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This Week At Angama #144

Following Adam's longest absence from the Mara ecosystem in over a year, he has found it fascinating to be back; noticing the subtle but important changes that have taken place
Angama guests enjoying a lovely lion sighting

Short daily drives have allowed me to catch up with some familiar faces, and at the same time see how much has changed in the blink of an eye. It’s good to be back behind the camera for This Week At Angama.

A grey crowned crane f 5.6, 1/640, ISO 500
A jackal pup takes an interest in the vehicle f 4.0, 1/1600, ISO 500, -0.33

The Maasai Mara is currently in a state of flux. With only two months to go, 2020 has been the wettest year since Angama began recording rainfall six years ago. The huge migratory herds of wildebeest have headed south into Tanzania, leaving in their wake a network of prominent game trails and dusty clearings. The winds now blow across the short, grassy plains. For now, these winds are dry, but in the next few weeks, and perhaps even days, we expect clouds to start gathering on the horizon. These clouds will continue to build, and if everything happens as it normally does, more rain will fall.

But, then again, what is normal anymore?

Lionesses from the Angama Pride enjoy a morning play session on a large boulder f 5.6, 1/1250, ISO 500, -0.67
A black-and-white conversion of playtime around the rock f 4.5, 1/1600, ISO 500, -0.67

For the lions of the Mara there have been massive changes over the last few weeks. A bloodthirsty battle in the northern portions of the Mara Triangle has left a vacuum where the Kichwa Males once roamed. Now, their land sits empty – but not for long.

A lioness from the Angama Pride claims her spot in the Mara f 7.1 , 1/400, ISO 500, -0.33
Kiok, one of the Bila Shaka males, patrols along the Mara River f 3.5 , 1/4000, ISO 500, -0.33

Male lions hear the silence, and with noses to the wind they march into the unknown. Like a ripple across the savannah, news spreads. Already, within just a few weeks, we have seen three separate groups of males show interest in this piece of land.

Olalashe, (Maa for 'Brother') chases a lioness from the Angama Pride f 5.0, 1/640, ISO 1000

As I write this, Olalashe, the boisterous and handsome male who started life in Mara North Conservancy, seems to be the one most set on occupying the land. However, the odds are heavily stacked against him, as large coalitions circle nearby.

A Sausage Tree Pride sub-adult enjoys the last remnants of a wildebeest f 5.6 , 1/640, ISO 640
Ol Donyo Paek of the Sausage Tree Pride manages to hold his land in a turbulent time f 5.6 , 1/500, ISO 500

Lion viewing at the moment is fantastic and with the shorter grass, it makes photography a lot easier. Stay tuned to find out how this saga will play out.

Inselberg Pride male Manywele, mates with a female from the Border Pride f 7.1 , 1/1600, ISO 320
A lioness on the Tanzanian border recently revealed her single cub to us f 4.0 , 1/1600, ISO 250

Incredibly, there are still a few crossings happening along the southern portions of the river. This has been a truly sensational Migration season, as unpredictable as always, and as entertaining as ever.

Wildebeest and zebra set off to tackle the Mara River f 5.6, 1/2500, ISO 400, -0.33
Zebra scatter after being spooked by a crocodile f 10.0, 1/1250, ISO 400, -0.67

Bizarre global circumstances meant that many visitors missed the spectacle this year, but hopefully next year’s edition will be just as electric.

Rani, a 12 year-old cheetah from the other side of the reserve f 7.1, 1/1000, ISO 160
Rani in the Salt Lick area, where she was born f 6.4, 1/1000, ISO 200

The post-Migration short grasses play right into the hands, or rather paws, of the cheetahs. It is no coincidence that sightings of these beautiful cats have increased.

A large herd of elephants looking relaxed along the escarpment f 7.1, 1/800, ISO 500, -0.33
The cure for an itch f 2.8, 1/2000, ISO 400, -0.33

Now that the Migration has moved off, the elephants are more settled. Huge family units appear to be spreading out throughout the Triangle, spending their days feeding along the river.

This Week Two Years Ago

Vultures feed on an elephant carcass. Photograph by Graham Wood f5 1100 400m 1/1000

Two years ago I went out on a drive with Graham Wood when we discovered an elephant that had died of natural causes in the far south of the reserve. As sad a time as this is, it is part of life out here, and it does provide food for myriad animals.

Filed under: This Week at Angama

Tagged with:

Great Migration , mara wildlife , Photographic Safari , Safari Photography , This Week At Angama , Wildebeest Migration

About: Adam Bannister

A South African-trained biologist, safari guide, author, filmmaker and photographer, Adam is, above all else, a gifted storyteller. After spending the past 10 years working in some of the world’s most beautiful wild places – the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa, Rajasthan in India, Brazil’s Pantanal, and the rainforests of Manu National Park in Peru – he is delighted to share his stories of one of the loveliest game reserves of them all, the Maasai Mara.

Browse all articles by Adam Bannister Meet the angama team

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