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Zander Sprague and Warren Pearson continue their conversation about the wonders of African safaris. They move from discussing big animals to the breathtaking night sky, sharing the amazing feeling of stargazing and highlighting its impact on our perspective. They talk about unique aspects of African safaris, like beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the value of slowing down, and diverse experiences beyond just seeing big wildlife. They also discuss the joys of bush walks, tracking animals on foot, and the excitement of finding lesser-known creatures. Overall, the episode captures the complete safari experience, celebrating nature, people, and stunning African landscapes.

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The Wonders Of African Safari With Warren Pearson, Part 2

You come away feeling like you have conquered Everest. You get back into the vehicle, and your adrenaline is pumping. Everything is just going. Your senses are so heightened. It’s a normal experience. I can’t explain it to someone unless they’ve tried it and they’ve done it. That’s the only way that they will understand what I’m talking about.

That’s true of so many experiences. Again, you and I can explain in wonderful detail but until you’ve seen the African night sky, the sunrise, the sunset, and Donna Bushwhack tract in animals, you don’t know. What I can tell you is, it’s not just walking. It’s exhausting because you’re trying very hard to walk the right way. Not look down but be looking around you to make sure that you know what you’re surroundings are but you’re usually on a game trail of some sort.

You’re trying not to break too many twigs and trap and pay attention to what’s going on. You’re using all of your senses and you’re trying to do it. We did a walk. Not this Safari but the one before up in Botswana with our guide Leopard. We’re out there then there’s a herd of elephants probably 100 meters away from us.

Seeing The Animals In Their Natural Environment

We have to do this big circle around. We’re going through some grasslands. One thing I wanted to talk about was what we touched on the last time, you were talking about your experience with that leopard. One of the things that I’m always and I should be surprised because I’ve been there. How hard it is to see the animals? Any of them, predator or prey animals in the natural environment. They obviously have all adapted so that they don’t stick out. They have a blaze orange hunting vest on.

I can assure you, as I’m walking through, we had to do this big thing or go through this on this path. There’s all this semi-tallgrass and I’m like, “I know that there are lots of animals that see me. I don’t see them, but they see me. I’m like, “What is going to see me?” I’m on the very end because I’m tall like Warren. I’m thinking I could get taken out. You wouldn’t even know.

 

EPIC Begins With 1 Step Forward | Warren Pearson | African Safari

 

We put the weak ones at the back.

You put the weak in uncoordinated. I’m just trying to walk and not fall. I could be looking around, but there is something about walking and knowing that there are lots of animals big and small that are all around you. You don’t see them, but they certainly see you.

If you think about how human beings walk, as a species, we are the clumsiest city animals and noisiest animals to walk anywhere and everywhere. We’ve lost that over time. I’ve gone walking and tracking with the local San, Bushmen, or the Hadzabe tribes in Tanzania. These people are still proper hand together.

The way that they move through the bush makes me feel sometimes like a clumsy elephant bounding along. It’s embarrassing in a way if you think about it. We are very noisy walkers. The other aspect that you pointed out is the hardest part when people are walking. Something I always try and get people to do and teach them to do this is where you come from, walking in cities. The next time you go out, look at people.

They are either looking at their phone or at the sidewalk. The head is down the whole time. They are looking no further than the glass pane of the window that’s on their side or the person that’s two meters or something like that in front of them. It’s a very small space that you used to walk and you’re walking down.

Get out into nature and walk. Lift your head up and scan around you because you are missing so much if you don’t do that. Also, try and look at the pathway ahead of you. You’re walking on up animal path. Even if you’re not, scan the area around you so that you know what to expect. When you walk, I always say, “Try and walk quietly,” because of the breaking of branches and stuff. You’re just going to give your position away so quickly. It’s not easy. It’s hard. It’s something about our life as the human race when we are out there in a way because we are very clumsy people.

When you go out into nature, walk, lift your head, and scan around you because you are missing so much if you don’t do that.

What I always find amazing is the times when we’ve been sitting, we’re not driving. We’re sitting and waiting and, all of a sudden, an elan deer walks out of the bush. Eland weighs a couple of hundred pounds of animal. All of a sudden, it just pops out. I sit there and go, “How does that thing that weighs twice as much as I tiptoe through the bush and pop out?” I’m a big person. All of a sudden, you’re like, “There’s an eland right there.”

More like 5 or 6 times your weight.

That’s evolutionary survival, but I’m still amazed at something this big walks so quietly. As you said, I might as well be an elephant with symbols banging them as I’m walking through the bush.

Animals have learned and they’ve evolved to know how to survive out there. They know that if they make a noise, they’re giving their position away. Their main sense. I always say, “This is the way we find animals.” Our main sense to try and find animals interestingly enough is not our eyes. It’s our ears. That’s what all these antelope. The prey species have massive ears.

They use those ears because they want to hear if there’s a predator approaching. They need to know. If they are walking around and crashing everything. They’re going to give their position away at the end of the day. They’ve learned that they had to be quiet. They have to walk quietly. There are specific ways that antelope walk to limit the amount of noise. Even on a fully leaf-covered ground that’s going to crackle. They can still walk through there very quietly.

Even with elephants. If you think about elephants being such a mess of animals, the largest land mammal. An elephant will walk past you and I promise you now, if you close your eyes a lot of the time. You won’t even hear it walk past you. That’s how subtle and quiet it is on the floor. The only reason is because once again, an elephant is ultimately a prey species. It’s not a predator. It’s a herbivore.

There are parts of Africa particularly Northern Botswana where lions hunt elephants. An elephant is a prey species so it also has to be quiet. It’s just on their foot. Basically, you see an elephant’s foot like that, but their tow structure comes down. They walk on their toes. The section at the back is a soft spongy cartilaginous tissue that almost acts as a shock absorbent. When they put their foot down but almost absorb all that sound. As well as their weight. It’s amazing to watch such a large animal like that be so quiet in the bush app.

The African Painted Dog

Here we are talking about animals again. Animals are important but one animal that I wanted to quickly have a conversation about because I like to mythbust a little here. From watching Animal Planet and Discovery Channel way back when Mutual of Omaha, Wild Kingdom, and documentaries on lions and leopards, we see them taking down game. One of the things I was surprised to hear is that lions, leopards, and even cheetahs are not the most efficient hunters in Africa. It is the African painted dog. Also known as a Wild Dog. Correctly if I’m wrong, Warren, but lions have somewhere about a 40% success rate when they go out.

Lions, leopards, and cheetahs are not the most efficient hunters in Africa. It is the African-painted dog also known as a wild dog.

Lions have about a 40% success rate. They are living in a pride, though. A pretty useless answer for the most part. There’s been a lot of theories put out to their why and all those necessary things. It’s probably about 40% that they have a successful hand. The cheetah is slightly higher than that. Leopard will probably be about 60% or 70%. Either about an 80% success rate then wild dogs about a 90% success rate.

For leopards and cheetahs, their success rate is slightly higher because they tend to be hunting solo.

It’s different ways that the way that these predators or cats hunt. Lions are the only social cat. The females will typically do most of the hunting. Also, a myth that the males won’t hunt. The males do hunt and the males have to hunt it when they’re on their own. Often, if it’s a big animal like a buffalo or an elephant, the males will get involved. They have that weight and want to help. It’s all about coordinating the movements between the prey members.

Leopards and cheetahs are solitary animals. A leopard is the quintessential cat for me. It is the Queen of camouflage or the King of camouflage. You’ll walk right past the leopard and you won’t even know it’s there. Typically, a leopard is stalking a pound. It has to get within a few feet or whatever attending. It has an explosive immediate burst of energy to try and catch whatever it’s hunting.

Cheetahs on the other hand are the world’s fastest land mammal. They rely on speed. They don’t stalk and pass. They will have a look at an animal then start walking quicker then go into a bit of a shot. It’s almost like they switch that nitrous gas on and they put the turbo boost and they go. It is Incredible. You will not believe the speed of what a cheetah can go when you see it in real life.

It almost irritates me a little bit when you watch these nature documentaries because they always slow the cheetah down. They always put this into the slow-mo. I’m like, “Do it at normal speed so people can see what this animal’s getting up to.” They had to speed advantage but now they do have a weakness. Cheetahs can only withstand speed for a very short period of time. A lot of people will say it’s because they’re not fit, that they can’t go for long distances. They have to control their body temperature. If you can imagine running at that speed and I’m talking kilometers.

About 50 to 60 miles an hour is where they’re coming in.

At that speed, the body temperature in a cheetah is spiking. If they continue for too long, they can kill themselves. Their body temperature rises too much.

The only way they have to regulate is through their panting.

Big massive nostrils and small canines to help them breathe. They can only withstand that for a short period of time, but that speed does help a wild dog or the African-painted wolf. I don’t like the term wild dog. It’s another term I’m personally speaking I don’t like because people look at me and go, “I don’t want to go see a feral dog being a wild dog.” It’s the second most endangered carnivore in Africa after the Ethiopian wolf.

For me, it’s an African-painted wolf. It is the scientific name. That’s what it basically means, painted wolf. Watching this animal work together as a pack because of the dog. It’s a pack. It’s amazing how these dogs work with each other. The most astounding thing for most people and it was for me the very first time I saw this. It was the speed that these dogs could get up to. They come short under a cheetah speed but they do have an advantage. They have stamina.

The most astounding thing for most people is the speed that these wild dogs can get up to. They come just short of cheetah speed, but they do have the advantage of having stamina.

These dogs will literally and often will outpace their animal. They’ll run their prey into the ground. The prey can’t be running anymore, so they literally collapse out of pure exhaustion. They are the most efficient answers in Africa. Unfortunately, this has been their downfall. As I said, it’s the second most endangered carnivore in Africa. The numbers are low.

It’s a really special animal to see on the safari because they are so efficient at hunting they would hunt and because they’re in packs. They don’t have to eat a lot and they eat very quickly. The way that these animals hunt as well has been their demise because they won’t go like a lion or a leopard or cheetah that will go for the jugular or the spinal cord and try and snap it into a quick kill.

It’s going to get graphic, folks.

They literally will rip the animal apart alive. That’s how they go after their prey. For us being humans, we’ll always say, “That’s inhumane,” but that’s not a human. How can you call it inhumane? That’s the way that they survive. It’s the way that they have survived successfully for a very long time. For us witnessing this and it is probably one of the hardest handsome kills to witness is wild dogs because they do. They will rip an animal part alive. The sound obviously is not great but within minutes, that animal is about to debark.

I haven’t seen a kill but I have seen after the wild dogs. I’m talking honestly 10 or 15 minutes after a pack of wild dogs took down a kudu which again, is a huge animal. That thing was nothing but bones. Picked clean and it is amazing to see them running. You are right, but they’re endurance. They are literally the marathon runners of Africa. They can run for so long at sustained speed. I do love when we get the chance to see them.

It was exciting because they’re animals that are always going to be doing something. They’re quite unpredictable. I always refer to them as this little Jack Russell that’s always bounding around and jumping up and down. I think we spoke about the last time we spoke was that what you need on a safari is patience. With wild dogs, they’re lying and resting. Be patient because when they get up and they go.

Your world will be changed because first of all, things happen so fast. You often will lose them in the thick bush because you can’t keep up with them in a vehicle. That’s how quickly they move particularly when they’re hunting. For me, a wild dog or an African-painted wolf, it’s an animal that I wish people would come to Africa and say, “I want to see that animal.” This is one thing I’m trying to do with everyone that I speak to.

I’m trying to educate people on these spectacular animals. I haven’t been given the time that lions or leopards or Elephants or these other animals have been given. As I said to you, it’s quite interesting. I was watching a TV show with my kids. It was an ancient nature show. It was shown live. It was a friend of mine that was talking about the small things.

He was explaining about an African wild cat and how it hunted and caught a meerkat. There was no African wildcat and meerkat. There was just the skull of the meerkat. He was explaining the whole thing the story about how this wildcat waited, stalked, and caught this meerkat. They switched over to another vehicle in another part of South Africa, at the time, of sleeping lions.

Both my kids looked at me and said, “Dad, I want to go back to Dylan who’s looking at this meerkat.” There was no animal there but they were so intrigued with the small things then they went to sleeping lions. I don’t want to give lions a second glance but for the most part, most people will see lions that are sleeping. To me, that’s not exciting.

It’s not. I’ve spent a lot of time watching lions sleep. As I said, watching big cats sleep is exciting for the first five minutes, but then it’s watching a cat sleep. I don’t have to travel to Africa. I could go to someone who has a cat and watch their cat sleep.

You have to come to Africa. It doesn’t matter.

You get what I mean? We’re lined up seeing lions and the majority of the time they’re sleeping. I feel you. One of the great things that I’ve learned from you is the education that you give your clients about the African-painted wolf. The horrendous slaughter of the rhinos. You have touched my daughters about the plight of the rhinos and my older daughter, Addy raised money for Rhinos Without Borders and saved the rhinos.

We may have to have a whole hour talking about that whole thing because we probably need to wrap up. That may be another conversation. It’s an important conversation because it is fantastic to go and see all of these animals. See the plants, the birds, and the small things. Learn about all the scatology and take walks. There are also more people who understand the pressures that we humans are putting on so many animals. It’s important. The more people who know, the more action that’s going to happen. Maybe we can start to turn this around or whatnot. I know you have many feelings and feel strongly about that.

I always try and say, “I have a lot of questions that come my way with regard to people overseas.” They hear the plight of these animals and want to help. They often ask me, “I want to help. Is there a charity that you recommend? I want to contribute some money.” I almost am trying to tell them. I have to be careful how to say this because there are so many charities in Africa and around the world that are trying to support and help wildlife. Not just in Africa, but all over.

Making An Impact

There are a lot of them that do a good job but if you want to make an impact then save your dollars and some on safari. When you come on a safari, you are contributing physically to those areas that you are going to. Spend time with the community because it’s the relationship, the national parks, the private conservancy. No matter who it is or where we are, they have with the surrounding communities of people.

If you want to make an impact, then save your dollars and come on a safari because when you do, you are contributing physically to those areas that you are going to.

The people want to see foreigners coming in. These people are from around the world. They live here or there, they are coming to my backyard to look at these animals. Maybe we should do more to protect them and to conserve them. I always compare to a villager seeing the tourists come and his wife has made beads or trinkets. You can buy from the villagers or this villager just gets handed a check for certain amounts of money and says, “These people from around the world have contributed to this charity.” This charity wants to build up. They don’t see the people. They don’t see the physical human being in front of them that wants to help you.

I fully want to support you. Go to Africa because not only does your being there directly but you can see how it directly benefits the local communities. I know, for me, supporting Rhino Conservancy means a lot more because I’ve been there and I’ve seen it. I know what it looks like. Again, it goes back to once you’ve experienced it you feel a lot more connected to that. It’s true of any charitable cause. Anything that you want to support.

If you’ve experienced what you’re supporting, it has a lot more meaning. You get a better idea of lots of great charities. It’s not disparaging but anything. There are some that have better jobs than others. You’ll have an understanding of what needs to happen and look at different charities and say, “That one’s doing a good job. I like how they’re doing it.” Anyway, that will be another conversation, Warren. I hope you come back because, for me, it is such an important part of what makes it epic. The thought of our children’s children not being able to see a rhino or an African painted wolf, makes me sad to think, “Here’s a picture of this.”

You know me. We can keep talking and I’m happy to talk about Africa. If people have questions out there about Africa and about traveling, I’m more than happy to answer them. I want people to be educated about it. Instead of just hearing a story through some new source or someone saying this or something like that. I’m here. I’m on the ground. I’m African and hot. I’m African-born and bred. If people are educated, they will understand things a lot better. I’m happy to come back and chat.

I’ll have links for Warren’s website and how to get a hold of them. Warren, again I want to thank you. Amazing how quickly the time goes by when you and I talk about EPIC and Africa. I looked at the clock, and I was like, “Oh my gosh. We did it again.”

I was looking at it as well. I’m saying, “Where does the time go?” Thank you very much. I appreciate it. I love talking to you.

My name is Andrew Sprague. Remember, that epic begins with one step forward. I’ll talk to you again soon, folks.

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