Experience in Tanzania: African Story of Wild Animals

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Several years ago, one day, we went to the Mikumi National Park in company with some guests from China. This was our second time there. A brief overview of the Mikumi National Park and our first visit was given in an article titled ‘Experience in Tanzania: Lucky to Having Seen the Wild Lions’.

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This time in the park, we did not see many animals; it might be the seasonal problems. Then there were covered with grass everywhere, bit of dense trees and flourish grass. As the wild animals hidden in the grass, it was difficult to see. We made tour in the park in the more than 2 hours, and only saw some elephants, antelopes, giraffes, zebras and wild boars. The bison and wildebeests could only be seen in a distance. In the hippo pond, there was less water because of dry season, The hippopotamus and crocodiles we had seen in our first visit were not seen this time. Not to mention the lion.

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But this time, we did have a close contact with the elephant. On the road in the park, our car encountered a group of elephants, estimated to have a dozen head. Some in the road, and some on the roadside. On the roadside, a few elephants were very close from our car. I opened the window, hold the camera and aim at an elephant which was facing at me, and began to shoot up. The head this elephant was only 4-5 meters away from me and straight faced at me, strange scary. Fortunately, it was not angry; otherwise if it moved forward two steps, then whipped a big nose, the consequences would be disastrous. Of course, this risk is worth to risk, because I took this opportunity to take a few close front photos of the elephant.

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About at 12:30 or so, we entered the camp nearby the park gate to eat lunch. The camp restaurant was thatched cottages, antique, very African indigenous architectural style. One of the waiters in the restaurant was very funny. As he greeted us, he asked us  which  country we were from,  Japan? China? Korea? I let him guess.

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He said I was Japanese. I deliberately said in Japanese, ‘Konijiwa! (Hello!)’ He said I was Chinese. I said in Japanese again , ‘Ohayo, ozayimas! (Good morning!)’ He said I was Korean. Finally, I said in Chinese: ‘Ni Hao!(Hello!)’ He understood the phrase, then he was sure that we were Chinese. After we finished ordering the meal, as it would take more than half an hour to get the meal served to us, he took the spare time to chat with us. He asked us among our group members who the boss was, I pointed to our local driver and said he was. The restaurant waiter disagreed. He first said I was the boss, and later said I was not, because I was too thin, no boss looked as thin as me. Then, he pointed to Mr. Ma who looked a little fat and said this should be because the boss should be in rich state, very high belly, walking unsteadily like elephants did.

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When it came to elephants, our topic was turned to the wildlife. In the following conversation, he started to tell us about some story of the local wildlife.
He pointed to a bar in the thatched cottage below our dinning hall and said it was called Bison Bar. Why called it so? Here was a story. A long time ago, at a midnight, a bison broke into the bar, ready to steal some food to eat. However, just like an old saying `when the mantis was catching cicadas, the oriole was waiting behind it,’ the buffalo had not got enough time to enjoy the food inside the bar, it was followed and caught by a lion. After a fight, the poor bison was killed by a lion. Later, people renamed the bar as the Bison Bar.

I asked, the lion would come here even then? He said that this kind of thing still happened. Once he saw the four lions in the open space outside the restaurant, three male, and one female. At that time, it was the season of lion estrus, three lions were fighting for the lioness, it was so lively.  Fighting for a while, a male defeated first, admitted to be the loser. The remaining two continued to fight, fighting from faint to dark, regardless of the outcome. They had been fighting, while hitting each other, while moving away, until reached to the park’s gate. At that time, all the tourists who visiting the park stopped at the gate, and all watched at the lions fight. In front of the park entrance, dozens of cars stopped in the crowd. As a result, very few people went into the park the same day. People thought: as long as the lion fight to be seen, that was enough, there was no need to pay for seeing other places in the park.
He also said that the animals often came to the restaurant to steal food. One night, a group of baboons got into the restaurant and stolen beer for drink. They behaved like people, picked up the beer bottle to drink and drink. In the result,  they had got drunk, and began to sing songs, walked in swinging swing.

Last time, when we came here, we had seen a group of elephants were drinking water in the pond about 50 meters away outside the restaurant. However, this time the pond was indeed no animals around. Only behind the pond , far away,  there was a group of bison, estimated to have hundreds of head. But too far, not clear to see. I asked the restaurant waiter, why at right moment there was no elephant on the side of the pond? He said that they were probably coming, and perhaps then the rainy season, they could find water everywhere, and the elephants were not necessarily to the pond to drink water as same as in the dry season.

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As far as the elephants were mentioned, he began to tell stories again. He said, when you were inside the park,  if you encounter elephants, you should be careful. By the initiation of anger, the elephants were very dangerous. In particular, when you took photos, did not switch on the flash, as it was easy to anger the elephant. Once a time, a Korean saw an elephant on side of the road, he jumped off his car and tried to take close pictures by facing the elephant. As he photographed, he switched on the flash. At the first,  the elephant was about twenty meters away from him. When it saw his camera flash, the elephant was enraged, ears instigated. However, the elephant was very smart, it quietly approached to the Korean, and the Koreans are focused on photography, did not notice the elephant approached. Twenty meters, fifteen meters, ten meters, five meters, suddenly, the elephant raised his trunk, catgut and  roll up the Korean, thrown to throw him to 100 meters away. Of course, the Korean was spot on the deathbed as a tragedy.

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And the waiter told us another story about the elephants, bit of a secret story, and requested us not to tell others. He said there was a local army soldier, a very dishonest man. The soldier told the park people their group of people in the camp were short of meat to eat and would like to do a small hunter inside park. As the result of his hunter,  killed  two bison and took away with his preys. That was it. Nobody could imagine, that guy secretly drove into the wildlife park again. This time, he planned to kill elephants to take ivory. He saw an elephants, shot with gunfire and killed one. He was very happy and began to take ivory. However, too great pleasure would bring about sadness. Elephants were sensitive animals. One elephant smelled the soldier’s gunpowder few kilometers away.  Elephant’s nose was very spiritual, high lift, could smell more than ten kilometers away to identify whether there was human. Along the direction of the smell of gunpowder, the elephant rushed over. When it saw the soldier taking his companion’s ivory, the elephant was raging. It walked up and caught the soldier with its trunk, rolled him up and down the ground to beat him. How the guy could stand such torture, after a few up and down, back and forth, the soldier was killed by the elephant’s trunk. Later, the army men came to the park to seek for the soldier, and could not found. However, the villagers from neighboring villages found the body.  The soldier’s face was bloody, beyond recognition, and nobody could recognize who he was.

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I asked, there were still people got into the park to poaching?  He replied, less than before, but occasionally there were some. Once they caught a group of people near the hippo pond, carrying a bag loaded with three or four ivories inside. They stunned the elephant with anesthesia bullets. Then they cut off the ivory from stunned elephant. I asked, after the its ivory was cut off, the elephant would not die? He replied no. So, would the ivory grow out again? Would not, he said. If it grew, it only grew out the short teeth for eating, not a long ivory. Ivory behaved the function of the fork, and as a weapon of battle.
When talked about the hippo pond, I asked: Why we did not see hippos in the hippo pond today? He replied that hippos sometimes ran to land, to other places where there was water to stop by. He said that one night, when he drove back from somewhere, on the road  he encountered a few hippos, while it staggered to run, while they raised their heads up crying, as if to say: we were going home, did not block our way.
Hippos were also the cruel animals, he said. Once a time, one of his cousins was swimming in the pond, suddenly,  a hippopotamus sprang from the water, pulled her into the water, and then throw her up from the water, a few back and forth. Fortunately, she was rescued by other people. But the injury the hippo made to her was very heavy, the private part of her lower body was bitten leaving a long cut. She was sent to the hospital for surgery, the genitals were cut off a piece. Could she give birth after the surgery? I asked, He said, no problem, after surgery, she had even gave birth to three children. Oh, a bit weird. The fertility of the African woman was really strong; the genitals were cut off a piece, she could still given birth to three children latterly. No wonder, in Africa there were so many people.

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Inadvertently, the lunch we had ordered was brought and served to us. We had our meal while listen to the restaurant waiter telling us the story. We had a happy lunch time. To tell the truth, that time we visited Mikumi National Park, although had not seen too many wild animals, but had heard the story of such a vivid wildlife, that was still worthwhile. Oh, the waiter was a good narrator. I said to him, he could speak so vividly, he would better be a layer instead of being a waiter here. When he heard my suggestion, he smiled with bit of agreement.

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After the lunch, we drove off the Mikumi National Park. As like last time, on the way back, we also encountered groups of baboons, they were free at the roadside, not afraid of people at all.

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OK, that was the African story of wild animals we had heard from the restaurant waiter in the Mikumi National Park. Hope you like the story.

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