A rather quiet day with a morning break for me. On the way back to the airstrip with my new guests we found a beautiful scene of an Elephants’ family mud bathing in a waterhole in the middle of the plains. In the afternoon the three male Cheetahs chased a hare right by our vehicle and later they positioned for a hunt on a herd of Wildebeests but decided not to go for them, no calves in the group. This has probably been the day with the dullest light I have ever seen in Mara!
The day started well, with Olive in the middle of the plains looking and calling for one of her cubs. The cub wouldn’t come out of the bushes so she retreated in a gulley where she was reached by her second cub Paja. They greeted and played extensively before retreating to bed. The rest of the day wasn’t particularly good, with an afternoon haze generated by the fires burning outside of the Mara.
Awful weather throughout the day but a good crossing kept us busy. There was an intrusion in the territory of the Ol Kiombo Lions as two males ventured all the way up to the Talek River. They were met by the three males of the pride and chased back.
A second wave of migration is slowly making its way across the eastern Mara. Contrarily to the first, these animals seem to linger more on the long grass pastures of the eastern and central Mara. We caught up with some big herds ready to cross the Mara River just below Lookout Hill, while others were moving north towards the Talek River. In the morning we experimented with the first ground level images taken from my newly converted vehicle. I am really impressed by the results as even an otherwise ordinary image of a Cheetah sitting in the grass can be turned into an evocative image by shooting with the camera at eye level.
We spend the best part of today with one of the Mara’s favorite cats, the big male Lion Notch, and with three of his sons and three females. They didn’t do much for most of the day actually, as Lions often do, but it was just fantastic to see all these handsome male Lions together, with awesome manes blown by the wind. Notch has been the dominant male in the Marsh pride since late 2003, and was chased away from the pride in 2007 by three new males. With him also his five two years old son were also chased. Quite amazingly, Notch teamed up with them and contributed to form the most powerful coalition of males in the Mara along both shores of the Mara River. During midday we also had a nice crossing of Wildebeests at Cul de Sac.
Today marked the reappearance in the Mara Reserve of a female Cheetah I followed extensively for some months a couple of years ago when she had two male cubs. We used to call her “Mrembo”, which means “beauty” in Kiswahili. She now has a young cub approximately 5 months old, one remaining out of a litter of three. Mrembo stalked and chased a couple of Thompson’s Gazelles during the day but missed, and she also visited our bonnet on a couple of occasions, when being chased by her daughter.
Today we had a relatively quiet day. Animals crossed again at Cul de Sac heading to the Mara Triangle, leaving the Paradise plains quite empty. A Black Rhinoceros was spotted on the plains just south of Musiara Marsh and the Three boys made a successful hunt under very dark clouds in the afternoon. We saw the Cheetah Mrembo with her cub again, and a young Leopard that was hiding in the long grass on the side of the road busted out of cover as we drove by in the Paradise plains. I had never seen this Leopard before and this fleeting glimpse will still be a new addition to my pictorial catalogue of Mara Leopards. People often ask me how many Leopards could be in the Mara and today’s encounter goes to prove once again that for every Leopard you see there might be three or four that live their life completely unseen by men, maybe only coming out at night or never coming out of the bushes or forest at all!