Traveling Africa is exciting, adventurous and can also become a real love-hate relationship by what we experience from day to day.
I didn’t stop to help!
I walked by the rubbish on the beach!
Suddenly I caught myself. What’s going on? In my right mind I never go on by without offering help. In my right mind I pick up the rubbish when I walk on the beach.
We’d just been in the Amboseli National Park in Kenya. On outlook hill you have a fabulous view across the large pan, the unique marsh, the immense variety of wildlife, and over to the famous Kilimanjaro mountain. Placards, many of them, are dotted along the walkway. Their messages are not sugar coated. They state the reality of the fragile, vulnerable situation facing the Amboseli ecosystem. It is depressing!
[Story on our day in the Amboseli National Park with photos coming]
On our way to the west gate, on the inside of the reserve, there came a huge herd. A large herd not of game, but cattle. The giraffe stopped, looked and turned around. The zebra and wildebeest turned and galloped away. The herders drove the cattle right where the wildlife had been and straight to the water. I can understand livestock getting thirsty, but in many parks/conservancies nowadays livestock are infringing more and more on wildlife habitat. West of Mount Kenya herders invaded reserves with over 130,000 head of cattle. They shot the wildlife and chased out the rangers and tourists!
This makes me hate Africa… or should I say the people of Africa that don’t care about wildlife.
Then we drove through Tsavo National Park on the highway between Nairobi and Mombasa. There on the roadside she lay, all mangled and disfigured, a once beautiful leopard. The very next evening on a beach in Diani I stumble upon a freshly beheaded sea turtle. Later I discover that fishermen, rather than cut their net, cut the turtles’ heads off when they get caught! I’m deeply troubled! What a waste!
My thoughts wander off to all the wild species… animals, birds, reptiles, yes even insects that get killed every day. Killed to sell their body parts. Killed because they’re a nuisance. Killed for sport. Or simply killed out of negligence.
This makes me hate Africa… or better said the people that kill wildlife.
However, this Love-Hate relationship is a constant roller coaster ride.
The very next moment I can spot the most amazing bird, like the large Silver Cheeked Hornbill.
Be fascinated trying to pinpoint the unique stripe patterns from Zebra to Zebra.
Be fortunate enough to watch a Green Sea Turtle digging a hole for her eggs in the moonlight.
Watch a new born Wildebeest learn to operate its wobbly legs.
This makes me love Africa… watching wildlife living free.
The next morning after observing the sea turtle I find an old man with crooked teeth patiently measuring and documenting. Said (pronounced Sa-eed) is a volunteer turtle monitor. He keeps track of where eggs are laid and moves them to a safer place if need be.
[Story and video on this saver of sea turtles coming]
Then there’s learning how Colobus monkeys are saved by simple rope bridges across the roadways. Or meeting former poachers who give up their snares and spears to become bee keepers and fish farmers.
This makes me love Africa… people caring and saving wildlife.
On those down days of the love-hate relationship cycle I must remember and be open. Because just around the corner there’s going to be a pretty butterfly, a shiny red bug, or a stunning bird. Which makes me think of people like Baye, Silke, Izak, Peter, Lynn, Moses, Shannon and Raphael and I’m good again.
This makes me love Africa… its amazing wildlife and tenacious people.