The Maasai Mara never ceases to delight. Even without an animal in sight, its beauty touches the heart.
With the light evening rains - and sometimes full-blown storms - the skies are a spectacle on their own. It is always a pleasure to sit back in your safari vehicle and watch the scenes unfolding on the horizon.
Majestically wandering the landscape for a bite to eat, giraffes may be a common sight, but there is something special about them that everybody loves. Watching these graceful herbivores feeding with those long tongues, glancing at you through those elegant eyelashes or galloping into the distance - what a joy to behold.
Zebras abound in the plains of the Mara, but what amazes me most about them is that I have never seen a skinny one - even in the midst of drought. The question, “Is it white stripes on black hide or black stripes on white?” makes for a hilarious conversation starter. And where there are zebras, you are bound to find the ox-pecker and it was interesting to see a juvenile ox-pecker in a matching outfit.
I confess that I am not a birder, but the variety during any drive is astonishing. Their plumage, their graceful dances as they take off in flight, their precision as they hover scanning the ground - there are birds everywhere and they are a delight to watch. Closing my eyes and just listening to their song always has a calming effect.
My earliest memory of the grey-crowned crane is of them in the fields after the maize harvest on my grandfather’s farm in the Rift Valley. They are omnivores, eating everything from plants and insects to frogs and the eggs of aquatic animals. Stamping their feet as they walk, they flush out insects which are quickly caught and eaten. We would never chase them away as we were told they made the fields safe by eating dangerous snakes. And when they took flight we were always in awe as their graceful bodies were framed in the golden rays of dusk.
Leopard sightings are rare and they will almost always be alone. They are mostly nocturnal, hunting prey at night, so finding this gorgeous feline in the open was such a treat. I have only managed to see these fine cats up close twice in the past five years. I am always in awe of their beauty which belies their incredible power.
In contrast to the solitary leopard, lions are social cats. A pride can number up to 30 depending of availability on food and water. Females are the main hunters in the pride with the male providing protection, their battle scars bear witness to these.
The Mara Triangle is blessed with ample opportunity to see these magnificent beasts. I can easily sit at a sighting for hours as I try and guess the stories behind the scars, the relationship between the individuals and the power behind the undeniable cuteness.
In contrast to her much larger “cousins” the serval is usually on the move when I've been fortunate enough to catch sight of them. They seem to never sit still. However, this one stole the show for me as she “horsed” around with this piece of dung.
Being based up at Angama Mara for about 260 days of the year, running the operations in-house, it is easy to forget the jewel that lies right before our eyes. It sometimes takes the excitement of our guests, first timers or repeat guests, local or international to spark that excitement and pride. We at Angama are truly blessed to wake up to this spectacular environment through the year.
This time a year ago, the wildebeest had left the Mara and the elephants were back in droves. Though the wildebeest seem reluctant to leave this year, the elephants are back - likely due to the current rains we’re experiencing.
Filed under: This Week at Angama
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