HOME Blog This Week At Angama #167

This Week At Angama #167

In a very eventful week in the Mara, Douggy finds several kills, an elusive cub, and a lion up to an unusual trick – to name a few of his favourite sightings
Topi on a termite mound, a classic Mara scene

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.

The Mara Triangle roadblocks f13 300mm 1/320s ISO 400
Serious traffic today f11 200mm 1/500s ISO 800

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 grabbed some lunch f5.6 300mm 1/3200s ISO 400

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.

Hyena in repose f11 70mm 1/500s ISO 400
A black-backed jackal kindly poses for a photograph f5.6 275mm 1/80s ISO 400

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.''

f 11, 1/500, ISO 800 | Photo: Douggy Onsongo

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.

Always on the lookout for an opportunity f5.6 170mm 1/1600s ISO 200
The hard-working mothers get rewarded f5.6 150mm 1/1600s ISO 200

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.

A resident buffalo herd – and a few hitchhikers f11 70mm 1/800s ISO 400

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.

The lions of the Mara make their own rules f5.6 165mm 1/640s ISO 400
A Black Rock Pride male digging in to leftovers f9 130mm 1/1250s ISO 400

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.

A black-chested snake eagle preparing for flight f5 180mm 1/4000s ISO 400

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.

A grey-crowned crane on a hunt of its own f 7.1 105mm 1/2500s ISO 400

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.

A good place to hide for the cub of Lorian f16 180mm 1/400 ISO 3200

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.

Split Nose plays it cool while keeping an eye on the prize f13 170mm 1/1250s ISO 400
Ready for her close-up f16 170mm 1/1250s ISO 400

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

Zebra in the golden hour glow [f/6.3, ISO500, 1/800]

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

Tagged with:

Big 5 , Big Cats , Lion , Maasai Mara , Mara Triangle , Photography , Safari , Wildlife

About: Douggy Onsongo

As a former Angama guide, Douggy knew all the best spots for a picnic and his skills behind a camera were only second to those in front of one. He, and his golden boot, will be sorely missed by the Angama Football Club.

Browse all articles by Douggy Onsongo Meet the angama team

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