By Patricia Lee Sharpe
Find Part I, Another Day, Another Lion: On Safari in Tanzania, here.
Having pretty much lioned out, I suggested that we spend our last morning in Ruaha National Park searching for sable. No other antelope has an all black coat (sable females don't either) and I’d never seen one. My grandson was game, so to speak, and our companionable driver/guide was willing, although he had a warning. He’d encountered sable two weeks before, in the vicinity of a natural spring some distance from the camp. But sable are elusive. Did we want to spend a morning on a highly possible wild goose chase? “Egyptian geese?” I quipped, glancing at my grandson, who rolled his eyes. We’d seen them, vast flocks of them, in the Selous.
And so we drove and drove, in hopes of glimpsing the fabled sable, on bush roads largely indistinguishable from the dust-raisers we’d haunted for the past week. The impala count, as usual, was stratospheric. Although acacia trees continued to push out new green leaves, the savanna wears mostly brown during the rainless months. New Mexicans know that brown is beautiful, but what mattered that morning is this: bare branches don’t frustrate viewing as much as luxuriant foliage does. I had high hopes for that sable.
Meanwhile, there were many good encounters. Dikdiks and duikers, the midgets of the antelope family, froze long enough to be seen clearly, then skittered away from roadside where they’d been grazing. My grandson was entranced. “They’re cute,” he said “I want one.” "You don’t,” I said. “I do,” he said. We left it there.