Words. I always have words, Words, and birds, are what I do. Today I have no words.
I have no words for the view from the rim of Ngorongoro, with wildebeest, eland, zebra, hippo, elephant and buffalo sprinkled like tiny toys in their hundreds across the vastness of the crater floor.
No words for the thousands of Thomson's gazelles in the short-grass plain of the southern Serengeti, or the hundreds of Grant's gazelles and wildebeest with them. No words for the kori bustard striding by, dwarfing the little gazelles; nor for the stately ostriches or the capped wheatears proud on stones at the edge of the track. No words for the spotted hyenas at the mouths of their dusty dens or the lappet-faced vultures and steppe eagles crouching on the plain.
I have one word: mondo. As we passed the marsh at Vidmbwini, still an hour from our lodge after a long, hot, dusty drive, I caught sight of a jackal in the distance. Raising my binoculars I saw instead for one moment a leggy, small-headed cat with bold black bars on its legs and blotches on its back.
Mondo: it means in Swahili a serval.
Cats seen in 2015
cheetah Acinonyx jubatus
serval Leptailurus serval