Thursday, 8 August 2013

Day Two ~ Elephants are just like people

After a good night's sleep, we hoped we had shaken off the fatigue of the hectic two weeks work before travelling and the long journey. We had a leisurely breakfast and took a drive along the pipeline road. About half way along, we came across three Lionesses, not far from one of the waterholes. Another Lioness and a huge Lion (one of Tsavo's infamous maneless males) were a long way off on the other side of the road. There were a lot of Zebra and Kongoni about but the Zebra especially were very wary, probably because the blustery wind was carrying the scent of Lions.

Occasionally some Zebra would get quite close to the Lionesses and they would hunker down in stalking position but none ever got close enough to convince the Lionesses to charge. At one point, some of the Kongoni got very close and two of the Lionesses lay so low in the long grass they were invisible, whilst the other prepared to pounce. However, they must have kept just enough distance to convince the Lionesses that they would get away. The Kongoni is a very fast runner, so the Lionesses would need to be probably within about 20 yards to guarantee a kill. They all had pretty full bellies too, so we doubt they would have attempted a kill unless it was a certain success, as they were not hungry. We spent a couple of hours watching them and in between moments of interest, we tried to upload yesterday's blog entry but unfortunately, although there was a weak signal, the data was taking too long to send and timed out.

One Lioness hunkered down and two invisible in the long grass (click for larger image)

When we got back to the lodge, we were both still exhausted and decided to have a nap after lunch and back up our images, rather than go out for another game drive, then sit on the tent balcony to watch whatever came to the waterhole.

Whilst we were having our lunch we watched in amazement as an oblivious young Italian man, who had arrived less than half an hour earlier, wandered out into the bush, right out to the waterhole. Just as we both said “What the...?!”, the barman saw him and called for the Askari, who ran out to bring him back before he became Lion food or an Elephant football. One of the great problems faced by people providing access to the wild places in Africa to Western tourists is the theme park mentality: some people treat Africa like it is some kind of a giant Disney theme park, completely oblivious to the dangers. They put themselves and the locals charged with looking after them in mortal danger through their ignorance. Thankfully this time there was a happy ending.

Later, when we were sitting watching the world go by, a large bull Elephant came in to to the waterhole but it was dry. The Camp has a water pump that refills the waterhole from a borehole but the pump only comes on when the Camp generator is operating, so there was no water being pumped into the waterhole. The Elephant decided he would try to restart the pump himself and ripped off the cover, throwing it away. He then picked up the 60kg pump and threw it across the ground: clearly Elephants resort to percussive maintenance too! The Askaris shooed him away before he could completely destroy the pump.
The angry bull rips the cover off the water pump before throwing it away

He makes himself look as big as possible to intimidate the askaris

The guys have to retrieve and fix the water pump after the bull has gone

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