Africa: Big Game Hunting in Ruaha
Alex and I are stirred from sleep by the bellowing of hippos a scant five meters from our front door. We had not really had a chance to take in our surroundings in the dark the night before, so we were very pleasantly surprised to find that we were right on the Ruaha River. Spent some time taking QTVR’s and early morning shots of the river.
We eventually make our way over to the main camp and are directed up to the “Bar” which has a great view of the surrounding countryside. While there, Alex gets to talking with one of the camp staff, a gentleman named Apollo. Alex shows off some of the photos we have been taking in the area and his demo reel. Apollo was educated in one of the local seminary schools and has certificates in math and physics. Unfortunately, there is not much opportunity in the area to put that education to use.
From the “Bar” we had noticed an elephant wandering around in the lower end of the camp. As we descend to the dining hall, he moves closer in amoungst the buildings. Alex, Mwanga, Maina and I approach and find the elephant rummaging around in the camp rubbish heap. At one point Mwanga makes the wrong move and the elephant lunged forward a bit whist bellowing and spreading its ears out. Needless to say, Mwanga backed up in a hurry.
Alex’s foot provided for scale.
After breakfast, we head out to look for game. The camp provided us with a open-sided safari vehicle, driver and guide. Saw much of the same animals as Mikumi. This included baboons, water buffalo, zebra, giraffe, gazelle, dik dik, warthog, elephant, bush hyrax, meerkat, hornbill, weaverbird, eland, thompson gazelle, wildebeest and some other assorted birds and small game.The animals in Ruaha seemed much less concerened with us and our vehicle. Our continued hunt for any big cats was again in vain. Another group had seen a pride of five adult and five young lions early in the morning. We had been advised that the good game viewing did not start until after 9 a.m., so we missed the lions altogether.
Our guide Asao
The big excitement of the day turned out to be a large group of elephants at a watering hole. We were able to watch one large group from a rocky outcropping. They were a bit standoffish as we were upwind. Another group of three elephants approached the water hole from the opposite direction. They were blissfully unaware of our presence. As soon as they got to the watering hole, the larger group made a break for it and came to join them. We spent a good ten minutes looking down on 15 to 20 elephants. Eventually all of us had our fill and we and the elephants moved on our separate way.
We spent another couple of hours hunting around for lions. We saw more animals of all kinds. Eventually we came across a fairly large airstrip. A fifteen passenger plane was just getting ready to take off. We stopped long enough to film it. As the plane was approaching the far end of the strip to turn around and begin it’s takeoff, a giraffe wandered into the takeoff path. A truck was dispatched to chase the errant wildlife out of harms way and the plane took off.
ack at camp as we were finishing lunch, the camp elephant came around the corner to where we were seated at the dining hall and started molesting the foliage about two meters away. It was amazing to be so close to a wild creature of that size.
The rest of the afternoon and early evening was spent documenting the camp and its environs. I shot QTVR’s while Chantal and Mwanga got video footage. We planned to get up early to head out on another game hunt at 7 a.m., so we all tucked in soon after dinner.