Be Careful. Very Careful.

This weeks Photo Challenge, “careful” brought into mind many adventures in the wild all those years ago. I was young and adventurous, driving safaris in several countries while we lived in Africa. It was tempting to become confident. But that’s not an advisable mindset when entering the world that belongs to the wild. I would always tell myself “be careful, very careful.”  Even that wasn’t always quite enough. So I went to dig up some evidence in our scanned photo archives.

A male lion ZIMBABWEThis male lion was sleeping less than 90 feet from our vehicle. And not behind a sturdy fence in a zoo, but in a small national park in Zimbabwe. He looked peaceful with his huge head resting on his paw. But from previous close calls with lions, I knew we had to be very careful in his presence. That was the case also with a female lion who walked on the trail right in front of our vehicle for more than half a mile before veering off into the dry savannah in Queen Elizabeth National park in Uganda.

female lion UgandaA year or so before our first visit there, a male lion had killed a man on that very trail. The man-eater was killed by the rangers, but it was rumored that a ghost of a lion was seen roaming the park at night. We were not lucky to see it, but this is how it was described by those who saw it. Glowing in the dark.

GHOST LIONElephants also have my respect. It was not advisable to come between the matriarch and the youngsters in the family. Despite being very careful, I came to see an elephant’s belly and her front legs up in the air above our vehicle. In the bush in Uganda. Understandably there is no photo evidence of that particular encounter. Only a wild video recording of the roof of the vehicle when hubby’s camcorder flew around, capturing the elephant’s “trumpet solo” and our screams in the vehicle.  All my attention was focused on pressing the gas pedal to the floor, and getting out of there. That situation was very similar to this one in Zambia. Only the tree was lush and much bigger, effectively hiding the matriarch waiting for the young ones right next to the trail. Needless to say, that incident raised my careful lever even a notch higher.

Elephants in the bush ZambiaObviously we had to be very careful when walking along rivers. The crocodiles were known to snatch people and drag them into an underwater “storage”. This happened to a friend of my Zambian colleague. Luckily the storage room had “skylights”. He could get some air, and the villagers could hear his cries for help. They were able to dig a bigger hole and pull him to safety. He lost a leg, but survived. So being careful, I never swam in rivers or lakes known to harbor these dangerous giants, like this Nile crocodile in Ethiopia.

NILE CROCODILE ETHIOPIAAnother not so friendly swimming companion was the hippo. It may look slow and even cute, but it’s easily scared and capable of killing humans both on land and in water. One night in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia, I woke up at 2 a.m. to a strange noise. It came from right outside the window. And there was a huge dark shadow on the curtains. I tiptoed carefully to the window and parted the curtain, just an inch. And was looking at the butt of a huge hippo. So when they were in the water, I was on the water. And when they came to graze on land, I learned to keep my distance.

Hippo in Queen Elizabeth National Park UgandaIf and when you enter the wild kingdom to enjoy the wonderful experiences it offers, my recommendation is to be careful. Very careful.

You can find other responses to this challenge here.

59 thoughts on “Be Careful. Very Careful.”

    1. That was an unforgettable 8-year adventure of meaningful work and rich wildlife experiences. I think my love for nature was born there. Thank you, Amy!

  1. Wow, scary stories! I remember a few weeks ago as I was driving on a highway in Washington state, a black bear, a big one, ran across the road right in front of my car. I did not have time to hit the brakes. Fortunately, he ran very fast and I did not have to veer off to avoid him.

    1. I shudder now too when thinking back how close it was a few times, but wouldn’t give away a minute of it…I experienced so much natural beauty on those trips into the wild. Now the I just need to be careful not to scare away the birds 🙂

    1. Thank you Skip. When unintentionally coming too close to wildlife, the only way to increase the distance was to keep cool and take action. The scare would always come later.

    1. Thank you Karen. I’d love to refresh my safari driving skills, but driving around on the asphalted roads in the parks here in Florida doesn’t unfortunately qualify as retraining 😀

    1. I understand, I would probably not do now what I did then. But one doesn’t need to be a good runner, having a reliable vehicle was more important.

    1. You’d love it there Kathy! And the properly organized safaris are great and safe too. I just started to drive our family and our guests myself because I became familiar with the parks and it gave so much freedom 🙂

  2. Wow! What an exciting job, and one that required using an abundance of caution!

    Recently I saw an episode of Nature on PBS called the “Soul of the Elephant,” which was filmed by a couple of naturalists living in Botswana. How close they got to those giants took my breath away. Amazing creatures…

    Do you have to be careful of alligators in your salt marsh?

    1. I had a “proper” job in development cooperation in all those countries we lived in. But safari driving was for the weekends and vacations. In Uganda we lived only a four hour drive from the largest national park, and a two hour drive from a smaller one. I couldn’t wait for Friday afternoon to get out there…and back home on Sunday evening.
      We were in Botswana as well, but not in this same area. That film is an absolute treasure!! And no, we don’t have alligators in the salt marsh – or on this island, but plenty little more inland.

    1. Smiling. Safari driving was just for weekends and vacations, but unforgettable experiences. I still miss my rugged Toyota Landcruiser Hard Top. It never let me down in mud, water or sand.

  3. Oh Tiny, you are one brave woman. Me an African, you will never find me near any of these animals. Not on your life. Even as kid my visits to the zoo were quite non-existent. 🙂

    But I am sure these are wonderful moments for you and your family. The scare makes it more exciting, no? 🙂

    1. I think I fell in love with nature in Africa. It was great to be there, a small human, in the vast wilderness. Usually I was not feeling scared at all, only a few times when we accidentally came too close for comfort…but I understand it’s not for everyone 🙂

  4. What marvelous adventures you’ve had, Tiny! All these animals have my respect as well, but mostly elephants. I just simply adore the entire elephant kingdom. (I think it’s my Spirit animal.) I especially love the first picture of the sleeping lion – so deceptively tame looking.

    1. You are right, Tahira, that lion looks like a big tame cat! And it was huge. Elephants are fascinating to me too. They have such an emotional, but organized way of living where everyone in the extended family does their part. Thank you for your visit and kind comment!

  5. What a wonderful choice for the challenge,dear Tiny!Fabulous wildlife photos and plenty of adventure behind them.Loved the imagery about the killed lion and your experiences near nature at that early age!Thanks for sharing with us,my friend 🙂 xxx

    1. Thank you so much, dear Doda! Those photos are only in our albums now and I probably should take the time to scan them all, and while they won’t look as good as the newer digital ones, they have such a memory value. Lots of adventures, some of them a bit foolish when I look at them with the benefit of time and age 🙂 Happy you liked the stories, my friend. XX

      1. They are sort of a relic right now,dear Tiny, but you should scan them before they fade.Precious photos,memorable moments immortalised,I know how you feel about them.Enjoy your day,my friend 🙂 xxx

  6. What amazingly wonderful experiences you have had Tiny! Often the more risky the more wonderful, and you live to share the story. Thanks for sharing this earlier part of your most interesting life:-)

    1. Happy you enjoyed my early life adventures! Some of them were, I have to admit, a bit foolish and maybe a tad too risky. But those days spent in the wilderness kindled my love for nature and established a lasting connection to our Creator. And I would not give back a minute of it 😀

    1. Thanks Nancy! Those photos are not too bad…but first and foremost they have preserved the memories of these adventures. I think I should invest time to scan all of them…

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