Today I’m delighted to welcome Jan Latta to my blog.
Jan is an adventurous author and photographer who follows animals in their natural habitats to create her series of 14 True to Life books for children. She’s travelled to Borneo for orangutans, the mountains of China for pandas, Uganda for Dr Jane Goodall’s chimpanzees, India for tigers, nine times to Africa for the big cats, elephants, rhinos and zebras, and Sri Lanka for the endangered leopard book.
In this fascinating guest post, she tells the story about a day in the Maasai Mara, Africa.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JAN LATTA –
AUTHOR AND WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER
3.am: I hear a noise outside my tent I can’t identify – the rustle of leaves followed by munching sounds. I hold my breath and listen. Then I hear the deep rumble of a large animal’s stomach. I open the flap of my tent and see a magnificent bull elephant, and he’s only a metre away. I watch him eating and as I’m not in any danger, I go back to sleep.
5.0am: After my wake-up call and a mug of tea I open the zipper of my tent and wriggle my torch into the sky. This is the signal for the guide to escort me to the jeep.
6.0am: I watch the gentle beauty of a journey of giraffes in the golden sunrise. When they are close I can see the little Oxpecker birds clean the giraffe’s teeth and then ride on their mane. There is a lioness lapping water from a puddle. She looks at me and her eye contact is mesmerizing. She walks right up to the jeep, still looking up at me, then turns, walks beside the jeep and then into the bush. My guide says, “You didn’t take a photo?” I said no, because it was so special to have eye contact with her. My guide said it was the lioness we saw yesterday with her wildebeest kill and her two cubs.
9.0am: Fat hippos grunting, honking and farting their way up the river with their nasty habit of swishing dung into the next hippo’s face. A herd of elephants walk silently past the jeep and there is a tiny calf trotting along with its wobbly little trunk exploring everything. It’s adorable. Then I see my favourite animal, the cheetah. She is resting in the tall grass after her morning hunt.
11.0am: Drive back to camp for lunch and a shower. The guide calls the camp when we are close and a bucket of hot water is waiting for me. The bucket is tipped into my inside shower unit by a rope outside. I wash my socks but I have to stay guarding them because last year baboons stole all my socks from the tent rope. I wonder what they do with them?
3.0pm: On the way to see the lioness again there is a huge male lion walking towards her area. This is very dangerous because the male will demand the wildebeest remains, or he might kill the cubs to mate with the lioness. The guide stops and I hold my breath. What will happen? The lioness is rigid and stares at the male – but he just flops in the grass and falls asleep – plonk –he’s the daddy!
On the way back to camp I see a very cranky rhino on the horizon. 10 minutes later he thunders out of the bush, with dust and dirt flying everywhere. I yelp a warning and the guide accelerates. The rhino gets closer and closer to the jeep but finally we pick up speed and escape him.
7.0pm: I walk to the main tent to have dinner with the camp manager. During dinner we hear a loud bang, and unzip a section of the tent to see a lion chase a wildebeest right through the middle of the tent. Wow!! The Maasai run to help me and I try to calm down but realise I have to walk back to my tent with the pride close to camp. Two Maasai escort me safely back to my tent. The lions roar throughout the night and in the morning I hear the soft pant breathing of a lion right next to my tent.
I’ve had so many amazing adventures creating my series of 14 True to Life books and it is a privilege to be so close to them in the wild. To be the “voice” to tell their story in both photographs and words.
Check out Jan’s website here. You can also buy her books and DVD direct from the website.
Watch her fabulous wildlife videos on You Tube!
Connect with her on Facebook here.
Contact her for exciting school and festival presentations: firstname.lastname@example.org