When you hear hooves - think ZEBRAS!

No one could resist getting excited at the sight of a baby zebra!  They are so cute and cuddly looking that they look more like stuffed animals than wild animals!  (By the way, if you are reading this and saying zee-bra, you are pronouncing it wrong.  In Botswana and Zambia, the last letter of the alphabet is pronounced "zed".  The word Zebra should rhyme with the word Debra).

We saw a LOT of zebras in Botswana and Zambia, and eventually they became so familiar that they hardly rated a second glance. These zebras were our first ever, though, and we were all awestruck by their beauty and by their behavior.  Just look at these guys - you could spend hours just studying the different patterns of their stripes!  These wild Savannah zebras seemed to be as fascinated by us as we were by them.

This particular fellow (and I felt certain it was a male, although I have no real reason for thinking that)  had a really LARGE head and neck compared to the rest of the herd.  I couldn't take my eyes off of him!

The only thing that I found more fascinating than the big zebra was the baby zebras.  There were a few youngsters in the bunch.

Our guide in Botswana, Ra KB, told how to distinguish male zebras from female zebras.  Unfortunately, I can't remember if you go by the stripe on the belly or the stripe on the butt, so I don't know if this zebra a girl baby or a boy baby!

I think looking at a zebra is like looking at an M. C. Escher print; each one is a unique work of art, and each one is also an optical illusion!

Here's a very unique zebra!  This one was spotted at our hotel at Victoria Falls in Zambia.  Since all the Zambia photos will be explored in later posts, I'll finish my zebra post with this fantastic artwork photographed by my daughter, Meghan Wrublewski.  Thanks, Meg!


The Strangest & Most Spectacular Bird Ever? The Southern Ground Hornbill!

Southern Ground Hornbill by Pete Wrublewski
This is one bird that Pete was determined to see on Safari.  Since all Hornbills are cool-looking, I had no idea why this particular species was such an obsession with him. Then I saw these photos (which are outstanding, Pete)!  The Southern Ground Hornbill is simply unbelievable!   And they are HUGE, too!

Southern Ground Hornbill by Pete Wrublewski
According to The Mabula Ground Hornbill Project (MGHP), theses endangered, turkey-sized birds have "a deep booming 4-note call that they utter at dawn, an alarm clock for rural people with a rhythm that is captured in traditional drumming".  Now, that is cool, right?

Southern Ground Hornbill by Pete Wrublewski
What I find most astounding is their amazingly human-like eyes!  The Mabula Ground Hornbill Project says that their "lovely long eyelashes are to protect their eyes from the sun and sharp grass or sticks". Believe it or not, they walk a lot like humans, too.  That is a rather odd statement, I know, but I don't really know how to elaborate so as to make it more understandable.  (Check out the last picture to get an idea what I'm talking about!)

Southern Ground Hornbill by Pete Wrublewski
These are the largest hornbill in the world, they eat only meat and don't ever drink water, they walk on tiptoe 100% of the time (although they can fly if they want to), and they live and raise their young communally.  So why is such an awesome species endangered?

Southern Ground Hornbill by Pete Wrublewski
The Southern Ground Hornbill, like most endangered species on earth, are threatened with permanent extinction because they have encountered the human race.  Loss of habitat, loss of nesting areas, intentional and indirect poisonings, and electrocutions are the biggest threats to Southern Ground Hornbills. They are poisoned intentionally because they break windows in people's homes, usually when a male confuses it's reflection with a competing male.  We have species that do precisely the same thing, but Northern Cardinals and Blue Jays rarely manage to break anything!  The Mabula Ground Hornbill Project has solutions for many of these problems on their website, but only time will tell if we can succeed in keeping these incredible birds alive.
Southern Ground Hornbills by Pete Wrublewski
Here is a male and female of the species, looking for all the world like your average human couple discussing their children as they take a stroll.  Well, maybe they don't look like human parents to most of you, but I see the resemblance!  The male in front has all red flesh on his face and neck, while the female has a patch of blue or purple under her chin.  Otherwise, the males and females are indistinguishable.

Once again, I want to congratulate Pete on his fabulous photography - especially considering he didn't know the camera at all.  Also, I would like to thank Ra K.B., our guide in Chobe National Park, for making Pete's dream of seeing a Southern Ground Hornbill come true!  Thanks again, Ba Rra KB!