5 rhinos, 10 or more hippos, 16 elephants, 9 lions (including a male and female who lounged, mounted, dismounted, and roamed witn 10 feet of the Landrover I was in), and too many to count of zebras, wildebeasts, buffalo, giselles, pink flamingos, warthogs and even a few baboons as we were leaving ...
We had a good day at the Crater.
The experience of being inside was almost as mystifying as the story of its creation. I learned that our Crater was once a volcano that collapsed on itself. We were completely circled by a ring of mountains. We saw at least two large lakes and green of every variety -- light, dark, luscious, and sparse.
At one point my companion from California noted that no matter how long we'd been driving it didn't appear we were any nearer to the mountain ring.
I said it was just like West Texas.
I went in with zebras being my favorite and came out that way too. Like a horse dolled up for costume party, the zebra is an animal of community. Traveling in herds, they are usually quite close to wildebeasts.
I've heard zebras usually take the lead until they're in a predatory situation. Then they allow the willing wildebeasts to forge ahead . . . and right into the mouths of the predator.
Yeah, I like zebras.
But the lions had me in their paws as well. (Breathe, people, I'm speaking figuratively.) The two we spent the most time snooping on lounged, dallied with one another, lounged some more and then took a stroll to the watering hole where an elephant was takign lunch and hippos were having drinks.
But what amused me was the mall behavior those two lions were following. I swear the male was always at least 3-6 feet behind the female, faithfully following and looking totally clueless as to where they were going.
Today is not why I came to Tanzania. I came to make a difference and I really believe this project is doing that. But today ... well today was a payoff more satisfying than any paycheck I've ever received.