I’d stepped inside the house to hang wet laundry on the indoor track. Tom, who was outdoors, whispered in an excited tone through the screen door, “Hurry and come outside. We have a zebra lying down in the garden.”
Dropping what I was doing, I gingerly opened the screen door with the camera in hand, on and ready to shoot. And there he was, a handsome young-looking male, lounging as if he’s done this many times in our garden. He had not. This was the first time we’d seen him. Moments later, we noticed another male standing nearby, checking us out.
The standing zebra inched his way forward to the awaiting pile of pellets on the ground while the lying zebra contemplated whether or not he should get up and check out the situation. Were we safe? And, of course, did they have pellets? Without waiting for a second, Tom began tossing pellets their way.
We laughed. Was he that well-fed from residents in Marloth Park that his protruding belly was full? They both looked well fed.
Zebras are “non-ruminants, so plant matter passes through their system in one fell swoop. Their single, relatively small stomach necessitates several small meals a day. The nutrients from cellulose digestion are absorbed into the zebra’s blood next via the large intestine walls.
As a result of this and their daily consumption of the plant, matter results in frequent expulsion of gas: “Large quantities of gas are released as a by-product, and this inflates their bellies so that they always look fat and healthy. It is also the cause of the flatulence experienced when zebras take fright and run away.”
We’ve been well aware of these facts about zebras since we came to Africa in 2013. Mainly, their big bellies alerted us that they have only one stomach, unlike many other animals. Most antelopes, buffalo, and other wild animals are ruminants.
What precisely is a ruminant?”
“Ruminants include cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, deer, elk, giraffes, and camels. These animals all have a digestive system that is uniquely different from our own. Instead of one compartment to the stomach, they have four.”
Here is an interesting article that further explains the ruminant digestive system, if you’re interested. However, I anticipate few readers will be interested in this information.
But, as somewhat obsessed observers of animals in the wild, this becomes an exciting fact that further explains animals’ eating habits and associated behaviors. After all, we’ve spent the better part of over two years observing wildlife. Each new visitor brings a wealth of opportunities for us to learn more.
Finally, the lying zebra perked up, using his front legs to lift him with a bit of effort, and he joined his cohort in the pellet eating frenzy. Tom must have tossed ten one-quart (about one liter each) containers of pellets to them, and they easily could have stayed for more.
During their visit, several kudus joined in and Broken Horn, who was lying in wait in the bush and could hear the sound of Tom tossing pellets. There were numerous helmeted guinea-fowls, a few warthogs, and bushbucks. We realized that the ten-day school holidays starting today with holidaymakers flooding the park that this plethora of wildlife may be the last we’ll see for a while.
This morning, the two zebras returned, remembering the generous pellet offering, ate their fill, and took off. Since then, we’ve seen several bushbucks, including Torn Ear, Spikey and Thick Neck, a few warthogs including The Imposter, Fred and Ethel, Little and Frank, and The Misses, who are always here regardless of the numbers of tourists in the park.
Tonight, we’re off to Jabula with Rita and Gerhard and Kathy and Don. For us, this will be one of three remaining Friday nights at Jabula until it’s time for us to go on October 21st.
Have a fantastic first day of October!
Photo from one year ago today, October 1, 2020:
|This photo was posted one year ago in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #192. Tom was thrilled to be in Hawaii in 2014. For more photos, please click here.|