Sharing moments in time…

East Africa Safari – Episode 2 – an Elephant and an incident

On our third day in Uganda, we proceeded to Queen Elizabeth National Park to continue our safari.  We entered the park in the late afternoon and began to see many of the iconic animals of the African plains.  Mike and Katherine (our friends, neighbors and traveling companions) had never seen many of these animals in the wild so it was wonderful to share their introduction to the safari experience.

The Kob antelope - a very common sight

The Kob antelope – a very beautiful but common sight

In particular, Katherine has a special affection for elephants so it was wonderful to be able to share her reaction to seeing our first elephant of the trip.  As African elephant sightings go, this one was not noteworthy – it was a single male and quite distant from the road we were on.  That being said, Katherine was ecstatic and her enthusiasm excited us all.  I thought I’d share a photo of that first elephant here so that maybe you can imagine seeing this majestic animal walking free for the first time.

A wonderful first sighting

A wonderful first sighting

We continued through the park enjoying the lovely afternoon/evening until we came upon a few safari vehicles stopped by the side of the road.  We were told that there was a pride of lions about 100 yards off the road relaxing in the high grass.  We could actually see a tail of one of the lions as it wagged above the grass.  After waiting a while for the lions to stir, we continued on our way but returned a short while later to see if the lions would start their evening prowls.  We watched patiently with numerous other safari vehicles for over an hour as the sun started going down but there was no movement.  Then, all of a sudden, one of the vehicles decided to drive off the road and proceed directly at the lions who, of course, were roused from their sleep.  To our astonishment, the vehicle then began to actually chase the lions around, rampaging through the grass at about 20 mph and circling to pursue the lions as they tried to avoid being run over.

Lion uses a termite mound for cover while growling at the harassing vehicle

Lion uses a termite mound for cover while growling at the harassing vehicle

After about 5 minutes the vehicle finally returned to the road and rejoined the other observers.  As I said, we (and our guide) were incredulous at this behavior and we began to discuss what we could do to try and prevent this type of issue for the future.  We finally decided to talk to the Uganda Wildlife Authority at one of the park entrances.  They were very interested in the report (and my photos of the event) and they took down my contact information.  A few days later I received a very nice email from the senior UWA officer informing us that the driver had been fined and that the incident would be used to deter other guides from harassing the animals.  We were extremely impressed that the park officials had taken quick action and that they had taken the trouble to let us know that they took this situation seriously.

As dusk fell, we continued to hope to get a glimpse of the pride beginning their evening hunt but they may have been spooked by the encounter and never appeared.  We were a little disappointed but we were treated to this scene as we departed – not a bad way to end a nice day……

Sunset worthy of Queen Elizabeth

Sunset worthy of Queen Elizabeth

11 responses

  1. Wonderful….

    January 27, 2014 at 5:34 am

  2. I would be ecstatic to see a wild elephant too, and lions, and the other animals. Great photos, and thanks for letting us see through your eyes.

    January 27, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    • Kris – it was a great trip – worth revisiting for you and for me!

      January 30, 2014 at 5:49 pm

  3. Susan

    Hi Scott,
    Love your trip report. Would you give Dee my email? I am interested in the same trip, especially gorillas and would like some info on the guides and company you went with. Thx! can’t wait for more!

    January 28, 2014 at 5:39 am

    • Hi Susan – I told dee that you wanted the info – let me know if she doesn’t get in touch soon….

      We had great support from both companies we used during the trip.

      January 30, 2014 at 5:50 pm

  4. Can`t believe the idiot driving at the Lion Pride but then I guess pressure from some clients maybe makes it worth their while? Do you reckon we could get Phil a quad bike for this summer to stir up the bears??? ;o)

    January 28, 2014 at 10:49 am

    • Ross,
      I think it will be easier to just use Phil to lure them out 🙂

      January 30, 2014 at 5:51 pm

  5. Really glad the UWA acted so quickly on your report. It’s a guides duty to be responsible! The tourists should be fined as well as the guide (because it is usually pressure from them that spurs on this behaviour sadly). You can’t expect wild animals to perform. 😦
    (Makes me grateful we hardly ever saw another a vehicle there – no one to spoil it!)

    February 10, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    • We were pretty bummed as we watched it then got even more so as it sunk in….glad we at least do something!

      February 10, 2014 at 8:45 pm

      • Very good reaction from UWA. We usually picked up a UWA guide for game drives which meant another set of eyes – and another person to quiz about life. Got into a long discussion about marriage and death in Ishasha looking for those elusive lions 🙂

        February 10, 2014 at 11:14 pm

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