HOME Blog This Week at Angama #268

This Week at Angama #268

Water is the dominant theme of the week as hippos, fish and frogs fall victim to the Mara's prowling predators
Above: A cub from the Border Pride gets some love from mom

This week a year ago, I boarded a airplane and moved to the Maasai Mara. This place of unspoilt wilderness, where not much has changed for thousands of years, has gifted me adventures every day. The tangled webs of the ecosystem are an infinite source of wonder and curiosity.

At this time of the year, the regular rains should trigger a series of events that will draw millions of wildebeest and zebras to these open plains. When it rains, the world is reborn and everything seems to come alive. Water nourishes the soil and sustains life in all forms. Some areas of Kenya have been experiencing drought, but recently, the rains have moved through the country, as mentioned in last week’s blog. Here in the Mara, it has been raining aplenty and areas that have accumulated water have drawn an array of animals. The sense of renewal is palpable with the presence of water. This season brings dramatic cloud formations, amazing colours and new life.

F 5.6, 1/250, ISO 100 | Andrew Andrawes
F 5.6, 1/2000, ISO 640 | Andrew Andrawes
F 5.6, 1/500, ISO 360 | Andrew Andrawes
F 10, 1/400, ISO 100 | Robert Sayialel

This week, Angama guide, Wilson Naitoi, came across some young cubs from the Border Pride playing on a fallen tree. The cubs were chewing on dry wood in an interesting way. This is because they are teething and their large teeth growing are bound to be painful. They were full of energy and kept jumping around, up, over and under the branches, chasing each other in a playful way but practicing their instinct to hunt. 

F 6.3, 1/640, ISO 800 | Wilson Naitoi
F 6.3, 1/640, ISO 800 | Wilson Naitoi

Jeremy Macharia and Peter Ekidor (one of our newest members of the Angama guiding team), were driving around the area known as 4x4 in the Mara Triangle. As they drove, they described hearing the unmistakable, high-pitched, almost cackling sound of hyenas in the area and drove towards the sound. They discovered almost 10 hyenas walking away with what seemed to be very full bellies.

The smell of decay came in waves until they approached the carcass of a hippo. They came across the River Pride (11 strong) in the area along with several hyenas. The smell and sound of the hyenas drew the lions to the hippo, but chances are most likely that it died of natural causes. There was a single injured hyena stuck in the mud and it anxiously watched as the lions fed on the hippo. The River Pride tends to frequent the swampy areas and they were covered in mud as they feasted. They seem to be thriving at the moment, as we enjoy regular sightings of the pride not far away from the lodge. 

F 6.3 1/1600, ISO 1600 | Guest: Page Nelson
F 7.1, 1/320, ISO 800 | Jeremy Macharia
F 8.0, 1/800, ISO 320 | Jeremy Macharia

Over the radio we heard that Chongo, one of the Bila Shaka males, was spotted at the same kill later that evening and scared off all the lions and hyenas. After he finished eating, he proceeded to mate with the Angama Lioness. 

F 5.6, 1/800, ISO 100 | Robert Sayialel

Later in the week, I came across the River Pride early in the morning as they had moved away from the carcass and towards the river. There are some young males that are almost at the age where they might form a coalition of their own and leave the pride. Still wet from the night before, they weaved through the tall grass and sat on some mounds by the road, scanning the horizon. 

F 4.5, 1/160, ISO 100 | Andrew Andrawes
F 5.6, 1/160, ISO 200 | Andrew Andrawes
F 5.6, 1/160, ISO 200 | Andrew Andrawes

Jeremy and Wilson also ran into the Salt Lick Male near the Nyumba Nane. He was seen with a warthog carcass up an olive tree. The shape of the leopard conformed to the tree and his limbs and tail drooped like branches. You could tell he was well fed as his belly extended between the branches. He positioned the kill in a way that he had full access to it, later descending the tree for a drink of water as he digested his meal.

F 5.6, 1/200, ISO 250 | Jeremy Macharia
F 6.3, 1/640, ISO 1100 | Wilson Naitoi
F 7.1, 1/640, ISO 800 | Wilson Naitoi

Robert ran into a familiar scene near the Serena area; a standoff between predators and scavengers.  However, what made this sighting special was he was able to capture a fierce tug of war between the lions and hyenas over the remains of a gazelle.

F 8.0, 1/2000, ISO 1250 | Robert Sayialel
F 7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500 | Robert Sayialel
F 7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500 | Robert Sayialel

After heavy rains I drove by the Maji ya Ndege area and it was true to its name, which in Swahili means 'water of the birds'. There are swamps on both sides of the road and hundreds of birds. Everything from grey headed herons, hamerkops, kingfishers, sacred ibis, and storks all in the same area. I could hear a symphony of frogs in unison 'ribbit' and the birds strategically scanning the water and grass for prey.

I came across a hamerkop near the road and it was moving in an irregular way. When I got closer, I realised it had a frog in its mouth. The frog was noticeably large and I watched as the bird attempted to swallow it, to no avail. Every few minutes, the hamerkop would smash it in the water and again attempt to swallow. Later in the same area we saw several storks spending their day 'fishing'. The rains have brought mud fish to the middle of the savannah.

F 5.0, 1/200, ISO 500 | Andrew Andrawes
F 7.1, 1/4000, ISO 2000 | Andrew Andrawes Malachite kingfisher
F 7.1, 1/4000, ISO 1200 | Andrew Andrawes Hammerkop eating a frog

The name Maasai Mara means 'spotted'. These spots are the ancient guardians of the land. As important as water is, so are the trees and the soil that soak it all in. The animals will follow the trees and healthy soil.  

F 8.0, 1/4000, ISO 1250 | Robert Sayialel Desert date tree (shading some lions)
F 5.6, 1/500, ISO 100 | Andrew Andrawes

This Week a Year Ago:

F 4.0, 1/200, ISO 5000, -0.33 | Adam Bannister

This time last year, we were inundated with leopard sightings with an average of two leopard sightings a day and seven different individuals seen throughout the week.

Filed under: This Week at Angama

Tagged with:

Angama Mara , Maasai Mara , Mara Triangle , Wildlife Photography

About: Andrew Andrawes

Born and raised in Nairobi to Egyptian parents, Andrew spent 15 years in the United States before returning to Kenya and joining Angama. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology and African Studies from the University of Virginia and an MFA in photography from San Jose State University —where he has also worked, along with various other studios and camera shops. Ask him about his leg tattoo.

Browse all articles by Andrew Andrawes Meet the angama team

Keep Reading

This Week at Angama #218 8 April 2022 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 By Adam Bannister
This Week At Angama #145 13 November 2020 While it may have been a quiet week in the Mara Triangle in terms of visitor numbers, the plains are healthy, vibrant and bursting with life, as discovered by Angama's head guide, Sammy Komu By Sammy Komu
This Week at Angama #286 28 July 2023 Despite the commotion of the Great Migration, delicate moments of beauty shine through and the Angama lioness finds herself with yet another suitor By Andrew Andrawes
Protecting Fitz, His Herd and His Home 8 June 2021 The Angama Foundation funds the collaring and ongoing monitoring of a forest-dwelling and habitual crop raiding elephant, named Fitz. And he has been keeping the team from the Mara Elephant Project on their toes By Claire Bolles
Join the Conversation (2 comments)

Comments (2):


26 March 2023

Eagerly waiting to visit Angama during the yearly wildbeast migration

    Charlotte Ross Stewart

    27 March 2023

    Hello Raymond, thank you so much for reading through our blogs. The Migration Season is a very exciting time to be in the Mara, but every week has something exciting to offer (as we see time and again in This Week at Angama).

Leave a Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*