A new life for me, new life for the animals, new challenges, new adventures and it goes on and on. The circle continues.
The Selous is very dry at the moment, so life is at its most challenging, very scarce water supply and just as little to eat. At the same time however there is hope, hope on every little impala, warthog and buffalo that get their wobbly, just born, long legs moving. Most will make it but as cruel as it sounds, nature has devised a perfect way to balance the odds. Some of the young ones get so weak that keeping up with the herds of 300 strong to get to water becomes impossible and they are abandoned to the unforgiving dark side that nature can unleash. Only the fittest will survive. Others will fall victim to the hungry predators that themselves want to ensure the survival of their young. Wild dogs, lions, leopards and hyaena, all with wet mouths, waiting for the young and vulnerable new lives that have come in such numbers. This is natural selection at its best, no weak gene shall make it through. I always find this time particularly exciting, interactions between predator and prey, life and death at a very fine balance.
I have been planning an excursion for almost three years and finally I have done it. To climb Kipalala Hill ( the one facing the camp). It was just as I thought it would be, thick thorny bush with lots of ups and downs. Phil and I started early morning with one purpose, getting to the top of the hill. With this in mind not even the herd of buffalo that we had to negotiate past could stop us, in the long grass and thorny bushes we pushed on, down the valleys and up the hills till finally we got to the base. From here it was up through thick bush with vines that tripped us when least expected, rocky and steep unchartered territory, a few old elephant tracks that disappeared every several meters. With one thing in mind we didn’t give up and at last we got to the top. As difficult as it was, sweaty and with a lot of scratches, it felt good. A sense of achievement, it’s not a high climb but the challenges between on the way to the top made it exciting and spooky. That one done, next stop Mt. Johnstone.
Climbing Kiplala Hill was a great achievement but not the most exciting since I last blogged. On a walk some weeks ago, with no idea what was in store for us, we went into the Msine River palm forest. We began by stumbling across a buffalo, an old grumpy solitary bull resting under a bush. It was as shocked as we were and luckily it made a decision not to charge us but to run off – at about 25 meters from an old buffalo that is what you pray for. So we moved on and after a few minutes we saw some Sykes blue monkeys, in the early morning hours taking advantage of the cool weather to fill their bellies. On seeing us they got a bit of a fright and leaped over to a further tree, as they got there I noticed they started alarming as they faced down, as I was pointing this out to my guests, a bigger animal came leaping like an acrobat from branch to branch and so I whisper “leopard!!”, and as the guests look up we see this female leopard in mid-air catching a monkey. From the height of the catch it then had to fall some 20 feet to the ground. It only proves how dedicated this cat was to earning a meal that morning, but more so the challenges we have to face to survive in this life. With the leopard having gone through such an ordeal, I thought a good idea not to bother her any further so we detoured around her and went on. Seeing a leopard on a walk is one thing, but seeing it actually make a kill is exceptional, I would rank this in my top three most exciting walks.
So much happening, something new every day. New lives, new adventures, new challenges. Those that have done their part have to go, those that are weak have to be eliminated, only the strong will survive and that’s what keeps us going, keeps every species that is living going and I LOVE IT…. Until next time.