After a rather slow start and a few quiet drives, this week took a turn for the best as it closed off. At this time of year, it’s quite hot and there are fewer cars around the triangle. This makes it more challenging to spot wildlife and means each drive required us to pay extra attention to our surroundings, observing all the cues and eliminating any distractions to maximize our chances. Despite this ‘quiet’ period, again we managed to get a series of memorable sightings.
This year, the irregular migration meant that the predators got to enjoy the abundance for an extended period. With the mega herds well behind us, the larger predators of the triangle have been forced to make a shift in their diets. The resident lions have turned towards buffalo to meet their nutritional needs and the Sausage Tree Pride young males have become competent big game hunters. This week, the 6 brothers took down not one, but two adult buffalo at the foot of the escarpment. Presumably saving the second one for later despite having no fridge to store it in.
As we approached the crime scene, we found one male eating while the rest were atop a large basalt boulder, commonly known as the ‘breakfast rock’. From that moment, we decided to spend the rest of the morning with them. Some of them managed to claim prime spots on the rock, while others struggled to get comfortable, eventually resorting to using jagged rocks as headrests. The lack of space gave rise to the occasional snarl as the brothers sent out warnings, reminding each other of their boundaries.
Seeing all these large males up on the rocks was an extraordinary composition and its simplicity set the scene for some very artistic photographs. During our time there, they switched positions quite frequently giving us the chance to capture a range of different images.
One of the lions was unusually grumpy and his brother initiated a head rub, perhaps to calm him down. However, all he did was growl, perhaps very unamused with this display of affection. This particular moment stood out, and I’m glad I was there to capture it. I’m hoping a second serving of buffalo improved his mood later that day.
This week, we also stumbled upon the Paradise Pride. An exceptionally rare encounter as they are often found within the greater Mara Reserve. They were 14 strong, found lounging around near the Morinte area. This pride is controlled by the Bila Shakas, so they are within a safe area, but I can’t help but wonder what has driven them so far into the triangle.
Aside from all the great lion encounters, a legend of the Mara made an appearance this week. Anyone who’s been on enough game drives knows that when there’s a leopard sighting, all attention shifts towards getting there. That’s what happened when the first news we heard over the radio was that a leopard was spotted by Laga ya ndovu. Upon arrival, another guide informed us he was tucked away in the bushes. As we told stories of our favourite leopard sightings to pass time, he suddenly popped up, glancing around for a second before he began approaching us. One look at him revealed that it was the much-revered Shepherd Tree Male. This was the first time I managed to get a clear opportunity to photograph him, as our first encounter happened to be in the dark. I remember using an ISO setting of 25,400 and even then, he was barely visible. I’m lucky I got a chance to photograph him in all his glory!
We ended the week catching up with some hyenas, each snacking on a buffalo. One of the two happened to stumble upon a buffalo that may have succumbed to illness, while the other tried his luck while the Sausage Tree Males were sleeping. One of them nearly paid for this quick meal with its life — I’m sure you can guess which. The scene was beautifully captured by our guest, Johan Pettersson, who happened to be in the right place, at the right time due to guide John’s precise positioning.
This week last year, Alice captured her incredible video of an elephant giving birth that went viral.
Filed under: This Week at Angama
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