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Published: April 7th 2018
We drove around for a while; yes, I was looking for a leopard, pretty elusive animal. Usually they stay on the trees and pounce on the prey when they see one. No luck! We spotted the giraffes close by. One was just crossing the road and started running on the road instead of crossing it. We slowed down and let the animal reach to a safety net. Once there, he turned his neck and looked at us…so cute! And the zebras! So beautiful animals, my oh my! God knows how many clicks I made capturing the beautiful zebras. Isn’t it pity that the lions do have to kill such beautiful animals! Go on kill the hyenas or baboons, but spare these beautiful animals! Bad boys! Well, a lioness does the dirty job most of the time, the big boss is there for the tactical support… ‘Hakuna Matata.’ Anyway, it was noon time, we went up to the top of the mountain to the Baboon Cliff to have a great view of the Lake Nakuru. Yes, we have to chase the flamingos in the afternoon when the animals have gone under the shade. “Lunch time, Sir,” the driver announced. I guess this
was his routine and this is not our land cruiser, so I have to follow the rules. “Sure”, we stopped at the Baboon Cliff, and chose to relax at the view point while grabbing a sandwich. Hardev is totally organized…he fixed me the sandwich in the morning and put them inside a small portable cooler. Not only that, he has made enough so that the driver can share too. Hardev keeps his eyes and ears open.
“Have a sandwich,” I handed the driver a sandwich and a bottle of water. The guy happily took the food and water from me.
“Is there a toilet there.” I needed to pee. He showed me some shades at a distance, just on the verge of densely wooded area. But he also warned me to keep a watch. I headed to the shades. I checked one shade…it was full of debris and bushes have grown up in the dark corners. There was not even a place to stand. The second shade was also not in a better shape. I sighed and decided to go behind the tents and do the business. But all my senses were alert…hey, no one knows if a
big cat would jump out of the woods to try out a Canadian cookie! Have you been to such a situation when you were hoping to quickly finish your business and run? With my luck, as it happened to me in the West Kootney Mountain in Canada a couple of years back, I am now-a-days skeptical of my ‘business moments’. Anyway, nothing happened and I lived to tell you the rest of the stories.
I think it was sheer my bad luck. I was having my sandwich and some crumbs of bread and cheese came out of my sandwich and has fallen on the ground. I didn’t notice that a Rock Hyrax was watching me eating and was waiting for its opportunity. It jumped near my feet and grabbed the sandwich piece. It sat there and was looking at my face expecting some more. No, I was not going to feed the animal as it was written on the board. I am sure that would probably attract other animals, especially baboons who pretty much survive on the left over. I shooed the Hyrax. It didn’t make any move. It was kind of cute. I tried to pat its back
in an attempt to push it away. Well, that was a bad move! Crap! The ungrateful creature jumped on me like a lightning rod and bit my arm near the elbow. I noticed that it has sharp teeth that took some skin away. Well, I didn’t have much cleaning materials with me, I just had some bug repellent. I rubbed a bit of it which probably doesn't do any good anyway. Then I cleaned the area with some bottle water. And I am an idiot that I didn’t see a doctor once I was back in the town. To be honest I pretty much forgot about it. When I got back to Canada, I mentioned this to a friend. “Did you have any shot against Rabies?” He asked. When I said, no I don’t, he almost freaked and asked me to go to a doctor immediately. Now listen to this. I walked in to a clinic on a Saturday morning. I told the doctor what happened. He asked me,
“What is Rock Hyrax?” I took a couple of shots of the culprit after he bit me, but I didn’t bring my smart phone to the doctor’s office.
it’s a rodent, a badger family I believe.” I told the doctor. He checked it in Google and told me,
“Look, it’s two weeks now, the incubation period is generally 3 weeks, but I don’t know about Hyrax. You better go see a doctor in the hospital.” Great! I went to the emergency the next day and told my story at the counter.
“What is Rock Hyrax,” the girl in the emergency asked the same question. I was prepared this time and showed her the image in my phone. The girl didn’t know what to do with me, but enrolled me for a check-up anyway. Finally, the doctor arrived and asked me the same question and I showed her the same picture. The doctor was lost, “I know the rabies are caused by the dogs, but Rock Hyrax, Umm, I don’t know. So, she made a call to the Chief Medical Officer of the City. The CMO didn’t know the answer either. She called for an urgent session with the experts. And the experts told the CMO that Rock Hyrax can only get rabies from the hyenas, but they die quickly and hyenas eat them, so they don’t
live to bite you once they have rabies. The saga was about to end with a note of relief when the doctor asked if I have other images of the safari, which I shared with her with delight in the exchange of the good news that I don’t have rabies. Lessons learned, anyway! Be careful! "Who told you to pat them?" I'm sure my mother would have scolded me if she was alive.
We drove to the lake after the lunch to chase the flamingos. True, many were gone, but still hundreds were crowding the lake along with the pelicans and ducks. Oh, what a show it was! The birds were marching, flying together in a formation, circling the lake and landing on a distant shore of the lake. They looked gorgeous in the afternoon sun. Their pink-orange colour, the curve near their neck, the style of formation in air while waving a stream of flying colours…everything seemed coming out of a photo book. I loved every bit of it. We waited on the shore and watched the march of the flamingos for a while. It is something that I could sit down and watch for hours.
We drove to the other end of the lake to check out if we could find some more there. But we came back as it appeared to be the prime spot. I was told that there were many more in the past, but I was happy with what I saw. It was an amazing show of style and colour.
“It’s hot now and the animals won’t come out from the shade,” the driver told me.
“So, what’s the plan?” I asked
“We go to the lodge, take a bit of rest and we start around 3:30 pm.”
Well, I suppose that is the routine these guys follow. Hardev was not with me, so I just went with the flow. The driver drove to the lodge and disappeared inside the lodge. I went to the back garden overlooking the valley and sat down with a Tusker. A group of young kids were sitting across the table, probably a bunch from a hostel or somewhere; and they were loud enough to break the peace around me. But thank God, they left soon. So peaceful! I was sipping the Tusker and watched one superb sterling dancing close by. Some
baboons walked in but avoided me; the sterling gave me company; I watched the bird jumping from one side of the garden to the other; what a beautiful bird!
I was on my 2nd Tusker and it was close to 4:00 pm. I asked the waitress to call my driver. I guess the guy was having his siesta; he came with slightly swollen face.
“Are you ready, Sir?” he asked me; although I am sure he hoped for a negative reply.
“Let’s head out,” and I walked to the van. Zebras and giraffe don’t seem to take any afternoon nap, they were busy either tearing the acacia trees or mowing the grass. We didn’t have much luck with other animals, let alone sighting a leopard. At that point, I almost gave up the hope for the leopard…’well, it is what it is,” I thought. So, during the final round we bumped into our old buddies, the group of lions we met in the morning. “Let’s stop it here for a moment,” I told the driver. But I saw only one lion, where are the other two? I looked on my left, I spotted one buffalo not too
far from where the lion was and it was happily grazing. Strange! Where are the other two? Are they planning to attack the buffalo? Nha! They were not even close. “Sir, can we move?” the driver was becoming impatient, it was about 5 pm and he has to get going. “Hang on for next ten minutes,” I told him and waited for the ambush by the other two lions and lioness. Ten minutes passed to fifteen, there were no movements. The buffalo was an easy victim! No, the two lions were not there, I was sure. Sun was dropping slowly to the horizon. I told the driver, let’s go.
It was a lovely day at Lake Nakuru. True, the park is not as massive as Mara. That didn’t matter to me. I had all the excitements of chasing games I needed, including the Rock Hyrax! The stupid rodent! Hang on! Was the Hyrax really the stupid one or was it me? Oopps! Well, I leave the matter to the Readers to decide. I will accept the verdict!
The next we travel to Tsavo National Park.
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