The magic of a safari in Tanzania (3) in the vast plains of Serengeti

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In early July, the vast expanse of grass in Serengeti National Park in northern Tanzania turned pale yellow. From time to time, a few secluded acacias block the horizon. But, horizon, where exactly? It looks like a sack that encloses with a drawstring. The feeling of space and freedom is complete. Also, what does Serengeti mean in Masai language, an ethnic group of semi-nomadic pastoralists living in a good part of this region of East Africa, not an “endless plain”?

They seem really endless, the plains that summer has now completely occupied. Several months ago, pushed by an indomitable force, countless flocks of wild peppers began their great annual migration: then they traveled hundreds of kilometers, risking their lives to cross the Dead River – the huge Nile crocodile awaits them – the country. Before reaching the green pastures in the far north and the Masai of Kenya died. This migration is such an interesting event that visitors from all over the world come to see especially the huge moving animals. The glasses are really awesome.

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Where are these two going with such determination? Mystery! (PB)

In early July, the plains of Serengeti are not deserted. Travels through them every day with dozens of tourists of 4 x 4. Elephants hide there near water droplets: large males, females and very small ones. Sometimes lonely men.

Dead stalks floating in the water? A crocodile never bids his time … (PB)

Waders living by the water’s edge. Countless birds. And hide some huge crocodiles. Lazy, motionless in the sun, they look like a dead branch. Beware of intelligent creatures that have reached within the reach of their huge jaws …

> Read more: In Tarangir Park, Tanzania

Some wildbeasts still graze there – late arriving and others too old or too sick to try to migrate – zebras and countless red impulses. Also Thomson’s antelope, recognizable by the long black stripes on their sides, the darkly marked damalisk on the shoulders, the almost blue spots on the shoulders and sides, and the heartbeast of some giant coaches with Lear-shaped horns.

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Mr. Leopard is sleeping in a tree (PB)

These animals now graze on yellow grass. Peaceful, it is believed. However, in the heart of this nature that has remained wild, in these tall grasses that are trembling in the slightest wind, danger is always hidden. Savannah has laws, they are indomitable. Cross lions, here and there, often live in pairs, in the heat of the afternoon, lying on a little high rock. Or hiding in the tall grass. Sometimes, planted on a tree, on a branch thorn, as leopards are accustomed to do.

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Other times, these cats walk along the track, apparently indifferent to the 4×4 ballet that follows them or stays ahead of them. Stunning

Further on, in the tall grass, Mr. Lion, his giant brown man in battle, almost disappeared. The lady is sleeping. “They’re tired because it’s mating season. They mate up to 50 times a day,” summarizes our 4 × 4 driver-guide Swedish. One of the lions – but most often it is a lioness – comes out hunting: so beware of the unfortunate impale on which it will set its sights! The Zoological Society of Frankfurt, an international nature conservation society, formed in 1858, with panels, maps and supporting photos, explains the work of a century in Tanzania.

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At the end of the afternoon, away from the track that runs 4 x 4, behind the tall grass, two hairy round ears are also seen, then a beige dress with black spots. No doubt, this time the cheetah. Sleeping. Even at rest, the animal seems huge, strong. “She’s asleep because she’s full”, Sleep Swedish. Satisfied? “He just hunted and ate,” he says, to the tune of one who has seen others.

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Savannah Law Relentless (PB)

As close as possible (4 × 4s marked tracks are not allowed to leave so as not to disturb the animals, subject to heavy penalties (1), we see cheetahs lying in the grass. Grant’s gazelle is already badly damaged. The sound? The cry of praise? The click of the camera. Still, the cheetah opens one eye, regains its paws, and eagerly returns to its prey, which soon sheds tears with its powerful jaws. Hours go by!

Be patient, their turn will come … (PB)

Meanwhile, in the vicinity, two spotted hyenas, a little featherless, are hovering around. Look up, sniff. They haven’t found Carion yet, but they should be found soon. Not far from them, vultures are also waiting. Savannah’s law is really cruel. Beware of sensitive souls who come for safari, dreaming of beautiful postcards. Elsewhere, the cards are reversed.

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Two days later, the Swede spotted another cheetah in the tall grass. First he sits on his long slender legs, then he jumps, while his long tail sways like a pendulum. Powerful. Elegant. There is no doubt in the search for prey. Such is the daily life in the vast plains of Serengeti, which was transformed into a national park in 1951 and classified by UNESCO in 1981. It is the most famous wildlife sanctuary in the world: it has about 15,000 km2, savannas and forests and about 1,800,000 wild beasts, 400,000 gazelles, 200,000 zebras, about 2,000 lions, 300 cheetahs, many leopards, crocodile habitat on the banks of the river Seronera which it crosses. And where the elephants come to drink and roll in the mud.

Here, accommodation is provided in the lovely tent camp, where you will happily take a hot shower before you sink into a large soft bed one evening in Savannah. The safari atmosphere of the past is guaranteed, just like the best movies! If anyone thinks of the miserable life of the semi-nomadic Masai herdsmen whose straw-covered huts and the innumerable flocks of sheep and cattle we have seen on the way to the park, all this is an unheard of luxury. Cows: Should we bother? ? To feel guilty?

Masai Shepherd (PB)

In any case, you should know that Serengeti has always been the land of Masai pastoralists. And wildlife protection policies and tourism incentives are not neutral for these breeders who complain that they no longer have enough land to graze their livestock. This has led to numerous clashes.

In a report published on Thursday, May 10, 2018, published in the daily Le Monde entitled “Losing the Serengeti, the Masai Land That Was Forever”, the Oakland Institute is concerned about the conflicts caused by the competition surrounding its use. The giant flattened California think-tank, which deals specifically with land disputes, has been conducting research for three years in the Loliondo area northeast of Serengeti.

His conclusion: A long process that began in the colonial era led to a strict restriction of accessible land for the Masai. This trend has been reinforced by tourism, through the development of protected areas (Serengeti National Park has not been uninhabitable since 1950), areas reserved for safaris or lodges, regulated by state or private companies.

“Access to their ancestral lands is being repeatedly curtailed instead of being recognized by the legal framework,” Anuradha Mittal, founder and executive director of the Oakland Institute, has been criticized for quoting Le Monde. He further mentioned the consequences of this process “Hunger, disease but the establishment of a climate of fear” The village was visited by members of the Oakland Institute because of conflicts over land use.

The report thus condemns the threats and barbarism perpetrated by the Masai in Loliondo in recent years. Last event recorded dates from August 2017: over 180 Bomas (Traditional houses) have been destroyed, thousands of villagers have been displaced and significant loss of livestock.

The ministry said in a press release [tanzanien] Tourism indicates that the bombs were burned at the behest of the government in a bid to preserve the region’s ecosystem and attract more tourists. It also threatens those who seek legal redress. “ Point out the authors quoted in Le Monde. Often, in fact, Masai communities live or move through land – rarely identified – whose ownership they dispute. These conflicts are exacerbated by land law errors and sometimes lead to protracted legal battles.

During this safari, it is in any case outside the park, wandering the streets and tracks, we will see Masai: we will see their shepherds, skinny, wearing red checkered coats, their herdsmen. We will see their wives, shaving their heads, wearing huge pendants and pearl necklaces. Adults do not lend themselves to photoshoots. With the 4 × 4 pass only the kids come running, quickly demanding dollars in a clich, just like these circumcised teenagers, whose faces land on the edge of the track, decorated with kaolin with geometric patterns. Contact with these semi-nomads will not be too much unless you choose to take a long trip to their village, as suggested by Terrace d’Aventure. In a more classic circuit, it is important not to be tempted if you are offered a quick tour of a village. Admittedly, it brings income to these communities who often live in poverty, but it is pure folklore at a high price. If you do not choose to stay in the Masai country with travel, it is better to stick to the discovery of animals: they are more valuable than traveling.

(1) Anyone deviating from the designated road will be fined $ 200 and barred from entering Serengeti for six months.

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In preparation: This “previous safari” is what Terrace D’Aventure has in its catalog while staying in Tanzania. There are no physical difficulties in this discovery trip, the safaris are being done in 4 x 4. Duration: 9 days. From 2295

These prices include airfare, transfer, luggage transportation, French-speaking Tanzanian driver-guide supervision, charming accommodation (lodge and canvas camp) and full board. This price does not include the registration fee, insurance, visa fee (it is issued at Kilimanjaro Airport, cost: 50 50 in cash), tips and drinks.

In addition, calculate 40 540 to 90 590 for adults for taxes, especially for national park entry fees – these are high – for wildlife conservation and for visiting communities.

* A guide: Tanzania and Zanzibar. Gallimard Guide. 25.90. A new version is planned for October 2018.

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