After six amazing days in Amboseli we flew to the Masai Mara. As we got there we realized it was too early for crossing activity, but the big cats were in out in full force. On the first afternoon we immediately started searching for the biggest prize, the Leopard Bahati with her two tiny cubs. And though we did find her, they were completely hidden in the vegetation. We waited to see if she would come out but it didn’t happen. Not far from there, her daughter from the previous litter was prowling around looking for food. We caught a glimpse of her after sundown, and we wondered whether the next day we would find the whole family together.
But the next morning everybody was gone, disappeared. I was surprised because they had a fresh kill in the tree, so I thought we would find them there, at least Bahati and the cubs. But unpredictability is the keyword in the bush. They had melted away, disappeared for the whole week. In the following days we found Bahati’s daughter once again, in her mother’s territory, lounging peacecully on a tree along the Talek river. The light shone beautifully on her and we had some very nice portraits.
Bahati’s disappearence gave us the chance to concentrate on the other spotted big cat of the Mara. Amani and her three 14 months-old cubs, two boys and a girl, visited our area on their constant search for prey. We spent two full days with them. They were clearly hungry but for the whole two days all they could catch was Scrub Hares. It was mostly the youngsters making those successful kills. Not much food but it kept them going. One afternoon they were caught in a thunderstorm, and we managed to photograph them in the rain.
The following day we caught up with them quite early but they were tucked in the grass and hardly visible. They started walking at about 8.00am, again searching for food. On their path they didn’t find much though. The grass on the plains is very short, due as usual to cows grazing, which makes them very visible to the prey they are targeting. It’s a tough life for Cheetahs. Eventually they decided to cross the river and venture in a potentially game rich area. They targeted a couple of Grant’s Gazelles but failed. They found another Hare which they caught after a long chase. Later in the afternoon Amani attempted to kill an Impala but failed again. The cubs found another Hare instead, and with that they went to bed.
Next morning we found Amani where we left her, and she had identified a Gazelle who was approaching the river, with the idea of crossing perhaps. She seized the opportunity as she understood that the gazelle was trapped between her and the river. Cleverly she started making her way there, and the trap was set. She started chasing the Gazelle and the Gazelle ran, but the river was in front, so she turned back but that was a fatal mistake. Finally the family had a proper meal. A few days later we had a great sunset with rain in the distance and lightning. It was an amazing experience for the guests to dive into the life of these predators so deeply. We got to understand the dynamics of their world, how they react to dangers, to other animals, and to the habitat around them.