|Yesterday evening we left Amboseli Park, Kenya and visited Lake Manyara,
Tanzania. Our bums are still sore from the ride over the dirt road called
an inter-country highway. Everyday offers a new lesson about animals,
plants, and geology. An underground rain forest, called 'underground'
because it draws its water from the ground, surrounds Lake Manyara. The
lake sits in the Rift Valley, which formed when two plates of the earth's
surface moved apart. The Rift Valley cuts through North and East Africa
and teems with wildlife. One interesting lesson involved giraffes. These
animals eat leaves from thorn trees called Acacias. The thorns are nasty,
needle sharp and finger long, so giraffes have extra long eyelashes and
an 18 inch lubricated tongue to squeeze between the thorns. The Acacia
trees have their own defense. When the tree loses leaves it secretes a
bitter substance called tanin. The giraffes will eat for a few minutes
until the leaves turn bitter, then move to the next tree (they can return
later when the tanin wears off).