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African Adventures

I had seen the royal lion, before sunrise, below a waning moon, crossing the grey plain on his way home from the kill, drawing a dark wake in the silvery grass, his face still red up to the ears - Karen Blixen.

Prey lies down in fatal submission, surrendering to the remorseless natural cycle of life and death, a daily acceptance that is at the heart of the African Continent, but an acceptance that revels in the life of that cycle. For every extinguished breath there is the sense of the perpetual and the true victor is life itself, mortal giving due to the immortal.

It is a never-ending pleasure to gaze at the great herds of buck as they move to and fro in their myriads; as they stand for their noontide rest in the quivering heat haze; as the long files come down to drink at the watering- places; as they feed and fight and rest and make love - Theodore Roosevelt.

Wildlife Adventures

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Africa satiates the senses, dust fills the nostrils, a symphony of nature's sounds delights the ears, wonder and anticipation greet the eyes. There is a laudable drumbeat at the heart of Africa, a beat that pounds the impassioned heart that is privileged to share its magnitude. A Fish Eagle cries out from its perch across the water, the gentle coo of the turtle dove sets the rhythm of the day. The odour of the land rises in the heat of the day as many creatures seek respite in the shade of ebony and acacia.

Thirsts are quenched at waterhole and riverbank, which inturn become places of confrontation, creating an atmosphere of unquenchable tension. Temperamental and territorial hippos grunt and agitate, with massive jaws agape; their rights are seldom disputed, other than by their own. Alert impala bark out a warning, tails upstanding and attentive to the foe. Undertakers of the sky swarm to smother the fallen, frantically jostling with each other as feathers and the stench of death fill the air.

Wildlife Adventures

The encompassing light of dawn and dusk coats all in glowing colour, a warmth of hue and ambiance that is particular to Africa, and permeates more than just the surface of things.

Everything that you saw made for greatness and freedom, and unequalled nobility - Karen Blixen.

With nightfall the lion's roar resonates under the cover of darkness and there is an ominous presence masquerading under starlit skies, as heckling hyena's move to and fro. Even the amiable reed frogs become sinister as their incessant croaking disturbs the night. However, I can only speak favourably of the Dark Continent's night, since it is as alive as the day and bears its own inimitable character.

As for excitement, you may live in what I call excitement from the moment you first look out of your tent in the morning until you lie in your cot at night, listening to the night sounds - the hollow, terrifying roar of the lion, the bark of the zebra, the ghostly laugh of the hyena, and the 'pad', 'pad' of invisible feet - 'Camera trails in Africa', Martin Johnson, 1924.

In many areas such as the Luangwa Valley of Zambia, the rhino no longer exists. Only a few black rhino remain in the Masai Mara, remnants of despicable poaching and increasing loss of habitat. Reclusive thorn and leaf browsers, the black rhino maintains cover in dense bush, crossing the plains towards fresh nourishment. The more obvious African elephant is also depleted for the same reasons as its co-inhabiter. At its grandest the patriarchal bull elephant is immense, and its huge frame sweeps all before him, including trees. Challenge comes only from one of equal stature, or from one of far less stature who is armed with automatic rifle.

Wildlife Adventures

 

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It is impossible to visit Africa without retaining its essence when parted, such is my experience. Africa evokes the extremes of the natural world, its wild impulse is bound only by the natural equilibrium and harmony of things; wonder and beauty mingle moment by moment with the harsh frailty of life. The continent calls forth its invaluable trove, only to be plundered by those who are hardened to its gentle and humble voice. To those who will receive much is given, and Africa's bounty is a lasting treasure for the fortunate person who truly values creation's gift.

My own relation to the world of ancient Africa was indeed a kind of love affair; love at first sight and everlasting - Karen Blixen, 'Out of Africa'.

To cast your gaze across the Masai Mara plains of Kenya on a countless number of migrating wildebeest is a breathtaking experience. Moving up from the Serengeti in search of new pastures in the wake of the rains, they proceed en- mass, clearing the land as they progress relentlessly across the grasslands. This also heralds the harvest time for the carnivore, lying in wait, stalking through the long grass, seeking the weak, the weary, the old or the young, the vulnerable and the careless who stray from the herd. Wildebeest and zebra are brought down by powerful claw and jaw, but the herds continue their march, renewed, replenished and refined.

In the tracks of the lion through the dense African bush, armed only with experience and respect, your eyes attempt to pierce through branch and foliage to realise the formidable form or sparkle of an eye aware of the wary intruder. With every tentative step, an anxious breath and pounding heartbeat seem to resound in the stillness of fear and suspense. The lion king is aptly titled; in the lion's domain human distinctiveness is laid bare before the instinct of the wild. It is wise to be more than inquisitive when you walk in the tracks of the lion; give yourself good reason to be there, or else don't venture on such hallowed ground.

Wildlife Adventures

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The African elephant has a charm of its own, to be charged by such a colossus is a heart rending and bone shaking experience, I recommend it to all who seek the in your face adrenaline rush! The sound of its bellowing trumpet is enough to sap any defiance as it hurtles toward you. Vegetation and dust are raised in a cloud of havoc and the elephants intent is achieved with the consummate ease that only a six tonne mass of momentum could achieve. Such capacity belies its gentle spirit and is evocative of the land in which it dwells, commanding respect coupled with great affection.

Wildlife Adventures

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The Wildlife Adventures section of the website comprises of writings and images based on BAS' research trips around the globe. If you have any questions about the artists wilderness experiences then please contact BAS , there is much more gained from such wildlife adventures than can be expressed on these pages. Here you will learn of his wildlife encounters and the impressions that the varied locations made on the artist as he sought inspiration for his wildlife and nature art . More locations will be added to this section as BAS continues his passion for being immersed amongst the natural wonders of the world.

 

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