a photo blog for creative doers
Sometimes these entries come easily, like when we follow a large pride of lions hunting a herd of zebra (Safari 1: The Hunt) or a smaller group of lions being rebuffed by an elephant matriarch (Safari 7: Pooh on You). The action drives you through a narrative and the accompanying images.
But other times it is a challenge. The vastness and complexity of your surroundings overwhelms your ability to communicate through words and pictures.
The vitality and diversity of what you experience is so far removed from your day-to-day reality that it is difficult to describe. In a way, it feels like being immersed in a great symphony and then trying to use words to describe its beauty and grandeur.
For a safari, a passing moment will sometimes capture a bit some of the magic of the surroundings. Here, our passing vehicle caused a waterbuck to move across the Amboseli plain in front of a family of elephants. In one image we capture the vast plains, deep grass following a good raining season, the movement of the waterbuck and the nearby elephants making their way across the savanna.
Other times a herd of animals captures your eye and a detail in the herd tells you something special is happening. Here it is a herd of topi with something amiss.
On this morning, we were headed to see a male lion with a kill that had been spotted by another guide. As we passed this small herd, I noticed two of the topi were acting differently.
Can you see them in the image above? Look near the middle and to the right. Two males are interacting with each other aggressively. One is jumping. The other is head down facing off his rival.
It was a challenge for dominance. When I pointed this out, our driver stopped the vehicle and we watched. The two males chased and confronted one another repeatedly.
The females paid little attention. They had seen it all before. But, for us, it was new, so we lingered even though there was a waiting lion nearby.
The contest alternated between chases and square-offs like this one for quite some time until one of the males backed off. We then moved on. Within minutes we watching this gorged male and its kill.
We caught up with the old fellow in a clump of bushes just as he was finishing his meal. After casually noting our presence, he picked up the remains of his prey and walked into the bush to store it in a less visible location.
The he settled down and dozed off. His belly was full (as you can see below) and he was totally unconcerned about us. We headed back to camp.
We had witnessed a small movement from the safari symphony on this drive. And while it was always fun to see a lion, the dance of the blue-jeaned topi reminded me of the many non-predators we had witnessed on our drives. If the big cats and their antics were the melody to the symphony then these non-predators were the background music that gave the symphony color and complexity.
This bit of the background is an interlude that suggests wariness. The two zebra are not cuddling. The are watching the horizon cooperatively, each taking half and protecting the heard.
These ungulates and the open plain are the movements that express the vastness of what you are experiencing. Dancing vultures bouncing across an old termite mound as they air out their wings provide a light interlude.
While the gazelles and their young bring an alert sense of calm and order to the day.
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All photos and text are copyright Clinton Richardson. The images are from the author's Safari Collection at Trekpic.com. If you like these posts, please tell your friends about the Venture Moola blog at Readjanus.com. Want to plan your own safari? If so, feel free to check out the outfitter we used at Porini.com.
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The venture moola blog comes to you from Atlanta, Georgia. Find it at readjanus.com. Copyright Clinton Richardson.
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