Some spirit is looking out for us. That’s the only explanation for our good fortune during this morning game drive.
For the past two years, no cheetahs had been sighted in the Kings Pool area, up until the week before we arrived. As we set out, a report came over the radio of a pair that had been sighted that morning. Moses told us to hold on tightly as he tracked the cheetah prints. We roared off the path straight into the bush, mowing down shrubs and small trees that bent beneath a metal plane at the front of the jeep and sprang back upright behind us. Directions crackled over the radio as the guides worked together across vehicles to track the great cats. Suddenly we came upon them and everything quieted.
They were a pair of bachelor males. Once male cubs grow old enough to leave the females, they strike out on their own and meet up with other males. Two males will fight each other to establish which is dominant, and then form a coalition to hunt. These two were quite chill, though, and let us watch them laze.
Later in the afternoon we were lucky to find another pair, younger and smaller, who were more skittish and kept us at a fair distance.
These two hippos were sleeping in the shade. Their heads are so heavy that they often rest them on the ground. With their long snouts and flaring nostrils, I can see why they’re called river horses. Like babies, they believe that if they can’t see you, you can’t see them. These two turned their heads to “hide” before they dozed off again.
Check out these ostriches running in perfect synchronization, their feathers like fluffy petticoats in the wind. The black one is male; the grey, female.
But the most exciting part of the day was stumbling on a huge herd of elephants. We watched them calmly graze awhile, then drove straight through the middle of the herd, with them trumpeting, ear-flapping, and skipping daintily out of the way.
More sights from today:
This poor baby elephant had his trunk bitten off by a hyena. He’s surviving for now, but as his tusks grow, they will extend past the reach of his trunk, and he’ll likely starve. Adult elephants need about 600 pounds of food per day, although they only digest 40% of what they eat. Because seeds sprout where their droppings fall, elephants are considered the architects of the bush.
Later in the evening, we boarded a boat for a spot of evening fishing. My sister reeled in nothing. My brother quietly caught a silver catfish. Meanwhile, my stepmom, a fishing fanatic, hooked herself in the hand, hooked herself again in the thigh, and then slipped and jackknifed herself over the rope at the back of the boat. (Then she caught a fish.) A bit of excitement in an otherwise tranquil afternoon.
Red lechwe, a type of antelope.
Giraffes. They look so unimpressed. Their collective noun is a tower! A tower of giraffes!
And the silhouette of the red-billed hornbill, sometimes known as a “Zazu,” against the twilight.