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This Week At Angama #175

As fires sweep across the dusty plains of the Mara, yet again we start to look south, scanning the horizon of the Serengeti. It’s official - we are just days away from the start of Migration Season 2021
An impala senses the oncoming lack of personal space as the migration looms

There is a tangible sense of excitement pulsing through the Mara right now. After a quiet time, more people are starting to return to the Reserve. They are not the only visitors – we are days away from welcoming the return of the greatest land migration on the planet.

Already, there have been a handful of small but exciting zebra crossings. A visual treat and an emotional roller-coaster for those lucky few who get to witness the running of the gauntlet first-hand. The massive crocodiles have spent months basking in the sun, lying motionless with very little in terms of sustenance. Waiting. Soon, it will be time to feast. 

A monstrous, and easily identifiable crocodile, sizing about 14 feet – I like to call him Hook f. 7.1, 1/800, ISO 250
f. 4.0, 1/1000, ISO 640, -0.33 | Photo: Heidi Hyland

For now, the herds are still small but they’ll grow steadily over the next few weeks. Behind them, moving slowly in the heart of the Serengeti, are the stars of the show: the wildebeest. Although we expect them to only arrive in about another month or so, you can sense the sudden shift in energy, from the guides and guests and of course, the animals which call the Mara home. 

The front runners come in small herds, mere hints of what is to come f. 7.1, 1/1250, ISO 250, -1.0

Over the last two weeks, the landscape has changed significantly. The soils have started to dry, and the grasses have shifted from a green-golden hue to a lighter straw colour. These images, taken from the same spots dotted across the Mara showcase the seasonality and constant change within the grasslands.

Documenting the change in the landscape for four consecutive months starting in January 2021

Currently, the skyline is hazy as a result of the seasonal fires sweeping across the ecosystem. There is a gentle but steady breeze blowing across the Reserve signalling the change in seasons.

The hazy skyline from the seasonal burning is a mark of the migration season f 10.0, 1/800, ISO 250, -0.67
Destruction for rebirth f 10.0, 1/640, ISO 250, -0.67

For lions, this dry spell couldn’t have come soon enough. The last few months have been tough for them. Prey has been scarce and risks have had to be taken – on all fronts – in order to stay alive. Immediately, the diet of the lions has shifted away from buffalo and towards zebra.  

A male lion mating with a member of the River Pride f. 10, 1/320, ISO 500, -0.33
Illegal grazing is well under control and the neighbouring communities live mostly in peace with their wild neighbours
The light lioness from the Angama Pride goes in search of prey f. 4.0, 1/1250, ISO 200, -0.67
Incredibly, this zebra survived a lion hunt. Look closely and you can see the claw marks down its rump f. 6.3, 1/640, ISO 500, -0.67
Two of the Inselberg males enjoying the morning sun on a rock located on the Kenya/Tanzania border f 10.0, 1/640, ISO 250, -0.67

This time of year often sees a change in guests’ safaris. The primary objective for many is to see a dramatic river crossing. This involves heaps of patience, commitment and luck. And did I mention patience? The result is that you often spend more time just sitting quietly in the car, watching nature’s glorious performance. By sitting still and watching, you often get rewarded with wonderful and unexpected treats. 

Female impalas take turns grooming each other f. 4.0, 1/1600, ISO 400, -0.33
Removing ticks from the hard-to-reach places f. 4.0, 1/1600, ISO 400, -0.33
A touching moment at sunrise between a pair of southern ground hornbills f. 5.6, 1/250, ISO 400, +0.33
The Oloololo Clan den site is incredibly productive with as many as six youngsters f. 4.0, 1/250, ISO 1250, -0.33
A pair of grey-crowned cranes take flight f. 8.0, 1/1600, ISO 500, -0.33
The elephants are enjoying the long grasses before the migration comes and devours it all f. 4.0, 1/2000, ISO 400, -0.33

The real gem of the upcoming weeks for me will be the sound and the energy of the gathering herds. Tens become hundreds, hundreds become thousands, and thousands sound like thunder. Dust will fly, hooves will pound, water will splash and the Mara will reveal yet another layer of its magnificence. 

I also find it important, at this time more than ever, to take notice of all aspects of the reserve. As captivating as the Migration is and as easy as it is to get totally swept away by it, there are so many more moments to enjoy every day.
There is a reason it is billed as one of the greatest reserves on Earth.

What ruffled this black-chested snake eagle's feathers? f. 4.0, 1/1000, ISO 640, -0.33
The ever-beautiful marabou stork... f. 5.0, 1/2000, ISO 400, -0.33
A golden morning moment with a lone giraffe f. 4.0, 1/2000, ISO 320, -0.67
Black, white and gold f. 4.0, 1/2000, ISO 320, -0.67
A quiet family moment f. 4.0, 1/2000, ISO 320, -0.67

This Week Two Years Ago

Two years ago the wildebeest arrived very early. We were exceptionally lucky to witness a handful of massive river crossings. These caught us off guard and left us amazed. In the blog post from two years ago, I tried to record the events which led up to this unusual timing. If you have any interest in the river crossings and understanding them then be sure to have a read.

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Angama Mara , Angama Wildlife , This Week At Angama

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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