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This Week at Angama #282

From the wobbly first steps of a lapwing chick to the awkward first hunts of Risasi's cubs, many lessons were learnt this week
Above: The hunter becomes the hunted

Months ago, we witnessed the intrusion of a dominant male lion, dubbed 'The Killer,' into the Bila Shaka Boys' territory. Tragically, he proceeded to eliminate cubs fathered by the Bila Shaka males. Since then, we have observed him mating with the Angama Lioness in an attempt to spread his own genes within this now volatile territory.

It is highly likely that she is currently pregnant, carrying the offspring of 'The Killer'. The lioness has been spotted on several occasions catching a nap up in a tree, her belly visibly swollen.

F 6.3, 1/1000, ISO 800 | Wilson Naitoi

When it comes to territories between lions, the dynamics are often dramatic, thrilling and unpredictable. It's not clear whether the Bila Shaka Boys will be reclaiming their territory from 'The Killer', and how they will react if and when the Angama Lioness gives birth to her new litter. We can only wait in anticipation for the events to unfold.

F 8, 1/1250, ISO 4000 | Sammy Njoroge Angama Lioness with her cubs, December 2022

The wild antics of the young Egyptian Pride males added a different element to this week's activities in The Mara. It's embarrassing enough to overindulge when eating with others, imagine that scenario caught on camera for the world to witness. These aspiring hunters may have mastered the art of pursuing formidable game, but they still have a thing or two to learn about controlling themselves. Robert witnessed a comical moment as one of the males was seen trying to throw up after having a little too much buffalo.

F 8, 1/2000, ISO 1600 | Robert Sayialel
F 8, 1/1250, ISO 800 | Robert Sayialel

We witnessed some other interesting behaviour as we watched a giraffe bull displaying mating tactics. Giraffes have a polygamous mating system, and male giraffes do not have a specific breeding season or go through a heat cycle. Instead, they are typically ready to mate and actively seek out females for reproduction throughout the year.

F 7.1, 1/2500, ISO 800 | Robert Sayialel

Bulls determine their mating readiness by assessing the urine of females, referred to as cows. A bull will approach a cow and sample her urine to determine whether she is fertile and ready to mate. Once he identifies a receptive female, he initiates the courtship process. This typically involves following the female and nuzzling her hindquarters.

Courtship also involves showing dominance over other males in an engagement called 'necking'. Two male giraffes swing their necks and heads at each other, with the winner earning the right to mate with the female.

F 7.1, 1/2500, ISO 800 | Robert Sayialel

The Triangle's ecosystem harbours one of the largest bird diversities in Africa. With an abundance of sustenance, it becomes a wonderful playground for some of the most impressive raptors. If you look closely while driving down into the Triangle from Angama, you are likely to spot the long-crested eagle perched high up on one of the Balanite trees. These eagles spend a significant amount of time perched high in trees as it provides them with a better vantage point to observe their prey and prepare for their usually highly successful hunts.

F 6.3, 1/2500, ISO 250 | Robert Kiprotich Long-crested eagle
F 6.3, 1/2500, ISO 800 | Robert Kiprotich Martial eagle

Another personal favourite of mine is the martial eagle. These awe-inspiring 'lions of the skies' dominate with their might and unmistakable beauty. As apex predators, martial eagles are expert hunters. They're equipped with exceptional eyesight, which allows them to spot potential prey from great distances while soaring high above the ground.

One of Angama's guides, Robert, spotted a martial eagle this week with a beak and chest stained in blood. The fresh kill was hidden in the tall grass but it could've been anything from small to medium-sized mammals, birds, and reptiles.

While not quite the size, nor ferocity, of the lion of the skies, one shouldn't judge this book by its cover. A lilac-breasted roller catches himself a big meal of what looks like a baby snake.

F 6.3, 1/2500, ISO 1600 | Wilson Naitoi Lilac-breasted roller

One of the most captivating stories in the Triangle in recent months is of cheetah Risasi and her cubs. From the moment she was pregnant with her first litter and the heart-warming birth of four adorable cubs, we have been avidly following her progress. Despite the unfortunate loss of two cubs to unknown causes, Risasi has displayed unwavering resilience and remarkable maternal instincts as a first-time mother.

F 7.1, 1/1000, ISO 400 | Sammy Njoroge

As her cubs continue to grow, we are privileged to witness their development firsthand. They have reached a stage where they are actively learning the art of hunting under the watchful eye of their mother. The sight of them practising their hunting skills is truly charming, displaying a blend of elegance and awkward power.

F 6.3, 1/1250, ISO 200 | Sam Bailyn
F 6.3, 1/1250, ISO 200 | Sam Bailyn

We were enthralled this week as the cubs made their brave attempt to corner a warthog. Although they showcased their determination and budding hunting skills, it was evident that they still have several months of learning ahead before they could successfully make a kill on their own. It is a testament to the patience and guidance provided by Risasi, who remains a pillar of support for her cubs during this crucial stage of their development. We eagerly anticipate the day when these young cubs will blossom into skilled hunters, carrying on the legacy of their remarkable mother.

Shujaa, the renowned male leopard of the Mara, refused to be overshadowed. He made a captivating entrance as he delicately held the head of a Thomson's gazelle, displaying his hunting prowess. As he prepared to vanish into the dense foliage, Alice, a member of Angama's guiding team, managed to capture some quick shots of this majestic leopard.

F 5, 1/2500, ISO 1250 | Alice Mantaine

As we wrap up yet another exciting (but very hot) week in the Mara, we caught two of the Big Five in need of a dip. While a buffalo and lion were cooling off in the deep, we witnessed a lapwing chick take its first steps into this wild world and wished it good luck on its new journey.

F 5.6, 1/1600, ISO 450 | Joseph Njenga
F 5.6, 1/2500, ISO 800 | Robert Kiprotich
F 6.3, 1/1250, ISO 800 | Wilson Naitoi Lapwing chick

This Week a Year Ago:

F 5.6, 1/40, ISO 500 | Wilson Naitoi

We all know that nature can be cruel sometimes, this was made very clear last year when six hyenas managed to take down a buffalo and start eating it while it was still alive.

Filed under: This Week at Angama

Tagged with:

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

About: Sammy Njoroge

Sammy has worked in the film and photography industry for over seven years and has loved every moment of visual storytelling. He is passionate about the natural world and is keen to bring wildlife stories into your home. Outside of the 'office', Sammy enjoys the ocean and exploring different cuisines (despite the fact that he usually only eats one meal a day).

Browse all articles by Sammy Njoroge Meet the angama team

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