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“Squack, look, am I dreaming, that must be the Serengeti Highway!” “What do you mean, Tata, are they building a highway right through the Serengeti? How are the animals going to migrate? They will die if they do not have enough fresh grass and water.” “Well, yes, but animals do not count as much as people and money. Politicians have been talking about that road for years. They are also discussing a road around the national park, which would be better, because more people live there, who could use the road. I hope this is all a bad dream, let’s try to STOP the Serengeti Highway, while we still can!
We have a great time chilling on Moyo’s back under a huge parasol. “Actually, this parasol is an umbrella acacia,” explains Moyo. “A cold sparkling lemonade would be delicious now,” says Squack as he rummages around my bag. Indeed, he pulls out two fizzy drinks. It feels like a holiday. “How long will we stop?”, I ask. “As you may have noticed, it’s getting quite hot. We’ll wait here until it cools off a bit and when we get thirsty we’ll go down to the river,” answers Moyo. “Are we going for a swim then? Great!” “No, we aren’t, Tata. In this river live the biggest crocodiles of Africa. Only their eyes and nostrils stick out of the water. They’re lying in wait for us, hoping we’ll go too far into the water. You have to be extremely careful. That’s why we always go for a drink in a group and try to warn one another in case of a crocodile attack…”
Curious to find out how the story continues? This is an abstract of Tata&Squack – The Big Journey.
A few months on the fertile volcanic soil near the Ngorongoro Crater have made the wildebeest healthy and strong. They have moved on towards the Grumeti river. By now temperatures are rising and dust filles the air. Feeling good, the males want to show off their strength and court the females. Hoping to win a girl-gnu for their harem, the wildebeest “flirt” by grunting and jumping wildly, leaving behind a seductive scent. Due to the migration, the wildebeest do not form a permanent bond with a partner. During the mating season, called rut, the male wildebeest establish temporary territories. These small territories are about 3000 square meters, with up to 300 territories in a square kilometre. The males defend these from other males, while trying to attract females that are ready to mate. The mating season usually occurs between May and July. Gestation is about 8 to 9 months, therefore, birthing will take place between January and March, at the start of the wet season. The wildebeest males are grumpy and seriously hilarious at times of mating.
Eat and be eaten. We all know about the circle of life, but still it is harsh to see a group of lions actually kill and eat an animal. At that point I remind myself that lions have to feed their children too. The chances of a lion cub reaching adulthood are very small. Feeding them is merely one of the challenges. They are often killed by competing male lions or rivaling predators. Food is scarce and one mouth less to feed can mean survival for others. Being a lion does not mean having an easy life in the animal kingdom. Depending on the territory and the abundance of game, hunting down an animal is a challenge. Most of the time the hunt is aborted because the hunters have been spotted by their prey. So every animal stands a chance of getting away, even in the land of plenty, in the calving season in the Serengeti. The predators depend on this short period of abundance, when the big herds pass through their territory. At least these two little guys are well fed for now.
Deze prachtige recensie van Mart Seerden in het aanschaf-informatiesysteem van de openbare bibliotheken deed velen besluiten het boek te bestellen.
“Groot formaat, documentaire uitgave waarin op fantastisch-realistische wijze wordt verhaald over ‘De Grote Reis’ die de wildebeesten maken in de Serengeti in Tanzania, op zoek naar gras en water. Het uitnodigende van dit prachtig vertelde en geïllustreerde boek is dat het verhaal (in filmbeelden zo bekend van reportages op televisie), wordt verteld voor jonge kinderen, waarin gebruik wordt gemaakt van een combinatie van vormgevingstechnieken: een fantasievol verhaal over Tata en haar knuffel Squack, die De Grote Migratie van dichtbij volgen; de tekst van het boeiende verhaal is geplaatst tegen de achtergrond van – vaak paginagrote – illustraties, die bestaan uit kleurige, getekende animaties, in pakkende en aansprekende, technisch perfecte collages, waarin de werkelijke hoofdrolspelers, de wilde dieren in de indrukwekkende habitat van de Serengeti, te zien zijn. Daar tussendoor zie je dan Tata en Squack kennismaken met wildebeesten, leeuwen, gieren, zebra’s, giraffen, flamingo’s en juweelkevers. Bij de uitgave is een ‘Speurwijzer’ gevoegd met daarop tal van wilde dieren. Aansprekend initiatief van een oorspronkelijk Nederlands ontwerp collectief.”
Wir alle kennen die Bilder von den enormen Gnuherden, Zebras und Antilopen die durch die Serengeti ziehen, Flüsse durchqueren und am Fuße des Ngorongoro Kraters ihre Jungen zur Welt bringen. Die Migration ist ein gigantisches Naturschauspiel, was von vielen Filmemachern aufgegriffen wird. Gerade lief in der ARD eine Dokumentation aus der Reihe Erlebnis Erde mit atemberaubenden Bilder von der Serengeti.
Jetzt gibt es das erste Kinderbuch, welches die erstaunliche Geschichte dieser Wanderung erzählt. Tata&Squack suchen mit den Tieren zusammen nach dem „Wasserschatz“, der Grund weswegen jedes Jahr fast 2 Millionen Tiere diese Große Reise unternehmen. Das Buch beschreibt auf phantastisch-realistische Weise einen der auffälligsten Tierzüge der Welt. Eine Geschichte von Freundschaft, Abenteuer und Natur, packend in Wort und Bild.
Do animals show characteristics of human beings, like compassion, love, nurturing and protectiveness? How can mother animals recognize their young ones and how does a young wildebeest manage not to lose it’s mother, while there are thousands of other wildebeest around? The calves need their mother’s constant attention and therefore close contact is essential. The mother animal uses her four senses to recognize her young one, smell, sound, touch and sight. When the Wildebeest calf is born the mama will lick her new-born and within minutes the calf will be on its feet. It will try to drink, but the mother may move away at this point, which will encourage the calf to follow closely. The imprinting process starts with the first successful suckling. The mother will stay with her calf for the first few days, for the calf to be imprinted on her successfully. Eventually each mother will recognize her own calf by the voice and the scent. Mothers and calves then group into nursery herds, to give the mothers a chance to graze.
The illustrations in Tata&Squack, The BIg Journey are a mix of photographs, drawings and collages. The photographs for the illustrations were taken in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and in the Masai Mara in Kenya. A lot of the wildebeest, especially Moyo, are ink drawings. To set him apart a bit, Moyo is slightly bigger and sturdier than the average wildebeest. I had a hard time with the heart in his face, which gave him his name, because I did not want to make it too obvious, but still recognizable. Another wildebeest, which can be seen throughout the book does not have an official name, but I called him “Zottel”. He is a bit of a scrawny, sad-looking wildebeest. He seems to be standing around a lot, looking, something wildebeest are very good at. All the drawings were scanned and then assembled, layer for layer in Photoshop, enabling me to change the composition around to fit into the layout.
Normally rain is not what you wish for, when you are on a holiday. But in our case it was more than welcome. The area where the wildebeest prefer to have their young, on the foot of the Ngorongoro Crater, had been unusually dry for the time of the year. Therefor the big herds had wandered off to the central Serengeti, to find permanent water sources. The calving had stopped, awaiting the rain. Only a few days before we arrived, clouds began to build. The wildebeests, who follow the rain, began to stream back to the fertile grounds, which nourish the grass they need to gather strength after birthing and to feed their young. So there we were at the right time, at the right place, to see the calves and for the calving to continue …
We climb on Moyo’s back and hold on to his tangled manes. A dusty smell reaches our noses. “Great ride, Moyo.” Rocking softly on Moyo’s back, we watch the long queue of chocolate brown wildebeest, caramel coloured antelopes and black and white zebras. Shading my eyes with one hand, I ask Moyo: “Where are we heading?” “We are on our way to my favourite place, over there, near the mountains at the foot of the Ngorongoro crater. Every year we come back to these fertile grounds. Near all the large and small wonders of Africa living in the Ngorongoro Crater our own calves find their way into the world.” Every year same place, same time. It makes the Great Migration of the Wildebeest more than impressive, a wonder itself.