Stacks Image 153
Print No #12

A Group of Elegant Storks


Archaeologist Mary Leakey traced this unusual group of birds from a rock shelter in the Kondoa-Irangi districts of central Tanzania and identified them as storks. Archaeologist John Cavallo compared the birds with detailed illustrations of stork species common to East Africa. He found that the unique upturned bills on four of the five individuals and their solid-colored heads and necks closely resemble the bills, coloration, and silhouettes of the large Saddle-billed stork. Its preferred habitats are swamps and wetlands, including waterholes. To Bushman shamans, waterholes were important entranceways through which they accessed the spirit realm. Although the group of birds in this print are probably Saddle-billed storks, the presence of five birds is puzzling since they are usually solitary or found in pairs. One possible explanation for the three on the left is that the first smaller bird is the young offspring of the two larger birds just behind it. Unfortunately, there is no plausible explanation for the two remaining birds.