Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running.
Exaggerated perhaps but essentially true. Survival is the name of the game in the African Savannah.
In the lion’s world, its prey generally consists of wildebeests, zebras, and a variety of ungulates (giraffe, buffalo, and gazelles). Dubbed the king of the jungle, lions are the 2nd largest cat after the tiger and are vicious predator commanding respect from other wildlife. They kill to live, and they live a life of feast or famine. They usually catch something to eat every 3-4 hours but may perhaps not able to catch an animal for a week so they stuff themselves when they can.
They are the most charismatic of all the animals that roam the savannahs of East Africa and safari enthusiasts bend over backwards and are patient for a sighting. Ngorongoro and Serengeti in Tanzania, Amboseli in Nairobi, Lake Nakuru and Maasai Mara in Kenya are the best sighting places.
They too become prey to humans who for centuries have killed lions in rituals of gallantry, as hunting trophies, or for their perceived medicinal and magical powers.
Gazelles on the other hand are small antelopes noted for its grace, speed and beauty. Most species have horns and are generally fawn colored with white or dark markings. Rarely having to drink and only receives water from the leaves that they eat, they are grazers and mainly inhabit lowland thorn-bush, woodlands and grasslands.
In the gazelle’s world, they stay clear of their predators, which include lions but cheetahs and African hunting dogs are the most prevalent. They rely on their keen sense to avoid their predators. Their large lustrous eyes are on the sides and their pupil elongated horizontally, giving them a broad view of danger from both the back and front. This aside, they were also created with a sharp sense of smell and hearing.
The great migration is one of the most impressive natural events worldwide, involving wildebeests, gazelles, topis, eland, and zebras. These migrants are followed along their annual circular route by hungry predators, most notably lions and hyenas. I was lucky enough to witness, well… not exactly the great migration per se, but the start of it at least.
That visit in 2006 has made me more aware of animals in the wild, how they live and survive in the wilderness. I am amazed at how they are individually created with the instinct and distinct features to survive.