The ‘endless plains’ stretched ahead of us. Tranquil. Seemingly light years from the stressful demands of our life in the big city. The passage of time marked only by the movement of the sun.
We were aware by now, after our dawn to dusk game drives in Tarangire and Ngorongoro, that the tranquility conceals a dynamic eco system where the pressures of survival outweigh a placid existence. Where life is hard. Where letting one’s guard down can only mean certain death. Swift, only for the more fortunate.
My whispered “Please God!”, as we watched an unsuspecting zebra approach a stealthy lioness and her four trainee cubs camouflaged in the tall grass, was met by George’s impatient “But those cubs need to be fed!”
That is a fact. Life depends on death. And the predator-prey tango is a necessity. But it isn’t easy to watch. Fascinating, awe inspiring even, but not easy.
The rest of the herd kicked up such a ruckus that the young stray rushed back into their fold, and my heartbeat returned to normal. The lions, it seems, were just doing a trial run! I wondered for a moment about the heart health of these poor creatures.
Including sound effects for good measure:
Midway through our safari we had begun discussing a (future) return to Southern Serengeti in the lean months of Feb/March, to witness the spectacle of synchronised birthing by tens of thousands of wildebeest. An evolutionary adaptation perfected over countless generations, that utilizes massive numbers to counter predation. There is no denying that the big cats get treated to effortless ‘buffet’ spreads over the three week period, but still, more calves apparently survive in this collective process, than they would with staggered year round calving.
On our last evening at our camp in Northern Serengeti, conversation veered to the amazing predator action during the calving season, with graphic descriptions of new born calves attaching themselves to lions still feeding off the fresh carcasses of their mothers.
PS: Our eight night Tanzanian safari across three national parks was efficiently organised by The Wild Source. And we have only good things to say about the abilities and sensitivity of our guide and driver George.