Julia taught in Namibia in 2010. Since she had seen many of the sights and animals there, we found ourselves visiting Tanzania in the summer. Lisa spent time in a Children’s Village as the nurse. It was quite an experience for them. They had to put up with some privation. Meanwhile I joined them as a tourist and enjoyed regular meals and hot water. Many animals are easy to find and observe. Elephants, giraffe and wildebeest are pretty easy to see. Not that one would be to jaded about seeing any of them. But, the big cats are hard to see. And a leopard is rare indeed. We were very fortunate and didn’t know it. The guide who collected us in the morning laid out a spread of tea and cookies. Then, we were off meandering on the Serengeti. Here the vehicles could drive off road. We came up on another Land Cruiser with a single occupant peering intently past the bushes in a crevice beneath some large rocks. There was a leopard, named Chewy, eating a freshly killed wildebeest. By the next morning the carcass was stripped clean. And yes the guide knew this leopard’s habits well enough to be on a first name basis. Wow, we were lucky to see Chewy. And, yes, the guide told us, but I have forgotten, how distinguish a leopard from a cheetah. It’s about size, build, eyes, and coloring.
Serengeti. Even for our guide, seeing a rhino is not common. We had some false starts, but early one morning we drove across the plain, bumping up and down at breakneck speed to investigate a dot on the horizon. it turned out to be the rhino in this photo. We did not approach too closely. But we were still in range with my super duper telephoto lens. This rhino tolerated us and didn’t break his pattern of grazing. When he ran off it was faster than we could follow. This was a most special day. The ‘big five’ – elephant, rhino, cape buffalo, lion, and leopard – are so named because they are the most difficult to hunt on foot. The term has been adopted by tourists. In the course of one day I shot all five. Photo, not gun, and, I daresay quite a neat piece of luck. Who’d have guessed when we started out in the early morning, that the day would be so memorable.?
Serengeti. I’m told the lions are lazy. They don’t make any effort whatsoever to chase down and eat tourists. The camp in which we stayed had a fresh kill from a lion the night before. It wasn’t more than a short walk to the tents. So, there were armed escorts after dark. Another story and picture I saw was of a lion chewing on the bumper of a Land Cruiser. As long as you don’t disembark, lions associate you with the vehicle and don’t attack people. Henceforth, our guide approached these lions close enough so that I could almost touch them with an outstretched leg. Of course, I didn’t do this. What’s interesting? The male who had lain about listless and asleep suddenly rose. Then lifting his tail proceeded to spray this female. Marking territory or possession? The female was suitably disgusted and moved off. All this occurred in slow motion and without any snarling or fighting.
Serengeti. Of all the cats, I think that the cheetahs are the hardest to see. They are solitary. I saw one in the Ngorongora crater. It was a mere black dot in a field. All we could see was the dot of its head poking up from the grass. Twenty or more Land Cruisers were gathered and dust clouds signaled more were on their way having been summoned by radio. I think that everyone was probably disappointed. But, here! We were close up! Our guide drove right up to the small hill of grass and stopped. This cheetah, no name here, just sat and posed. He never moved off even after we left. I feel very fortunate that we saw the major big cats. No, no tigers are on the Serengeti.