Colin McConnell

Name ID 1351

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Sher, Antony The greatest show on earth
Extract Author: Antony Sher
Page Number: 2
Extract Date: 2002, Feb 18

The greatest show on earth - Kusini

We move on to the Serengeti. Kusini Camp. Posh tent accommodation set among spectacular prehistoric boulders. The manager is also our safari guide: Colin McConnell - Kenyan born, a rugby forward with specs and a sense of humour.

The Serengeti is my idea of fantasy Africa: vast savannahs dotted with herds in such numbers they look like insects, the horizons so wide you think you can see the curvature of the earth itself, and those infinitely high skies occasionally brushing the land with dark skirts of rain. Here again we have terrific sightings - like the gang of adolescent male lions we called The Magnificent Seven and drove alongside for an hour or so - but in the end it's a tiny and insignificant animal that becomes the real star of the trip.

That morning we had stopped to breakfast on a bleak stretch of plains. As far as you could see in either direction was a migrating herd of wildebeest. They trudged past in single file, heads down, with a determined fatalistic look. "Like the queue for the ladies at Stratford," said Greg.

Richard was helping Colin load the hampers back on to the jeep when we suddenly heard him exclaim, "And where on earth have you come from?" There was a miniature green chameleon on the running board, its bright orange mouth open and hissing. Colin thought it could have been knocked into the vehicle when we set off at camp, reversing under some trees. Because the Serengeti is a singularly flat landscape, we decided to transport the creature home, and christened him Kermit - the facial resemblance was uncanny. As we set off, and now resident on Greg's forefinger, Kermit began to wildly swivel his bulbous eyes in separate directions, as though desperately scanning his colour chart for flesh and finding nothing there. Then he realised there was no danger and relaxed.

This being the season of the short rains, plagues of flies had been hatching daily and tormenting us. Now was our chance for revenge. As one unsuspecting customer landed on Greg's knee, he shifted it within Kermit's reach. The long tongue shot out. And again, and again. "That's five. That's six!" Greg reported, aghast. As Colin rightly pointed out, "Given his size, that's like you or me eating six turkeys."

By the time we got back to camp, Greg was smitten. When he carried Kermit over to the nearest tree to say his farewells, the scene began to resemble Joy Adamson's parting with Elsa. Richard whispered: "I think we should leave them alone," and guided me away.

Extract ID: 3580