chose to remain quite. I feared using the word muizi, especially over a few pennies worth of peanuts and had a sudden realization about the scale of the problems in this country.

No matter how much I know and might want to change, as a visitor I can not change the world in three months. While I have made great strides in sharing education with the family I live with and the friends I have made, my impact only makes a difference if people are open to change. I have been able to teach pastor and Monica a lot because they trust me. However, in the case of the girl I would be an outsider trying to impose my will. I realized that anything I said to her would have no long term impact. I was struck by a feeling of helplessness and humbled by reality. Many people are set in their ways and no matter how backwards they may seem, they are their own. Whether it is juvenile theft, inefficient construction techniques, or poor parenting strategies, I can not force change. It is a tough but important thing to come to grips with. The seemingly minor incident turned into a big learning moment for me.

The Search for Simba

This title is in fact not a poor attempt at a play off of The Lion King. Rather, “simba” means lion in Swahili. Considering my nearly unhealthy obsession with this great African beast and our good fortune in recently seeing twenty lions in the wild I thought that it was an appropriate title for this post. A week ago I embarked on an incredible four day journey in search of nyama or wildlife in three of Tanzania's fourteen national parks. Tanzania is blessed with an abundance of wildlife and nearly untouched natural habitats. While this is somewhat due to the fact that Tanzania's population is small relative to its size, the preservation on these lands has a lot to do with British colonialism and a German conservationist by the name of Bernhard Grizimek. Because of early conservation efforts and continued conservation work by international researchers and local authorities, some of the world's most incredible wildlife still thrives. Most notably, the “great migration” in the Serengeti still thrives. It is an incredible cycle where a quarter million zebra and a half million wildebeest make the annual migration between the north and the south of the Serengeti ecosystem which spans both part of Tanzania and Kenya. Though we only caught the early part of the migration in the part of the Serengeti that we explored, the various evolutionary strategies caused by the predator-prey relationship were incredible to experience.

The following pictures are from my four day safari to Tarangire, Ngorongoro, and Serengeti National Parks and from a brief one day safari to Lake Manyara National Park that we took two months ago with the Irish girls that were visiting the orphanage and all of the children. We packed twenty eight children and six adults into a dalla-dalla that was intended to carry no more than twelve to fifteen passengers. You can imagine the excited faces of the children as they pressed them against the glass to see elephants, giraffes, zebras and much more.


Lake Manyara


Baboon


Tembo


“Tusker”



Two adult twiga on the beach of Lake Manyara. We stumbled upon these two as they were performing a mating ritual in which they take turns hitting each other as hard as they can with their necks. Love hurts.



I liked this elephant because I swear he was smiling at us.


Impala


A pair of monkeys in a tree


A young baboon


Tarangire


A tembo family sticks together. Elephants don't have a care in the world as they walk around with heavy feet, eating and breaking down tree branches as they pass. Full grown elephants don't have to worry about predation because of their size, but consequentially they must eat a lot to stay alive.


The remains of a giraffe laying on the ground in the park. The park service does not disturb the natural cycles by removing animal carcasses so that as the remains degrade the nutrients remain in the ecosystem.



Tembo means elephant in swahili. The verb “to walk” is kutembia. I have to imagine that the close association between the verb and the the name of the big walker is not a coincidence.


These birds and the giraffe have a symbiotic relationship in which the birds eat parasites off of the giraffe.



Two pumba (warthogs) sleeping under a tree during the hot day. Once again the inspiration for The Lion King comes to mind.


Mama and child, two monkeys hang out in a tree. The younger monkey looks with curiosity at the funny looking white people with cameras.


Nyani


I took this series of monkey pictures at the lunch stop in Tarangire. Monkeys flock to the area in search of food. If you are not careful they will steal your sandwich or even your camera. Apparently they have learned to seek out white people as the African tour guides throw rocks to scare them away.



Lion food


A young, awkward looking giraffe that stood curiously nearby our vehicle


Water is life. We watched as a small pack of zebras descended the river bank to drink from a shallow river. During the rainy season this river is overflowing and wildlife flocks to its banks. In the few months before the heavy rains the river dries up completely in some areas.


An elephant family walks away carelessly. Parents must protect their young while they are small, but with little to worry about, life is good.


Serengeti



“I've got your back.” Zebras rest their heads on each other and stand in opposite directions keeping a watchful eye on the tall grass watching for the ever present threat of predators.


Zebras stripes act as a defense mechanism. Predators pick out their prey and carefully calculate the distance before they attack. Zebras weave amongst the pack in order to confuse the predator with an array of stripes.




The Crowned Crane, the national bird of Uganda



Notice that all the leaves on this tree are at the top of the branches. Evolution plays a big role in the development of traits in plants as well as animals. This particular tree has adapted to grow out of the reach of giraffes.



A chui (leopard) sleeps away the day before a long night of hunting.




Simba



The female lion points as she scans the horizon for prey. A lion pride typically consists of one male and a handful of females. The male protects the pride and must fight off other males for the right to the females and the females hunt together for food. After the females have killed their prey the male gets to eat first. This relationship is not so different from Tanzania families where women cook and clean and men eat the choice part of the meal.


The male lion wakes after a long sleep. Lions sleep between sixteen and twenty hours per day.


The male watches as the females spread out and search for prey.



The bearded wildebeest


A young male relaxes under a tree. We stumbled up him just as he was waking from his sleep.



Ndege is the Swahili word for both bird and airplane.



More lion food


A hot air balloon floats over the Serengeti in the early hours of the morning.



A cheetah, the fastest predator in the Serengeti


While cheetahs are fast, they are also meek in nature. Hyenas follow close behind cheetahs. When cheetahs kill prey they must eat quickly as hyenas are quick to close in and scare them away. Cheetahs therefore start by eating the hind legs because they contain the most protein.


Ngorongoro


A view of the Ngorongoro Crater from the highlands


A zebra grazes on the low grasses of the Gorongoro Crater.



Life as a predator is not easy.  Lions must save their energy as they may go a few days without eating.



This picture gives you an idea of how flat and open the crater is. The landscape is quite different than the Serengeti, Tarangire, or Manyara.

 
 This female lion wakes from sleeping in a tree. Immediately she is alert and on the hunt for prey. Trees and rocks offer good perches where lions can sit and hide from prey as they wait to attack.