Sunday, November 16, 2014

South Africa Trip, Day 2: Kruger National Park, Where Dreams Come True!

Kimberly Writes: Within a few miles inside the Park, we were treated to some of the most astonishing wildlife encounters I've ever had in my life.
A lifelong dream - come true!
And in this moment, my heart danced me back in time to that 8-year-old little farm girl in Ohio dreaming of someday seeing a giraffe in the wild. And I whispered in her ear, "You will. I know that you will. Because dreams really do come true, even for little farm girls from Ohio."

Plains Zebra!
You can see the "shadow stripes" in between the bold,
black strips indicating Plains Zebra.
Cape Buffalo
Red-billed Oxpeckers riding on the backs of the African Buffalo!

We came around a curve in the road, and he was just there. Silent. Massive. Magnificent. We were the only people in sight, and it was a remarkable experience to spend time with this amazing animal.

I was stunned at how emotional this day was for me. My lifelong dream of seeing giraffes and zebras and elephants in the wild -- all come true in one spectacular, life-altering afternoon.It was a joyful, happy day! But I was also struck by the thought that suddenly these animals mattered so much more to me after I had seen them for myself. We talk a lot about how important it is to introduce people to birds and birding, because people care more about the things they love and understand. I lived that principle today.

I've felt a great sense of sadness when reading about the terrible decline in many of these species because of habitat loss and poaching. But today, that loss was a much sharper knife than it had been before, because now it was personal. It left me feeling more determined than ever to help connect people with the joy and wonder of birds and nature. To strengthen our army of conservationists working to protect the natural world.

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