We got going before sunrise, as usual. Each morning we would start off with the intention of looking for the wild dogs. The hope was that we would get some time alone with them. Invariably we got waylaid. The vehicle in front of us stirred up dust which became illuminated in the early morning light. These patches of early morning dust infused light created an unusual and beautiful hue.
The difficulties you meet will resolve themselves as you advance. Proceed, and light will dawn, and shine with increasing clearness on your path.
At times you see the strangest things!
We found this small herd of Zebra quite close to where we saw the wild dogs on our second day.
I like the three up and three down composition.
“Can’t you see that it’s a beautiful world. Come with me I’ll show you. Open your eyes and see the beauty around. Take my hand and I’ll lead you.”
The iconic Mana Pools forest image. It was peaceful, a troop of baboons was foraging behind this lone young bull elephant. The arch of the tree trunk added to the compositional interest.
We were enjoying the serenity, when it was suddenly interrupted by the trumpeting of a pair of young elephants racing back towards the small family herd. Something must have given them quite a fright. The bigger of the two looked like it was running in baggy pyjamas. You almost expected the elephants to break into a canter but of course they never did.
Peace again as this mother and her calf wandered through the arch.
When not competing for food the wildlife happily co-exists.
“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. ~ Albert Einstein
Further on we stopped to chat to Dave MacFarlane, our host at Mwinilunga camp. He had stopped because he found a male lion lying in a thicket about 100 metres from the road. We got off the vehicle and Tanya, our guide, was very specific about what we had to do and how we were going to approach this male lion. Again, I think there were too many people. The male lion gave us a growl to indicate that we were getting too close. One of the things we were told was, under no circumstances were we to run if he charged us. He was increasingly uncomfortable with us when we were about thirty metres away and gave a us a minor charge to show his displeasure. The next image shows his rigid posture seconds after the warning charge. After the second warning, Tanya told everyone to walk back the way we had come, very slowly. Everyone listened and the encounter ended without incident and the male lion lay down in the thicket again, but kept his eyes fixed on us.
A little while later we went for a walk in another part of the forest, this time looking for elephants. We did not find Boswell or Fred, the two bulls well known for standing on their hind legs to reach the lower branches of the Albidas. The bull we found was doing the next best thing and was stepping on an ant hill at the base of the tree with his front feet to get more reach into the tree.
“Seek the wisdom that will untie your knot. Seek the path that demands your whole being. ~ Rumi
Later that afternoon with a little more searching we found Boswell. He was easily identified by the radio collar around his neck. This particular image show just how big his tusks are.
When I see the intelligent adaption by such a sentient being like this, I find it difficult to comprehend why someone would rather have a little piece of a huge elephant ‘s canine than appreciate his magnificence in the bush and respect his ability to survive in the bush for probably over fifty years.
I will never grow tired of watching a six tonne animal get onto his back legs to reach high into a tree to get at the food he needs. After watching Boswell doing his thing we wandered down to the river. The Zambezi is a big and wild river. The next image shows this giant in a resting state where the wide expanse of water is flowing around islands and through its deep channels at a speed of around five kilometres per hour. When the Kariba dam wall was being built in 1950s, the Batonga people, who lived in the Zambezi valley before the lake filled up, warned that building a dam across the river would anger the river god, Namyi Namyi. This was the mythical Zambezi Snake spirit, having the body of a snake and the head of a fish, which is believed by the indigenous Batonga people to protect and give them sustenance in difficult times. Kariba Gorge was chosen as the site for the dam wall. Until that time, nobody, other than the Batongas, had ever heard of it. The big rock jutting out into the narrow gorge which was considered sacred to the Batonga people. The project managers on the Kariba dam wall construction project took no notice of the superstitious warnings of the Batongas. Sure enough, two years in a row, 1957 and 1958, the river rose over 150 foot to break the coffer dam wall which had been built to hold back the river’s water while construction of that section of the dam wall was under way. The Batonga people said at the time that the river god was angry about the damming up of the river.
The river god has since settled down allowing vistors like me to take photographs of peaceful scenes such as these two bull elephants, one being Boswell, drinking from the river.
These elephant are big enough that even the huge “flat dogs” (crocodiles) in the river leave them alone. There is something about this scene which resonates with my African heart, perhaps it is the vastness, abundance and peace.
“If you are driven by fear, anger or pride nature will force you to compete. If you are guided by courage, awareness, tranquility and peace nature will serve you.”
― Amit Ray
All is well with the world looking at this scene.
We stayed down by the river for the rest of the afternoon just exploring. As the sun started to set, the scenes came alive with warm colours. As the silhouettes develop, one notices that almost all of the lower branches of the trees have been trimmed to the same level. This is due to constant trimming from browsers such as kudu and eland, and of course some help from the elephants.
It must been around twenty minutes to half an hour after sunset when the colours of setting sun-lit sky begin to saturate and the blues and purples begin to appear. When you are standing in this balmy temperature ( probably around 32 or 35 degrees) and the colours light up, it brings all your senses alive and at times like this you are very grateful to be alive and be immersed in such beauty.
“There is another alphabet, whispering from every leaf, singing from every river, shimmering from every sky.”
~ Dejan Stojanovic
Now it was last light, and the last of the pinks and apricots are reflected in the river. Time to adjourn to go and have supper and tell stories around the camp fire.
Explore, seek to understand, marvel at its inter-connectedness and let it be.
“Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself; he also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace.”