Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Drama at the Masa Mara, part 1

While in Kenya earlier this month, I had the chance to go on safari in the Masai Mara Game Reserve. It was an amazing couple of days, the number of animals we saw was astounding. Over the next three days I will share clips from my journal of the drama that unfolded one afternoon. 

After seeing a plethora of animals that morning, we parked under a tree and our guides – Tony, Izzo and Boni – spread a blanket on the ground and pulled our bag lunches from the back of one of the vans. I didn’t think it would be much of a lunch, but holy cow – a piece of chicken, a ham sandwich, a banana, bag of nuts, and juice box. I thought that was pretty good. 
We were also under the tree owned by a big ol’ baboon and Izzo very cutely fed him a banana. 

We were just finished eating, when suddenly one of the guides cried out, “there’s going to be a crossing.” Okay… So we threw all of our stuff in the vans within a second and off we bounced towards the river, in anticipation of seeing a herd of wildebeest dramatically cross the river as we have seen on so many National Geographic specials.    

At the river, a small mixed herd of zebra and wildebeest were hovering on the top of the bank. A group of zebra on the other side were calling to their family. A few zebras would head down the bank, but come right back up. Pretty soon a croc was lurking in the water, which of course really spooked the zebras. 

The whole herd moved to another spot. Three topis joined them and they became the leaders in going over the bank and down to the river. 
They did that three times before they gave up, so finally the zebras decided it was time to make their move. Several of them went down to the river, and began drinking water, wading in half-way up their legs. The croc slowly made his way to them, once again skulking just under the water.

One zebra jumped in and swam half-way across to the sandbar in the middle of the river. His relatives higher up on the bank sent him encouraging brays. He was torn between plunging on and returning to the rest of the herd he had just left, the part of the herd being studied by the croc.

Finally the zebras on the far side won out and the lone fella on the sidebar splashed into the water and joined his partners. Six or eight remained, sipping the water at their feet. The croc continued his vigil, patiently waiting, studying the herd, weighing his options.

Without warning, without any provocation, the zebra turned and ran back up the bank. They were done. They had chickened out and no amount of coaxing from their cohorts on the other bank would bring them back to the shore.

The three guides gave us our options – continue to wait for the cowardly zebras to make up their minds or head back to the tree-line where the leopard had been seen. Perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be; we would not see a dramatic crossing, an innocent grazer pulled into the water by a ruthless crocodile. We decided to try our luck with the leopard.  

We headed back across the plain and over a rise in the endless landscape. The two safari vans came to an abrupt halt by the scene before us. Tens of thousands of wildebeest stretched before us in both directions, an endless line of the mangy animals, heading towards the river to return to better grazing on the other side. 
Izzo assured us that this herd would cross the river. Or would they? Stayed tuned. 

4 comments:

Susan Marlene Kinney said...

Oh so very mean!!! I have an inquiring mind that wants to know! Ha ah! What a hook! :) I'm glad that your home safe! Or are you???? :) Blessings dear friend!

Chris Loehmer Kincaid said...

Had a wonderful time. Watch for more stories here and on Facebook.

Mary Repinski said...

Years ago I was mesmerized by a tv show about MerKats. I could not wait to see the next episode to see how they were. Chris, just unfair you make us wait! Now on to chapter two.!!!

Chris Loehmer Kincaid said...

I remember watching the Meerkats too. We did see some the last day on safari. I think I may have a picture of them...