You finally have that fare paid, your safari booked, cameras ready, and the kids are full of anticipation at seeing Botswana's wonderful wildlife in beautiful natural settings of bush and savanna. Elephant mothers and babies, lions looking after their cubs, herds of gazelle, giraffe and buffalo peacefully grazing are what you expect to see.
You will, and it is thrilling! While you may see a lion drag down a wildebeast, or a cheetah make a quick kill of gazelle to feed their cubs, that is sad but exciting: it is the reality of nature. Hopefully for the prey it will be a quick kill. And yes, it means a great photo! Life at its most raw and natural.
But Nature isn't always kind to an animal. Sometimes death can be slow and agonising. An elephant may endure intense suffering over many weeks before its death. A mauled hippo can last many days or weeks until in severe pain the lions finally finish him off.
The reality of Nature can be this-
Weeping blood, this bull seeks relief by staying in the water most of the day where he can wash the aggressive flies away.
The horn snapped off at the boss most likely when in a dominance fight with another male. Healing shows around the edges, but how long does this animal endure?
This lioness affected with mastitis, an infection of the breasts which causes inflammation and severe pain. The milk can go bad and the cubs may die. Untreated, eventually abscesses (showing already) and cavities in the breasts may form, resulting in a slow death from massive infection.
Nature can be cruel but the impact of humans on wildlife may be worse.
This elephant is very sick. Found at a watering hole by Dr Clay Wilson, of Chobe Wildlife Rescue, it appeared unable to swallow water as it just poured out again from his mouth. It appeared to be blind.
"Concerned citizens called me in a panic complaining that this was unsightly and upset the tourists."
" On Sunday 29th a head park official and I went to inspect the elephant. It charged us out of the water requiring us to make a run for it. It stood in one place for over 30 minutes shifting its weight from leg to leg. I suspected an intestinal obstruction but it was not bloated as one usually observes. It has a severe ocular white discharge which is evident in cases of infection. We decided to leave it for one more day."