Walking With Maison: Part 5
The Wild Chase
Maison and I are walking through the plain where zebra are eating off to our left and impala to our right and topi are around too and the small Thompson gazelles that look like shrunk down impalas but of course they are not.
When I first came to Africa thirty years ago now, a student studying in Zimbabwe and then in Botswana, I remember how the impala amazed me and how every zebra I saw was a wonder. When my children first went on safari with me it was the same.
It is the same with everyone who first comes here and sees their first herd of impala on the plain by the airfield where the flight from Nairobi lands after the guys waiting to pick up passengers drive up and down as the twin prop plane descends to keep it clear of animals so they can land safely.
“Were you with me Maison when we saw the cheetah kill by the airstrip?”
“When Andrew was driving? No but I heard the story.”
Andrew and I were driving someone up to the air strip for the Air Kenya flight that leaves at 10:00 in the morning and goes back to Wilson, taking someone from the UK who would be back in London tomorrow in the gray cold of February wondering if there was ever a place as warm and green as Kenya and they just been there.
I think it’s true that air travel makes it hard for people to adjust like they could when they had to sail the seas to get to a place like Africa – where you could sneak up on a different culture depending on the winds and the tides. Now one minute you are in the quiet and the sun and the greens and the browns of Africa watching a wildebeest give birth to smaller version of itself and waiting three or four minutes or the baby to stand on wobbly legs and run. A few hours later you are back in London thinking it is impossible that you walked the plains in Kenya and it must have all been just a dream and you get chicken tikka masala takeaway on the way home.
Andrew was driving the guest back up to the airstrip and we were watching the largest plain in the conservancy and Andrew was driving like you drive here, not fast and not slow when in the distance, half a mile away, we saw the flash of the brown and Andrew gunned it.
When a safari guide who spends his days here seeing the usual, sees a blast of brown on the plains and the wildebeest scattering and the screams of warning from all the animals, when he tells you to hold on you hold on because this is different – this is going to be good and you want to get there. We see the cheetah rise up impossibly fast first on the ground and then threw the air. A single male cheetah catching and driving his teeth hard and high into the back of the wildebeest and then the wildebeest stumbling as we turn and park and bring out our cameras.
Two minutes after the chase started, the cheetah is pulling the wildebeest over and starting on the stomach. Three minutes after the chase started, the cheetah raises his head covered in blood and digs back into the intestines and the other wildebeest watch a moment and almost collectively seem to think better that wildebeest than me. They then all drop their heads and go back to eating just yards from the cheetah who is feasting on the inside of the wildebeest who was just a little slower, a little less quick and now is well, not dead yet but close as the cheetah feasts.
Andrew reminds me later when I see him at camp that he and I have had good luck here – with the cheetah kill on the plain and the day we were out and saw Osirata and followed here and followed here and we didn’t go back when we were supposed to because even I know you never leave a leopard like Osirata on a clear blue sky day in Africa and the light is good for photographs.
“That was a good chase on the plains that day Maison. I wonder if cheetahs only kill the bad wildebeest.” Maison smiles.
“Only the lion kills bad people. Cheetahs kill any wildebeest they can.”
Later when I tell Crystal about that, she tells me of the herder who was just killed by lions in the reserve and the Maasai knew he was a bad man because he was not Maasai and he had fought with his father and said harsh words to his father and then the lion had killed him but that was okay because you should not fight with your father. Even a lion knows that.
This story was written by James Cannon Boyce, who has contributed to Longevity before. Keep an eye out for part 6 of 6 in the “Walking with Maison” series.
To read the Full Story of “Walking With Maison” Download the Free PDF here.
“Walking The Earth is a literary expedition whose goal it is to shine a light on people worth supporting and places worth saving around the world. For this story, I stayed with The Maa Trust, in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy in the Mara region of Kenya. I have also worked with the neighboring Naboisho Conservancy. Maison is a friend of mine who was a ranger with the Kenya Wildlife Service and now is an armed safari guide who works with Encounter Mara. He lives in Aitong.
I hope that if you liked this story, you will consider asking your friends to go to WalkingThe.Earth and support The Maa Trust by purchasing it. You can also perhaps visit The Maa Trust on Facebook or their website to see everything they are doing.”