Carnival of the Animals

Tonight, from my balcony, I watched the carnival of the animals: deer of all sizes from the tiny dik dik to the walking meal that is the waterbuk, trotting elegantly to the water only to be frightened off by a bunch of savage, brawling baboons, running along the ground at breakneck speed, their angry growls sounding like cats fighting.

The zebras moved in afterwards, swishing their tails and waiting patiently till the bad-mannered baboons had finished their aggressive antics.

The striped animals lined up in rows, fighting for pole position, one contrary beast nipping and kicking those who stepped out of line. Two herds came through, then there was quiet while the sun set, and now the elephants have arrived.

They are sloshing and snorting in the smaller waterhole, drinking deeply and flapping their ears happily all the while illuminated by a few lights that render them a ghostly pale orange. One, the large bull, makes his herd wait while he scratches his backside happily on a large rock. He is joined by a friend and the sound of their skin rasping against the rock echoes through the still night. They take a minute for some mild deforestation, then move off silently in the night.

A giraffe is waiting in the wings, and dark shapes that I can’t identify have scuttled up nearby trees for a look-see. Who will be next at the waterhole? The sun is gone and the plains are alive.

About the author

Fear is found on a creaking glacier in the Caucasus mountains and joy is encapsulated in the perfect Shanghai dumpling. And while I love a $500-a-night hotel room (who doesn’t?), sometimes the best stories are found in a $20 guesthouse. With an eye always out for good markets and great street eats, I write the travel news and features for the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age newspapers, and features for whoever else asks. I have a particular soft spot for the wilds of the Middle East, scarves and carpets. My articles and photographs have been published in a range of consumer magazines and newspapers in Australia and abroad, and occasionally I chat on radio, too, from Essentials Magazine to 3AW or the Irish Times.

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