Part 1, the Horse Safari
By John L. Fuhring
We were now riding in some of the nicest territory of the entire safari. The land was pretty much open with groves of "Yellow Fever Trees" scattered here and there. We crossed this gap in some low volcanic cone shaped hills and right there near the gap was this huge Masai boma or enkang. Our cavalcade of horses and riders were evidently the biggest event that has happened out there for a long time. A large number of kids and women came out to see up pass by and we were followed by a pretty young girl who was beautifully dressed and wearing a lot of golden jewelry. I figured she must have been the favorite daughter of the "Big Man."
Since I have brought up the subject of human beauty, I'd like to digress a little. I'm not an expert on the racial problems of Africa (God knows), and maybe I'm too ignorant to even deserve to have an opinion, but here is my opinion anyway. The Masai people belong to the Nilotic race of Africans. The Nilotic Africans are considered to have "finer" and more "chiseled" features than other African racial groups. Most Caucasian people and certainly the Nilotic Africans themselves consider the Nilotics to be the most beautiful people of Africa. I must admit, some of the women are stunningly beautiful. According to what I have heard, this preference for the Nilotic Africans by the colonial powers resulted in prejudice against the Bantu Africans. This favoritism toward the Nilotic peoples has lead to terrible hatreds and great violence in neighboring countries. In 1994 the (Bantu) Hutu people killed scores of thousands of (Nilotic) Tutsi people in cruel massacres in Rwanda and Burundi on the western border of Tanzania. The genocide that some of the Hutu people committed has shocked the world, but, according to some things I've read, one cause of it was the decades and decades of resentment the Bantu peoples built up against the Nilotic peoples of the region.
Well, enough about such things. We continued to ride in a nearly due east direction with an occasional gallop across open plains with good footing for the horses. We caught up with the Land Rover and had lunch after a long morning ride in a grove of trees. To the south west of us was that line of volcanic cinder cones called the Seven Sisters I mentioned earlier. Mt. Kilimanjaro was to the south, south east, but was completely obscured by haze and clouds.
After our noon rest, with the horses all saddled and waiting, we continued our ride into what was to be the most interesting part of our journey. We started seeing herds of zebra and giraffes. I was a little disappointed that the wild animals were cautious at our approach and would start running away if we got too close. Pretty soon we saw why they were scared of us when we ran across the remains of a giraffe that had been killed by poachers and butchered on the spot. Later, when we were near the Arusha highway, we saw a pickup truck loaded with zebra carcasses so that it nearly dragged on the ground. These were pitiful sights because it was not only illegal and had a bad influence on the ecological balance, but it also destroyed any acceptance the wild animals had for us.
For a while I galloped very near a small herd of zebras and it was a real gas to be running with them. Cougar (maybe it was Queen) was keeping up nicely with them and I probably could have out run them if I would have pushed the horse. I wanted very much to blend right in with the herd, but I wasn't too sure the safari people wanted me to and besides I was worried about getting close enough for any of the zebras to taking a "flying kick" at me. Domestic horses can and will do it on a dead run, so why not wild zebras? Anyway, it was great fun, just wish I could have gotten a picture of it.
Trying to sneak up on the giraffes was great fun too. As soon as we got too close the long necks would start to undulate and the giraffes would be off with surprisingly graceful movements for such ungainly creatures. Of all the African animals, big and small, I really liked the giraffes the best, they are really kind of lovable. Of course I never got attacked by one.
Some of the Yellow Fever Trees were torn up with their branches slashed and ripped off. On the ground were these football and basketball sized turds (oh, excuse me - I meant to say "pachyderm fecal matter"). There was no doubt about it, we had entered Elephant Territory. Our guide warned us not to make any sounds. If the elephants didn't hear any human voices they wouldn't get upset and we could approach them safely since they didn't mind the presence of horses too much. It was a real delight to ride past a herd of elephants with nothing between you and the elephant but your trusty steed.
Later I insisted that all the elephants we encountered were herds of male bachelors. One of the gals disputed my opinion regarding their sex, but I assured everybody that my knowledge of zoology, veterinary science and keen powers of observation removed any doubt as to their gender. In fact, there are two kinds of elephant herds. Elephants group together in either loosely knit bachelors herds or tightly knit herds of related females that consist of a matriarch, the adult sisters and all their young. The young male elephants are allowed to stay with the females until they reach puberty and then they are kicked out. The males and females only get together for mating and then go their separate ways. You know, this sounds like a most excellent arrangement and I think there is an important lesson for the human race here. The guy elephants hang out in friendly, relaxed bands where they can fart, talk sports, scratch themselves, drink beer, not bathe and never have to worry about putting the seat down or forgetting an anniversary or birthday. The females can hang out with all their girl friends, talk about "relationships," that "big hunk of elephant beefcake" over in the next clearing, their young, who's been doing what with whom, discuss the soaps and the latest tabloid scandal, go shopping and all those other female things. PMS is never a problem. An absolutely perfect model of a perfect society if nature ever provided one.
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