Walk, don’t run

Looking tasty at the back

(Greg) We hadn’t yet been told that, just a few weeks earlier, a Zimbabwean fellow had been killed by a lion exactly where we were walking, but I didn’t need that happy yarn to keep me on my toes. This was our first walking safari and I felt a certain responsibility to my own four cubs as we cautiously, alertly, made our way through the bush in search of the cape buffalo carcass and the lions likely enjoying it.

We were camping at Chitake Springs along the Great Rift Valley escarpment in Northern Zimbabwe. It was dry, but a magical spring sprang from the sands here and animals of all shapes and sizes came for refreshment. Because of this, we were likely to encounter all sorts of intriguing beasties as we walked: elephant, buffalo, baboon, hyena, leopard and lions. The big fear, according to our trusty (and armed) guide and friend Fausto, were lone male buffalo or elephant Moms with calves. There seemed to be lots of these around, too. As it was afternoon, the predator cats were not really a major concern unless we stumbled upon them. Nonetheless, I kept my ears tuned and eyes skinned, particularly as we were walking in single file and I, gallantly, volunteered to hold the rear flank. As I walked and thought about my position, I really couldn’t imagine a massive eating-machine attacking the middle of the line. Just doesn’t happen like that. Maybe he would pounce at the front of the line, but that guy had a big rifle. In nature, the last impala is the slowest impala; the fittest rarely take up the rear. It didn’t take long for me to see the big picture and the disadvantaged position I was in.

Rhinos are MUCH bigger when seen from the ground

I became bobble head Greg. Every stick snapping, every bird calling, every insect buzzing was a warning signal of impending luncheon and I was determined to spot it, anticipate the strike and, like a flash, dodge the beast and let it have Dana. At which point I would poke it with a thorny stick, the beast would retreat muttering something about “c-ourage” and I would, once again, be the brave beloved impala that maybe should not have been at the back of the line after all.

Sadly, nothing attacked and my bravery went unnoticed. I did get a big thorn in my shoe though.

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