The road was rough. The land rover bounced around a corner and there he was, a South African White Rhinoceros, standing guard in the middle of the rutted road. I lurched forward as the guide stopped the vehicle abruptly. The Rhino’s ears twitched. He watched from immovable feet. I held my breath. I could hear a huffing snort and the buzzing of insects.
The guide spoke, “Perhaps we will find another way.”
The land rover jerked in reverse. The Rhino stared at us, unblinking.
The Range Rover bounced through the trees like the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, then, mercifully, stopped. Our guide shut off the engine. I could hear the ticking of hot stressed metal. My body was just as stressed. I may have developed a tick.
I could see him, hiding, a giant bull elephant, trying, it seemed to me, to be inconspicuous.
I began taking photographs. Through the lens, the elephant looked annoyed. With crunching footsteps, he lumbered out of the trees into the open, staring at us. We stared back at him. He came closer. Closer. CLOSER. I reached for a wider lens.
Hold very still, our guide whispered. He reached for his rifle.
The giant elephant stopped, three feet away. I could hear him panting. Snorting. I could SMELL him. VERY BAD BREATH.
From my open seat in the Range Rover, he was massive. His tusks were stained red near the sharpened points. He looked down at me with huge, tired eyes.
What are you doing here?
I came to see you.
He sniffed, his snake-like trunk sampling the air around me. His giant eyes blinked. I could see myself reflected in their rich, deep brown. He looked…sad, maybe. Resignedly tolerant, perhaps. Proud, certainly.
He moved on.
I realized that the pounding I could hear was my heart, not his footsteps.
Our guide put down his gun and started the Range Rover. The roar of the engine shattered the quiet surrounding us and we moved on.
A thirsty African elephant takes a healthy drink from his own personal well.
I am excited to announce that two of my photos, The Tree of Life and Mud Bath, were selected for the Utah Travels Photography Exhibit. The exhibit runs from March 7 through April 30, 2014. There is an opening reception Friday, March 7 from 6:00-8:00 pm. Come see a great exhibit and say hello. The reception is open to the public.
Utah Travels is a photo exhibit highlighting remarkable photographic images captured by Utahns during their diverse travel experiences. These photos reflect the beauty, richness and diversity of people, events, nature, culture and all that celebrates humanity and planet earth.
Utah Cultural Celebration Center
1355 West 3100 South
WVC, UT 84119
I thought, since it is New Years Eve, I would post a photo gallery of shots from some of the places I’ve been around the world. Sort of a “Best of” gallery from previous posts. I’ve been only blogging since August, so I have yet to post shots from everywhere I’ve been. And, I have yet to even start posting video from all of these places. That is what 2014 is for. Resolution 🙂
The world is a big, beautiful place, filled with interesting people, amazing sights, random coincidences and occasional tender mercies. I have been blessed to travel. I have been blessed to make friends on every continent. I hope to keep the friends I have made and make more as time goes by. However, my greatest blessings are found at home, with a warm fire, a good meal and my family, who love me.
Lions, Leopards, Water Buffalo, Wart Hogs, Rhinos, Elephants and Zebras–they all drink from this river. The Mala Mala Game Reserve in South Africa was established in 1964 and is a protected wildlife sanctuary. Situated in the midst of a much larger protected area, Mala Mala is an unfenced reserve where wildlife roam free. In spite of the location, poachers still manage to kill a significant number of animals each year. Mala Mala Rangers are working tirelessly to prevent and eliminate the senseless killing of protected species such as the Rhinoceros as well as preserve an environment where wildlife may enjoy living waters. And, it really is this cool 🙂
There are numerous cross-cultural references to the Tree of Life. I don’t know the actual name for this tree, but the symmetrical shape reminded me of drawings I’ve seen from many parts of the world. In a land teeming with such diversity of life, the symbolism was not hard to find. Africa is an amazing place, bursting with life, much of it tenuous. This tree, thriving amongst the harshness, was an inspiring reminder of my own mortality.
A Red-billed Oxpecker hitches a ride on a willing Water Buffalo. The Oxpecker lives in a symbiotic relationship with the Water Buffalo. It eats the bugs off the back of the large beast for food. The Water Buffalo benefits from a good cleaning.
We came upon this Leopard eating the hind quarter of an Impala at the base of a tree. Up in the tree, twenty-five feet above us, the gutted and thrashed Impala was still starring at us. The Leopard killed the Impala, gutted it and hauled it up the tree. The Impala weighed almost as much as the Leopard.
He didn’t like us watching him eat so he took his dinner and sauntered into the bush. We followed. He decided to ignore us and sat down to finish his meal. When he was done, he just sat there, resting.