My African Photo Safari - Journal Entry #8 - August 26, 1988

Succinct recap of August 24, 25, 26: We drove from Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania to the Tanzania/Kenya border. At the border, we said goodbye to Jasper, and our other Tanzanian game drivers. I was overjoyed to see James, Kinyili, and John, our Kenyan drivers we first had upon our arrival to Kenya. They drove our group to the Norfolk Hotel, in Nairobi where we stayed one night. Then we headed out to the Masai Mara River Camp, a wonderful place with permanent tents, set atop concrete slabs.

After our arrival at the Mara River Camp on the night of August 25, 1988, we were finally heading out on safari in the Masai Mara, on the morning of August 26! The first thing we saw was an agama lizard on a rock, warming itself in the morning sun. The next subject was a Lilac Breasted Roller; a small bird, perched on a branch.

Suddenly I heard a soft, "Oh no," from Don. "What's wrong?" I asked. I think I left my garnet, (a semi-precious gemstone) in the pants pocket I just sent to be laundered in camp. He checked all his shirt, and pants pockets, and camera bag, but it wasn't there. I said, "Don, you'll have to tell Lenny, to ask John - (our third game driver) to turn the van around and drive back to camp so you can get your gemstone.

We have to go back. I thought for sure Lenny had wanted to wring both Ann and my necks for being late that morning getting ready, and now Don's, but he actually took it better than I imagined. We left the other two vans just setting there as we drove back to camp. All the while, Don look very worried about his garnet getting lost or damaged. I tried to comfort him and said, "Don't worry, chances are they haven't gotten to your laundry yet, as things tend to move more slowly here. We'll get back before they get to your laundry, and everything will be okay."

We arrived back at camp. Don left with John, our game driver for the day, who took him directly to the laundry area of the camp, instead of dealing with the front desk in the lobby. They came back very quickly, and Don was smiling, as they arrived just as his laundry was about to be washed, and Don retrieved the spinel out of his pants pocket without further fanfare

We started our morning drive again, and saw a topi, (a large antelope) standing on a small mound of dirt. The sound of our vehicle startled it, and off it dashed. Then we saw several wildebeest (gnus) grazing. The morning sped by, and we headed back to camp for lunch.

We dined, al fresco near the Mara River, instead of in the dining tent. The lunch was buffet style, and I helped myself to roast beef, salad, bread, and potatoes. It was wonderful, and I ate a lot to make up for hardly any breakfast. It was a beautiful, sunny day, with blue skies and white, puffy clouds. I thoroughly enjoyed the lush green scenery, contrasted with the sights and sounds, of the muddy Mara River.

After lunch, we walked back to our tent, grabbed more film, in preparation for our afternoon drive which proved to be one of the most exciting, in terms of photographic opportunities. We saw giraffes, impala, zebra, wildebeest, Thomson's Gazelles, and cheetahs.

John, our game driver, spotted a mother impala with her newborn calf, which was about ten minutes old. We decided to stay with them, because we also saw a group of five cheetahs only about a quarter mile from them.

One young cheetah from this group, ran towards the mother impala and her calf. The other four cheetahs took off in another direction, as there was a large herd of impala, with several targets for the cheetahs to choose from. The one cheetah we were watching, charged at the mother and calf. The mother impala ran away in one direction, and the calf in the other. I was surprised at this, because I thought the mother would stay with her calf to try to defend it by kicking at the cheetah, but she didn't. The cheetah chased the newborn impala and tripped it by hitting the impala's back legs with its paws as it ran towards the impala.
The impala tripped, and quickly the cheetah grabbed the impala by the throat. The calf was still alive at this point.

I was using my 300mm telephoto lens and this shot filled the frame. I'll always remember this photograph as one of the best of my photo safari. Through the lens, I could see the impala's coat was still wet from being recently born. There was just the faintest hint of blood on the impala's neck.

The cheetah placed the impala down in the tall, amber grass, as it was now dead, and the cheetah started chirping like a bird, as it called to the other four cheetahs in its group. It was a high pitched sound, and I was fascinated. Never in all the National Geographic shows I'd watched, had I ever heard a cheetah's birdlike call.

"Our," cheetah's companions didn't come to it, so it picked up the impala, walked a few yards, dropped the impala, and started calling again. It repeated this several times, and then finally left its kill, and walked away to find its other four companions, which were nearby, on a kill of their own. They had taken down a full grown impala, and were busily feeding.

When the cheetahs were finished eating, "our" cheetah started leading the other four to its newborn impala kill. It came within ten yards, but didn't find it again, in the tall grass. I thought, what a shame that little calf died for nothing. As if Lenny could read my mind, he said, matter-of-factly, "Something will find it. Nothing goes to waste here." This was very sad to me, and I found it difficult to tell people about this when I got home. It still haunts me a bit.

We drove on, and saw wildebeest (gnus) migrating in single file, under what looked like, "fair weather," clouds. We were wrong.

The next animals we saw were Wild Cape Hunting Dogs, or "African Wild Dogs." (Lycaon pictus) We were all so excited to see them, as they are an extremely endangered species with an estimated populations continuing to dwindle.

Being it was late August, I didn't think anything of the gathering storm clouds brewing overhead, as we delighted in seeing the wild dogs. We should have paid more attention to the weather, as the road conditions changed quickly, and the large potholes soon filled with water, and the road grew muddy, within a few short minutes. I think our game drivers were even more surprised than we were. Two of our three vans got stuck in the mud. I of course took photos documenting the scene as the guys from all the vehicles got out to push.

After the two vehicle were, "freed," we slowly made our way back to the Masai Mara River Camp. Looking back on this experience, I reflected on the fact that our little group of three vans, were the only ones in the area for miles. That should have told us something. We reluctantly called it a day, and hoped to see the wild dogs again, the next day.

Publicado por kathleenlryan kathleenlryan, 02 de diciembre de 2019

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