Tag Archives: safari

12-Safari of Life

Kob eating grass while experiencing fame at Murchison Falls

I’ve always wanted to go on a safari. I would see photos and hear things on TV that made it sound like an adventure suburban America couldn’t rival. True to its fame, it inspired me to create this.

Load up! Everybody grab their cameras. Is yours fully charged? Check to make sure the memory is wiped. We are going to shoot some animals.

Scour the horizon! Look for any heads bobbing up from the grass. Let everyone know so that we can all see and then shoot it.

Stop, driver! You are making too much noise, you might scare away that kob there. Plus, if we are moving, it is a lot harder to shoot it. Look at how frozen it is. Does it think that we will kill it? No, we aren’t predators. No, we are here only to shoot it. Don’t worry furry friend, you will see your family again. Just stay frozen so I can get a crisp shot. Look at the golden beauty: those protruding bones, brimming musculature, and life-filled eyes. Look at how proudly it stands over the grass.

 

I raise the lens. I peer through the viewfinder. It is just me and the kob. All my focus is on this beautiful beast.  My eyes lock on his mesmerizing poise and commanding wonder. He is in focus. All my focus is on him. Our eyes find each other, and for a moment we become connected, for a moment we become one through some primal connection. In that eternal moment, an omnipresent silence lifted me from the earth. I was back in Eden where nature was at peace. The life beating in his obsidian-black eyes revealed mother nature herself. Wait until my friends see this. The sacred moment ended almost as soon as it began. It was broken by me thinking about myself.

Click!

For a moment, my world became dark. The mirror had flipped in the camera so the sensor could capture the shot. In this moment, a wave of regret crushed me. I realized what I had lost. In that moment of blissful serenity, I choose to shoot, I chose to capture instead of absorb the moment. Some moments are too beautiful to capture. I have lost Mother Nature and captured an kob. I have traded Eden for an image, an image of selfishness. By disturbing the peace, I have acted against nature and tried to freeze a moment in time. Now captured into an image of an antelope, I own this moment once mutually shared between us. I traded sacredness for power over time. Beware all nature, for my camera will transform your vibrant beauty into a static image. Once people see the image, nature will die. People will look at this craven image as reality. They will miss the holy enlightenment I shot. For this hollow and corrupt facade is nothing compared to the light that shown on my broken heart from Mother Nature’s face of limitless elegance.

Look at my shot! Everyone crowds around the camera. The shot was so clean that my hands were rendered obsolete. My eyes could see such detail, that I didn’t even need to touch the animal.

 

Nice shot! I wish I could take a shot like that! Ok, everyone, its just one shot. There are plenty more that need to be taken.

Go, driver! Once again, the crew was on the prowl looking for its next victim. They scoped out the wild grasses and scraggly trees. They found many throughout the course of the day. All the animals they saw looked at them no differently than if they were a predator, no differently than if they were hunters. They were caught in between running away and defending themselves. Despite all the shots, not one animal died.

This is a short made-up reflection. I was inspired to write it once I learned that only 860 elephants remain in Murchison Falls National Park, and there used to be 15,000. Hunting and poaching these animals is absolutely horrifying. Photography is infinitely better, but still has its limitations. Coming here and witnessing the incredible majesty of nature has been a blessing that I’m so grateful to have.

The majesty of that moment! I did not have it with an animal but with the savanna. We would drive on the top of some small hills, and we could see far off into the distance. The amount of land and trees there was humbling. The vastness of Africa was revealed to me. I felt like i was nothing. My problems felt unimportant. It made me realize I am a irrational fraction of a bacteria to the moon. In the midst of such austere magnificence I felt my own loneliness, my own powerlessness. It gave me great peace. The problems we photographed and videotaped on this trip are bigger than us. They require a God-sized remedy. I am not responsible for it happening nor am I responsible to fix it. Not even God can fix it. He came to earth and wasn’t able to crack the heard hearts of the Pharisees. There is a mighty and inalienable evil in human nature. I can try my best to fight it knowing that I will fail. However, in attempting to fight the devil, I might become the devil. Instead of sacrificing the good that is left in the world, I choose to stand by it. I hope that God will turn the blazing world into a praising world. I stand behind God as we watch the world burn trying to save a chunk of it so that there will be something left to build upon once this evil fire chokes itself with its own wickedness.

Jeepers, We’re on a Safari!

(Written June 19)  Today we are leaving Lira to take some needed relaxation within the boundaries of Murchison National Game Park, the largest national park in Uganda. From where we were in Lira, this massive landscape of a reserve is about a 4 hours drive.

So for four hours I sat on the bumpy thrill ride called the bus staring out into the window trying to take everything in, and I couldn’t help but notice how drastically the landscape changes from when we were still in Lira to where the Game park is located.

Lira is called home by some of the most poor, but yet most generous, people of Uganda.  Families live in huts made of mud and straw, children play with toys we consider trash, and the city landscape is made up of deteriorating metal. Although Lira is not textbook beautiful, it’s beauty lies within its people.

Seeing that the game park has no human inhabitants, however, it’s beauty lies within the bush. As we were driving, I could see lush plains filled with bright green trees and plants that are indigenous to only Africa itself.

Something else that is indigenous to the continent are the animals that we saw. Before we were able to actually enter the park itself, we were stopped at a security checkpoint. Most of us were half asleep, seeing that we had been stopped many times before by Ugandan police to have our bus checked for bombs ( fortunately for the police we left them all at home). Yet, this checkpoint was different. The bus started rolling again…

and BAM! There were at least 10 giraffes to the right of our bus. We had all expected to see animals but not that soon. A few kilometers went by and then we saw at least 4 giant elephants just hanging out about 40 yards away from the road. A few of them  had those Zazu-looking birds on them just like out of Lion King. It was so cool.

At the beginning of my Sophomore year, my Stats professor Dr. Ravi Nath showed us his pictures from when he brought his family and himself on a safari in the tip of Africa. He told us everyone should go. I never really thought that I would be folllowing his command so soon, to be honest.

But the funny thing is, I wasn’t even on the safari yet. That would officially happen 2 days from now.

Cheers.

Giraffes are even more amazing and even more taller than the ones at Henry Doorly Zoo.

Don’t feed the animals

Giraffe sighting on the game drive.

Carol asked me how big the giraffe exhibit is at the zoo in Omaha. My immediate response was to tell her that it was small – but I’m pretty sure it’s because I had just seen about 50 giraffes roaming freely on the vast African savannah (and I’m pretty sure my jaw was wide open the entire time).

I had been looking forward to seeing the giraffes on this trip – to me there is just something so majestic about these tall creatures. But make no mistake, just because they are gentle and don’t have a voice box doesn’t mean that they’ll go down without a fight. Our safari guide told us that it would take a pack of 7-10 lions to take down a single giraffe.

Not only was it a treat to see giraffes, elephants, waterbuffalo and other wildlife, we were also lucky enough to witness a leopard (yep, you read that right) take down its prey. Seeing a lion is pretty rare on a safari, so seeing a leopard – that’s one in a million.

I’m pretty sure that in any other situation, it’s advised to stay away from wild leopards. But when you are on a safari, in a huge blue bus, it’s clearly expected to do some off-roading and head straight toward the leopard. It’s a good thing it already had its dinner in its mouth.