My love for exploration in the Mara takes me to areas with an abundance of game. Sometimes I find predators and sometimes I don't. For an animal of prey, being vigilant is an everyday obligation. One animal especially is a lover of vantage points. A topi will never hesitate to exploit any termite mound nearby that will give him a sense of authority – as far as his vision is concerned. East of Serena near the Mara river is where I saw this behaviour more prevalent than any other in the park this week.
Even with my vast bush experience, an elephant encounter on the road is a true African wildlife experience that I enjoy. Roads are easy getaways for elephants from one point to another. On one morning this past week, while a colleague enjoyed being led by the African bush wise man, I had to take a reverse gear.
Romi has been busy this past week. While the Oloololo and Marsh Prides of lion breakaway, who normally share a hunting ground with her, she set forth hunting. I had to match her patience in hunting with my patience in waiting. An hour later, her efforts paid off. She killed a gazelle.
Meet one of the most successful predators in the Maasai Mara. I couldn't count how many pairs of black-backed jackals I have seen this past week. They have a diverse diet, from desert date tree fruit to insects, to scavenging and even making their own kills. But this is one of the sweetest faces you will regularly come across bouncing through the grass or trotting down the road ahead of you on a drive in the Maasai Mara. This one stayed within reach long enough for it to be photographed.
My hyena sighting, a highlight for the week, was this female I found on the road. I was not sure whether she was testing my patience or if she was nursing a hangover from the night before. But she seemed well gorged from a meal in the night. Too heavy to move, she just gave me a side view with a gesture of "I ain't moving.''
Sometimes I wonder at how well orchestrated giraffe's activities are. One time I will see them in perfect march as they walk across the plains. Another time I will see a dozen frozen looking at some intriguing find in the bush. One moment I have them feeding on a shrub to their liking and on another, just like here, I have them in a perfect – and what seems like a harmonised – competition to groom.
The Owino Pride females are tough and sharp with their hunting skills. In a week that has yet again celebrated the presence of predators around Angama, I came across these girls as they walked in search of prey. The favourable weather conditions for the growth of grass make it an easy hideout for the numerous warthogs around. My eyes could not see much, but the females were on a scent that would take them to a warthog that they killed soon after. With a few hungry mouths to feed, table manners were not always in check.
I caught this herd of buffalo already active in the first golden light. Other than their sheer impressive numbers, a show of how successful they are at survival, I also enjoyed the amount of company that they brought along. Cattle egrets, ox-peckers, and swallows formed a bee-hive of activity around the herd. Before the migration comes along and swallows their presence in the herds, these buffaloes are easily seen driving around at Angama.
This week brought another surprise as I set off looking for a leopard. On one afternoon, this Oloololo/Angama Pride female exhibited the qualities of an ultimate predator. It's not an often occurrence for a lioness to go up in trees. But after a long walk in the grass with limited visibility, she was tempted to capitalize on the elevation provided. While you normally think a leopard to be the one in a tree, just be sure, otherwise, you will be caught unaware as I was.
I took off across the river in search of Scarface who l haven’t seen for a while. He has been out and about near Ashnil Camp for a couple of months now. Having missed him, my quest was rewarded by a dominant male from the Black Rock Pride. He and his pride had brought down a buffalo the night before. I got there in time to find him feeding.
As much as I am glued to finding happenings on the ground, I am equally tasked to find out what the sky has. And in this case, I am speaking of the lions of the sky. The Maasai Mara celebrates a number of predators both on the ground and more vicious ones high above. Angama Mara happens to be at a great vantage point – be it you are rocking in a chair outside your room or on a drive down below, keep your binoculars handy for the gorgeous eagles out and about. This black-chested snake eagle stayed only to fly once she suspected potential prey.
Arguably the most photographed bird in the reserve, the grey-crowned crane continues to amaze with its beauty. As most of my drives were concentrated along the watercourses and drainage lines I found a few pairs. I caught this one quite close as it harvested seeds off the grass.
I was lucky this week. I have been in search of Lorian's cub for days. Every baby brings a sense of fondness and continuity of a generation, but a leopard cub is something else. I can't remember when I last saw one. You can imagine how ecstatic I was to find him in a not so easy spot to find, perched away as its mother was away hunting. I waited for her return to no avail, but happy to report that she was seen the next day.
This week ended with a love story in the making. One of the females from the Egyptian Goose Pride seemed to get lost in the charms of Split Nose. I stayed with them for hours hoping that they would begin their mating, but it looks like he has to do more to entice her. They kept eyeing one another. I hope to see it happen soon.
The Week Two Years Ago
This week two years ago, Jeff described this as one of his best shots of the week, especially enjoying the rim lighting around the zebras faces.
Filed under: This Week At Angama