Brothers in arms – Black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas)    Leave a comment

Jackal Cubs 2_sRGB.jpg

Some posts take longer than others. This one is one of those.
My trip to Kenya, last year, was a journey in self discovery. An opportunity to spend nearly sixteen hours a day with my family for twelve days at a stretch and that too in very close physical proximity. We were confined to a land cruiser or a tent, for most parts of this trip and no one was beyond earshot – this was an experience in itself. Keeping that aside for a moment, I had never been in the wild for so many days on the trot.

We spent on an average ten hours a day, in a Land Cruiser, through out this trip – a prospect that I myself was dreading, when I was planning this trip. My kids weathered the harsh conditions like pros and my wife turned into an ace animal spotter. We used bottled water to brush our teeth, lived in a tent by the Mara river with no barricades separating us from the wild animals that frequent the river, flew over giraffes in a hot air balloon, went to sleep with the roaring of lions and hippos in the background and the list just continues . The planning itself was unique in the sense that I booked my tickets nearly six months in advance. I went to ludicrous lengths to ensure no office related assignment materialised during my scheduled travel dates. Luckily, in the end it all played out like a song.

The trip started with oohs and aahs at the sight of a Zebra and ended with almost a scant disregard for herds of zebras passing by. Saturation point for the ungulates had been reached. However, it’s the carnivores that whet your appetite and the cravings just never subsides. I guess it’s their size, savagery, speed and their sinews that cease to captivate. It’s indeed a humbling experience to see these predators in the wild. They remind you of your frailties, as a human being, and our place in the food chain – sans our guns.

However, we also got to see the gentler side of some of these fierce species. Despite, strong advise to make it to Kenya before mid of September, we could only do it in early October. That’s when the children get their holidays. We paid the price in terms of missing the great migration of Wilderbeasts but the Gods more than made up for it. The seasonal drizzles had subsided just before our arrival, the grass had started turning green – making the sightings that much more pleasurable, and more importantly there were a lot of cubs around. Watching the lions, the Cheetahs and the Jackals with their cubs is a delight that’s hard to express. A philosophical reminder of the gentleness around their wards, that unites all the parents of this world.

This delayed post will not be complete without recording our heartfelt gratitude to our guide James Muchina and for the advise of Kesavamurthy, founder of Birdwing Travel and Photography. Their enthusiasm and helpfulness made all the difference. When the trip came to an end my younger son asked me whether we could go back to Kenya again -the next year. As a father that was more than the reward I was seeking for all the background planning that went into making this happen.

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