This Week At Angama #174
Fresh out of the Mara nursery, this baby giraffe emerged alongside several others – even its own mother had to check whether this one belonged to her. It’s striking to think that the fully grown giraffe that you come across during your safari once started out this small, eventually growing into its elegant self. The generally accepted belief that giraffe don’t give the best care to their young is debatable, especially when looking at the wonderful parent in this image. From around Angama Mara and the drive down into the Reserve, giraffe are quite a regular sighting – but it’s always special to see interactions between mother and baby.
Six is a formidable number if they make it to prime age for taking over prides. The Sausage Tree Pride sub-adults have been busy. While the girls were bringing down a buffalo, the six boys, who have been separated from the pride, also got down to business. When most of the easier animals to prey on are gone, predators tend to go for the riskier meal of buffalo. Born into a big family with the tendency to go for bigger prey, the young male lions are well into the game and have embraced the challenge very well.
A hunter by nature, a warrior in action and a beauty to view. Certainly a favourite of mine, the secretary bird dominates the plains of the Mara with her majestic long legs as she traverses looking for prey. She’s an abrupt intruder into the lives of many invertebrates that meet their end underneath her strong feet, either trampled to death or taken whole by her very strong beak.
What better way could there be for a lion to start the day than just enjoying what comes naturally. The Border Pride, which has been spotted regularly in the past couple of weeks, are finally relaxing nearby. As if too overtaken by sleep to even try to open their eyes, I found them warmly cuddled together blanketed by the tall grass. The young cubs from a year and a half ago are growing into beautiful big lions. This is one of the Mara prides that is simply flourishing.
This week, I spent a lot of time in the company of buffalo. Sometimes they show interest in the vehicle and at other times they are completely dismissive. Here, I found two of three bulls in a playfight which, as I had anticipated, quickly turned into a serious encounter. The fight escalated to a nearby mud-hole where another bull lay enjoying his mud bath and chewing some grass. Being older and stronger, he chose to decisively put the squabble to an end. One of the young males was caught awkwardly and thrown into the air. The fight ended almost as soon as it began.
Roads and tracks are often put to good use by the Mara’s many creatures, from as small as the jackal to as big and mighty as the hippo and elephant. Elephant are probably the most regular users of the roads and dung piles are a clear sign of their presence. Driving southwest in search of the Sausage Tree Pride, I found this prime-aged elephant down the road.
Guess who is trailblazing the Migration journey? Of course, it’s the wildebeests themselves! I know I have had more than my fair share of the Migration, but every journey brings excitement and prepares me for what the Mara is likely to look like in the next couple of week. True to word that they are great trekkers, I first saw them far away near the border, only to find them closer mid-range into the Reserve later in the day. Hopefully they are spared by the predators until the mega herds start to arrive.
The ladies of the Angama Pride have been busy, led by the dominant female, Mama Kali. One morning just outside of the lodge down by the hill, I caught up with them on a hunt. This lioness seemed to be listening in on the people chatting in the car; both were attracted to topi walking nearby. People and lioness in one frame, totally unaware of each other’s actions.
I came across this topi in full flight. This is one of the ways they show their strength to competitive males to keep them off their territory. Often, you will come across a topi on top of a termite mound, seeking that extra height as if to exhibit himself but also to attract females.
When I last saw the Sausage Tree Pride females, they were heavily pregnant. It's been well over six months since I last saw them, so I was excited to go and find this massive pride. Little did I know that I had a double dose of excitement waiting for me. Firstly, they had brought down a buffalo and secondly, there were more than six cubs between the age of two and three months. Not much feeding had been done on the buffalo, so I waited to see if the cubs would come out to play or eat. My patience paid off as the cubs, though cautious, came out to try and bite into the tough skin of the carcass.
Buffalo are relatively easy to find and one of the animals that we love photographing most. My colleague Robert caught these two boys overly interested in the car just before bolting away.
Guinea fowl spend most of their time foraging for grass seeds while ostriches spend most of their time in the plains grazing. I found these guinea fowls who trooped down the road from their roosting tree, ready for the day. When I found the ostriches grazing, they seemed to ignore me until they got spooked and took off running.
The sublime light in the early hours this past week has kicked my photography into another gear. Mornings have had the most amazing golden hours, even this impala couldn't avoid glowing in it.
It looks like the giraffes can’t stop looking for trouble. The favourable weather conditions have ensured that the young giraffes are well fed and able to stay fit to challenge any incoming offense. This giraffe fight club has continued for the whole week.
A grey crowned crane is arguably one of the most interesting birds to watch, whether they are feeding on the seeds they harvest or in flight like this pair I caught up with.
This Week Two Years Ago
While Douggy has seen the trailblazers of the Migration this week, this time two years ago Tyler gets excited as the first wildebeest of the 2019 Migration Season crossed into Kenya. And so the everlasting cycle continues almost like clockwork.
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