“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Day 3 - Sunday and our first major kill

You know you haven’t been in bed long enough when your hot water bottle is still hot and it’s time to get up.
The morning drive was packed as usual with new birds, old mammals and glorious equatorial sunshine. First up were two Ground Hornbills fighting over a Lizard, followed by breakfast overlooking a hippo-filled river with weaver nests dangling over the edge. Very pleasant indeed, but incredibly frustrating to capture with a heavy camera and no tripod.
After breakfast we caught up with Mrembo and ‘Manky-Eye’ getting stuck in to an impala kill with an audience of a few White-Backed vultures up in the trees. Within ten minutes or so, the vulture numbers had swelled to over 30 with more landing every time you turned to look. Soon the nearby tree branches were full and the vultures began to occupy ground space, getting closer and closer to the cheetahs. A Hyena eventually turned up chasing the Cheetahs away and running in to steal the carcass only to come out with a vulture instead! – she spat it out and waded back in through the carpet of ugly feasting birds for a second attempt. A brown hairy mass, carry a blood soaked lump and a flurry of feathers was all I saw as the Hyena dashed into the trees with her swag, but I will never forget the smell. As soon as those vultures had punctured the intestines the smell was everywhere. Truly rancid.
The vultures stripped the carcass in minutes and took to the air in a mass swirling column that moved as one across the plains. It was time to head back for lunch.
After lunch we headed back out across the open plains area stopping to shoot a Zebra threesome en route to a known hyena den where we spent a lovely session with a couple of females and their family of cubs. Apparently the females take it in turns to babysit whilst the other females head out to scavenge. It looked to me as if each female was feeding cubs that could not have been theirs, because one opportune little cub was moving between females and feeding from both!
As the light faded, and ISO settings became too noisy, we headed out for sundowners in the open and grabbed a few sunset shots at the same time. What a beautiful way to end a very exciting day.

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