safari vehicle

Life & Death in the Animal Kingdom

This week I had the great opportunity to do a Safari in the Masaai Mara and to witness some of the social aspects of herds and packs. I noticed within our little tourist group of 8 Kenyans and Internationals that death and the act of killing arose a strange sensation, a prickling of excitement and shivering of horror at the same time.

Watch the video to find out whether we actually saw a killing on our morning game drive on the last day.

Spine-chilling Sensation of Killings and Death 

This started when we saw the first corpses along the road that everybody wanted to capture with the camera. It continued when every now and then someone would casually mention that the early morning game drive on the last day bore the highest chances of seeing animals “in action” rather than just sleeping and chilling in the heat of the day. And sometimes adding that in previous Safaris that was when they or their friends had actually seen killings.

Animal corpse in Masaai Mara
Death as a public tourist attraction

 

 

 

Killings as a Tourist Attraction

No wonder the Masaai Mara is packed with tourists around July through September during the Great Migration. Millions of the most diverse animals cross from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masaai Mara in Kenya. They have to cross the Mara River in which hungry crocodiles and Rhinos look forward to filling their stomachs. For those who make it to the other side one of the most dense lion population of the planet is waiting with wide open mouths. For tourists that is peak season with hundreds waiting every day by the river with pulled out cameras to capture whatever happens.

Water Buffalo
Water Buffalos can’t see very far. So they enjoy the company of animals who see far, preferably the giraffe who can see 2 km.

 

 

 

 

Diverse Lifestyles in the Animal Kingdom

But before death there is life. And in the animal kingdom there all kind of lifestyle concepts you can imagine:

Zebras at dawn
Zebras at dawn. They survived the dangers of the night

Harems and Unintentional Mavericks

Impala men gather a harem around them. We saw one busy man with at least one hundred females. He was chasing one who apparently was attracted by some bachelor outside the group. Social structures seem to be similar to horse herds: bachelors get kicked out of the group they were born in and form bachelor groups. Then they try to conquer females from other groups.

Sometimes we saw lone impalas standing all by themselves in the seemingly endless space of the savannah. They had gotten kicked out of the bachelor societies with little chances of surviving for long all alone.

Impalas grazing in Masaai Mara
Impala men (with horns) gather harems of women (without horns)

Family Care and Child Protection

Elephants, on the contrary, live in big families and take care of one another over a lifetime. They even cry when family members or friends die. To mourn, some return every year to the place where a child died.

Elephants live in families
Elephants live in families

Hippos, Elephants, Lions and many others we saw with little calves, Mothers taking good care of their children from hungry wild beasts.

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Elephant baby with mother
Elephant babies need milk for about 2 years

 

Learnings

When thinking about new social structures in human societies the behaviour of animals in herds and packs is surely an interesting source. My interest for that started I took a Horse Communication Class in Tamera in June this year.

For humans the taboo of being interested in witnessing violent deaths seems to have an attraction that few would openly admit to.

I want to continue to learn more about the rich social lives of animals.

Masaai Mara at dusk
Masaai Mara at dusk. Animals prepare for the night

 

 

 

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