HOME Blog This Week at Angama #201

This Week at Angama #201

From dark-maned lions, to ‘dewlapped’ leopards, and a few one-eyed creatures for good measure, this week Eric enjoyed the distinctive characters of the Mara Triangle, all set against the most spectacular of skies
Above: Robert spent an early morning in the giraffe nursery

Nothing says ‘good morning’ quite like a herd of elephants surrounded by a golden haze. Such scenes have the ability to fulfil us on a deeper level and often words just aren’t enough to convey their true magic. The Mara is unique in so many ways; it is a land of wonder and every so often, heaven reveals itself for a brief moment. In times like these, I’m grateful for the gift of photography which allows me to capture these fleeting moments, preserving their magic forever.

Golden hour in the Mara (1/1250, f 5.6, ISO 400) | Photographer: Eric Averdung
A big herd munches on the grass below Angama Mara 1/400, f 5.6, ISO 400 | Photographer: Eric Averdung

The highlight of this week was bumping into Doa, one of the Bila Shaka brothers who spends most of his time in the Greater Reserve. Doa directly translates to ‘stain’, a name he was given due to a distinctive spot in his left eye, which makes it quite easy to identify him. While it’s always exciting to see Doa, this sighting stood out from the rest. He walked along the main road for over 300m giving us a real show. His confidence displayed as he walked between vehicles without a care in the world. 

Doa of the Bila Shaka coalition walks confidently down the main road 1/1250, f 7.1, ISO 400 | Photographer: Eric Averdung
It was especially nice to see him in the Mara Triangle 1/1250, f 7.1, ISO 400 | Photographer: Eric Averdung
A closeup reveals his name-sake stain in his eye 1/1250, f 7.1, ISO 400 | Photographer: Eric Averdung

He’s one of the few Bila Shaka boys with a thick mane and looks like he is at the top of his game. Dark manes are typically status symbols for lions in the wild, indicating higher levels of testosterone and dominance, even giving him the edge when it comes to winning over females. However on this particular morning, he was looking rather rough, with chunks of mud stuck in his mane, almost like he had gotten into a fight the previous night. I guess they weren’t lying about dark manes.

A dark mane means status and virility, but it also means trouble 1/1250, f 7.1, ISO 400 | Photographer: Eric Averdung

My obsession with photographing the sky seems to grow by the day, I’m slowly learning to incorporate more by opting for wider angles. This way, it brings me closer to fully depicting the true beauty of any given scene, without omitting any important elements. With the seasonal rains slowly arriving, there are numerous opportunities to capture the vast skies. They are a marvel on their own, but combined with an ideal subject, they are a photographer’s dream come true.

Heavy clouds sweep across the Mara, bringing life-giving rain 1/1000, f11, ISO 200 | Photographer: Eric Averdung
Even just a single tree can provide a ideal subject 1/1000, f 11, ISO 200 | Photographer: Eric Averdung
Editing the photographs afterwards is just as interesting 1/640, f 7.1, ISO 200 | Photographer: Eric Averdung
A wide angle lens allows you to capture the true magnitude of the Mara sky 1/1000, f 11, ISO 200 | Photographer: Eric Averdung

Again, luck seemed to be on our side, as we bumped into Shujaa yet again, this time by the banks of the Mara River. However, we only had a few seconds with him before he vanished into the thick vegetation, only allowing me to sneak in a a few side-profile shots. However, these truly put into perspective just how large he is. The loose skin on his neck is referred to as a dewlap and is only present in male leopards. Well-developed dewlaps are found in older males and get larger with age. He’s evidently flaunting his dewlap with confidence.

Shujaa's pronounced dewlap is an easy way to distinguish his maturity 1/1250, f 6.3, ISO 400 | Photographer: Eric Averdung
A fleeting view of Shujaa was enough to prove his superior size 1/1250, f 6.3, ISO 400 | Photographer: Eric Averdung

Resilience is plentiful in the wild and animals have an incredible capacity of dealing with adversity. These two are the perfect examples and even with one eye, they are still thriving.

Chongo is thriving, despite not having 20/20 vision 1/1600, f 6.3, ISO 400 | Photographer: Eric Averdung
This topi has also made it to an old age with just one eye 1/800, f 6.3, ISO 250 | Photographer: Eric Averdung

This Week a Year Ago

The Salt Lick female and her cub lounging in a fig tree after a big meal Photographer: Adam Bannister

This time last year, Adam was treated to a spectacular, possibly first-ever, sighting of a leopard hoisting an ostrich carcass into a fig tree for her and her cub to enjoy.

Filed under: This Week at Angama

Tagged with:

Maasai Mara , Mara Triangle , 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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