Lake Naivasha, Kenya
For the first time in my life here I was walking alongside wild Animals.*
Without a guide, not in a safari car, just like that on a morning walk twenty minutes from my hotel. Across the main road up to the edge of the lake. The experience was very exciting for me. I called my ten year old niece on a whatsapp video call to show her I’m standing next to a zebra. She was not impressed. She’s seen enough zebras in the zoo and on TV.
So I went back to my once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was a feeling I never had before of being at the same level as all the other animals around me. I had no advantage over them. I was not the human whose race destroys their habitats and kills their sisters and brothers. I was a human vulnerable to bodily harm just like them.
We are all alert and attentive to each other
The zebras giraffes and impalas feel comfortable in each other’s company. A lone wilder beast roams with the zebras but a whole herd of them differs from the rest. Everyone is not happy with my presence. Actually, I feel uncomfortable myself. After all, we’ve only left them a strip between the road and the lake, and now I’m here to disturb them some more? And now that the water level has risen their territory has been significantly reduced. But still I am who I am, a part of the human race with our complex egos, and so I go on. I walking among the animals!! Just like Ayla from “The clan of the cave bear”!!! It’s “oops I stepped on zebra shit” close!!!
Everyone is talking to everyone
The boundaries of each animal are clear and so are their virtues. Zebras and impalas are fast on their feet and disappear in a second when they are not comfortable. The wilder beasts and giraffes can easily cause physical damage. I have to be attentive and hear their words. If a buffalo attacks me I will remain a trampled body. I would not want to take that risk just as the giraffe who’s looking at me vigilantly does not want to take the risk of me getting to close to her baby. A kick from Mama Giraff is not part of my plans for today.
The lone wilder beast puffs nervously when he feels I’m getting too close. I don’t feel the same but choose to respect his opinion. The zebras speak but more calmly. Keep a distance please. And if I get too close they just move away calmly. Everyone is talking to each other. I was talking too. I explained politely that I’m a well behaved guest. Keeping my distance as requested.
I started feeling like I really picked up the local language. I’m in harmony with the animals, we all understand each other! I’m amzing!
Hippos here I come
I was making my way to the lake with a light happy step, finding a path that keeps a distance from the giraffes on the left and the zebras with the lone wilder beast on the right, when I began to wonder if I can spot the hippos before I get too close and become, well, dead.
I did not reach the lake shore to find out.
At that moment, I noticed two buffaloes staring at me. It was a penetrating gaze. Buffaloes are big. Very big. They have a general expression of a bulldog. They do not smile, they never look happy. As a rule, they do not like you. They are not curious. They are not friendly. They just do not want you around and they do not apologize for it. Wait a minute too long and they are already charging at you. And you won’t be liking it…
Ok, got it!
So I immediately decided that my polite visit to the Wild Kingdom was over. I moved away slowly while looking casually backwards. They were still staring but it seemed to be too early in the morning for them to bother moving. The wilder beast on my left was puffing at me but I firmly let him know that I have bigger problems than him at the moment. Just hold on, I’m just leaving!
I was getting hungry anyway…
* In case you’re wondering:
The lake Naivasha area is densely inhabited by humans and only some of its banks are still preserved for the wild life. Due to the overcrowding, large animals of prey did not survive in the area, which is why I was able to walk around safely. Buffaloes excluded, of course.
Great stuff Ella. Well done.