The Arusha Times

Issue 00559

March 21 - 27, 2009

issn 0856 - 9135 


Stunning view of wildlife at Tarangire River

By: Elisha Mayallah

Tarangire Elephant

Dressed in a traditional red ‘shuka’ a Maasai with a wood in his right-hand called out Tembo!, Tembo!.  referring to the elephant. His bright red shuka was in stark contrast to the surrounding greenery.  “You go down there, Tembo.” He pointed out again toward the Tarangire River just down the hillside.

It was last October when I found myself in a Land Rover driving into Tarangire National Park, one of the 15 Parks in the Tanzania National Parks family.

Located just nearly two hours drive from Arusha, Tarangire is a popular park on-transit for safaris way through to Ngorongoro and Serengeti.

We headed toward the Tarangire River which attracts a high density of wildlife during the dry season from August through October. But even early months large herds of elephants seek out this grassland habitat.

Tarangire National Park has some of the highest population density of elephants found anywhere else in the Tanzania parks, and its sparse vegetation, strewn with baobab and acacia trees – makes it a beautiful and special park in the northern circuit.

Once driving along the river we viewed both elephants and giraffe seeking refreshing in cool waters. A few bull elephants grabbed at the waters with their sensitive trunks while others grazed on the tender grasses along the bank.

Elegant long necked giraffe stood and stared, each with their own brown and yellow patterns, unique like fingerprints. Curious, they made me feel like an interloper in this exotic land.

Further down the dirt road we flushed thousands of Yellow-bellied Bulbuls. The tiny birds surged like a great school of fish shifting on the oceans current. They flowed on the wind, chirping all the way, circling and settling exactly where they started from.

Driving deeper into the thickening forest a small herd of elephants emerged onto the red muddy road. Squeals and grunts emanated from the pair as they wrestled, the larger one pinning the youngster in the red dirt. Their trunks intertwined and I was wide-eyed and thrilled.

A bold trumpeting sound blared from across the road. I turned in time to see a large bull, ears flared, dust spraying from its trunk. He charged the vehicle, stomping at the ground.

In barely a few seconds he was so close just as fast he backed away and the threat was gone.

All the elephants retreated together into the bush with the adults forming a circle around the young. In the Cruiser we were thrilled by what just happened.

My thoughts, as we rounded up the trip, did that Maasai know this was going to happen?


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