A Minnesota Student's Safari Adventure on the Dark Continent
post by John Williams
Weekend Wildcard September 13 & 14 - A Minnesota Student on an African Safari
Last February, I went for my first African safari. Let me just say that I had no idea what I was in for and totally unprepared for the surprise. As a child, I have always been a fan of Planet Earth and National Geography because I have a passion for animals. Instead of lying on my couch and watching these beautiful creatures with a television screen between us, I had the privilege to meet them head on through my own eyes when studying abroad in South Africa. I was not prepared, however for the incredible beauty of nature and the animals I was about to see.
Elephant vs. car
The Safari Begins!
The day started with a stop at Addo National Elephant Park, just outside of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Our instructor said that he has gone a full day driving through Addo looking for elephants without spotting any. This of course, made us nervous. Bradley, our tour guide told us all to look for a big brown rock because that is what the elephants look like from a distance. I was extremely excited because I have never seen an elephant and just recently found out that they are the largest land mammals in the world. The average male African Elephant weighs about 12,000 to 15,000 lbs. and the average female from 8,000 to 11,000 lbs.
As our drive continues, we notice the cars in front of us start stacking up and we are curious as to why. With sharp eyes, I spot the first elephant. The pure mass of the creature astonishes me because it is right next to a car and is at least double in size. At this point, I am thinking I love Africa. Instead of cones and construction workers blocking the road like in the United States, Africa has elephants block there roads. I don’t know about you but I think elephants are way cooler.
I had the pleasure to see two rhinoceros that are currently the most poached animal in South Africa averaging around 1,000 deaths a year in 2013. Sadly, Vietnam and China falsely believe that the horn of a rhino can cure cancer. Some even use the horn as a party drug and think it has similar effects as cocaine does. These two rhino’s actually were poached and had their horns cut off. Thankfully, the rhinos were only tranquilized and not killed allowing the park rangers to find the appropriate medicine in time to bring them both back to life. One of the rhino’s was pregnant during the tragedy and the calf sadly did not survive.
The King of Beasts
Here are two of the most intimidating creatures I will ever see in the wild. These two lions have four cubs that they had hidden in the bush somewhere because we could not find them. Our tour guide actually broke the rules and drove within 10 feet of them. Coincidently, the two then began mating because lions need to keep their species growing. We saw the two lions mate, which ended in an abrupt roar from both the lion and lioness. Once the mating was over, the male lion stared at our land rover while our guide whispered, “We are about one leap away for him to attack us.” I was frightened. This was the second most scared I have been in my life behind the time my dad and I went to the top of Breckenridge Ski Resort on an icy, cold day. The lion’s glare scared us. I was sitting on the outside closest to him with nothing in between us giving him a clear path to strike me if he desired. Eventually we left as all of our adrenalines were peaking. I have the mating video if anyone would like to see an x rated lion movie!
Overall, the day at Addo Elephant Park and Scotia Game reserve was incredible and I am glad that I was able to share that adventure with all of you reading this now. Stay tuned in the future for more excursions that I could partake in before my time on earth is done.
Here is a Kudu which is one of South Africa’s many types of antelope. These are beautiful.