Friday, February 24, 2012

The Animals of a Pan

Hwange National Park, near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe was where I learned that the word, "pan", had several different meanings.  In that part of Africa, it is understood that a "pan" is a watering hole for animals.  During that drought-stricken summer I was in Zimbabwe, locating a pan that was not a dried circle of mud was a challenge. 

Leaving the our lodge early one morning, with our driver negotiating the nearly non-existent roads or choosing instead to go cross country bumping over dry and dusty terrain, we were on the quest to find a watering hole that actually had water.  Finding that treasure would mean we would see animals--animals of all kind and description--animals I had seen only in zoos prior to this African adventure. 

Hwange National Park had a system to help out in the years of drought when the watering holes became drier and drier and animals had to walk further and further for water.  In this huge national park, there were several wells which supplied water via pumps to a select number of pans.  It is for these pans that our driver headed.  However, too often we found that the machinery was not well maintained resulting in yet another dry pan. 

On our trek between pans, though, we did see animals and a lot of them--from giraffe eating away on the tops of acacia trees and graceful gazelle to scampering baboons and wandering zebra.  Oh, and did I mention huge herds of elephant? 

But it was at the pan that the wildlife congregated.

A giraffe bent in half with legs splayed and neck reaching to the water far below

A massive crocodile pulling itself through the soggy mud bank

A mischievous baboon cavorting about
A herd of zebra creating a dizzying black and white pattern

Two ostrich primping their feathers

The nostrils of a hippo appearing in the middle of the pool

Birds and more birds

And, splashing and trumpeting -- those most majestic of all beasts -- elephants! 

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