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This Week at Angama #218

With some of the newest cubs in the Mara reunited with a long-lost sibling, Adam can’t help but wonder if he’s witnessing the rise of a new pride in the Triangle
Above: A young leopard cleans up after a meal

It is impossible to stop falling in love with this landscape. Hundreds of safaris later, I still find myself entranced and fascinated as I drive along the Mara’s dusty trails. There is something so appealing about its endless grassy plains and massive skies. 

f 2.8, 1/100, ISO 200, -0.33
f 11.0, 1/800, ISO 200 | Photo: Sammy Njoroge

The fresh air and the joyful sunlight bring about a sense of calm, with all the worries of the world fading away as you focus just on the present. Your mind is filled with thoughts of the wilderness: Will I see a rhino today? Did the cheetah brothers manage to make a kill? Is it going to rain this evening? 

f 9.0, 1/640, ISO 250, -0.67
f 5.6, 1/1250, ISO 250, -0.33
f 4.5, 1/6400, ISO 800

Time in the Mara shifts perspectives and priorities. Days are not driven by meetings or directives — emails are allowed to sit unanswered for a few days, rush hour traffic is replaced by massive elephant bulls marching down the road. 

f 5.6, 1/640, ISO 320, +0.33 | Photo: Andrew Andrawes

My addiction to the Mara Triangle is fed by following the lives of the animals that call it home. I love to document their journeys, trials, tribulations, their successes and the ingenious ways they adapt to survive. 

f 11.0, 1/500, ISO 320, +0.33 | Photo: Andrew Andrawes
f 9.0, 1/8000, ISO 6400 | Photo: Andrew Andrawes
f 5.6, 1/500, ISO 400, +0.33 | Photo: Andrew Andrawes

We are entering a challenging time for lions across the Mara. The long grasses mean that prey densities have decreased. Lions now need to take greater risks and shift their diets to the resident buffalo herds. Hunting buffalo is dangerous and intimidating, as the five youngsters from the Egyptian Pride found out first-hand. Fortunately, sanity prevailed, and they managed to sprint away to safety.

f 7.1, 1/400, ISO 125
f 3.5, 1/2000, ISO 125
f 3.5, 1/2000, ISO 125
f 3.5, 1/1250, ISO 200

I am very fortunate to be spending time in the Mara Triangle during a period of such phenomenal male lion dominance. We believe there are as many as 25 big males using this 510 sq km area; a number that must surely place this reserve as one of the greatest lion viewing locations in Africa. 

f 5.6, 1/125, ISO 200, +0.33
f 5.6, 1/2500, ISO 320, -0.67
f 7.1, 1/640, ISO 400, -0.33
f 7.1, 1/1250, ISO 320, -0.67
f 7.1, 1/640, ISO 400, +0.67

It’s always a treat to spend time in the company of the Bila Shaka Males — massive, mature, dark-maned males full of character and confidence. Lately, we’ve seen at least four of the five moving further west than usual. Nights are punctuated by their roars and vocalisations. Are we seeing a subtle shift in their reign? And we still have a vacuum created by the apparent disappearance of the Angama Pride. Surely, this will soon change?

f 5.6, 1/500, ISO 250, -0.33
6.3, 1/320, ISO 125, -0.33

I am also excited to share an update on the solitary Swamp Lioness. Last week we saw her with her three cubs. In a stunning discovery, we found this lioness and her three cubs this week, together with her previous (now-adult) cub. Having followed the difficult life of this solitary lioness for years, I was ready to celebrate when I saw that her previous cub had survived and returned. We have not seen this young lioness for over a year and she was presumed dead. Overnight, things are looking much more positive for this tiny and emerging pride. 

f 5.0, 1/500, ISO 250, +1.0
f 5.0, 1/600, ISO 250
f 5.0, 1/600, ISO 250

The young leopard who recently became independent, and who graced us with a delightful sighting two weeks ago, managed to kill a reedbuck. For a few days, she allowed us to watch her feeding in the branches of a desert date tree. It is wonderful to see how this young leopard’s confidence is growing and I expect great things to come from her.

f 5.6, 1/800, ISO 220 | Photo: Sammy Njoroge

The grasslands here are drying up rather quickly. The oat grass is starting to mature, casting a red hue across the plains. We even saw some plumes of distant smoke in the Serengeti. Normally, by this time of the year we would have seen one or two large fires already, but the late (and heavy) February rains have left the grass-bed more damp than usual. 

f 2.8, 1/120, ISO 100
f 2.8, 1/120, ISO 100

We are expecting the rains to start again any day now and already in the late afternoons, we can see small, very isolated showers moving across the horizon. Perched on the deck at Angama Mara, above it all, we have the most fantastic view of the elements and a front-row seat to the greatest spectacle on earth. 

This Week Two Years Ago

f 5.6, 1/500, ISO 400

Two years ago, the world was in turmoil. I was fortunate enough to be locked down in the Maasai Mara, exploring the abandoned roads and tracks each day. One of the best sightings of my life was when I came across a brand new baby hippo. It was wobbling down the road and seemed to have lost its mom. It heard the sound of the engine and came running towards me. Eventually, it tried to suckle the tyre and crept below the car. I managed to cautiously reverse and after scanning the horizon, I saw a distressed female hippo in the flooded grasslands. It was clear she had lost her baby. I proceeded to slowly drive the car towards the mother, leading the baby in the right direction. Just 15 minutes later, the mother and her newborn were reunited.

Filed under: This Week at Angama

Tagged with:

Angama Mara , Maasai Mara , Mara Triangle , 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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