While doing the usual high-priced tour through the Serengeti I had resigned myself not to see the elusive and rarely seen leopard. That was until this episode.
The Serengeti is both a pleasant and disappointing experience. It is only disappointing if you envisage a chance to get out and mix with nature, to be in the wilds with you and the animals. But if you go there to drive around and see some marvelous images of nature, you will be fine. The experience is about driving in a vehicle, as these next images show. The animals are free, but the tourists are in mobile cages–usually Toyota Land Cruisers.
The leopard was happily having a snooze in the shade of this tree. Shade is a big deal on the Serengeti. And I suspect that snoozing is also a big deal, especially if you work at night. Such is the life of a predator.
There is the old phrase “let sleeping cats lie,” but the arrival of so many tourist vehicles, I suspect, was a bit disturbing to this guy's sleep. So he took a stroll.
He had to weave his way throughout the accumulated tourist vehicles to get to the other side of the road. Perhaps sadly, these photos show how accustomed he was to tourists.
What caught me off guard, and maybe even the leopard (although I doubt it) was that a tough female hyena was also snoozing in the shade. She took no liking to the leopard, so he veered around her spot. Eventually he plopped down at the very edge of the shade. I had a photo of where he laid down, but it shows no leopard. The leopard has his spots so that he can disappear into the Serengeti.
So the question we have as humans, the sad residents at the top of the food chain, is this: do we prefer to see the animals in cages (zoos) so the viewing is a convenient experience for us, but damned inconvenient for the caged animals. Or, do we drive around in mobile cages and watch the animals in their relative freedom. I say “relative” because most of the wild animals on this planet are subjugated to a life in a controlled zone. Sure they can wander out. But at least in Africa, the animals meet a hostile and effective enemy in the form of local herdsmen, simply protecting their herds. For me, I choose driving in the cage, because then, on lucky occasions, I have seen animals moving as they want to move.
Giraffes with their magical, long-leggedy gait.Rhinos who seem to have no legs at all, but still charge at magnificent speeds. Impalas who surprise even themselves with their this and then that away sprints. Elephants who move forward with a confidence and pace that says “I am in charge here.”Seeing and feeling animals where they belong is what we should do. Let's leave the zoos to the zookeepers.