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This Week at Angama #223

What do you do when you are surrounded by special sightings in every direction? If you’re Robert, you try to capture every single one
Above: Manywele, one of the impressive males in the Inselberg Coalition we caught up with this week

Although there’s no such thing as a dull morning in the Mara, some are just a bit more thrilling than usual. On this particular morning, I was spoiled for choice when it came to picking the most exciting subject to photograph. A hot-air balloon up in the sky, just about to line up to my line of vision with the most glorious sunrise. A saddle-billed stork with its morning catch trying to swallow a mudfish. A tussle ensuing between two chunky hippos. It's a most welcome problem to have, I must admit.

F 5.6, 1/400, ISO 200

I can’t resist being greedy, trying to capture everything I can. But then again, I wouldn’t have these images to share with you about this beautiful patch of land I am fortunate to call my second home.

F 5.6, 1/400, ISO 200
F 22, 1/640, ISO 200
F 5.8, 1/500, ISO 800 A saddle-billed stork eating a mud fish
F 7.1, 1/500, ISO 800

I consider elephants as one of my favourite animals because they are such highly intelligent and social animals with incredibly impressive memories. These pachyderms live in complex social groups and form relationships that last decades. We found this family unit grouped together at a location of a dead elephant’s skull engaging in heightened social interactions with each other.

F 8, 1/500, ISO 1250

They examined the skull carefully with amazing gentleness using their highly sensitive trunks and feet. The dense concentration of sensory receptors in their feet makes them one of the most sensitive parts of their body as I have observed during my time in Amboseli National Park. They touched, lifted, turned and even stepped on the skull. A few of them put their back towards the skull and gently touched it with the soles of their feet, a behaviour I have witnessed numerous times before, which leads me to believe that their hind legs are particularly sensitive.

F 5.6, 1/400, ISO 1000
F 5.6, 1/400, ISO 2000

This interest in their dead is regarded as one of the most phenomenal aspects of elephants but I refrain from calling this behaviour “mourning their dead” at the risk of over-humanising them. Although clearly, these interactions serve a social or biological purpose for now only known by them.

F 5.6, 1/400, ISO 2000

We caught up with 11 members of the Egyptian Pride this week counting five adult females, three juveniles and three cubs. Currently, they are scattered all over their territory and every now and then we get a glimpse of a section of this pride like this mom with a single cub casually walking on the road.

F 6.4, 1/500, ISO 320
F 5.6, 1/400, ISO 400

Lions will sometimes hunt alone if the opportunity presents itself, but they have a higher success rate when two or more hunt cooperatively. For this remaining lioness of the Angama Pride, the odds are heavily stacked against her; the territory is relatively open terrain. Still, she managed to make a successful zebra kill in front of our guests who were just arriving in the Mara Triangle right below Angama Mara.

F 7.1, 1/200, ISO 200

We have been watching a young leopardess at home in the canopy of the trees thrilling all who come to see her. She has been basking in the sun atop it, jumping from branch to branch with such impeccable nimbleness or coming down one trunk and up another. She is young and so playful we jokingly named her “the bush princess”.

F 5.0, 1/400, ISO 200
F 5.6, 1/500, ISO 160
F 4.6, 1/2000, ISO 800
F 5.0, 1/2000, ISO 640

These two lionesses from the Paradise Pride were causing such a commotion within Bila Shaka territory. Over the past three days, we have seen these two lionesses up and about with some of the boys. We noticed one of the females was constantly calling, presumably to the rest of the pride. 

F 2.8, 1/2000, ISO 100
F 2.8, 1/2000, ISO 100

Not far from where the lionesses disappeared into some thick bush, these boys appeared, all mighty and without a care of the vehicles or stampeding ‘Dagga’ boys huffing and puffing after them. They had their mind fixated on one thing — the two damsels within their territory. First came Doa, then Koshoke, followed by Chongo and lastly, Kibogoyo. Time will tell what they are up to.

F 5.6, 1/500, ISO 200 It's always exciting to see Doa, who usually stays in the Greater Reserve
F 5.6, 1/400, ISO 100 Koshoke is the most dominant of the Bila Shaka boys
F 8, 1/160, ISO 100 It's impossible to mistake Chongo with one eye smaller than the other
F 5.6, 1/6400, ISO 320 Some say that Kibogoyo is the most handsome lion in the coalition

This Week a Year Ago:

Last year this time, the most delightful family of hyenas had a den site along the escarpment road. On a daily basis, these energetic pups provided much entertainment before our guests had even entered the Mara Triangle.

Filed under: This Week at Angama

Tagged with:

Maasai Mara , Photography , Wildlife , 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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