Not literally raining cats and dogs, of course, but we saw so many of them that it might as well have been. Nigel told us on our very first game drive on our very first afternoon that we would be taking hundreds of photos that day that we would end up deleting from our memory cards as the trip went on and we had even better photo opportunities. On that first day, such a thing seemed inconceivable.
Thus it was that, when later that day we came across three lionesses, sprawled on a cutaway bank, trying to doze off the effect of too many times through the zebra buffet bar, I snapped away with abandon. But, as in so many things on this safari, Nigel proved to be correct and I have kept only one of the photos I took that day. It’s not a particularly good photo but I am keeping it as a reminder of what not to do at the Golden Dragon All-You-Can-Eat Chinese Buffet. I empathize with that lioness; I have walked in her paw prints; I have felt her overstuffed discomfort; I, too, have wondered if I will ever run again.
Over the next ten days, it did seem as if there was a big cat around every corner:
Lions were abundant. We saw them eating, contemplating hunting, sleeping, perched in trees, mating, and having a smoke afterwards. Oops, forgive me, I got carried away; it’s so easy to slip into anthropomorphisms.
Cheetahs were not quite as plentiful but we saw many. We saw them hunt, which means we saw them run, and try to teach their cubs to hunt. We learned why cheetahs are possibly more like greyhounds than cats. We learned that because the small Thomson’s Gazelle features so prominently in the cheetah’s diet some of our fellow travelers call the gazelles “Cheetos,” a small crunchy snack for a quick cat. Well, why not? Chester eats Cheetos. I don’t know if I will ever do so again, however.
And, we saw leopards. Only four or five but what they lacked in numbers, they made up for in pure elegance. We never got as close to a leopard as the first one that took a rest under one of our LRs, but we saw them in trees and in the grass. Every sighting was exciting.
I even, finally, saw a genet cat in the beams of our last lodge. I’m not even certain it is a cat but it sure looks like one. Small and spotted with a long, racoon-like striped tail, it is quite pretty.
Now, for the dog part of this post. As if anyone cares. Even dog people don’t care. But here we go:
Spotted hyaenas, ick. They serve an important function. Okay, I get it. Enough said.
Black-Backed and Golden Jackals. Much less ick factor but not much wow factor either although the Golden Jackal is semi-attractive.
Bat-Eared Fox. Actually, pretty cute if you like your dogs on the bat-like side. They eat insects, lizards and snakes. That’s a good thing, right?