Sarah Sands: There's no herd madness in the Masai Mara

Share
Related Topics

At Lewa Wilderness, a short plane hop from the Masai Mara in Kenya, I once met an unassuming Englishman with a wife and baby. They had been there for weeks and showed no sign of leaving.

Fellow guests, who included City types, did not get this timescale, nor the serenity of the couple, nor the respect accorded to the Englishman. Why didn't he just look at the animals and go? What kind of schedule was he on? The Englishman was Simon King, presenter of the 12 years in the making Big Cat Diary, which has been showing on television and thrillingly on webcams this week.

The last time television and the internet worked so seamlessly together was probably Big Brother, the lowest point in British television. This week, the BBC has been at its glorious best. I have been as glued to a screen as City traders.

It is particularly thrilling when the sun goes down and out come the infra-red or – more quirky – the thermal cameras. These can show you, for instance, how terribly cold the ears of an elephant can be.

It is at night that the sinister eyes of the hyenas are at their brightest and Kate Silverton, the anchor woman, endures the effect of the camp fire on her contact lenses.

Silverton has always been the tomboy among female news readers and she has never looked happier in safari chic, sitting alongside a Masai warrior. Silverton, like the cats, is all mouth and teeth and her smile widened impossibly at her first sighting of a leopard. King, like the Masai, has seen it all before but a kill is always fresh to him.

Nature can look a bit Longleat at times. A shot of the lions is obscured by a Land Rover full of tourists with cameras. But once the moon rises and the fires are lit, you can feel the rustle of the wild.

The showing of the Big Cat Diary this week has coincided with the tottering of the financial order. A prominent hedge funder I spoke to on Thursday said that we are entering a phase of sheer survivalism. The system – call it civilisation – is not holding. The hedge funder complained of zero visibility and a total inability to predict outcomes any more. No one has a clue what is going to happen next.

The conventional thinking is that nature equals chaos and man structure and order. This week it has looked the opposite.

The rules of the wild are clear. The sudden full stretch race of the cheetah to bring down an antelope is dramatic but predictable. The big cats must eat. The rest of the time they are happy to lie still, doing not very much in order to conserve their energy. If only the bankers had learned this lesson.

On my visit to Kenya, I watched thousands of wildebeest cross the river in the Masai Mara on their way to the Serengeti. You can wait for days while they push forward, pause, retreat. Then a zebra dips into the water and the wildebeest follow.

It may look like mindless movement but there is reason. The animals cross to find food as the season changes. But why was there such herd mentality in the stock markets this week? What made shares dip with such lunacy? Why won't the banks trade with each other? How can you explain the sudden power of something called "mark to market"?

The Big Cat Diary is the antidote to City hysteria. It's all stable and rational out there in the Masai Mara.

Sarah Sands is editor in chief of the British 'Reader's Digest'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Service Manager

£37000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has become available...

Recruitment Genius: Administrator

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has a track record...

Recruitment Genius: Solar Field Sales Executive

£40000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Relations Officer

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Craig Oliver, David Cameron’s Director of Communications  

i Editor's Letter: Poultry excuses from chicken spin doctors

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Women come back from the fields to sell vegetables at a market in Bangui, Central African Republic  

International Women's Day: Africa's women need to believe in themselves and start leading the way

Sylvia Bongo Ondimba
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable