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This Week at Angama #200

Celebrating a milestone, Robert and Eric reflect on their incredible journey over the past few months of getting to know the characters that reside in the Mara Triangle
Above: The Salt Lick Female looks out over the Mara Triangle

This week, we reach an incredible milestone: our 200th edition of This Week at Angama. 1 400 days spent documenting the magic of the Mara ecosystem, getting to know the animals we share this beautiful land with and telling their stories. Week by week, we form an archive that will outlive them — immortalising those that have come and gone and honouring the living legends that still roam.

In this momentous edition, we chose to reflect on some of the most memorable experiences this rich land has bestowed upon us and the icons we have come to know during our time here.

The now legendary Slitlip sitting under an epic Mara sky 1/1250 f7.1 ISO 100 | Photographer: Eric Averdung

Residing in the areas surrounding Angama, the Bila Shaka Males have made a regular appearance in our weekly blogs. We have loved spending time with this powerful coalition, who are truly making their mark in the Triangle. Many drives have been spent with Chongo, Koshoke and Kibogoyo, whereas Doa and Kiok appeared less frequently. The Bila Shakas control the Paradise Pride and for that reason, they move between the Reserve and the Triangle. Doa and Chongo in particular have won our hearts; it’s safe to say these lions are in the prime of their lives. Sired by the legendary Lolparpit and Olbarnoti, the Bila Shaka Pride are already following in their fathers’ footsteps. 

Chongo's one-eyed stare has captivated us for four months 1/200 f5.6 ISO 400 | Photographer: Robert Sayialel
Doa is notable for his classic good looks and mane 1/400 f5.6 ISO 640 | Photographer: Robert Sayialel
Kibogoyo, Kiok, and Koshoke are the other three in the powerful coalition Photographs left to right by: Robert, Adam and Eric

The five brothers display immense power and are seasoned big game hunters. This week they took down an adult giraffe on the banks of the Mara River as well as a big male buffalo recently. These boys are about as bold as they come.

Taking down the tallest land mammal was swift work for these boys 1/800 f5.0 ISO 640 | Photographer: Eric Averdung
A male buffalo didn't stand a chance 1/550 f8.0 ISO 400 | Photograoher: Robert Syialel

Since our arrival, the Inselberg Males quickly became one of our favourite prides. They get their name from the area they control, the inselbergs — isolated rocky hills found close to the border with Serengeti. This coalition comprises five males - Ruka, Manywele, Slitlip, Nusu and an unnamed male, however, we are yet to see them all together at one time. Their names are derived from the physical attributes that set them apart from one another. Take for example Slitlip, a very distinctive male with a big slit on his upper lip. They are definitely the most striking coalition around and some of the largest lions we have ever seen.

Manywele's caught mid-meal 1/100 f5.6 ISO 80 | Photographer: Robert Sayialel
The unnamed male will likely pick up a name soon with his distinctive scar 1/680 f5.6 ISO 320 ­| Photographer: Robert Sayialel
Ruka, Nusu and Slitlip — each easily recognizable by their respective disfigurements Photographer: Eric Averdung

Not to be forgotten are the leopards of the Mara. Certain individuals, such as the Salt Lick Female and her cub, have stolen the show, giving us incredible sightings whenever we have been fortunate enough to cross paths with them. These two have a huge territory of approximately 91sqkm, so we’ve seen them quite literally all over the Triangle. Their boldness has been the icing on the cake, as each sighting has been photographically rewarding.

The Salt Lick Female poses perfectly in a tree 1/500 f6.3 ISO 400 | Photographer: Eric Averdung
The Salt Lick cub has taken after its mother in both looks and agility 1/640 f6.3 ISO 250 | Photographer: Eric Averdung
The Salt Lick cub making it look easy 1/1000 f6.3 ISO 250 | Photographer: Eric Averdung
Changing her mind half way 1/1000 f6.3 ISO 250 | Photographer: Eric Averdung

Leopards tend to be the most sought-after animals by safari lovers. During a most memorable drive (which conveniently happened to be this week), we encountered two different leopards along the same stretch by the Mara River — an unbelievable start to the day. The first was perched upon a tree, watching a herd of zebras inquisitively, before making a sharp descent and vanishing into the thicket. Shortly thereafter, while exploring some of the back roads, I encountered Shujaa. He’s the dominant male controlling a large territory adjacent to the Mara River. At 10 years old, he’s well established, built like an apex predator and a stealthy hunter who makes the most of Migration season by hunting at crossing points.

An unidentified leopard descends into the long green grass 1/800 f6.3 ISO 800 | Photographer: Eric Averdung
The impressive build and penetrating eyes of Shujaa 1/1250 f6.3 ISO 500 | Photographer: Eric Averdung
His 10 years have made him a true specimen 1/1250 f6.3 ISO 500 | Photographer: Eric Averdung
With a river view and a crossing hot-spot, Shujaa's territory is the prime location 1/1000 f6.3 ISO 500 | Photogropher: Eric Averdung

We are always fascinated by these big cats when we encounter them, their beauty and power is something to behold though there is a dark side that is sometimes hard to bear, as the urge to ensure their legacy makes them do the unthinkable. We found this little cub with its very shy mother, the Maji Machafu Female on a tree with a kill. Immediately, the mom dropped and hid in the creek right under the tree. The cub was clever to stay put atop the tree as we had spotted some loitering hyenas clearly attracted by the smell of the carcass. Two days after taking these photos, Shujaa came across this mother and cub, killing and devouring the cub. A sad ending to what could have been a star of the Triangle.

The late Maji Machafu cub, already missed 1/900 f5.0 ISO 400 | Photographer: Robert Sayialel
Not uncommon for leopards to loose cubs, it was still a great loss for the shy Maji Machafu Female 1/480 f5.6 ISO 400 | Photographer: Robert Sayialel

One of the most distinguished leopards in the Mara Triangle is the legendary Shepherd Tree Male. He is probably the oldest leopard in the entire Mara ecosystem and seemingly past his prime, however, he still holds a strong presence. This is not your ordinary skittish leopard, he never shies away from an audience and occupies a massive home range which is thought to be about 300sqkm. 

Technically 'past his prime' but still making the most of life in the Mara 1/60 f5.6 ISO 400 | Photographer: Robert Sayialel
He is one of the most loved animals in the Mara due to his cool temperament around vehicles 1/125 f5.6 ISO 800 | Photographer: Robert Sayialel

The magic of the Triangle goes beyond the wildlife at times, with the landscapes and sky playing a significant role in helping us capture some of our best images. Some days it is difficult to comprehend the beauty before our eyes. The kind that enriches the soul. So, we did what we do best — try to capture it. 

Elephants are not easy to dwarf, but the Mara sky manages without fail 1/1000 f11 ISO 200 | Photographer: Eric Averdung
The wildlife punctuate where the bright green grass meets the luminous blue sky Photographs clockwise: Eric, Robert, Eric, Robert
Ansel Adams would have loved Kenya 1/640 f5.3 ISO 250 | Photographer: Eric Averdung

Filed under: This Week at Angama

Tagged with:

Lions of the Mara , Maasai Mara , Wildlife Photography

About: Eric Averdung

Born and raised in Nairobi, Eric is a self-taught photographer with a passion for wildlife. Growing up just 15 minutes away from the city's National Park, regular visits sparked his interest from a young age, and lead him to complete his degree in Sustainability and Environmental Management with a focus on conservation.

Browse all articles by Eric Averdung Meet the angama team

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Join the Conversation (3 comments)

Comments (3):

Bernd Erwerth

16 January 2022

Dear Robert - dear Eric God bless you and your visions. Maybe we will see us again for a tuske. Bernd from Germany

    Charlotte Ross Stewart

    18 January 2022

    Hello Bernd, thank you for your message. The Angama Photographic Studio team say they are looking forward to having a Tusker with you soon!

Azei Lago

6 December 2021

Congratulations on this milestone! The diversity of the blog does it justice! Long may you continue taking us around your playground, capturing the beauty and introducing us to all these wonderful inhabitants

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