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This Week at Angama #250

We were subject to some terrible manners this week — and a leopard playing with her food wasn't even the worst of it
Above: Risasi and her cubs ready for their movie poster

On an early morning drive, we saw the River Pride looking a bit agitated while on the move. We couldn’t quite figure out what was happening, but, as it often is with wildlife, a bit of patience always clears the air. A few minutes later, Kibogoyo came from the bushes hot on the heels of the pride. This boggled our minds as he is part of the Bila Shaka male coalition that rules over this pride — why would they be afraid of him?

F 7.1, 1/640, ISO 1600 | Robert Sayialel

The adult females of the pride were not having it and gave clear warnings to the approaching Kibogoyo. He didn’t seem to heed the warnings and continued to approach the pride. When he got too close, he struck the last nerve. The lionesses all ganged up, roaring aggressively and attacking Kibogoyo, who bolted away from the females. I only managed to get the tail end of him as my view was partially blocked.

F 6.3, 1/25000, ISO 1600 | Robert Sayialel

After that brief interaction they all roared loudly with Kibogoyo puffing himself up trying to reassert his dominance, but the lionesses were not letting him get any closer. This behavior left us confused as we have seen the Bila Shaka coalition males feeding together on kills with this pride. And when one of the females comes to season, she mates with all the males to ensure the survival of her cubs — that way all the males think the cubs belong to him. We left them all looking a little miserable.

Days later, Angama guide Titus found them feasting on a Hippo kill and none of the Bila Shaka males around to give them a hard time.

F 11, 1/200, ISO 5000 | Titus Keteko

The ever-impressive Nadallah makes it to our blog again this week as she displayed a leopardess’s true killer instincts and mastery in stalking her prey. Guide Robert Kiprotich found her casually in a tree looking like a very relaxed cat. Honestly, we think she is quite a show-off and we love it.

F 5.6, 1/2000, ISO 400 | Robert Kiprotich
F 5.6, 1/2000, ISO 400 | Robert Kiprotich

Marvelling at her beauty and how perfect she was in her resting state, something suddenly caught her attention and her gaze shifted to a particular spot in the bushes not far from the tree she had perched on. Realising it was not an adversary, she licked her mouth, ever more fixated on a potential meal. She could almost taste it — things were about to get interesting.

Down the tree she came as nimble as ever, magically disappearing into the grass, blending in perfectly and crouching so low they had trouble tracing her. The reedbuck laying in the bushes never saw the imminent danger approaching in the form of Nadallah. Too late to react, Nadallah pounced; her jaws finally locked firmly on the throat — a life lost to replenish another.

F 5.6, 1/2000, ISO 640 | Robert Kiprotich

Days later, after she had dispatched the last of her reedbuck kill, we found her playing with her catch of the day — a banded mongoose — which she regularly hunts and kills. This time she wasn’t interested in eating it, but rather taking it up and down a tree. She later dropped it and disappeared into the bushes until we see her again.

F 5.0, 1/2500, ISO 1000 | Alice Mantaine

Lately, Risasi has moved her thriving cubs to the south of the Triangle, an area between Salt Lake and Military Bridge. There are plenty of Thomson’s gazelles here to hunt and fewer lions to contend with. The cubs are now about six months old, looking very big and with every passing sighting, we see their chances of survival multiply.

F 6.3, 1/1000, ISO 720 | Titus Keteko
F 7.1, 1/500, ISO 500 | Titus Keteko

Another hunt in the books this week was Risasi’s. Her speed, unmatched by her prey, easily took down a young Thomson’s gazelle. She and the three cubs quickly devoured the kill so as not to alert any unwelcome aggressors. The cubs are thriving because she is both a good hunter and never lets her guard down. Watching Risasi, you notice she is always on the lookout for any potential danger.

As if it couldn’t get any better, Risasi’s brothers, Ruka and Rafiki, are back in the Triangle. I can’t convey how delighted I am to see the boys again since the last time I photographed them in our blog was mid-August. The brothers were just relaxing not far from Steve’s Fig Tree, an area we haven’t seen them visit before. We hope to run into them again soon.

F 8, 1/1250, ISO 1000 | Robert Sayialel

A hunt that almost happened this week came via the Swamp Lioness. A baby giraffe had the markings of an easy target for the experienced lioness along with her sister and three male cubs. A very weary-looking mama giraffe had us convinced that a predator was lurking somewhere in the bushes. With a towering height and a keen eyesight that can see great distances, we couldn’t see what she was seeing.

F 7.1, 1/800, ISO 160 | Robert Sayialel
F 7.1, 1/640, ISO 200 | Robert Sayialel

Minutes later, the Swamp Lioness approached with the rest in tow clearly targeting what seemed like a quick meal. We noticed the cubs were looking a bit famished; we hoped the sisters would provide soon. It’s a mixed feeling watching the wild unfold right before your eyes, as we also hoped the cute baby giraffe would make a swift escape — which it did. The little one had us in awe as it literally ran like its life depended on it. The lioness then turned her attention to unsuspecting topis, but the hunt was spoiled by one of the cubs being too hasty and inexperienced.

But all hope is not lost for the Swamp Lioness and her small pride. With the rains that we are experiencing now, scattered herds of wildebeest and zebras are moving northwards, spreading wide and far. A good sign for the predators.

F 7.1, 1/800, ISO 250 | Robert Sayialel
F 5.0, 1/1250, ISO 125 | Robert Sayialel

F 7.1, 1/2500, ISO 500 | Robert Sayialel Augur Buzzard
F 5.6, 1/400, ISO 100 | Titus Keteko Serval

This Week a Year Ago:

F 4,0 1/3200, ISO 200 | Adam Bannister

There are approximately 20 white-headed vultures left in the Mara and this time last year, Adam spotted three of them on a single drive. That's essentially 15% of the entire population seen in just a few hours.

Filed under: This Week at Angama

Tagged with:

Maasai Mara , Photographic Safari , Wildlife Photography

About: Robert Sayialel

A passionate photographer and videographer, Robert started his career working with Amboseli Trust for Elephants in Amboseli National Park, close to where he was born and raised. He honed his skills photographing the famous big Tuskers and travelling with guests through Kenya’s National Parks, documenting their safaris. A kid at heart, some say he never stops smiling.

Browse all articles by Robert Sayialel Meet the angama team

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