Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

The slightly-broken circle of life...

If you look closely, you can see giraffes :) —

Gather round and grab some popcorn and I’ll tell you a story; it’s a true story - it happened today. One of life and loss and the endless struggle between clever scrappiness and confident strength.
First we have a family of Kudus - clearly Mom, Dad, and baby. Our guide emphasized that these are at risk - he pointed them out right away, mentioning he hadn’t seen them in about five years. Google is less concerned and seems to feel they’re doing just fine, but our story plays better with the guide’s version ;). I’m telling you stories. Trust me. Baby K is old enough to be eating solid food, but likely young enough to still be nursing too.

Then in the other corner we have the cheetah. Strong. Sleek. Very aware of its own power. We’re taking pics of said cheetah posing under the tree when she takes note of our Kudu friends. She nonchalantly strolls towards them, stopping to sit and watch for a bit before crouching low to the ground to stalk.
She waits, and watches...
The kudus seem entirely unaware of their potential impending doom. They continue their leisurely stroll while the cheetah picks a line that will intersect them. Interestingly, the cheetah just watches the first time their paths cross, and the kudu pass calmly.
On the prowl
But now she’s on a mission. Moving quickly but low to the ground, she rapidly closes the distance. Then in grass too tall for us to see exactly what happened, she made her move.
Break for freedom!

Mom and Dad Kudu flee for safety, but baby is nowhere to be seen :(. At one point Dad nearly crashes into Mom as she pauses and turns to search for her baby. Okay - I may be anthropomorphising a little here, but she definitely stopped to look back; I caught it on camera. With a last look, both parents continue their flight.
Where's baby?  I don't know - I thought you had him!

But wait! In the distance, Baby K is swimming! It would seem the cheetah in some way got him into the water. And, well, I guess she didn’t want to get her paws wet... Baby K swims about half a mile downstream before pulling himself, exhausted, out of the water. He lies on the solid ground, head up but otherwise unmoving, for what feels like forever but was maybe five minutes?
Taking a break with some bird friends
At this point I was strongly rooting for Baby K and very much afraid the cheetah would still be hunting...

But no - or rather she is... She is very patiently waiting crouched near where Baby K went in the water. Apparently unaware that he swam away.
A little wet and tired, but very much alive

We watched as Baby K regained his footing, took a few wobbly steps, and then bounded off in the direction of his parents. They had stopped and were apparently waiting for him.

As we left, Baby K was on his way to rejoin his family and the cheetah was still very alertly watching the spot where he’d once gone under water ;). I have no idea how long she stayed there - she was too well hidden for good photos so we went in search of our own lunch ;). But suffice to say that in true Disney style, Baby K escaped.
Wait for me!

So yeah - that was this morning’s adventure :). We also went searching for a leopard; we found his pray strung in a tree but no luck on the actual cat :(. Ah well - the cheetah/kudu drama more than made up for it!

Other animals today - a few hundred Cape buffalos all in a pack, a couple mongooses (mongeese? Lol), tons of elephants, zebras & wildebeest (which do live together it turns out - complementary species. They eat different parts of the plants so don’t compete for food, one has excellent eye sight while the other has excellent hearing, and there’s safety in numbers. So there you go - your educational moment of the day). Hmmm also warthogs, water bucks, antelope, ostriches, giraffes and lions...

Oh - and the hyrax, which I’d never heard of before. These rodents of unusual size are tail-less, fast, climb, and can jump impressive distances. They’re about cat-sized and actually somewhat cute. The ones choosing to live around the hotel are seriously fat - they almost seem a different species from the ones farther out.

note the high water mark from rainy season.  The almost-canyons, a couple stories deep, that we drive across will be flooded a couple months.  Very impressive and almost surreal. —

Got some unbelievable photos of all types of critters! Alas they are all on my big camera which is not cooperating w my phone at the moment, so you’ll probably have to wait till I get home to see them...  All I can put here for now are the meh ones from when I remembered to use the phone camera :)

We spent a fair amount of time by the marsh today; lots of fun watching multiple species play in the water :)

Tomorrow am is our last game drive in this park, then off to Lake Manyara in search of tree climbing lions :)

And in other news - Chris’ luggage caught up with us right before dinner. Win!

The elephants dig to the centre of these trees for water; somehow the trees can survive this.  This one is still alive, and likely several hundred years old. —


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