Serengeti

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by: David Kotok

On the Serengeti, some two million wildebeests are moving in their annual ritual of migration. It is a remarkable sight to behold.

From the tent at the Sabora Grumeti camp, a look out among the Acacia trees reveals hundreds. They include the single bachelors, circling, grunting and seeking to fulfill their natural instinct. It is rutting season.

The winners of fights have herded their females tightly and circle them in defense of territory. An approaching challenger is greeted with horns, and a fight begins. The winner gets the girls, while the loser returns to the "boys' club."

Walk up the slight rise to the deck of the main tent. Hundreds in sight become thousands. The scene is astonishing. Look left and right. Lines of moving animals as far as one can see. The ritual of rutting is repeated everywhere.

Climb the knoll and thousands become tens of thousands. From the jeeps, the numbers seen reach hundreds of thousands. Then, an astounding hiss raises the balloon. Up above the acacias, sunrise illuminates the vastness of the plain. The migration is everywhere. A million animals moving. Wildebeest, gazelle, and zebra graze, drink from a water hole, move on in their march. A few fall prey to the big cats. Circling vultures mark the scene. Lions tear apart a carcass of a fresh wildebeest kill. A leopard drags its kill into a tree to protect its prize. Hyenas hunt in packs.

For half a century I've dreamed of the wildebeest migration and this balloon ride. The films and photos beckoned. They teased and teased. And now, to see it all, to smell it, to hear this orchestra grunt and whinny and thump is a powerful experience that will be an indelible memory.

Meanwhile, the US stock market sets new all-time highs. Bonds defy the forecasters of doom as interest rates remain lower than many expected. Political turmoil in many countries doesn't dissuade the markets. We still like our 4% tax-free, high-grade municipal bonds and our stock market ETFs.

We remain invested. We remain terrified bulls - different bulls from those we see here on the Serengeti. They follow their rules and rituals. They don't care about markets. We watch them in wonder, while also keeping an eye on the evolution of our markets.