Sand Rivers

Sand Rivers

Peter Matthiessen

Language: English

Pages: 213

ISBN: 0670616966

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In late 1979, the writer and naturalist Peter Matthiessen and the wildlife photographer Hugo van Lawick joined a safari into the Selous Game Reserve in southern Tanzania, one of the largest yet least-known strongholds of wild animals left on earth. Sand Rivers is their beautiful account of a remarkable trip into this quintessential East African wilderness.

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gray, and a remarkable white blaze across the forehead. Further west, in the miomho, a fine big civet cat, started from a clump of tawny grass by the tires of the Land Rover, moved away a little distance before stopping to turn and have a look at us. The civet was black-faced, lustrous in the sere pale grass, averting its head just a little, the better to listen, and going on again when it heard no more than the soft vibration of the motor. The civet is not a cat at all but a large omnivorous

tire marks made the evening before. Retracing my steps a little I found the place where the lion had left the track, and realized that it might be watching me at this very moment, that I might have passed it. If so, 1 was cut off from the camp. Gazing about, I listened attentively, though for what I did not know: it seemed to me that the woods looked rather gloomy. For want of a better plan, 1 82 SAND RIVERS continued on my way, and eventually 1 heard a Land Rover's quiet hum. Brian picked

after fires, and the aspect of most of the miombo, with its blackened ground and burnt small leafless trees, its humid heat and drought and tsetse, under heavy skies, is immensely oppressive. In typical miombo, birds and animals are few, not only in species but in numbers, although the sable antelope and Lichtenstein's hartebeest have developed as endemic miombo species, and the roan antelope and bush duiker are more common in this habitat than any other. All these antelope are well adapted to

shade of a big ebony while we lolled in the warm shallows of the river. The day before a young crocodile had surfaced suddenly at Rick's feet while he was fishing from a rock, and Bakiri declared that from now on, this ledge camp would be known to local Africans as The Place Europeans Were Threatened by Crocodiles and Then Went Swimming. Brian had described how, on the Ruaha River, Bakiri Mnungu had once warned him about an approaching hippo when he was standing on a log at the riverside. "I

embittered him for the rest of his life. Even at school his physical courage and stoicism when beaten were legendary, yet in order to prove himself he won a commission in the Army (where his nickname was "Greek"). But from the start he was a non-conformist, and very early in a promising career he retired from the Army, taking up solitary hunting expeditions that eventually led to his self-isolation in this most remote region of the East African bush. From boyhood, lonides's hero - by all

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