Journey with Wildebeests – Contrasting Equiss to Antelope Deep in the Heart of Africa.
By Carole Herder
Fast, full-size and four legged, the Wildebeests of Africa have adapted to the danger of Predators to behave just as our horses would and do. The language of Equiss warns to run when there’s danger, stay together in a herd for safety and at least one must remain alert to warn others. It’s the graciousness of perception, intuition and auto response that keeps them alive.
Bumping through the vast expanse of the Kenyan Savannah dotted with tens of thousands of various antelope lived up to the #1 ranking of my bucket list. The Mara North Conservancy’s 28,500 hectares is home to an assortment of plants, reptiles, birds and among other wild animals: the striking Zebra. I must admit, this species of Equiss held my interest. I even fantasized little Maasai children out there in the night braiding those perfectly patterned tails. Observing the delicate balance and functional patterns of hierarchy, I saw that Zebra life is quite similar to any domestic horse herd.
Astonished to silence, we watched from the safety of our jeep as the remarkable Wildebeest attempted migration – crossing the Mara River to head for the Serengeti. Problem is, there are crocs in those waters – big ones. The herbivores circled to a crossing, sensed the carnivorous danger lurking beneath murky waters and recoiled – en mass, running for their lives. They’d try again later or in another spot. In its raw starkness the food chain is exposed by this: the biggest wild animal migration in the world. Imagine a massive rhino, lithe lions, camouflaged leopards, cheetah, buffalo, vultures, hyenas, jackals and warthogs all co-existing in seeming harmony until somebody gets hungry. Gazing on, I concluded I am happy to remain with Homo sapiens comfortably ensconced at the top of the chain.
Everything is peaceful while the predators are satiated and then when hunger grumbles, the intuitive prey becomes agitated and nervous. I thought of the way we interact with our horses, at times quite mindlessly. We may approach with a steadfast inflexible agenda. We want something from them and we’re thinking about that and not about them. Remember how intuitive they are and even that perceived pressure can make them edgy. Why not just hang out one day – watch and listen?
I never expected that just to hang out watching the age-old ebb and flow of nature would provide even more profound insight into our own beloved horses back at home. Even our tamed equine pals peacefully grazing in the field will revert easily to their innate survival skills when predators want something. Safari in Kenya will remain in my heart always as one of life’s extraordinary “Ah Ha” experiences.