As the rains continue to fall, usually late at night, we wake up to a layer of glorious fog cloaking the Mara below. Driving down the Oloololo Escarpment, as you begin your morning game drive, you enter the mist and are immediately transported into another world. Leave all your worries behind you, and enjoy another magical week at Angama.
As the sun slowly rises, so the carpet of fog gradually lifts. It’s another day in dreamland here in the Maasai Mara.
Elephant families trudge through the waterlogged grasslands. Groups of over 100 often converging in the area known locally as ‘The Marsh’. Cattle egrets take flight from their roosting sites in search of feeding grounds: pools of shallow standing water. On the menu today? Frogs of all shapes and sizes.
Sitting quietly in the car, I can hear a cacophony; vocalisations of at least half a dozen species of frog. If I dare make a sudden movement, they all stop croaking at the same time. The immediate deafening sound of silence.
Droplets of water gather on the coats of cats as they move silently through the grasses. The most wonderful and relaxed family of servals play beside the road. The trusting mother allows the three kittens to approach and inspect my car. I’m caught in a predicament of wanting to capture the intimate experience on camera, but simultaneously put the camera down and soak it all in – I try do a little of both.
Around the next corner there's another breeding herd; this time they seem distressed. A closer inspection yields a young male cheetah – gracefully manoeuvring through the grass. His belly is huge; signs of a happy feed. I trail him at a distance as he marks a tree. He is new to the area and I don’t want to push him, so I leave him to go on his way – a young jackal pup looks on.
Regular blog followers will know about ‘Mama Kali’, the lead lioness of the Angama Pride who is sporting a new tracking collar sponsored by the Angama Foundation. I love following her progress and have been fascinated to see her movements – now that the Migration has left Kenya, she regularly moves out of the park and up onto the escarpment.
This week we had her within 100 meters of my little home up here at Angama Mara. She deserves her own blog for sure, but I just wanted to update you all that she is doing very well and has adjusted perfectly to her new necklace.
The Owino Pride spots a warthog wallowing in a puddle. The hunt is on. In my view, there is nothing as impressive as watching a pride of lions on the hunt. Instinctively, they fan out and within minutes they have the unsuspecting warthog surrounded. They move in. This time it is too far for a photograph, but my binoculars are trained on the poor pig. He is walking into an ambush.
A lioness makes the first move and the chase is on. The second and then the third are in pursuit. Incredibly the warthog seems to be pulling away. Will he make it? Suddenly, out of a tuft of grass, the fourth lioness erupts and ankle taps the pig. He summersaults at speed and comes crashing down under the full weight of four hungry lionesses. They sink their teeth, and he lets out a blood-curdling squeal.
They couldn’t have chosen a worse spot to make the kill. Sleeping 500 yards away is the infamous North Clan; a terrifying, blood-thirsty clan of hyenas. They hear the commotion and within seconds are up – whoops and cackles, screams and wails. The lionesses gorge themselves; they feed so fast they barely have time for a breath. Not even a minute later and they are completely surrounded. The sounds are deafening as the hyenas move in.
It is these fascinating stand-offs that keeps us safari-lovers coming back time after time. The hyenas are nipping at the tails and backs of the lionesses whose faces are soiled red. Time races. It’s hard to know where to look – there is action in all directions. Eventually, the lionesses come to their senses and concede defeat. They scamper off, tails between their legs, whilst the hyena clan tear into the remains.
There is little left for the lionesses to do but to walk away – they lick their wounds, clean their faces and plan their next move. This rivalry is as old as time.
Taking a trip down memory lane, and perhaps a little bit of an ode. This photo taken two years ago by then Safarilive presenter Tristan Dicks shows Short-Tail, one of the Kichwa Coalition males, in all his glory. Sadly, in about September this year, he seemed to just disappear into thin air. Aged about 10, he was still a gorgeous male in his prime. There are a few unconfirmed reports of him getting injured by a buffalo, some other reports about a run in with another coalition, and even some rumours about conflict with local villagers – the truth is we may never know what happened to this beautiful male; one of the real icons of the Mara Triangle.
Filed under: This Week at Angama
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