It's early June and I'm afraid I've left my blog feeling a bit neglected. Work has been crazy, Ramadan is about to begin, and I'm still sorting through all my photos from Botswana. With that being said, I wanted to share with you my near-death experience in the Chobe National Park along with some photos of my time there.
Am I about to die? I mean, if I do die right now, it’s going to be a hell of a news story back home. “Sydney Turnbull, 25, of Nashua, NH, was one of 6 tourists inadvertently killed in Botswana yesterday when their vehicle came between a pride of 10 lions attacking a herd of 15 elephants in the Okavango Delta during a routine evening game drive. The cape buffalo who witnessed the grisly scene was clearly shaken but told reporters she was glad it was them and not her.”
Well, I wanted to see nature up close, unvarnished.
What started as a picturesque drive through Chobe National Park admiring wildlife quickly turned into a David Attenborough nature docu-drama only his calm voice was replaced by my own recalling the exciting play-by-play of our unfolding doom.
Our guide Moses sensed that something was up the moment the vehicle stalled in the river bed and we were surrounded on all sides: A pride of lionesses to the front with their matriarch, two young bull elephants wrestling in the water to our right, behind us an even younger elephant grazing farther from the large herd that was on our left. The herd began making its way into the bush, leaving the two bull elephants to play, but it was the younger, solitary elephant that the lionesses had set their sights on.
“Oh no! The herd is leaving and the younger elephant is falling too far behind!”
An impatient lioness began silently stalking, with several co-conspirators behind her.
“They’re going after the little one!”
I had seen such kills before on TV, and while some people feel that watching a “live” kill authenticates the safari experience, I wanted to yell out to the other elephants to wait for their brother but, alas, I don’t speak elephant nor did I want to draw attention to us humans, who probably taste just as good and were easier to kill.
“They’re going in for the kill!”
But the lioness’ plan was flawed. One more move and the elephant turned around and reared its giant tusks. By then, the whole animal crowd had gotten too far into the bush for us to see. Moses slammed on the gas and tried to track them down. Unable to locate them in the dense bush, we parked and waited. Sure enough, we heard their chorus of trumpets and felt the vibration of their thundering feet. We watched in awe as the lionesses ran for their lives just feet from our jeep; quickly followed by the elephant herd whose path was blocked by the vehicle. We felt like we were in suspended animation; collectively holding our breath afraid that even the faintest noise would lead to a charge. Their usually rough skin was shiny with sweat and their heaving breathing was the only sound in the otherwise silent delta. Defeated, the herd turned away and Moses started the ignition.
We had all escaped death: the elephants, the lions, and us.