Friday, October 6, 1995
Sex and the Moremi Wildlife Reserve
Packed and up by 5:15, out at 5:30. Our stuff in a trailer behind the Beast. At the large water hole we find crowds of giraffe, impala, and a large herd of elephant. As the elephants jostle around the water, grey doves rise and fall like a cloud of dust kicked up by their feet. Other elephant herds wait on the periphery. A juvenile sneaks into the waterhole from the outlying herd. Amid much trumpeting it runs from the hole with a large female in hot pursuit. The female catches up and knocks the juvenile on it’s side. The female stands over the juvenile threateningly, then turns back to the waterhole. Edward shakes his head at the scene. He says that it is not natural to see so many different animals, all at the the water hole at the same time.
This is an artificial waterhole. There is not enough water being pumped to support all the animals that are here. At the end of the dry season, this is one of the few places in the Savuti area that has any water at all. He explains that if the waterhole had not been pumped throughout the winter, most of these animals would have migrated to the river. Now it is so late in the dry season that many of the animals would not make it. The dominant elephant herd monopolizes the water and all other animals wait. There does not appear to be enough for even the elephant herd.
Later, we hear from another guide that the hyena is gone from the tree and the leopard has not been seen, so we start the 70 km drive to Moremi. On the way, we spot and and photograph two lionesses, in the distance, under the shade of tree.
The drive follows the dry bed of the Khwai river. As we drive, the Khwai turns muddy, then into a few pools of water, then a large pool with hippo in the middle and a crocodile on the bank. Hot and dusty, we pull into the Moremi wildlife reserve and cross what Edward calls "The International Bridge". Both ends are in Botswana, which prompts the obvious question. "Because you won’t find anything like in anywhere in the world." He grins. I’m just glad we walked across, rather than ride across in the Beast with Edward. You are a braver man than I am, Gunga Din.
Our mobile campsite has been transplanted to the bank of the Khwai river, now a wide, shallow marsh with slow flowing pools. We lunch, and with a wet towel over my head, I sit outside the tent and watch three elephants drinking on the other side of the river. One looks over at us, makes a snuffling noise, shakes his head, then wades across the river directly towards our tent. He comes ashore, and grazes on the tall grass along the back of the camp and moves up the river.
On the afternoon drive, we see crocodiles and hippos, many herd of Impala, and other grazers and browsers as we drive along the bank. Edward finds some lion spoor, and decides to stay on this track rather than the eastern edge as he had planned. I am enjoying the scenery and the leisurely pace, thinking that the we’ve already had more our share of exciting sights.
I decide to be content with scenery, grazers, and more relaxed viewing. We round a bend and Sigrid calls out "Lions!". A full maned male, the first we’ve seen, and a lioness, both resting on their side not more that 20 meters from where we stopped.
Edward says it is very unusual to see a male and female pair like this. The lioness always travels with other lionesses, unless, he guesses, this is a mating pair. "Lets wait and see what happens." Within minutes, the male rouses himself, sniffs around and mounts the lioness directly in front of us. In the process they move a short way then stop, and rest again.
NOTE FROM THE FUTURE: This is a back-post / cross-post from my first on-line journal/blogging effort - a journal of our Southern Africa Tour in 1995. Originally posted to an abandoned domain (NetSnake.com), the term "blog" had not yet entered the parlance. I am migrating the original posts to this blog. Links to the original journal Date Index or Africa Tour Home Page will likely eventually disappear. The images from the original post were screen caps from video which I am leaving as is for historical integrity. My intent is to also add some of Sigrid's higher quality scanned photos to these blog back-posts. The difference should be obvious.
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