Top Photo by Camilla Coakley (or Chris Long)I had never been a huge fan of monkeys before my recent trip to Kenya and Tanzania, but observing wild monkeys up close, in their own environment, their behavior and high level of intelligence are mesmerizing. We saw many different species, all living in large groups of varying ages. The babies play just as little children do. And when one wants to be held it reaches its arms out to its mother, who scoops the baby up and holds it close. We actually had a tiny little baboon (which I'll show you in a later post) shimmy up the side of our Land Rover.
It was a little alarming when these black faced verets in Tarangire, Tanzania practically jumped into our laps attempting to partake in our lunch. The funny thing about verets is that the males have brightly colored turquoise balls, not unlike large robins' eggs. I'm sorry, I had to say it. We were hysterically laughing as we tried to photgraph them, which was no easy task, but you'll notice in the following picture I had some success.
These are two articulate and powerful messages from two women with influence. One cares about animals with empathy and compassion, and chooses to rescue them rather than eat them. The other calls herself an animal lover, but eats all of them and collects only perfect specimens as pets. She does, however, a great deal to promote the humane treatment of farm animals in America's food supply and encourages her fans to support local, sustainable, organic farms. The days of not knowing where your food comes from and how it was treated before it arrived on your plate are over for any forward thinking person of the twenty first century. If you cannot answer the question "what kind of life did this cow or pig or sheep or chicken have before it became your meal?" then it probably came from a factory farm.
Cam, Chris and I met Dr. Frank earlier this month on our way from Lake Manyara in Tanzania back to the Kilimanjaro Airport. Oddly, my traveling companions had run out of their malaria meds and had to get their hands on more pills before moving on to Zanzibar. Dr. Frank's facility was cheerful and busy, with many people waiting to be seen. The three of us were struck by how genuinely happy and warm this man was. He knew we were rushing to catch our flights and helped us out immediately. Then he took a moment to step outside and say hello to a scraggly dog I was feeding a piece of cake to. As we drove off we talked about how fulfilled he must feel every day, living in that beautiful country and making a difference in so many lives.
We watched this mother cheetah and her four cubs play in the Serengeti plains of Tanzania. It was hot, and she repeatedly took refuge in what little shade she could find. She attempted to chase down two Thomson's gazelles without success. Statistically, she will be lucky if half of her litter survive their first year. Cheetah cubs are often the victims of lions, hyenas and starvation. So while we were surrounded by great numbers of baby zebras, gazelles, impalas and wildebeests, we rooted for this struggling mother to take one down. It is a brutal existence in the Serengeti.The video viewing will be better if you click to watch it on YouTube in full screen.