Friday, March 25, 2016


It was a regular morning obs. 
Me, myself and KBY.
The den was quiet – No hyenas vis. The sun rose and with it the sweltering heat.

I decided to do a sit and wait obs, which involved going to numerous locations where you knew the hyenas were then you sit and wait.

I had found FFL and KHTM. 
No one else.

As my morning obs continued I found myself going to old hyena hang out spots, hoping that one might pop up. But each and every session I would record:

0654 :No hyenas visible

0716: No hyenas vis

And 0733: No hyenas vis

Everyone was definitely oos (out of sight) today. But I chugged along.

And as I chugged I witnessed a beast thrashing in the bush!
At first I thought it was an ostrich having a tussle with a snake. Or an Eland running from the car. Elands always run. They are much bigger than the truck and can jump to 10ft in the air. These elegant Egyptian cattle seem to be the biggest and baddest antelope in the Mara, but they are as skittish as their cousin the Dik-dik.

But as I sneaked closer to see if this fallen tree, in this quiet savanna had in fact made a sound, to my surprise, what the beast I found was something I was not expecting to see – a fallen elephant.

At first I was skeptical and interested in what had made it fall. Did it trip? Is it going to get back up? Did it get attacked? Ohh Yes! An elephant carcass session! I was really looking forward to that. As I waited for hyenas or some other predator to come around the body my perspective changed completely in that moment. Epiphany!. SHE WAS IN LABOR!

My mind and body began to race! Adrenaline was pumping through my veins. I quickly backed up the truck even further from my spot and watched from a far.
I hoped that I would not distract her or worse bring attention to this magnificent creature and her calve.
I could not see her posterior but did see heavy breathing. She would fan herself with her large pinnea periodically to cool herself.

In my excitement I pondered on what she may be going through--her perspective. If she could sense me and in what ways? Sound, vibration, scent? 
Did elephants really fall that drastically when in labor? Did she injure herself when she fell?
In any case I wanted to appear as small as possible to her.
I sat with her for 45 mins. Knowing that this may take hours or even days.
But of course I was shooting for the former. I would hope parturition would happen in the next 1hr or so.

After a long wait, she rose!
And to my surprise not a cow stood before me but a bull!
He was taking a nice short snooze before he continue his daily foraging routine of course.

I felt betrayed almost, by myself. I saw what I wanted to see, instead of seeing the potential options. Had myself worked up for nothing. However, it was pretty cool hanging out with this male for a couple minutes.

My perspective changed more than once as this bull lied there. Was it dead from old age? Did it get attacked? Was it in labor? And because I chose to see what I wanted to see I turned it into something more complex than it should have been. But anyways, it was still pretty cool.

I hope this brings a lesson to everyone who reads it. 

Special thanks for my Hardcore Excited Colleagues for inspiring me and pushing me forward!

Ciara S. G. Main

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