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This Week at Angama #199

Nearing 200 entries in this weekly series, The Mara continues to surprise as the mega-herds of the Great Migration have bizarrely headed back into Kenya
Above: Finding relief from the heat in the shallow end

It’s hard to believe that 199 weeks have gone by since we first decided to begin visually documenting life in the Mara Triangle. Since that day, we have been regularly publishing around 20-or-so images every week, capturing the essence of the previous seven days.
 
We are now just one week away from a major milestone. Incredibly, about 5 000 photographs have been published to date in this blog series, every image carefully composed, shot and edited. Each photograph tells its own unique story, representing hours spent out in the field. In its most basic form, it acts as a diary and allows us to tell the story of the Mara and to look back through its archives. 
 
This week a year ago, the Mara was described as a carpet of electric green. Scenes captured from above in a hot-air balloon showed just how wet the ecosystem was at the time.

A rather waterlogged area along the banks of the Mara River last year f 9.0, 1/250, ISO 320

The scenes this year couldn’t be more different. Although we had some good rains last month, this month has been dry and hot. As I sit down to write this, it has started to rain; better late than never. Most of the recent showers though have been isolated to the Mara Triangle, with large swaths of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem receiving hardly any rain at all.
 
In an unexpected twist, we have started to see big herds of migratory wildebeest and zebra returning to Kenya, crossing northwards from the Serengeti. This is when they are meant to be well and truly on their way to the southern short-grass plains of Ndutu. There is a good chance that the lack of rain across the Greater Serengeti have caused many tens of thousands of wildebeest to turn around and head back into the Mara, capitalizing on the locations that have at least received some rainfall.

Welcoming the migratory herds back (again) Photographs: Adam Bannister
We're very happy to see so many new stripes f 5.0, 1/2500, ISO 320, -0.67
A herd of zebra always allows some creative photography f 5.0, 1/2500, ISO 320, -0.67

Unlike this unusual turn of events, an aspect that is right on track is the presence of large and plentiful elephant herds. An all-day game drive in the Mara Triangle at the moment could yield in excess of 300 elephants. They are thriving, and the number of small calves are a great indicator of the health of the ecosystem. 

The Triangle is slowly turning into an elephant nursery f 5.6, 1/320, ISO 320, +0.67
It's always such fun watching the age dynamics play out Photographs: Adam Bannister
A well-lit breakfast Photographs: Adam Bannister

The Mara’s lions are still providing constant entertainment for us all, and the streak of fantastic male sightings continues. I say with confidence that right now, the Mara Triangle is the best place on the planet to see big male lions. 

Nusu, from the Inselberg Coalition down on the Tanzanian border f 4.5, 1/4000, ISO 320, -0.67
Slitlip, also of the Inselberg Coalition, covered in flies after feasting on a wildebeest f 5.6, 1/1600, ISO 320, -0.33
Mrefu, of the Eland Plains Coalition, takes respite from the heat of the midday sun f 5.6, 1/500, ISO 200, -0.67
It is extremely rare to see a lion sitting in water out of choice f 5.6, 1/400, ISO 200 | Photograph: Alexia Trigo
Four members of the Bila Shaka Coalition managed to bring down a large buffalo bull in the middle of the day f 5.6, 1/640, ISO 400 | Photograph: Robert Sayialel
The six Sausage Tree Pride young males took down a bufallo of their own in the deep south. Typical for this time of the year, lions’ diets shift more towards buffalo f 4.5, 1/2000, ISO 400, -0.67
However, with the bizarre return of the Migration we are finding that various prides are reverting back to the easier meals – like this Border Pride lioness f 9.0, 1/400, ISO 250, -0.67

November is truly a special time to visit the Mara. Even though it is drier than usual, it is still incredibly beautiful. The grass is short, and the morning light is breathtaking. 

The sun rises and another beautiful November day starts in the Mara f 8.0, 1/500, ISO 800, -1.67
Though not as wet as usual, the inhabitants of the Mara are still out in full force Photographs: Adam Bannister
A hartebeest stares back in the early morning f 8.0, 1/500, ISO 800, -0.33

This Week Three Years Ago

There is nothing fiercer than a mother's love f 8.0, 1/400, ISO 160, +0.33

Three years ago, directly underneath Angama Mara, we watched an almighty battle of life and death. That morning, a giraffe had given birth and within minutes the Angama Pride had found both mother and baby. In an epic display of bravery, the mother managed to protect her calf for over three hours, until the temperatures soared and the lionesses gave up and retreated into the shade of a nearby tree.

Filed under: This Week at Angama

Tagged with:

Lions of the Mara , Maasai Mara , Wildlife Photography

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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