Wednesday, July 28, 2010
By Eli Weiss – images © 2010 WildiZe Foundation
July 23, 2010
Our sleek bodies are as golden as the long grass, my mates and I. Our powerful shoulders, legs, ripping claws and three-inch teeth make us expert at killing our prey. Unheard and unseen, we slide like silk through the long grass, finding a good spot hunker down … and we wait.
Across the river we see the strange metal boxes rushing to and fro, filled with the Two-Legged-Ones, who’s heads pop up and down out the tops and sides, generally making funny chattering noises while they point and click shiny things at us. Since we were little cubs we’ve grown up with them and know that they are a part of the constantly moving landscape around us. Even though they can be scary at times, we know it’s only when they’re out of their funny moving boxes that they can be dangerous, but most times they are not a threat and really don’t bother us much. We can always melt back into the bush, there are many places we can go where they cannot.
Anyway, right now, they don’t even seem to see us, so we pay them little attention. Today all of us are focused on the river waiting for the wildebeest to plunge across in their endless cycle of their Great Migration.
All morning we’ve been watching great clouds of dust rise and fall as the cloud cover disappears leaving the burning sun in its wake, baking down on everyone and everything, driving the wildebeest and zebras to unbearable thirst after their long trek. We see them gathering, bunching, tensing; nervously skittering down to the river—they don’t see or smell us in their desperate need for water. They must drink. It is the pressure of their huge numbers that forces them across the river towards us. We’re ready and we wait, it won’t be long now. We’ve picked a good spot…the bank is steep and difficult to climb on this side with a narrow gap to reach the safety of the open plains.
We’re in position, crouched, tense and ready! Ah! There she goes, the first of my lioness’s springs into action––she splits off a small group –dazed and confused from their charge through the water, they spin off in a panic, where my second lioness springs out in front of them, spinning them into perfect position for ambush, where all 500 pounds of my rippling muscular form leaps forward running up the gap behind them, my black mane flying, and with my powerful legs, paws and claws I seize upon the rear flank of panicked herd. My mates zero in!
We’ve got one!
Outstanding feline purr-fection!
Time for lunch.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
The other night, camp dinner was over and discussion inevitably turned to life in the bush and to its inhabitants. One very young lady described how she had seen an absolutely enormous Hippo on her morning walk with her parents and brothers. As the discussion developed conservation turned to the Hippo's habit of spreading its droppings by turning its tail into a fast flicking metronome.
It was explained that this was used as both a submissive and dominating gesture within Hippo communities. These cold scientific facts may be supported by hours of careful observation and a wordy dissertation but they lack a certain romance,
A different explanation comes from within traditional African folklore. This version harks back to the start of life when the creator had just finished molding all the animals. His final task was to tell each animal where they were to live - so he called them all to meet under his great Baobab tree.
They all lined up to be told : the Zebra & gazelles were to live on the grassy plains, Crocodiles the water, Giraffes where there tall trees to browse until all but Hippo knew where they were to live. He had slept too late and puffed up late.
The creator said to the Hippo that the only place where there was still room left for him to live was on the plains where he could graze the grass short. The Hippo said : "I'm so sorry but that is no good for me. I get burnt by the sun very easily and there is very little shade on the plains. Please can I live in the water ?".
At this all the animals who had been told to live in or by the water, like the herons, Crocodiles and Fish Eagles, all protested very loudly. They moaned "If Hippo lives in the water he's so big he will eat all the fish". Hippo promised that it wouldn't eat their fish but they didn't believe him.
Hippo said "If I can prove that I'm not eating your fish and return to the plains to eat grass every night, will that be OK ?" All the animals agreed, so long as Hippo did what he promised.
So, to this day, Hippo spreads out his dung to prove it only contains the remains of his grass diet and absolutely no fish bones.
Which explanation do you prefer ?
Sunday, July 18, 2010
WE'RE BACK !
Having past the last few months across the border on Tanzania's Serengeti Plains, us Wildebeest and a few of our Zebra friends are coming back to the Mara as we've heard that the grass is now greener here.
First a few of us set off - traveling in long lines across the plains of golden grass - occasionally one grunting as if to confirm that they were going in the right direction. Trudging Northwards they meet up with a few friends who had remained behind in the Mara from last year, together with its full time resident vegetarian’s - Topi, Warthogs, Giraffe, Buffalo, Rhino, Hippo, Elephant etc.
As the days went past, more and more of us followed our pathfinders, the initial strings developing into larger groups until they look like the Indians coming over the hill to meet General Custer at the Little Big Horn.
On we trudged, grunting to each other our agreement that this was a really good idea, occasionally racing ahead or stopping for a quick snack on the new grass. Once in a while some of us would get confused and set off back the way we had come but we always ended up going in the right direction.
Then we came across a real barrier across the path along which our instincts were drawing us - the Mara River! It wasn't just its steep sides that were the problem nor the swim across its fast flowing water nor the steep climb out the other side. What worried us more was the welcoming party that had been arranged by some of the carnivorous residents. Crocs lurking in the rushing water whilst Lion & Leopard concealing themselves in long grass or bushes.
On the banks of the river we stood and contemplated the drop to the water, occasionally we would move up & down to seek better places to cross - hesitating at the very brink. Then, one of our bravest (or perhaps one with less brains) would take the initial plunge leaving a trail of dust behind them. Some would chose a gentle slope, others - more adventurous - would hurtle down narrow chutes to the water. Once one had taken the literal plunge, others would rush to follow with clouds of dust and splashes.
The Mara's waters might be cooling and refreshing after days trudging across the plains but they do have their drawbacks ! Hidden just below the surface is often a long narrow snout filled with rows of sharp teeth. The Crocs make their lunge for unfortunate friends dragging them to drown under the once inviting waters. We try not to look as they spin to drag the meat from the bodies they have snatched.
Having plunged across the river in an increasing dust cloud, we occasionally suffer from the lack of foresight by the ones who had selected this particular crossing point. Our problem is that not every entry point is matched by an easy exit climb up the other bank. Consequently, our swim is lengthened as we search for an easy way up on the other side.
Gaining the top of the bank, we meet the second element of the welcoming party. The dash and throat grip of the felines lying in wait in the long golden grass or behind a bush. Occasionally, when they have already eaten too much, they will just lie there and we stream around them - always keeping an eye on them in case they feel like a snack.
Fortunately, only a few out of the hundreds and thousands of us pay the ultimate price of our long journey.
Occasionally, some of us will recross the river as if we had enjoyed the initial experience so much. However, most of us will disperse over the plains in search of the new grass had had drawn us up from Tanzania,
Friday, July 16, 2010
I woke up at 6:30 in the morning, beautiful sunrise, clear sky, lovely songs from the birds...remember "the early bird catches the worm"!
When we started the elephants were the first animals we saw around the camp, zebras, impala, topi, giraffes and monkeys were also nearby. I drove past them to the conservancy and after a 30min drive I saw a dazzle of zebra and a herd of topi watching and snorting. I stopped the car and and took my binoculars out and started looking. Then I realised that its a big male lion (king of the jungle!!!)
I drove towards the lion slowly and told my guest to keep quiet and take pictures. After five minutes the lion walked slowly towards the car and marked his territory by spraying urine and roaring! Within a couple of minutes I turned around on the other side I found that we were together with two beautiful females with two tiny cubs. The females walked towards the male and I was worried that the cubs were not his but thankfully they were. With the knowledge from biologist Sara Blackburn ( Living with lions, Mara Predator Project Manager) looking at the whisker spots and scars on the face I found the lion was called "Jonna" from the marsh pride.
When I imagine how far the marsh is (Masai Mara game reserve) and know we have the pride just one kilometer from camp I found we are in a jungle of lions. My guests enjoyed watching and taking pictures, the whole pride was playing and walking toward the thick croton bushes.
I continued doing my game drive and in a few KM I spotted a cheetah WOW! I drove towards it and as I got close the cheetah jumped on my vehicle. She was there for a reason, to have a better view of the area and chose her prey because the grass was so long. She jumped off the car and started stalking towards the gazelles, the hunt was successful! As she ate suddenly 2 hyena's came and took her kill off her, she walked away slowly and lay below a tree and watched as they fed on the fruits of her labour...giggling and loving every bite. Within 5min there was nothing left, the vultures circling above.
On that note we decided to return to camp for lunch!
Nature is what you take it to be, come and experience the beauty of the Mara, come one come all and enjoy the safari of your life!
I have already been out on a three day safari with 2 guests staying in our mobile camp for 4 nights. Every single day was great, I was very happy with the early and magical crossing of the wildebeest down at the look out ( the furthest crossing point in the Mara). Everybody was very happy for that and couldn't miss it for the last 3 days.
My last two days we were driving along the Mara North Conservancy and all in all it has been the best place to see the cheetahs (about six in a single day) the three brothers, Saba with a cub and a single cheetah which improve the quality of our photo's by climbing up onto our friends car, this was just fantastic and nobody could believe their eyes!
On the last evening I decided to take my guests for a walk for exercise and feel the exposure to the wildebeest of the Mara, just within a couple of hours away from Serian camp we saw an animal jumping down from the tree, I had found a "chui"(leopard) with a cub. I inform the guests and only one took a picture before it disappeared into the bushes. All in all with the use of my lovely binoculars I found a tiny baby walking behind the mother. This was when we discovered that she was "Zawadi". The lovely princess of Serian. It had been about a month since I last saw her, and I was thrilled to see her back.
I had a great morning when driving my guest back to the airstrip, on my way to Musiara I found the most famous pride of lions, the Marsh pride. Everyone enjoyed taking pictures and everyone wished to come back again with their friends and families for a lifetime trip.
Welcome all and enjoy your life trip in Serian camp. A serene place for every individual who needs peace of mind and a wonderful place for a holiday.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Do not miss out on the migration this year - http://www.serian.net to book your once in a lifetime experience with Alex Walkers "Serian" camps.
Monday, July 12, 2010
It was like, oh my god! to meet guests that I had been with before and everyone shed tears because of the passions and love we had towards each other after being reunited.
We spent that day going out for all sorts game drives and back to camp for a night. Come early in the morning of the 2nd day when we went out it was just fabulous and we almost saw the whole big five.
The 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th and 8th was just gorgeous having managed to see 4 of the big five 230 different species of birds around Serian and the Mara North Conservancy.
Four of the small five including: leopard, tortoise, ant lion, rhinoceros beetle.
It was unforgettable moment of the last day of our 10 days because we attended a traditional celebration of the maasai women in one of the villages and the significance of the ceremony is to bless women to have more kids. This means if one woman had 8-10 kids she is going to accept more for what they believed. For me as well I had never attended before so it wa an unforgettable moment for the guests and I. A very colourful ceremony that they hold every 15-20years.
What a peak to our last day!!!! We had looked for a leopard and hadn't seen any but he just showed himself to complete the number of "the big five". "Put the pedal to the metal" Linda shouted as we heard the leopard is somewhere close. Everybody in the car cheered at this fantastic climax to the safari.
To summarize, everything was fabulous and everyday there are new and different things so we never get bored.
Finally we had fun moment, Brian asked at a picnic breakfast "Daniel do you have chicken in the camp?" no thanks but "we had dead ones in the freezer" everyone laugh.
to conclude Serian is a home of the big five, rich in birds and botany, walking safaris fishing and many more.
For all "get serian and get home"
Bye for now