One of a pair of lion cubs nudges their mother. Mom, who is resting, doesn’t want to get up to play and swats the cub. So the pair of cubs wander off to find something or someone to play with. They go through the dry, yellow grass of Samburu National Park, pausing behind a bush now and then. After a while, they find themselves on one side of some tall brush, while on the other side a very large giraffe is having his dinner of leaves. After the cubs scratch around the bush for a bit, the giraffe moves away. Though the giraffe has a powerful kick, which could easily dispense with a lion cub, he seems wary of them.
Perhaps he only smells them and doesn’t know how small they are. Anyway, he moves away across the road. They follow, but as he continues to move away, they give up the chase—just as well since they are in some danger if he were to decide to kick them. They head back together towards their sleeping mom.
The next day two female lions are lying down, resting in the grass—they seem entirely unafraid of people—and don’t getup or move away.
The Superb Starling is genuinely superb—rust-colored underneath with an iridescent blue-green back, a black head and cream-colored eyes, they hop along the ground feeding.
In a more wooded area, with a few taller trees, a young leopard circles the van—and other vans of visitors. He walks along a tree branch on the ground, pauses, crosses back across the road, walking slowly right along the side of the van, and then off into the brush. He is breathing hard and is clearly stressed, yet does not seek to run away from the people watching him, though he easily could. Perhaps the cause of his stress is not the people at all. Perhaps instead he is hungry. He is very beautiful with all his spots. Hopefully, he will find enough to eat and will lead a long and peaceful life.
The next day, another leopard appears in the grass, off to the left. Crossing the road, he moves through the yellow grass and brush up a hill, at a measured pace, not running and seemingly unafraid of people. He also is breathing rapidly. After a while he moves farther up the hill, disappearing into the grass. Perhaps he is angry and agitated, rather than frightened, at this intrusion by unwelcome human visitors into the peace of his existence. Not knowing the leopard’s behavior, I don’t know.
The giraffes tower over the prickly acacia trees, whose flat, feathered tops of leaves are dotted across the plain. Samburu is arid, and the dry habitat seems to suit giraffes, antelopes and gazelles. It is hard to imagine that these are really giraffes, standing there, tall and graceful—and not the sort of fairybook characters that some fanciful author has invented. They look just like all their pictures—elegant and aloof.
On the horizon, a few hundred meters away, stand the rocky hills of Samburu, with dark gray rocks that meander up the hillsides and along the top. In this desolate place, that is teeming with life, but that is mercifully devoid of the turmoil of human existence, there is a profound sense of being present before the world began—of being at the origin of all things. The visitors’ vans—including our own—seem inconsequential, like a mirage that will soon vanish; they seem not to touch the underlying serenity that is here.
In the silence, broken only by the calls of birds, the rocks speak, telling tales of long ago—not thousands of years—but tens, even hundreds of thousands or millions of years. Of a time when a visitor came this way from ancient Egypt—and of a time many eons before that, when the consciousness of the rocks was a part of the eternal presence of the earth itself. Of a time before time when the awareness of the lions, the gazelles, the giraffes, of the acacia trees, and the speaking rocks were one, indefinable consciousness of innocence—the sacred life of the earth.
Then, since that time when there was no separation of one consciousness from another, no distinction between the language and thought of man and that of the animals, the awareness of the cosmic dream has been remembered and spoken of by the eternal rocks, the guardians of spiritual awareness—the rocks who write, record and take note of the magical worlds that have always been—and will be again–beyond time and space—until one day when the passing smoke of an alien modern existence will have wafted far away on the wind—forever gone—leaving once more only the songs of the birds and the beauty of the gray rocks on the hills.