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This Week at Angama #198

Record-breaking numbers of male lions, endangered white-headed vultures and hyena feasts mark yet another brilliant week at Angama
Above: These elephants and barn swallows are a perfect example of commensalism

It’s a wonderful time to be in the Mara at the moment, especially if you are a birder as the migratory birds are moving through on their annual southward journey. Here, the elephants’ great strides disrupt all the insects living in the grass and the barn swallows follow in their wake to enjoy an aerial smorgasbord.

A clan of spotted hyenas doing their best to finish off a zebra before the vultures set in f 6,3 1/2000, ISO 320
Making short work of a huge meal f 6,3, 1/2000, ISO 320
A white-backed vulture swoops in on the action f 7,1 1/1600, ISO 320
Catching his breath before diving back into the fray f 2,8 1/8000, ISO 320 | All photographs: Adam Bannister

The hyenas and vultures have also been well fed this week, but they have to be lightning quick to get a mouthful. A zebra carcass, weighing about 350kg, lasted just 20 minutes before completely disappearing into the bellies of the scavengers. You can watch a video of this here.

A glimpse of the male lions seen this week, including some unknowns and some familiar favourites, like Chongo (bottom right) Photographs: Adam Bannister

Adam has been known to seemingly conjure lions out of thin air, but this week must have been an all-time high. He and a group of guests managed to see no less than 17 different males in just three days.

The Lamai Male sidles up to Kinky Tail of the Sausage Tree Pride f 5,6 1/1000, ISO 500
There may be some new faces in the Mara in 3 months f 9,0 1/800, ISO 320
The Lamai male has proved he is a force to be reckoned with f 5,6 1/1000, ISO 500 | Photographs: Adam Bannister

The Lamai Male, who killed Ol Donyo Paek earlier this year, has made the most of his new-found power by taking over the Sausage Tree Pride. Mating with the lovely Kinky Tail is just the start of what we hope will be a long and fruitful reign.

A tree-climbing-lioness of the Angama Pride sits safely up in the branches f 2,8 1/125, ISO 8000
Climbing trees is a great survival trick learnt by these lions f 3,2 1/100, ISO 6400 | Photographs: Adam Bannister

It’s not all sunshine and roses for the lions of the Mara though. This poor Angama Pride lioness had her zebra kill stolen by hyenas. If that wasn’t enough, the hyenas then chased her up a tree. Here, she waits it out in front of a beautiful violet sky.

A rare photograph of all six Sausage Tree Pride sub-adults together f 9,0 1/800, ISO 320
These youngsters have done remarkably well, despite the odds stacked against them Photographs: Adam Bannister

A big contributor to the number of male lions sighted was the six sub-adults from the Sausage Tree Pride. This band of brothers had to scarper after their father was killed and they’ve been on the run ever since. It appears they’ve set up temporary residence at the base of the escarpment in a territory once belonging to Olalashe. They all appear to be doing quite well, despite their turbulent year.

The future of the River Pride peaks through the grass f 5,0 1/640, ISO 800

Saving the best lions for last, well in my opinion at least, Adam had his first sighting of the River Pride cubs. While we’re still getting to know these new additions to the Mara lion chronicles, we know that they have an uncanny ability to melt hearts. You have been warned, so look with caution.

One of just 20 white-headed vultures in the Mara f 4,0 1/3200, ISO 200
Mara locals are lucky if they see these birds four times in a year f 4,0 1/3200, ISO 200

Another possible record was made this week for Adam who looked away from the countless male lions just long enough to spot the highly endangered white-headed vulture. Not just one white-headed vulture, but three on a single drive. To those birders-still-in-training, like myself, Adam has put this into perspective: there are approximately 20 of these vultures left in the Mara, so essentially, he saw 15% of the white-headed vulture population during a single drive.

Peaceful Mara moments Photographs: Adam Bannister

As every week has its share of excitement, it has its gentle gestures too, be it the deep grumbles of an elephant herd talking to each other or the quiet floating movement of the balloons at sunrise. Watch a snippet of some of the sightings from this week in the video below.

This Week a Year Ago

The endless emerald grasslands of the Maasai Mara

A year ago Adam was enjoying the views from the basket of a hot-air balloon while the rest of us were wondering when the world would go back to "normal".

Filed under: This Week at Angama

Tagged with:

Lions of the Mara , Maasai Mara , Wildlife Photography

About: Charlotte Ross Stewart

Charlotte may be the youngest member of the team, but she is a storyteller wise beyond her years. Tasked with sharing the stories that flow out of Angama on social media, blogs and beyond, her love of people, literature and nature make this the perfect role for her.

Browse all articles by Charlotte Ross Stewart Meet the angama team

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