A few safari holidays with my family, have left awe-struck by the beauty and majesty of wild life that visits to the zoo have been unable to provide. These adventures have also left me with a few invaluable life lessons from the bush.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
Elephant, Lion, Buffalo, Leopard, Rhino. The Big 5. The holy grail of any safari trip. However, there is no guarantee that all 5 will make an appearance. This is especially true of the elusive leopard. So while keeping your eyes on the Big 5 prize, be on the lookout for some of the smaller creatures that inhabit the bush. While looking for the marquee animals in South Africa, Kenya and Botswana, we discovered that safaris are full of lots of other animals, such as the plethora of beautiful birds indigenous to the areas, a wide variety of antelope and a number of creepy crawlies, like the Water Monitor Lizard and millipedes.
Mama Don’t Take No Mess
Not only were we fortunate enough to see lions, elephants and rhinos, we saw several of them with their offspring. The animals were used to the safari jeeps, so we were able to get relatively close. However, the mothers would not hesitate to let us know when we were getting too close. The lioness’ head lifts a little higher and tail points to attention as a warning not to get too close to her cubs; the mama rhino grunts and moves to the outside of calf, acting as a shield when the male rhino approaches looking to hook-up; the young elephant is followed closely by its protective mother as she gently nudges him along. Quickly snap a picture or two and keep it moving.
It’s A Cat Eat Cat World
It’s no secret that it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, but make no mistake, cats can be just as ruthless. Those cute little lion cubs we saw have a very slim chance of making the transition from adorable cub to ferocious king of the jungle. Other cats, like leopards, often kill the cubs so that they have less competition for food. Cubs even face danger from adult male lions who didn’t father them, who don’t want their authority threatened.
Survival Skills Are Built During Playtime
Cooing over the cute lion cub siblings as they played together, we learned that playtime is more than fun and games. During playtime the mother determines which of the cubs is the strongest thus determining who gets more food and who, in turn, will be stronger and thus have a better chance at survival. Pretty much the opposite of the skills we are taught in kindergarten. Playing nicely only serves to reveal weaknesses, and sharing is also a definite no-no. Afterall, who ever heard of 2 kings of the jungle?
Monique is a native Californian who has spent the last decade living in Europe and is using it as a launch pad to travel the globe with her family. Visit her blog at www.motravels.com.