Do you want to impress when you are a game drive? Committing these to memory can be a useful tool to help entertain, inform and educate those on the vehicle with you. This is very much a game that anyone can play and you can even get your guide or tracker involved, although they should know most of the ‘answers’…
It is thought that collective nouns date back to ‘ The Book of Saint Albans’ written by Dame Juliana Berners and published in 1486…and they are still in use 534 years later! I suppose that there is really nothing stopping anyone making up new collective nouns for species that might not currently have… like a prickle of porcupine or an irritation of fleas?
While many of the collective nouns were chosen for the humorous images they conjure up, or the alliteration, some of the collective nouns are generic, like ‘herd’ or ‘swarm’. Others are species-specific and descriptive, like an ‘obstinancy of buffalo’ or a ‘confusion of wildebeest‘.
Let’s start with amphibians and reptiles:
Toads are known as a Knab or Nest.
Snakes, on the other hand, have several collective names; Den, Nest, Pit and Bed. Cobras have a separate collective noun, a Quiver.
Many of the collective nouns for mammals are well known, so I want to focus on the more obscure…
Baboons can be either a Troop or a Flange…
A Crash of Rhino is very descriptive and a noise that you might NOT want to hear when you are out on foot in the bush.
By the same token, a Memory of Elephants or a Bloat(pod) of Hippo will certainly tickle the funny bone of guests on a vehicle with you.
Giraffe are one of the few species that have collective nouns for when they stand still ( a Tower) or when they are on the move (a Journey).
And one that always impresses travellers both local and international…a Dazzle of Zebra.
Although spiders and insects do not feature in a Top 10 list, they too have interesting collective nouns. ( Spiders are a clutter or cluster.)
Cockroaches: An “Intrusion”, this has to be one of the most descriptive.
Hornets: A “bike”! But have you ever seen hornets flying in a bike formation?
Mosquitoes: A Scourge is the recognized noun, but should it not be a ‘Whine’ or ‘Persistence’?
Scorpions: Are either a Bed or a Nest.
With the current popularity of the Netflix documentary “My Octopus Teacher” you might wonder if there is a collective noun for them. The short answer is “no” as they are solitary creatures. When they do come together to mate or when there is an abundance of food, they are referred to as a Consortium. (Image from Google images)
There are one species found in the wild that does not seem to have a collective noun…the Field Guide! A Gaggle of Guides perhaps?
And the sun sets on yet another interesting African day…
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