Sunday, June 19, 2011

Herbivore Harmony

Bryce, our resident naturalist, on safari

by Bryce Dibadj

Today we went on on a safari. To start of the amazing experience we woke up at 4:30 this morning. Once everyone was awake and ready we headed down to collect our lunch that we had made the previous night and the breakfast that we were going to eat on the way there. We then went into groups of four. I was in a jeep with Mrs. Janss, Emily, and Stephanie.

Everyone took the two and a half hour ride to the park and then got out at the park service center. There we picked up our guide James who grew up in Uganda next to a national park where he increased his knowledge of the animals. He then went to university and studied tourism and animal identification.

When everyone was ready to go into the forested area James got into my Jeep. It took about ten minutes before we saw our first animals, Waterbucks. Waterbucks are a type of antelope that are rather large and use their amazing fur and exceptional ability to swim to avoid predators when they are chased. When a waterbuck knows it is about to be caught it releases a horrible smell that will poison its hide and not allow the predator to eat it.

We continued along while James pointed out a king fisher. We then came upon one of the many ampala that we saw in the park. Ampala can jump exceptional long distances. Next the group found a hammerkop nest which is known to make the largest nest of all birds.

We continued out of the hill forest and into the savannah on the flatland. There we found white-broad coucal and groups of five to six warthogs. As we continued on the way through the valley we found large groups of Zebra. James told us that the reason Zebras were not tamed was because they are vicious when approached and can kill. They also do not have strong enough backs to hold a person. On our way out of the savannah back up into the hills we saw a Helmeted Guineafowl, African fish eagles, and a rare brown snake eagle.

Water Buffalo
Once we were back up into the hills we found ourselves surrounded by large horseflies. Everyone immediately went on a killing spree killing as many flies as possible. Once out of the hills we were in the swampy area. This was where we saw herds of water buffalo, they were massive, the males had thicker horns than the females so that they could but heads. James also told us that the lone ones were most likely old males who were grumpy and would attack anything if they were provoked.

As we were viewing the water buffalo we saw a herd of topi. Topi are one of the fastest animals on the plains with larger front legs so they can run up to 70 km/hr. They also have long faces so they can eat the shorter grass and the males have horns.

In this largely inhabited savannah we saw a bohor reedbuck which lay in the reeds to hide from predators.

After this we went to see the giraffes. The six that we saw were all elegant and graceful. We got out of our jeeps at that point to stretch our legs and get a better view of not only the giraffes but also our surroundings. What we saw around us was amazing, if you looked straight you would see giraffes, when you looked beyond the giraffes you would see a herd of topi, to the left of the topi were the water buffalo. If you looked further to the left you could see some ampala and then if you looked opposite of the giraffes there was a group of zebra. That whole experience was amazing.


(from left to right) Eland, Zebra, Giraffe
After getting our fill of the scenery we got back into the jeeps and headed for the river. On our way however we saw oribi, the second smallest of the antelope. We saw baboons sitting in the tree, and an eland, one of the rarest in the park and the shyest and the largest of the antelope.

a hippo in the water

a hippo out of the water
We got to the river where we caught a glimpse of a crocodile slipping into the water. We then stopped after a couple of meters where we saw many hippos two of which we saw out of the water which is very uncommon. This was the end of our journey in the park, we went back through the park on a much faster route where we saw some of the same animals. We got back to the guide station and let the guide out, then we went back to our guest house. This was the end of our amazing day at Akagera National Park.


  1. Lions and tigers and bears - Oh my! You got to see crocodles and elands, baboons and more - How great! All God's creatures in their natural environment. What lasting memories you are creating. Peace be with you!

  2. I am so happy for you to see those amazing creatures and sites! God is so good. Glad you were safe from the hippos. Love to all of you! Kathy

  3. Bryce this is your heaven i miss you i cant wait to see you when you come home! But till then enjoy every moment of every day in Rwanda!


    The pictures are AMAZING!

  4. Your descriptions are like on "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom". Ask Pastor Heidi and Mrs. Janss if they remember that show. The giraffes look HUGE! They seem to dwarf the zebra. They are still huge in the background of the pic with the 8 of you. They appear much bigger than the giraffes at Brookfield zoo. I heard a report the other day that said some type of animal identification process had been developed that reads the zebra stripes like a bar code. Seriously! That way they can take a picture of the herd and figure out which ones are there without having to radio collar or capture the animal. Sounds like you had a lot of success with seeing the more rare animals. And, you have several more birds to add to your life list! Thanks for the pictures and descriptions!

  5. It has been great to follow along all the good you are doing in Rwanda on this Blog. You all are examples of Gandhi's famous quote: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I am glad you were able to take time out to see the wildlife in their natural habitat. What an incredible experience.
    Bryce, we miss you.
    Dad (Tim)
    ps. Is the country unifying to the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011? I know soccer is a big deal over there. Rwanda played and lost to England in an opener today.

  6. I am so jealous that you guys went on a safri, it sounds amazing. The pictures are beautiful, and the discriptions are amazing. Bryce you might want to look into being a travel writer.


  7. I am one who remembers Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom! I thought they were the only ones to really capture all those animals on film! What a great trip. Thanks for sharing what you learned about the landscape and the unfamiliar creatures.