It was a moonless African night with countless number of stars – there are much more of them in the South hemisphere than in the North. No human habitation in tens of miles away: just several tents around a little campfire.
Rangers are quietly talking to each other in one of 11 local languages. One hour more – and they will put the fire out and leave me alone with this night. “Just don’t forget to turn on your torch before going to the toilet: if you see someone’s eyes – better wait a bit.” – Shaba, a massive guy with a low voice, sounds a bit scary even if when he doesn’t say such things. Toilet in the bush camp was in fact a hole in the sand surrounded by a piece of sipped tarp. But what shall I do if I notice someone on my way back from the toilet?… For some reason, I was too embarrassed to ask.
This night around me is full of smells and sounds. Rustling of someone’s soft paws overlaps heavy stomps in a distance; low growl interrupts mystical chore of nocturnal birds. I’m staying near my tent with a paper glass of red wine gazing at unknown constellations, and tears of happiness are dropping from my eyes.
That very early morning we were driving through the sandy park roads, looking around, searching creatures hidden in the bushes. The car was moving really slow and I, being woken up before the sunrise, was constantly trying to cover myself with a plaid and desperately attempting to keep the eyes opened. Suddenly, a radio of the ranger came alive. Several words on unfamiliar language – and our car started drifting like a frightened deer. No, we were not running from a herb of wild elephants – we were rushing to meet them.
We came to an open space and I lost my breath. The rising Sun has just revealed its edge from the river Chobe, lighting up a fairy-tale scene: several families of elephants walking steadily alongside with some caring moms milking their babies and naughty teens, pulling other members’ tails and putting jets of mud with their disobedient trunks; huge herds of massive buffalos looking at us distractingly with their rough, formidable eyes; long-necked giraffes decorating a stunning African dusk with their slim spotted bodies, creating an exquisite contrast with stocky impalas and zebras – a stripped symbol of Botswana.
At that time, I didn’t know Botswana’s government is going to reconsider a ban on hunting.
What for, though? To kill those creatures who believe that they are safe? To decrease a dramatically growing flow of ecotourism? To eradicate their unique, exquisite beauty? What kind of man can even think about it?..
Our way was continuing deeper to the bush, when all of a sudden we’ve stopped. Right on the road there was a pride of about 16 lions warming their bellies under the sun! Those lazy cats have not paid any attention to our car: some of them were stretching their legs, others were yawning and showing their impressive toothy mouth, but most of them were just having a nap. My ranger’s name was Leo, and should I say that there are rumors among his colleagues about the reasons for his luck with finding big cats.
The biggest surprise, however, has been awaiting me a bit later. Leo told me that the chances to meet “them” are miserable. Them – the graceful and dangerous avatar of stealth. The Leopards.
I knew about it: In 2012, my daughter saw a spotted relative of Bagheera in Sri Lanka, while I was distracted by a mongoose.
But today I’ve seen them! First, we’ve noticed two young cats playing with some sort of rubbish as if it was a big toy. We’ve spent about half an hour by starring at those young cats’ game, but then we had to move a bit, since cars from all around the park slowly gathered there to see those astonishing beasts. And just in several hundreds of meters away we’ve discovered their mother! She was resting in the bush, while keeping an eye on her cubs: already big enough for independent life, but.. kids would always remain kids.
I was completely, entirely happy. For the long six years I was waiting for this encounter.
There are those days that are worth life to be lived. And this starlit night in the tent is a great finishing chord of one. I’ve met the Africa of my dream – wild, primordial, the true kingdom of Nature. And I pray to all Gods for it to remain as it is.
About the Entry
I’m a passionate wildlife traveller who has a dream to dedicate my knowledge and talents to animal protection and conservation. At the moment, I develop my blog on Instagram and my YouTube channel.
- Site name | Miragram
- Site URL | http://miragram.blogspot.com/
- Facebook | https://www.facebook.com/thetimetownder
- Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/wildlife_blogger/
- YouTube | https://www.youtube.com/timetowonder
- Why should someone visit your site? While preparing this article I found out that Botswana’s government is going to reconsider the ban on hunting. I see a lot of professional biologists here, so my hopes on the winning are not up. But may I have this opportunity to respectfully ask the future winner to do something to attract the attention of wildlife enthusiasts and conservation organisations to that fact. Botswana is a treasure of wildlife, and it must be saved for good of all our Planet! And I strongly believe that the bloggers can make difference and to contribute their efforts to remain Botswana the safe place for animals. Thank you and sorry for off topic.
- Entry Title | A touch of miracle
- Entry Number | 89
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