exploratorium eclipse dispatches
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click for live webcast June 21 2001  

ithin a few minutes, we spotted a huge rhinoceros, standing alone in a field of grass, mowing the stubble. He raised his horned head. "That's Butch," said Mike, "he is the naughty one who likes to charge landrovers." We drove past, leaving Butch to whatever moods rhinos have at sunset.

The metal gates swung back, and our guide Mike drove the rattling green landrover through the gates of the Mosi Oa Tunya game preserve. The sun was sinking fast through the acacia trees as we bounced over a rutted tarmac road. We could hear the barking cries of baboons. Soon, out between the branches, two giraffes appeared, looking like elongated shadows of some smaller animal, cast by the low sun. Mike rolled the truck to a rustling stop, and we watched with our breath held as the giraffes pulled leaves from the trees with their dextrous lips, and watched us back, blinking their thick eyelashes.

Butch--Black Rhino

This park is only a few kilometres from Victoria Falls, and it's the only game preserve in the Livingstone area. It's small as preserves go, only 1600 hectares. Entering the park, it's impossible not to feel some sadness: these animals are fenced in, even if the fences are far away, and the paved roads bring a constant stream of day tourists, fitting in a game drive after a visit to the falls. Nonetheless, the big wildlife here are breathtaking for us, accustomed as we are to a completely human-dominated world. Something about them makes us feel small, and somehow that makes us very happy.



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