"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page" St. Augustine
TRIP REPORT: Green Season On The Serengeti, Page 2
FOR ONE SHOW ONLY!: One day, while combing the forested edge of the plains for cheetahs, we ran across a cheetah family new to Fadhil (who hasn't seen them since). The mother and her three 2 month old male cubs looked very healthy, although heavily infested with ticks. They accepted our presence easily, as well as the two different safari vehicles who happened to spot us in the forest but didn't stay long (fixed lunch time at the lodge?), so we spent the afternoon photographing them under non-stressful conditions. The quality of the light wasn't always the best, but better than harsh sunlight, and fixable in Photoshop.
NAUGHTY CATS: All safari-goers must take some responsibility for the partial domestication of the wild animals, especially the cats. Our obsession with finding, following, mobbing, observing and photographing them as close as possible ultimately leads to some degree of habitutation, with mixed results. On one hand, familiarization improves chances for more people to enjoy the animals and thus want to protect them, but on the other hand this same familiarization with people softens their fear of humans, possibly leading to raiding livestock and easier poaching.

Over-habitutation with vehicles has lead the cats to consider them as part of the landscape, and as playthings. Here is a sampling of some examples I witnessed; the shot of the blantant disregard for the rule about staying inside your vehicle is troubling. This was a noisy group in three vehicles, who acted as if they had already emptied the cool boxes of beer--many more people had been seated on the roof until the lions approached them.

For some reason animals regard people inside a vehicle as part of the vehicle, but if they come to realize that we are actually prey in a tin can, what is stopping them from reaching in for a snack?

NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH: If your version of Nature includes African predators and prey dancing around a Maypole, please skip this paragraph. Nature can be just as cruel as it is beautiful. One morning near Lake Ndutu we happened upon a rather gruesome scene, where a hyena was eating a still living male Thomson's gazelle. We didn't see the actual take-down, but since there were no other predators nearby, we assumed the hyena was the culprit. If the hyena stole it from a cheetah, the cheetah must not have had time to suffocate the gazelle, and I didn't see any neck wounds to indicate that. Here is the link to some of the images, a rather macabre set, but don't say you weren't warned.
THE LIONS: Although the cheetahs appear to be the main draw to the Ndutu area, the lions are fairly common and active, with three prides in the area. Each night, in camp, we were serenaded by one of the Big Marsh males, on his honeymoon in Big Marsh just below camp.
An ear can tell you a lot about the rough life of a male lion...
OTHER ANIMALS: Of course there is more to see and photograph in the Serengeti than the just wildebeest and cats...
One day we found a completely intact zebra carcass, with no sign of injuries, and came to the conclusion that it probably was bitten by a poisionous snake. I really didn't need a photo of a dead zebra, but none the less, the temptation of a close-up was too great.
During a mid-morning breakfast one day, a Leopard Tortoise paid us a visit. I guess his/her eyesight isn't what it used to be, since it continued to approach until finally spotting us at a very close distance.
Returning to camp one evening I saw this tree with the vultures, silhouetted against the storm clouds, and knew I had to photograph "The Death Tree".
On the transit day from Ndutu to the Nasera Rock Special Campsite, Lake Ndutu provided us with some unique images, even though it was raining quite hard (or more likely, because it was).
If only this hyena carcass could tell us what happened and how it ended up in the lake...
While photographing and then eating our packed lunch along the shoreline of nearby Lake Masek, the rains stopped and the sky turned blue. Evidence of how much it had rained overnight and during the morning showed on the flooded road out.
Enroute to Nasera Rock we saw at least three large lorries stuck in the mud--several far from the established road as they had searched for firmer ground--each attended by their drivers and helpers trying to extricate them. I guess that helps to explain why each truck carries several helpers.