Posted by: travelrat | December 15, 2010

The Common African Park-Hopper

I’ve been reading Lara and Terence’s recent posts about Kenya in their blog at http://grantourismotravels.com. It prompted me to seek out an old article about an animal they didn’t mention …

We went to Africa to see the animals. The creature we saw most frequently was the Common African Park-Hopper, or, to give it its biological name, Nissan Safaribus.

This gregarious creature is found in all National Parks and Game Reserves in East Africa, although it’s by no means unusual to sight them elsewhere, even in major cities.

The feeding habit of this strange animal is remarkable. Food, which consists solely of upright hominids, is taken only in the vicinity of hotels and safari lodges, and regurgitated in the same, or a similar location a few hours later. Little, however, is known of its drinking habits, for these have been observed by few, if any Europeans. However, it is believed that copious draughts of diesel oil or 4-star petrol are taken in hidden locations under cover of darkness.

The frequent migrations of Nissan Safaribus could form a study in their own right.

Immediately after feeding, they gather in groups of two or three, then wander, apparently aimlessly, across the savanna. A Park-hopper often stops in the vicinity of other animals. It then makes peculiar whirring and clicking noises, interspersed with cries of ‘Oh! Ain’t he cute?’ or ‘Ssh! You’ll frighten it!’

It is assumed that this is some kind of courtship ritual, for shortly afterwards, it is joined by several other Park-hoppers, who then start making similar whirring and clicking noises. On one occasion, in the vicinity of a leopard, an estimated thirty Park-hoppers were observed.

Park-hoppers less than two years old are rarely seen. From this, we believe that mating takes place only infrequently, because of the possibility of damage to the outer carapace, and trauma to the stomach contents which could result.

There have, however, been reports that Park-hoppers sometimes attempt to mate with other animals. This usually has disastrous consequences for the animal concerned …. except in the case of elephant, buffalo, hippo and rhino, which have been known to inflict terminal damage on the exo-skeleton of Nissan Safaribus.

A Park-hopper can negotiate most kinds of terrain, although one was recently reported in difficulty on the sands of Lake Nakuru. On this occasion, the herd instinct was once more observed as nineteen other Park-hoppers gathered to effect its rescue.

Nowhere on this expedition was a Park-hopper carcass ever seen. This leads us to believe that the Kikuyu legend of a fabulous, still-to-be-discovered Park-hoppers’ Graveyard, where old and crippled Park-hoppers go to die may well be based upon the truth. Much evidence suggests that the legendary Graveyard lies somewhere along Nairobi’s Uhuru Highway, where many extremely decrepit specimens have been observed.

There are several other species of Park-Hopper, often seen in the company of the Common African Park-hopper. All of these exhibit similar behaviour patterns. Most often seen is a very distant relative, Abercrombie’s Park-hopper (Landrover Superioris). This was once the dominant species in many parts of Africa, but its numbers have declined dramatically in the last 20 years or so.

A Herd of 'Nissan Safaribus'


Responses

  1. Very interesting post. Wow! I wonder if they really drink diesel or petrol.

  2. Hi Keith,
    I loved it, so well written, I had a few laughs as I was reading your post. 🙂

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Keith Kellett, Keith Kellett. Keith Kellett said: The Common African Park-Hopper: http://wp.me/p50AZ-Fj […]

  4. Hehe, very amusing Keith, I like it! Gave me a giggle this morning! 🙂

  5. OMG!!! Okay… picking myself up from the floor now… holding my stomach that is literally in stitches… absolutely bloody hilarious!!!! Having just been studying this strange creature ourselves in Kenya for a couple of weeks I have to say that you’re very observant, old man. You should get some kind of honorary degree or trophy for the mantlepiece for this piece. Or they should pay you to go back to Africa to undertake further more detailed studies and write one of those silly books that become bestsellers. And of course we’ll be wanting 2% of the profits, having inspired it all! 🙂

  6. Thank you, all!

    I’m wondering if the 4WD bus we rode to Fraser Island (see next post) is related to ‘Nissan Safaribus’ in any way.

    Lara … anything that will get me back to Africa is OK by me. I’d prefer Botswana, but Kenya will do 🙂


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