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Twice on our way to Heifer Tanzania field visits we passed through the Mikumi National Park. The highway stretches for 30 miles directly through the park, with signs such as this one on either side.

I was hopeful to see more giraffes, and was not disappointed. At one point we passed a herd of more than 40 munching trees on both sides of the road! We were also overwhelmed by the site of several different types of antelope, elephants, buffalo and zebra as we passed through, yelping at Country Director Peter Mwakabwale to stop the car so we could take even more photos. It's a wonder we made it to our destinations at all.

Some of the most entertaining critters were these baboons Dave Anderson captured on video as we went through the park. Keep an eye out for the teeniest one jumping around in the road. Some park facts from Peter: The black rhino is so rare and in danger of poachers that the park rangers escort it around the park with trucks and machine guns, day and night, wherever it should wander.


As for the baboons, Peter says Tanzanians never stop to watch them because they're so plentiful even outside the park, something comparable to squirrels in the U.S. We must have seemed ridiculous watching them for 15 minutes or more. He said the baby male baboons ride along underneath their mothers, while the female ones leap on top. They are very playful, as you can see. "I could watch them all day," Dave said, focusing in on yet another tail-twitching, tree-shaking chase scene.

We asked Peter what the rarest or strangest animal he's ever seen is, as he passes this way often to visit beneficiaries. He was a bit puzzled by the question.

"This is my home. To me none of them are strange. I know them all."

How lucky is he?

Author

Donna Stokes

Donna Stokes is the managing editor of World Ark magazine. She has worked for Heifer International since September 2008 when she leaped over to the nonprofit world from a two-decade career in newspaper journalism.