Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
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Serengeti Morning

Morning on the Endless Plain. We crept along in the sharply slanting light and windy, slightly chirpy quiet – five fleshy periscopes extended through the roof panels, and not another vehicle or human in sight (which was something that would have been visible for miles). As for non-humans, though, our dance card was mighty full. Suitors included:

    In fact, high cuteness turned out to be a major theme of the day. Cutesiness highlights included:
  • Giving the tusslers a run were the hardcore nappers. (We – and other trucks – encountered this same group there all afternoon. They never got up.)

  • We learned why you always see zebra and wildebeast hanging out together (migrating together, in fact): the wildebeast are very good at finding water; and the zebra are great at detecting predators. It's a really very sweet interspecies love affair: Zebra & Wildebeast – 2gether 4ever.
  • Later, we came across another such mixed group startling back and forth out of some water (rightly or wrongly sensing a threat nearby). I didn't notice until I looked later – but I managed to catch one of the zebra mightily kicking another one right in the noggin. "Boot to the head!" "Sorry about your head!"

  • Giving the lie to the idea that the king of the jungle must maintain a royal bearing all the time: this guy drooling on himself.
  • A splayed-legged giraffe is pretty much always cute (particularly when trying to reach the ground).

  • You have to admit that baby warthogs pretty much peg the cutesiness meter.

    So – what's not cute? A leopard. A leopard is emphatically not cute. As noted earlier, the leopard is 150 pounds of super-strong, silent-as-the-tomb, patient, meticulous, stealth killing machine. They're also pretty reticent about coming out and posing for tourists' photos; so when a call came in on Ismail's mobile that one might be about, we took off for the spot like men with our asses on fire.

And we were (finally!) rewarded. True to form, our girl melted slowly out of the bush, in no hurry to give us loud, clumsy bipeds a show. But eventually she emerged fully and crossed the road, giving us a stellar, if brief, look at her singular, speckled self. (Okay, I take it back – that face is actually pretty darned cute.) She sat in the open for just a bit longer – before evaporating back into the landscape, gone (for us) for good.

I suggested in Serengeti I that I only managed a few of the type of shots I really wanted: exciting, animal-filled foregrounds on breathtaking backgrounds. As it turned out, almost all of the Kodak Award Winners I shot were on the last day – in the last hour or two, in fact. (I guess it took me awhile for me to get all the required stars aligned.) But there were two contenders from our Serengeti Morning, and I'll leave you with them:

lioness in thorns    |    geriatric giraffe

The remainder will have to wait for tomorrow – as we had to wait, driving through the dusk to our camp site on the Crater rim, just in time to catch sunset.
Next: Ngorogoro Crater.

  africa     photography     wildlife  
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

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my latest book
ARISEN : Operators, Volume I - The Fall of the Third Temple by Michael Stephen Fuchs
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