07 October 2014

In the Jungle, the Quiet Jungle...

I did some prep before going to Kenya. In addition to earmarking and reading all the pages in the safari companion that covered the animals I could possibly see, I also watched The Ghost and the Darkness and The Lion King. I was a little bummed to not be going to Tsavo but at least I was hitting the ballpark being in the right country and all. E&M told me I was the most prepared guest they'd had in their two years there. Considering part of my prep was watching a Disney musical that's just kind of sad.

Knowing how much I wanted to see them, E&M were very insistent with our guide that we find some big cats. And we struck gold our first evening game drive. We'd been driving for a while and had seen plenty of antelope when our guide got word there was a cub hanging out on its own so we raced over too see him. Maybe a year or so old, still young enough to have some spots and need its mother anyway, the little guy was on his lonesome calling for mama.

During the time we watched him mama didn't show but the net day during our epically long morning drive we found the whole family. Well, the family minus the lion, no manes in sight other mine which had been ripped apart by wind and dust, but several lionesses and cubs.

I doubled checked that we weren't actually allowed out of the van. E visited me a few months ago and asked if there were anything from Kenya I wanted her to bring and now seemed a great moment to get myself the lion cub she didn't bring me. I'm sure Sherlock would appreciate the company.

On our final morning drive, on our way out of the park, we spotted some elephants moving in the distance (I was in physical pain over my lack of a telephoto) and stopped to watch them. In an odd way it was almost more amazing to see them passing in the distance than it was to be surrounded by them the day before. While draped over the top of the van, awestruck by the elephants, I caught a sudden movement in the foreground and M and I both pointed at the same time. Lions! Likely the same pride we'd seen the day before.

You can almost see the elephants in the background

While watching the lions we noticed a large group of Guinea fowl tailing the pride. Apparently this is something that prey do. They actually follow predators around so that they always know where they are. Given the closeness with which the birds were following and how thin the lions were we couldn't understand why they didn't just snatch themselves a couple for a snack. Guinea fowl can't fly so I don't imagine they'd present too much of a challenge to lions. Plus Guinea fowl are ugly annoying birds (which I know from experience because my dad thought they were cool so we had a bunch on the farm mingling with the chickens) so really the lions would be doing everyone a favor if they ate them.

We didn't get lucky with any other cats so my next safari will be to "hunt" down cheetahs. We did, thanks to M's super sharp eyes, get a fleeting glimpse of a leopard our first night out but it was gone before I could get my camera in position.

Up next...zebras!

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