african safari lion - Kathy Barry

The Great African Adventure, Part 8: A Lesson from Big Cats

We’re almost at the end of Kathy Barry’s African travel journals. We rejoin her in Chobe National Park…

Friday, May 17th, Savuti Area, Chobe National Park

It’s a Beautiful Day in Africa!  We see 4 baby wild pigs that have lost their mama- perhaps a lion or maybe a leopard.  Clinton tells us that they have a chance of survival as they have learned enough to stay safe and fend for themselves.  He also tells us that they all sleep together in burrows and enter fanny first.  That must be a sight to see!  We also see the Water Bucks.  They are beautiful and comical at the same time with the white circle around their shapely rumps.  We have fun commenting on this and Clinton tells us that there was only so much paint left and everyone else had stripes so the Water Bucks decided to take what they could get!  Dad loves all of this!  He looks happy.

Saturday, May 18th, Savuti Area, Chobe National Park

We head out into the brisk cold morning in Chobe National Park after our wake up greeting and breakfast around the campfire with a big pot of coffee in the Mopani campfire.  Right away we see a handsome male ostrich out for his early morning jog and I am immensely jealous and imagine myself jogging along with him.  We bump into Clinton’s mates – Richard and crew – artsy, cool and funky. We “tootle along”, as Ann Elise would say, and come upon 3 new birds – The Lappet Faced Vulture – the largest of the vultures and also referred to as the King of the Kill, the Black Shouldered Kite and They African Hawk Eagle.  We watch a pair of Battalier Eagles up close – so stunning in their markings and flight – we actually see them barrel roll as they catch the air current. They remind me of dancers. I know that I am watching something very special – it is almost as if they are performing for me personally – silly I know, but I thank them anyway.  Clinton investigates the Pride of Lions again and today we see clearly 3 sisters, 2 older cubs and 4 little ones – such a lovely pride and they so earn that name. I thank them too for sharing their family with us. Later Clinton told us that this pride of female lions are the daughters of a very successful female lion who was an incredible hunter and mother.  He hoped that these females inherited their mother’s gifts.  I hope they do too.   We see the four piggies again – they made it through the night and are out and about scratching up breakfast.  We continue our little journey…

And then this happened…

Coming straight down the path is a gorgeous male cheetah…I love his boxy face and super-fast build.  He is stalking a herd of impala.  The impala were on alert as the squirrels and guineas have warned them all… however the impala cannot see the cheetah as he is incredibly camouflaged and still as a statue.  He is patient. He waits until they all turn away from him and then he explodes toward them.  They scatter in every direction and unfortunately the cheetah misses his opportunity.  We follow him and find him panting and cooling off in the shade – preparing to hunt again.  He seems undeterred. There is no pouting in Africa.  The Cheetahs hunt in the heat of the day when all of the other big cats are resting in the shade.  They depend on their speed and their stealth.  The Leopards hunt at night and hide up in the trees.  They pounce and also stalk their prey.  The lions use strategy and need their team.  They are incredibly strong and will take on huge game if they have their pride in tow.  But in spite of all of these advantages the work is incredibly hard, the game is cautious and fast and the hyenas are always nearby and ready to steal the hard earned kill. And here is the lesson for me….they all walk away with dignity and purpose.  There is no shame or remorse, there is only acceptance and a redefined will to succeed.  I love this lesson. We waste a lot of time and energy rolling around in our self-pity and placing blame on others.

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