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This week at Angama #182

The newest members of Angama's Photographic Studio, Robert and Eric, documented This Week at Angama, discovering a few of the unimaginable scenes that unfold every day
Above: A lovely herd of elephants wanders the plains below Angama Mara

This week we witnessed something truly unusual. One of those jaw-dropping, once-in-a-lifetime sightings. It all began when we heard the news of lions mating not far away. Our guide, Jackson, put his foot to the pedal and we arrived at the scene. Within minutes, we spotted a big male who strolled briefly through the overgrown grass before lying down again. We identified him as Chongo, one of the Bila Shaka boys. His name directly translates to ‘bad eye’, referring to his most distinctive feature - a missing right eye.

Chongo, from the Bila Shaka coalition, has had a busy few days with a certain female

As we caught up to them, we noticed he had not one, but two females by his side. This was unusual but got even more intriguing. One of the lionesses was from the River Pride who recently sustained heavy injuries in a fight, consequentially leading to the loss of her right eye. This was the mother of all coincidences.

We waited patiently as they lazed around in the grass, doing what lions do best. Eventually, he got up and approached her. There it was, our chance to witness two lions, both with a missing right eye, mating. The golden light was the icing on the cake, illuminating them in a beautiful backlight and accentuating Chongo’s fabulous mane.

F 6.3, 1/400, ISO 640 | Photo: Robert Sayialel
A pair will mate every 20 minutes for up to five days

The following day we caught up with the Bila Shaka boys again, Koshoke, Kiok and even Chongo who had moved on from his honeymoon period. When mating, which can last up to five days, lions typically don’t hunt. This day, luck was on his side, as they stumbled upon the perfect meal to celebrate his return. The Bila Shakas were feasting on a hippo carcass with more than enough to satisfy all three of them. From the looks of it, Koshoke wasn’t impressed with our lenses and clicking shutters.

Koshoke, Kiok and Chongo of the Bila Shaka coalition met over a feast of hippo

It seems that for elephants, the magic number is two. Around two years of age is when an elephant calf’s tusks first start to appear. Interestingly, these baby tusks are actually a set of milk teeth, extending from a socket in the skull. After two years of feeding, the mother will once again come into oestrus and mate with a bull. But ever the doting mom, she will continue to feed her older calf during the next gestational period – another two years, until the new calf is born. In some cases, the mother will still allow the older sibling to feed, even after the arrival of the new baby.

An elephant calf will suckle from its mother for roughly four years

As seems to happen quite regularly in the Mara, love was in the air this week. We encountered a pair of ostriches – the male crouching down and dancing his heart out, hoping to win the heart of the female. It worked and she was wooed. Ostriches aren’t monogamous though, with both the males and females mating with multiple partners.

This male ostrich was pulling out all his best moves
Success –– all those years of dance practice has paid off
Both of these love birds will soon find a new mate

A serval sighting is always something special. Luck was on our side, as this serval scanned the grass thoroughly for any movement, eventually locking on a target and adjusting its body for the faithful leap. In the blink of an eye, the serval had landed a meal, popping up above the grass with a mouse in its mouth. That evening, we witnessed a masterclass from one of the savannah’s clinical finishers.

What servals may lack in size, they more than make up for in precision. With a higher hunting success rate than their bigger cousins, servals catch their prey in over half of their attempts, making them one of the best in the wild cat kingdom. This works out to about 20 percent better than lions  who hunt  together as a pride.

Sharp eyes and a stealthy walk, the serval is a rodent's worst nightmare
A 50 percent success rate places these felines at the top of the list

Last but not least, we cannot leave out the Great Migration. The Mara is currently overflowing with excitement as the wildebeest herds swarm in on a daily basis. The show is currently underway and we will experience a lot of action in the coming weeks.

Guide Douggy captured this shot of the wildebeest who have successfully made it across the Mara river and onto the greener pastures of the Mara

With that, our second week at Angama comes to an end. If the last two weeks are anything to go by, no two weeks really are the same here, and we look forward to sharing all our Angama stories with you.

The sun sets over the Oloololo escarpment, marking another beautiful day in the Mara

This Week A Year Ago

A hippo chomps down on a zebra carcass Photograph by Adam Bannister

This time last year Adam managed to capture an incredible picture of a hippo with the stolen spoils of a crocodile. Hippos are known to occasionally feed on carcasses, presumably for nutrients otherwise lacking in their diet.

This Week Two Years Ago

This elephant proves that all bodies are beautiful Photograph by Adam Bannister

Two years ago we were treated to an extraordinary sighting of a very unique female elephant whose right tusk literally wrapped around underneath her mouth.

Filed under: This Week at Angama

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This Week At Angama , Wildlife Photography

About: Robert Sayialel

A passionate photographer and videographer, Robert started his career working with Amboseli Trust for Elephants in Amboseli National Park, close to where he was born and raised. He honed his skills photographing the famous big Tuskers and travelling with guests through Kenya’s National Parks, documenting their safaris. A kid at heart, some say he never stops smiling.

Browse all articles by Robert Sayialel Meet the angama team

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