The last impala
It was June 1965 and I remember it as if it were yesterday.
We had been having a picnic on the Sanya plains a vast wildlife corridor between Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru.
An African wild life range land where the gnu and zebra had numbered in their thousands.
A place where the African call of the wild remained true, where you felt the thousands of hooves as they circled their gallop to water in the evening light. The rising pink dust of sunset turning red in the distance, the unforgettable scent of wild Tanzania pungent on the air and that had been not ten minutes previously.
I was 12 years old and little did I know at the time - this would be the last I would see this mini Serengeti, this Africa in the way it was.
We had stopped the car on the railway line next to the old Moshi to Arusha road near where my heavily pregnant mother had had an encounter with a pride of lion some 12 and half years before. She was picking flowers by the side of the road, the lions were sleeping in the acacia trees nearby. Lucky for me my mother saw them and the lions kept sleeping otherwise this blog would not be here.
I had walked down the railway line to answer the call of nature and then standing there releasing my water a lone buck impala climbed up onto the line and stood watching me. He stood there for a minute beautiful in the red of the twilight, then with the grace of a slow motion leap he disappeared into the tall grass.
He was the last impala I was ever to see on the Sanya plains.
Years later I returned to work with my father on the construction of the Kilimanjaro International airport not 10 kilometres from where I had stood that day. By that time there was no wild life left, it had all gone, shot out by poaching and casual hunting.
I returned to Kilimanjaro International airport this year some 40 years later to be greeted by dust bowls and struggling herds of livestock everywhere. When we flew out a couple of weeks later our aircraft had to shut down delayed by a dust storm – so thick you could not see the end of the wing.
I believe the last impala had sent me a message…
I am now returning to Africa to work on saving what I can.
Join me in trying to do this – http://www.chagga-mzungu.com
We need all the support and funding we can get.
They say we have 10 years before the ‘organised’ poaching will remove the wild elephant from existence, the rhino has just about gone…