Upon reaching the Mara in late July we found the herds of Wildebeests spread across the Mara. Many were in the Mara Triangle, others towards the center/east of the reserve. Unfortunately, there were no herds in proximity of the Mara river. We spent a lot of time with the Lion prides, mainly the Topi plains pride and the Rongai pride. Both had large litters of small cubs which were a real treat to watch and photograph.
One morning before sunrise we came across three beautiful young nomad male Lions. We followed them as they walked down from the plains to the bushes for the day.
The first Leopard for this trip came on the second day in the Mara. A gorgeous young female forced up on a giant fig tree by a Lioness with two cubs resting just at its base. She stayed up there the whole day. We waited for the very last light and the setting sun for some gorgeous light on her. She was worryingly watching the Lioness along the river banks when she came out from the bushes. But up there she was safe.
On that same day, just out of camp, the gorgeous Leopard Bahati made a brief appearence.
While we were spending the day with these two magnificent Leopards we heard news that another Leopard, in a different part of the park, had been spotted carrying a tiny cub in her mouth. That Leopard was a beautiful female named Luluka, born in 2015 from Lorian, one of the oldest females in the park, born in 2006. The next morning we went to the area and we found her right before sunrise. The cub was hidden in a hole some distance away from where she was. Too small to be out. She was gorgeous though, with the light coming on her and the dark background of the river bank. After sunrise she started walking along the river, heading back to the den, where she disappeared for the remainder of the day.
After following Luluka to her den we tracked the five Cheetahs known as “Fast Five” or “Tano Bora”. We waited with them as they slept under a bush surrounded by herds of Wildebeests. It was amazing at around 2.30pm to watch them wake up, scan the surroundings, assessing the location of prey. It’s amazing how effortlessly these five cats can hunt a Wildebeest. They started walking in formation down the hill towards the herds. One of the five lead the group and eventually started running. They chased the herd towards a bushy river which they knew the Wildebeests would not want to cross. He caught a calf quite rapidly. The other four reached him and together they fed for a good hour before retreating to the bushes again to rest.
Other predators also gave us some excellent moments. At an Hyena den near the marsh there were two tiny pups, one was very shy but the other one nursed from its mother in full view. The Black-backed Jackals couple with pups which we saw in the previous trip still had their pups but they had shifted up to the open plains. The pups were much more mobile after only a couple of weeks.