Wednesday, July 15, 2009
We capped off our trip with a quick buzz through Chobe National Park, and it is simply impossible to take a bad photo here. These pictures came off of my little snappy digital thingy, and not some big thwacking professional rig. (I did take some closeup shots using my 35mm camera with the giant zoom, but I have no idea where one gets actual film developed these days.)
(Click on any photo to see it all huge on your monitor. Then click the back key to return to this page.)
Botswana takes its wildlife seriously. Poachers are shot on sight, and those that survive are sent to prison for a very long time. (In fact, the reason there are no rhinos in Chobe is because they were too much of a lure for poachers, putting other animals at risk, so they've been relocated. Sorry, rhinos.) This policy isn't just good for the critters, it's a sound business decision. With their diamond reserves dwindling yearly, Botswana needs the cash generated by tourism, and a well-stocked parade of elephants is quite a draw.
And damn, did we see elephants. They're everywhere. Like racoons. We also encountered a good number of giraffes, impala, kudu, warthog (Pumba!) hippos and fornicating baboons. The only thing I didn't see was a big cat. Half of our team did. They were in another jeep, and witnessed a showdown between a lion and a mother elephant, and reported back in breathless detail: The lion was stalking some nearby impala, when a baby elephant wandered close. (note: baby elephants is tasty.) The lion slinked under a nearby bush and the mama charged over, reared up on her hind legs and - bellowing - brought her full weight crashing down on the bush. Dramatic as that sounds, I was just as happy to have a bit of distance twixt myself and an enraged elephant, not to mention a jittery carnivore. I have newfound respect for that Mutual of Omaha guy, "I'll stay here in the jeep, while Rusty checks on the lion...."