Today we’re up and out bright and early. Leaving just after the sunrise, we make our first stop – grazing zebra. I can’t get over how round and plump they are. They are truly massive creatures not in the way elephants are but they have a broad build and a strong body so I guess it’s no wonder they can be a hefty 1,000lbs. ALREADY, the tsetse flies are at it again. My ankles are no longer ankles, just numb nubs from all the scratching. These flies are killer (joking), although it’s not an excruciating pain these tsetse’s can do some damage.
Throughout the morning we make some incredible sightings – vervet monkeys, hornbill, giraffe, elephants, marabou storks, vultures and more!
Now we are driving up to an open high ground and in the middle of everything stands a baobab tree. We stop. Said says to get out and take a look at the gaping hole. I step inside and immediately notice pieces of wood horizontally sticking out. Knowing this is not what baobab trees look like, I see this is a tree that has been taken advantage of by poachers. Creating a hideout way up from game wardens and rangers, this baobab was used as shelter by poachers before and after committing horrific crimes. Africa, more specifically Tanzania, has been combating poachers for quite some time, but continues to work and devise strategies to eliminate as many ill-intentioned acts as possible. Hearing Said’s stories and talking about poaching, only continues to open my mind to what can be the future of our wildlife. With everything said and asked, we hop back into the 4×4 to see more life. A lot of roadblocks today. Wildebeest and zebra traveling to and fro. There’s bound to be traffic snails. No worries here, traffic in these national parks is welcomed and exciting.
Many detours later, Said, with his eyes made for spotting, finds one of the most elusive big cats – a leopard. Way up in an Acacia tree, peacefully rests this magnificent animal. We sit and take it in. Looking through the binoculars, slowly observing each spot, each paw, the tail, his facial structure, and his ears. These are the moments I wish to never let go. Although this animal looks peaceful and lovable now, I remember this animal is a beast. This leopard has fought for its life every single day. It takes incredible skill to make it to adulthood in this animal kingdom for there is no mercy. It’s relieving to not see this beauty being worn, caged and abused, used for entertainment, or living as a “pet” by a human. This is how it should always be. This is how he should always be seen. Sitting only meters away, I cannot take my eyes off of him. I truly feel grateful to be in his presence. Having been sitting with this leopard for a while, we decide to carry on for there is so much more yet to come. I’m beginning to remember the ways around this small portion of the park, so right now we are headed around to where we started yesterday.
Wildebeest and zebra keep running frantically back and forth from the watering hole to elevated safety. Baboons sign a warning call, and everyone’s focus is on the pride of lions (the ones we saw yesterday) who has taken down a wildebeest. It’s as if every other wildebeest can’t help but watch their fellow herd member be torn apart by these cats. It’s amazing seeing how they react and pay such close attention to these lions who are having their own share of a meal paying them no attention. Although I didn’t see the takedown, it is utterly jaw dropping to be able to watch this feed play out. I don’t find it disturbing, nor should it be, for this is what predators are wired to do. With that being said, it is unfortunate for a life to be gone but that is how Nature works. One life ends so others can thrive. In the wild, life isn’t handed to them like it is to us. Here you have to fight for survival. I think it’s actually quite beautiful seeing how quickly animals are able to continue on with their lives after a death I know it’s due to a lot of reasons (reasons I will touch upon later) but just watching it unfold is exhilarating to see. Anyway, back to this amazing scene right in front of me. This is one for the books!
It’s been an incredible day, filled with amazing sightings and boxed lunches. It’s time to head back for a rest after eight hours because later on we have a night game drive!
After that, tomorrow I am off to the Ngorongoro Crater! Many more adventures to come!
Prey update: This is what the wildebeest looked like the next day!