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Pole to Pole

Day 100: Seronera to Lake Manyara

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleTwenty-five per cent of Tanzania is apparently turned over to conservation, a higher proportion than anywhere else in Africa. My driver Kalului worked here in 1960 and remembers when the Serengeti National Park was created and hunters were turned into poachers overnight. He was a ranger and responsible for apprehending those who didn't understand that their livelihood was now someone else's. Later he became a guide and has many tales of near disaster. I noticed that whenever we stopped in the Serengeti, Kalului very carefully examined the surroundings before letting us out of the vehicle. He has learnt by experience to be very careful.

Once, he recalls, he had checked the area around a tree before laying out a picnic only to find, halfway through the picnic, that a leopard was actually in the tree above them finishing off its kill. Someone noticed, screamed, and that brought the leopard tearing down.

I confess to him that my only disappointment of the safari has been an absence of rhino and leopard. Kalului attempts to redress this by an amazing park-full of impersonations, from leopard to rhino to tortoise to jackal, mating wildebeeste, and the animal he unhesitatingly names as the most dangerous of them all, the buffalo.

'Many times buffalo is chasing me . . . '

I ask him what he does in such a case.

'I running . . . up the tree!'

He grins broadly, almost as if remembering one of life's forgotten pleasures.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 100
  • Country/sea: Tanzania
  • Place: Serengeti Plains
  • Book page no: 222

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