It is always an adventure to go to the Triangle. It is also rather far away. So we started off early and travelled to the two hours to the entrance along the Mara Bridge. There is only one bridge to cross the Mara and this is it (unless you dare to travel the long rocky roads to the north of the park which will take you out and around the mighty river). On our way to the bridge, we came across a carcass and we drove off the road to get a closer look. As we neared the rowdy flock of vultures, we heard a small bleating shriek, the noise of an animal making one last plea for life. Oh God, I thought, we ran it over. We looked left to see a reedbuck doe leaping from the brush and with eyes squinted closed in disgust, I looked right to see the inevitable – the calf we had run over. The brown fuzzy mass was more adorable than I could have imagined and lay flat tucked into a small sedge behind us. We reversed for a closer look. With a deep breath of despair, I looked at the small creature but there was no blood and no sign of a track mark. Was it dead? Suddenly the ears wiggled and I assumed the worst – we had injured it severely but not killed it. A friend joining us for the day stepped from the car and lay a hand slowly and gently on the animal’s back. The same mournful bleat emerged from its body and it pushed itself up on the wobbly legs of an infant designed for hiding and promptly, decisively, ran away. We hadn’t killed it after all. We had run over it, but hadn’t actually hit it, just covered it with the car for a few frightening moments. My feeling of relief quickly returned us to the task at hand and the observations at the carcass began.
An hour later we were back on the road heading towards the bridge was more. We arrived to find the stench of drown wildebeest and the sound of fighting vultures though the primary bird was actually the Marabou stork. These partially immersed and immensely rotten carcasses were perfect for their long wading legs and beak and they wandered around poking and proding each carcass with glee. After the usual negotiation with the rangers at the gate we made our way into the triangle. Just a few kms in we came across a group of feasting lions with vehicles a bit too close for comfort. One was following the lions closely as they moved away from their kill and stopped with a lionness’ head just beyond the driver’s reach out the front window. A second lion moved to the back of the car and actually went under the car for a closer look. The lion seemed to be rummaging around under there and the driver drove forward in an effort to escape this unexpected attack. As he neared the road it was clear something was wrong. We had stopped along the road to watch a Hooded vulture and Tawny eagle who had arrived at the carcass and the tour guide now drove up to us looking for help. The lions had chewed through his fuel pipe he explained as he questioned whether we had anything he could repair it with. I gave him the dirtiest look I could muster for driving too close in the first place and then handed him a roll of duct tape.
We continued on the main road until we came across another odd sight – two tourists out of the car, grabbing some glistening creature with their bare hands. I was confused, but mildly impressed. What brave ladies to go after a snake like that, but what were they doing. As we neared we could see the slimy bodies lying in the ditch along a large pool of water. Catfish had haplessly followed the stream to their dooms and these women were trying to save them. A rather sad, though valiant, effort that was unlikely to result in any real savior given the catfish would likely repeat their folly, but I grabbed a bucket and joined them (partially as Wilson had said he had seen a lungfish which would have been an exciting first for me). As a team we herded the fish into the bucket and I flung them back in the pond one by one. Satisfied that we had saved them all, the ladies returned to their vehicle and I refilled the bucket with our vulture trapping supplies before we continued on. It wouldn’t be until four hours later, when we passed the pond again, that I would realize that a hippo had been hiding there all along. How fortunate we were that the disturbance of tossing catfish had scared rather than annoyed it.