Picture Perfect Day
On a crisp clear day, I was enjoying safari, alone, with no other guests. This is MY time to relax and enjoy. I was marveling at how puffy the clouds were, like white snow, hanging from the air, on a brighter than bright blue background. It was a beautiful day, and I am consistently amazed at the picture perfect days I have enjoyed on many safaris; but this one in particular. Rain was forecast, but not a drop fell, the entire time we were on safari. The days were filled with beauty, and activity; the grasses just turning green from rain the previous days, animals which browse, and animals which graze were all taking advantage of the opportunity.
Suddenly, as always, my eagle-eyed driver spotted a leopard, just lying on a rock sleeping. With all the trees in the foreground, it would have been easy to miss, but my driver knew what he was looking for in this area and I was ecstatic. I reached for my camera, and snapped shot after shot after shot. My driver had told me that this mother leopard had a young baby. How did he know that? Well, he knows these things – he saw the lactating mom and knew there was most likely a baby, if the baby had not succumbed to the dangers of the bush. As he said that, I surveyed the area, hoping to be the first to notice a baby leopard. Just as I was surveying the area, my driver pokes me and tells me to turn around and there was this cutest baby leopard peeking through the branches checking out his mom. Soon they came together and mom and baby cuddled for the many shots that were to come. Thank goodness for my driver.
Drama: Oribi and Baboon
We spent quite a lot of time watching the mom and baby. Amazing how watching animals shift and cuddle, move and sleep, attracts us. But they do! And I am fascinated! We watch and we wait, we wait and we watch. And in an instant, things change! We hear a cry, sounds like a human baby to me. My driver says it’s an oribi. Then, suddenly he said, oh a baboon. He knows the sounds, he knew there was some drama attached to the cries. I had actually never seen an oribi, or at least no one has ever pointed one out to me. I had no idea what that was. We hear it again…and now, my driver is telling me to hold on. I know by now, that means we are going to tear out of there, and move…fast. So I hold on as he puts the car into gear, all the while trying not to scare the leopards, we back up and take off towards the sound of the cry. He knows it’s close, but I had no idea how close it was. But there, just behind the huge boulder where we’d just seen the baby leopard, drama is unfolding, drama that I had never seen in all my safaris.
Here’s how the scene unfolds…
We barely drive a minute – we stop behind the boulder – in front of us are: A baby oribi is being chased by a huge baboon, then followed by a female oribi (obviously the mother), followed by a klipspringer which is another species of antelope. The baby is moving fast, leading the pack. Before I could blink, the baboon had the baby in his arms and was heading for the shelter of the huge boulders and all its trees. Of course the baboon was no match for any of these small antelope, so it wouldn’t have mattered if they followed him. Baboons are not normally meat eaters (carnivorous), but they are opportunists, put it in front of them and they will eat it.
As the baboon ran up into the rocks the klipspringer, who had joined the chase to try to help save the baby, now stands motionless as it sees the helpless mom just staring at the baboon with her baby. The mother had given it her all, running after the baboon like there was no tomorrow. She jumped every rock and hurdle she could, but stopped just short of the distance she needed in order to not to put herself in danger. They both looked so despondent as they stood on the boulders, unable to do a thing.
The baby had its fate sealed the moment he was in the grip of this powerful baboon. Its cries were devastating, both to the animals and to us. What was more tragic was that the baby was still alive throughout the ordeal and its screams could be heard each time the baboon reached down to take a bite out of nature. What pain this little one must have been in, but fortunately, it did not last long.
My pain can be heard on the video as well (Watch it below). I am keenly aware, always, that this is nature, survival of the fittest and the young are not fit to survive. They are always in danger. This incident brought it home. As tragic as it was, it was going to happen with or without me in the view of it all. I am glad I got to see it, but for the moment it was happening I too was as sad as the mother, and my driver, who sees scenes like this, play out day after day after day is also saddened. It is not a scene we wish to have replayed, at least not this day.
I must warn you, the video below is graphic. Please view it at your own risk. To those who say, I don’t want to see a kill, I don’t want to see anything like this, know that you cannot control nature, or what you witness on safari. Your appreciation of seeing nature as it was meant to be is something we must hold dear to us. Not many will ever have the opportunity to see this. It is only those fortunate few who recognize the adventure for what it is, for the only destination in the world that you have this opportunity to experience this kind of lifelong memory. We must, above all remember, that this is how animals survive, each species in their own way! Your journey will reinforce all of that. Safari Njema, I welcome you on safari.
Be sure to view my upcoming safaris, and sign up for one of them. An affordable option in my March 2016 safari may tempt you. It is only available for this special anniversary year. Don’t wait until the last minute to sign up. Space may not be available!