This past weekend, my Mom and I were discussing one of her friends that is terrified of birds. So in honour of the topic of Danger, here is a post that is only spells danger for Norma Jean, and anyone else with ornithophobia.
The prompt for the week is to show a wish, and mine is simple, but it seems at the moment, not easy at all. I wish for all these beautiful, wild creatures to be safe, and have the opportunity to live long, natural lives without knowing the horror of poaching or human / wildlife conflict.
Hanging out with the buffalo is definitely a good match for the egret, but I am not so sure it is a two-way street. The buffalo’s movement and grazing causes insects to scatter, becoming easy prey for the egrets that walk alongside the herd of buffalo. Here the buffalo was wading in shallow water at the edge of the river, and the egret is just catching a ride.
On my first trip to Africa, we spent a very rainy afternoon game drive with a pride of lions, and at one point, all the little ones climbed up onto a fallen tree and were playing with each other. While I did my best to capture the moment, the photos turned out awful. Don’t believe me? You can go into the way back machine and see the post about that first sighting here.
On my most recent trip to Africa, during my time in the Masai Mara I was fortunate enough to spend time with two different lionesses with cubs (including two of the tiniest cubs I have ever seen). On an afternoon game drive, we first viewed the mother with the tiny cubs, and when they retreated into a thicket we turned our attention to the older cubs and the pride males that were snoozing nearby. My guide Wilson thought that the males would soon start rousing themselves, so we had a sundowner drink and waited to see what would happen.
And much to my delight, while mama and the boys lounged nearby, the two cubs climbed up onto a dead tree and began playing with each other. And while it was growing dark, the camera I was using was better equipped to deal with it (as was the camera operator!), and I managed to come away with a few usable shots. And if you checked out that old post, you’ll notice I did say maybe this will happen again someday… You never know what you might find when you’re out on a game drive 🙂
It may seem a little strange to post photos from a Masai Mara wildebeest river crossing for a post on ambience, but honestly, the ambience was a very integral part of the experience for me. When you are watching a nature program, they presenters do an excellent job of making a river crossing seem like an amazing spectacle – which is absolutely is!!! They also do an amazing job at making it seem like a secluded experience, which it absolutely is not!
We left our camp at 6am for a 2+ hour drive to the potential crossing point, in the hopes of getting a good parking spot to watch the action. On route we passed wildebeest in the thousands, if not tens of thousands, some marching the direction we were headed, and others, heading in the direction we had come from.
I had never anticipated being the only person there, but I also didn’t expect to find quite so many other people there. But, the atmosphere was a lot of fun. I spent time chatting with my guides and with the people in the vehicle next to us while waiting to see if possibly the wildebeest might make a move. They were certainly taking there time, and a good number of people gave up as the afternoon wore on.
The view from our vehicle at the crossing point. Land cruisers, jeeps, minibuses and land rovers, packed in like sardines and even double parked, all in an attempt to see the action.
When the gazelles approached the water and the crocodiles practically licked their lips, we collectively tried to will the little antelope back from their gruesome fate.
And when at 3:15 the wildebeest started crashing through the water, those that were left were all uttering the same things “amazing”, “mind-blowing”, “unbelievable”.
The atmosphere surrounding that stretch of river on that day in late September, really made the experience that much more special.
The mountain gorillas, despite living in conflict zones and being subjected to poaching and diseases, are still around, and in some areas, thriving. Spending time with them is a beautiful experience. I would definitely define them as being resilient. Let’s hope their numbers will increase, and we will be able to share our world with these magnificent creatures for many, many years to come.