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This Week at Angama #205

With some incredible lion cub sightings and a long-awaited reunion with a particular leopard, the year is off to a great start so far, writes Robert
Above: A torrent of rain as seen from the guest area

The days continue to be warm while we eagerly await the rains. Last week, we enjoyed two days of the heavens opening, filling our lungs with fresh air and rainwater seeping into the parched ground. The storms came in the afternoon and then again later through the night, delivering a sweet lullaby. A false hope of more to come it would seem. We continue to dream of more — not least because we love the incredible green vegetation that surrounds us the morning after.

f 7.1, 1/500, ISO 640
f 7.1, 1/125, ISO 200

As hot as the days can be, the mornings are still beautiful; more than enough of a reason to get out of bed as early as possible and drive out into the Mara. This particular day, the air was thick with lovely mist, so heavy we could taste it. Fresh and cold, it makes for interesting photographic opportunities with the sun only just breaking through. 

f 4.5, 1/60, ISO 800 | Photo: Adam Bannister
f 6.3, 1/800, ISO 640 | Photo: Adam Bannister

Adam enjoyed setting off on a hot-air balloon safari with some guests and got some spectacular shots from above the mist.

f 5.6, 1/2000, ISO 320 | Photo: Walter Waterford
f 5.6, 1/1250, ISO 320 | Photo: Walter Waterford
f 5.6, 1/100, ISO 250 | Photo: Walter Waterford

The Border Pride is causing a lot of excitement in the Triangle — the playful youngsters make for remarkable sightings down south by the Tanzania border. One of our guests, Walter Waterford, made good use of our rental cameras and captured some fascinating interaction of the cubs playing in a pool of water and a game of tug-of-war over the remains of a zebra kill. 

Photos: Walter Waterford

At one point, an older cub seemed to try and drown a younger one before their mother intervened with a single snarl, instantly stopping the bully in its tracks, which Walter narrated to me, his face beaming with excitement. It's safe to say our photographic classes have inspired a future photographer.

f 5.6, 1/280, ISO 400
f 8.0, 1/2000, ISO 400
f 5.6, 1/500, ISO 400

The Border Pride finds some shade to while away the hottest hours of the day. Temperatures are reaching around 27 degrees celsius — enough to make anyone want a siesta.

f 5.6, 1/210, ISO 400
f 5.0, 1/800, ISO 1000 | Photo: Adam Bannister

We caught up with the River Pride’s tiny cubs again as they were feasting on a zebra kill. Typically, lion cubs start eating meat at about three months old and clearly these fluffballs have already acquired the taste for blood as they comfortably gnawed on the bones.

Photos: Adam Bannister
f 5.6, 1/1000, ISO 400 | Photo: Walter Waterford

Leopard sightings are always fascinating as these shy and elusive cats prove to be a challenge to find. This magnificent leopard was last seen about two months ago and featured in our weekly blog, This Week at Angama 197. Being able to identify him from a previous sighting by comparing his spots made it extra exciting, at least for me. It felt like being reunited with a long-lost friend, doing well and looking as mighty as ever.

f 8.0, 1/750, ISO 200 

Herds of elephants are making daily trips down to the river to drink and get a good coat of muddy sunscreen. These mammals need plenty of water as it helps their inefficient digestion process break down food. When it rains, they don’t need to make these trips as they can easily drink from the small pools that collect throughout the Mara.

f 5.6, 1/640, ISO 200 
f 5.6, 1/600, ISO 200 

There was nowhere to hide for this cheetah that was caught out in the open in the scorching sun. We saw him scratching and digging in the ground, maybe to get to a cooler ground layer below before he settled on cowering under a small patch of grass.

f 5.6, 1/1000, ISO 800 
f 5.6, 1/500, ISO 800 

This lioness of the Angama Pride is gaining a serious reputation as a successful solo hunter, and rightly so. Just a few days ago, she took down a fully grown zebra on her own. One morning, she was seen in the company of Mama Kali and then later in the afternoon, I found her alone just beneath Angama Mara in a stalking position; her target only known by her, as we could see no prey in sight. Ever so slightly, she moved, staying well-hidden in the grass. She has the experience to be patient without charging too quickly. Then we saw it: a reedbuck. They are known to hide from danger by camouflaging behind grass, staying completely motionless when a predator approaches instead of running away. Talk about nerves of steel backfiring.

A decent week in my book and a happy New Year to all our readers.

This Week a Year Ago

An optical illusion from the Angama Pride lionesses

This time last year we were welcoming in the New Year with the Angama Pride who were spending more time off the ground than on, or so it seemed.

Filed under: This Week at Angama

Tagged with:

Lions of the Mara , Maasai Mara , Photographic Safari , Wildlife Photography

About: Robert Sayialel

A passionate photographer and videographer, Robert started his journey working with Amboseli Trust for Elephants in Amboseli National Park, close to where he was born and raised. He honed his skills by photographing the famous big Tuskers of Amboseli and travelling with guests through Kenya’s National Parks, documenting their safaris.

Browse all articles by Robert Sayialel Meet the angama team

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