"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." (Mark Twain : The Innocents Abroad, 1869)

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


The following is an account of the migration from a Wildebeest's perspective that I penned for Serian's blog.

Having past the last few months across the border in Tanzania's Serengeti Plains, us Wildebeest and a few of our Zebra friends are coming back to the Mara as we've heard that the grass is greener here.

First a few of us set off - traveling in long lines across the plains of golden grass - occasionally one of them would grunt as if to confirm that they were going in the right direction.    Trudging Northwards they met up with a few friends who had remained behind from last year, together with the full time residents - Topi, Warthogs, Giraffe, Elephant etc.

As the days went past, more and more of us followed our pathfinders, the initial strings developed into larger groups until it looked like the Indians coming over the hill to meet General Custer at the Little Big Horn.

On we trudged, grunting to each other our agreement that this was a really good idea, occasionally racing ahead or stopping for a quick snack on the new grass.  Once in a while some of us would get confused and set off back the way we had come but we always ended up going in the right direction.

Then we came across a real barrier across the path along which our instincts were drawing us - the Mara River !  It wasn't just its steep sides that were the problem nor the swim across its fast flowing water nor the steep climb out the other side.  What worried us more was the welcoming party that had been arranged by some of the residents.  Crocs lurked in the rushing water whilst Lion & Leopard concealed themselves in long grass or bushes.

On the banks of the river we stood and contemplated the drop to the water, occasionally we
would move up & down to seek better places to cross - hesitating at the very brink.  Then, one of our bravest (or perhaps one with less brains) would take the initial plunge leaving a trail of dust behind them.  Some would chose a gentle slope, others - more adventurous -  would hurtle down narrow chutes to the water.  Once one had taken the literal plunge, others would rush to follow.

The Mara's waters might be cooling and refreshing after days trudging across the plains but they do have their drawbacks !  Hidden just below the surface is often a long narrow snout filled with rows of sharp teeth.  The Crocs make their lunge for unfortunate friends dragging them to drown under the once inviting waters.

Having plunged across the river in an increasing dust cloud, we occasionally suffer from the
lack of foresight by the ones who had selected this particular crossing point.  Our occasional problem is that not every entry point is matched by an easy exit climb up the other bank.  Consequently, our swim is lengthened as we search for an easy way up on the other side.

Gaining the top of the bank, we meet the second element of the welcoming party.  The dash and throat grip of the felines lying in wait in the long golden grass or behind a bush. 

Occasionally, some of us will recross the river as if we had enjoyed the initial experience so much.  However, most of us will disperse over the plains in search of the new grass had had drawn us up from Tanzania.

1 comment:

WildiZe said...

Great Story John! I'm enjoying reading about your adventures... you're a hardy soul, and I admire this greatly! all the best to you on your further adventures!
Eli and WildiZe Foundation!