Serengeti – The Cycle OF Life

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.

Lioness stalking Zebra - Serengeti National Park
Lurking danger!! (I hadn’t realised I had the lioness in my frame until I cropped this image!)

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.__

Zebra herd on alert
A zeal of zebras on full alert mode!!

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.

“You still want to go?” R laughed. I really do. But I think I might end up testing God’s patience along with that of our dear guide George.

 –

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.

 

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on instagram.com/theurgetowander

101 thoughts on “Serengeti – The Cycle OF Life

  1. Peace and tranquility for some… a daily struggle for survival for others. I wonder what these creatures would think if they visited our urban jungles… would they scoff at the artificial struggles we create? That first shot is an amazing capture, Madhu. How fascinating to have witnessed it. Synchronized birthing? Didn’t know about this… would be quite something to witness, eh?

  2. The photograph of the unsuspecting young Zebra and the lioness stalking her prey is indeed fascinating! I rate this as a rare and brilliant capture Madhu. Thank you so much.
    Warm regards,
    Dilip

    P.S. I don’t seem to get your email alerts any more. Will check on this by refresh of the follow. 😦

  3. What an amazing experience you had! Loved the sound video of the zebras. I had no idea they could make so much noise. I’ve only ever seen them feeding peacefully. 🙂 I’ve never seen an actual kill in real life. I know I would find it very disturbing to watch. Thanks so much for your wonderful post. 🙂

  4. That video really put me right there with you, Madhu. Your photos are always awesome in transporting me to where you are, but this video really made me feel present.

      1. Thank you very much for the share Angeline. Much appreciated.

        I debated inserting the video, since the quality didn’t match that of the photos, but I too felt it conveyed more than still photos ever could. Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  5. That’s the problem with taking sides in nature. Both sides have a good point, the zebra wanting to stay alive and the lions wanting to eat. That herd of zebras is mesmerizing to look at though, with all their myriad stripes. 🙂

      1. I would too. It’s like the video of the pack of lions attacking the baby elephant. I knew they have to eat, but I was still hoping it got away (it did) 🙂

  6. A fascinating and informative narrative and fabulous images Madhu. I’d love to see some of these animals in the wild for myself some day. PS Thanks for the nod on my site being down recently, much appreciated.

    1. Thank you Suzanne. And you are most welcome. The comment section was behaving strangely yesterday, have a feeling all might still not be OK.

      PS: Was wondering, do you have a web developer maintaining your site, or do you handle all the ‘chores’ yourself? I know I need to take the plunge sometime soon, but I am dreading having to find more time to devote to all of that.

  7. I too was struck by the cycle of life and death, which is nowhere as apparent as it is on safari. We saw a very graphic kill of an impala by a leopard, who in very short order lost his feast to a viscious pack of hyenas which promptly tore the poor impala apart at the seams. We also saw a mother leopard with a fresh kill feeding her cub in a tree to protect against scavengers. One feels so bad for the prey but as you say, for them it is survival. I think an African Safari should be a mandatory experience for every living person. If only it could be so Madhu. Thanks for the reminder of some extraordinary memories.

    1. Tina, extraordinary is the right word. And nowhere is it quite as memorable as in Africa. I was never much of a wildlife person, despite my father in law heading the forest department in our state for over a decade. Now I am hooked. Wish it was more affordable though.

      1. Amen to that! But I talked to them about that and they said it’s actually a way of controlling the number of people which helps protect the pristine nature while still generating the revenue they need to sustain it. That made sense to me.

        1. It sure does. Central Serengeti and Ngorongoro is over crowded as it is. And I hear Masai Mara in Kenya is too.

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