Here we are in our little safari vehicle, heading back to Windhoek, Namibia to catch the flight back to Johannesburg and then home. Our big adventure is over and what an adventure it has been. As you can surmise, between lack of internet access, long driving days on washboard roads and wine filled evenings, it has been difficult to find the time to keep our blog up to date. So, over the next few days we will attept to give you some flavour of what we have seen and done.
Many of you may think that Terry is a gentle, elegant soul who exhibits proper decorum almost all the time and this is often the case. There is another side to her however.
We visited an elephant sanctuary where injured or dangerous elephants are being looked after. They use them to educate people about elephants and their lives. For example,
- through their feet, they know where other elephants are up to 64 kilometres away
- their ears flap for air conditioning
- they are predominantly either left-tusked or right-tusked
- their society is matriarchal
- the bulls have glands just behind their ears which give off hormones when they are in heat
- lions give way to them at waterholes
- after voiding their bladder and bowels and then walking backwards, they very studiously avoid walking through anything – really.
This is Tembo, a bull elephant who was saved from being killed because he was dangerous. He is roughly 35 years old. We had the opportunity to touch his skin which was very tough and filled with crevasses.
The next day we met Becky, his sister. When people say someone has a memory like an elephant, they aren’t kidding. Shaun spent time with Becky when she was growing up and hadn’t seen her for over a year. He told us that he has to be very quiet as she would recognize his voice and come up to the vehicle, which can scare some people. He wasn’t wrong about the recognition. She was passing us and suddenly turned toward us as she reached the row in the vehicle Shaun and I were sitting in and raised her trunk to us as she smelled Shaun. When I took the camera away from my eye, I realized how close she was – CLOSE!
These two are her kids. They were tussling for a bit and then started walking down the road, pushing against each other like kids in the back seat. Eventually she had had enough and separated them.
In the evening we went on a game drive. It is very cool to be out after dark, which occurs around 6. The animals are very different. Impala, for example, are very skittish during the day and can suddenly take off for no apparent reason. At night, however, they will just stand there mesmerized by the lights of the vehicle and just let the cars drive through the herd. While we were driving, we saw a mother and baby giraffe. The mother was standing stock still looking straight ahead. As we turned a corner, we spied two lions slowly tracking the giraffes. We followed the lions for some time as they stalked them. At one point a small (maybe 20) herd of wildebeest ran in front of us – it was just like you would see on TV. It was amazing, the speed and the jumping they exhibited. Something none of us will soon forget. Anyway, back to the hunt. The lions managed to separate the mother and baby and took after the baby. We lost touch with them however as they went into the bush. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any good photos as they just kept moving in and out of the bush.
The next morning it was a game drive and walk to see the cheetahs. They are amazing animals. These two are brothers and quite devoted to each other. As we wandered around the area they followed along. Apparently they don’t see us as threats or food. Having said that, Andy the guide, did carry a rifle.
Later we came across Tombi. She was raised in the camp but still hunts in the wild. Terry got quite friendly with her.
They had not caught the baby giraffe, but at some point during the night they had caught and killed an impala. Now your “Learn Abput Lions” lesson. The hunter is the female. It’s her job to catch and kill their food. It is then her job to turn it over to the male lion, whose job it is to eat the kill. This guy had eaten almost an entire impala and literally had difficulty moving. Nevertheless, as he laid by the remains of the carcass, he wasn’t about to share – even with the cubs. When one of these two cubs got too close he swatted him away – not about to share anything.