Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
But life in the Mara is also about death. The predators hunting their prey. They all live together. The photo of the cheetahs show three brothers laying by a bush yet the zebra and wildebeast were not further than 200 yards away. It was kind of odd that their smorgasbord was right there and they didn't care, or at least didn't care at that moment.
We never saw a kill even though Dominic tried. One morning we were out and came across one cow lying in a field. That had to mean certain death for that animal as we were watching the hyenas circling us and the cow. But then the hyenas weren't sure and Dominic started the engine to drive up right next to the cow. I wasn't so sure I wanted to see the cow turned into dinner but also couldn't understand what was happening because he scared the hyenas off.
Masai believe all cows belong to them. They also believe that the bright red or orange cloth that they wear keep the predators away. Lying next to that cow was a stick and a red cloth. Perhaps the cow had been hurt and the Masai herdsman had left his red cloth on a stick to protect the cow until he could come back to retrieve it. Don't know but what I watched happen was amazing.
Dominic got out of the Land Rover, put the stick back in the ground and hung the red cloth on it to protect this cow. The amusing part of this story is that it was not a red cloth but a University of Wisconsin sweatshirt. The Big Ten rules in Kenya.
As I said above, we didn't see a kill but we saw two feeding frenzies. The first was a gob of turkey vultures and Maraposa Storks pulling apart a wildebeast. It was a mass of moving birds pulling and pecking and fighting. The wildebeast was leftover from some cheetah or lion kill and then the scavengers set in.
The next feeding frenzy we saw hyenas eating another unfortunate wildebeast. Mama hyena had had her fill and was watching her two youngsters pull at the rest of the carcass. They had blood all over their faces and didn't care that we were watching.
There was a creek that we had to pass over all the time. Lots of rocks and water, but something that the Land Rover could handle. The local Masai guides call it "Smelly Crossing," and when you go over you know why. Not so bad to go across but when you stopped to check out the elephants or baboons or the hippos, oh my, stink like you've never smelled before. Really. It stunk like nothing else. Not really like an open sewer, but Lisa says it reminded her of the geysers at Yellowstone times a hundred. Sulphery, icky smell.
We were crossing it looking around at the other animals when all of a sudden the hippos stood up in the background. They had always looked like rocks but you knew they were there based on the smell. Now, we could see them. If you look at this photo you'll see big black rocks with legs.
On the last day of the safari we came up the backside of the creek for the first time. The smell got worse as did the sights. First thing — a belly up bloated dead hippo with a crocodile near by.
We drove around a bit further and the stink got worse. The hippos lay in their own poop and there was gobs of it floating in the creek. Apparently wallowing in your own poop is heaven to hippos. Then our Masai driver, Dominic, got out and started pitching rocks at the black mass of poop in the water.
The hippos were aggravated and popped up out of the poop.
I couldn't stop laughing. It was so funny to see skinny Dominic picking up rocks and throwing them at the blobs. I think he was frustrated at not finding leopards for us that he was determined to give us a show.
Be thankful these are not scratch and sniff photos. Just thinking about these five minutes on safari makes me laugh, kind of uncontrollably.