The Safari 2.0
Perhaps you can find your thoughts best in the shakiest of terrains. As we drove through the savannah, every bone in my body rattling and bouncing, I was mesmerised by the scenery that surrounded me. The plains were vast and bare but wait, there stood a herd of zebras and packs of wildebeest among the tall grass. They fed and roamed with their kin, making me almost jealous of the beauty and harmony of their home. While there was a food chain and a hierarchy in the plains it was all a part of the balance that had to be restored. The Circle of Life.
This trip took me to a wonderful wildlife reserve known as Masai Mara, located in Kenya. It was my first trip to the African continent and a long anticipated one. With a short trip planned, hopes were high and expectations low with respect to what we would see. The journey, however, took some wonderfully unexpected turns and has created memories that will be forever cherished. So here goes, I’ll take this blog as the opportunity to put my second ever safari experience into words. Comment to let me know what you think!
A large part of a safari consists of grueling rides in a rough terrain vehicle, as I mentioned previously. Now while I don’t mind long drives, imagine a long drive with the wind blowing in your face at an almost uncomfortable speed as you make your way through a terrain that isn’t just rough, but filled with enough ruts to make your bones rattle and your insides melt. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed most elements of nature’s own rollercoaster, with picture perfect views distracting me from any of the uncomfortable aspects. While spending hours in this wild paradise, your eyes eventually get used to sightings of herbivores in herds and the plain expanse. The beauty of spotting something unexpected lies in the way it sneaks up on you.
After a few hours of successful sightings, our driver began taking turns that were more sudden and the bumpy ride seemed endless. While the snack supply was constant and the views gorgeous, we began to grow tired of being akin to salt in a shaker. That was, until we saw the line of safari cars ahead, all eyes on a spot in the tall grass. As we wove our way into the circle of vehicles and finally got a clear line of sight, the scene before my eyes was unexpected. Just ahead, lay a lion and lioness, the king and queen of the jungle, so to speak, fast asleep under the setting sun. The lion began to stir in his sleep almost in an irritated manner. I wouldn’t like being woken up by the sound of engines and the low buzz of voices either. He began to stretch and strolled towards the center of his ‘stage’, as calm and nonchalant as ever, the cat-like energy exuding from his movements. His companion gave us no heed, as she continued to doze off. In the meantime, the lion made a show of his leisurely stroll, even giving us all an adrenaline rush as he began to circle one of the jeeps. Soon, grew tired of the antics and once more, fell into a deep sleep. We headed back with the satisfaction of the sight, admiring the striking sunset, the setting sun like the bright spot against a dark backdrop.
While there were many such special sightings, it was unfortunate that the diminishing population of many vital species was the reason we couldn’t spot them. While sharing my experience with animals, I’d like to shine a light on endangered species. Kenya’s first wildlife census was conducted in 2021, and it unfortunately concluded that five species were critically endangered. To put this in context, it means they have a 50% chance of going extinct in the next ten years, a shockingly sad reality. These species and the numbers remaining are:
- Tana River Mangabey, a primate (1,650)
- Black Rhino (897)
- Hirola, an antelope species (497)
- Sable Antelope(51)
- Roan Antelope (15!!)
Among the threats faced by these animals, some of the biggest are the direct effects of climate change, such as resource scarcity and forest fires, or are directly caused by humans such as infrastructure construction/urbanisation causing habitat loss, and poaching. On the bright side, the Kenya Wildlife Service is working actively to mitigate these threats.
I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this nook of nature and hope to visit again. While I appreciated the beauty and wondrous workings of the circle of life(can you tell I love the song), I wanted to look further into what seemed like a paradise for the animal kingdom but, in reality, suffers from outside threat. By writing this blog, I hope to have made all of us just a little wiser to the detriment caused by our own race.
In case you’re interested, here is the link to the report which will take you to a download option: https://kws.go.ke/file/3550/download?token=L8M6oawm