Tanzania has set aside about 25% of its territory as protected land to preserve their wild animals. The parts where people have not been living are national parks. Various agreements have been made to reach compromises with the people living on the rest of the protected land and the animals they are trying to protect. The imposing Masai warrior who took us on a hike yesterday was accused of killing seven lions with a spear last spring to protect his herd of cows. More accurately his whole village participated in the kill and he was one of the token individuals prosecuted. After he was acquitted, his grateful village gave him two more cows.
Today we traveled to nearby Tangire National,Park, a 1,000 square mile chunk of land that is blessed with a river flowing down the middle. Some of the rain from the highlands nearby flows south and it seeps into the ground, percolating up again in the Tangire River which flows north. Quirky. Although the rainy season should have begun by now, the land is parched and hot and the river is a real drawing card. During the rainy season numerous other temporary rivers are formed and the animals can disperse and give the vegetation a chance to recover. Even the huge baobab trees, so wide in circumference that all twelve of us could hold hands and not make it around, show numerous signs of elephant abuse. It's a huge problem. Elephants have to eat so much every day and their territory is limited, even with all the land set aside for them here. Some of our fellow campers heard an elephant snacking outside their tent last night.
We did our usual game drive routine, driving slowly and watching for animals in action. We saw long parades of zebra and wildebeest marching down to the river. We were watching a lioness resting in the shade of a tree, when she noticed a warthog, blissfully unaware of her, munching his way toward her. She used one of the jeeps as camouflage. It had its engine running and the warthog could not smell, hear, or see her. She was off like a shot and we couldn't believe it, but somehow the warthog evaded her and got away. Fred said that lions only catch a meal 25% of the time they try. Every so often we saw a black and blue flag suspended in the trees. These are the favorite color of the tsetse fly. The banners are impregnated with pesticide. Here's hoping they work.
It was so hot today, I drank two liters of water without needing a bathroom stop. I can bear the heat best when I know there is a cool break in my future, but the jeeps have no air conditioning and the tent only got down to 75 degrees. Our tent has two mirrors. In the one hanging outside I can see the top of my forehead. In the one hanging inside I can see my torso. And by the light of one dim bulb dangling from a wire, putting in my contacts is a special challenge. We take our electronic devices and camera batteries to the dining tent for a charge during the limited generator hours. Staying in a tent without running water has been an adventure, but I'm hoping for a bit less adventure tomorrow.
What we will miss is the meals here. The buffets we've had in the lodges have been just fine. You can always find something to eat at a buffet. But here we are served seated and all the food is cooked from scratch and perfectly seasoned. How they manage to produce this caliber of food in such a remote spot is a mystery. I've thought about asking to see the kitchen, but there are some things better left unknown.