After a beautiful trip to Zambia’s South Luangwa NP for a photographic workshop, yesterday I returned to Mara and today I had my first full day safari. We spent the day with the Cheetah Alama and her two cubs, about one year old, two young boys in excellent shape. She was hungry and tried repeatedly to kill something but failed all the time. There are scattered herds of Wildebeests in the northwestern Mara, but the majority of the animals has apparently moved to Mara Conservancy in Transmara District.
This Lion walking in the grass was our first encounter this morning.
Today I moved with my guests across the Mara River to the Mara Triangle. From Lookout Hill it was nice to see big herds of Wildebeests moving north from Tanzania, approaching the Sand River. In the Triangle the herds are concentrating along the border, while along the Mara river some small herds of Zebras are attempting to cross.
Today the main threat was a huge bull Hippopotamus that repeatedly tried to catch the crossing Zebras, one time even chasing them all the way out of the water.
A very busy day in the Mara Triangle. The migrating Wildebeests are concentrating in great numbers on the plains just south of the Mara River, and the resident pride of Lions is taking full advantage of this event. The morning started off with the sighting of two of the Triangle’s eight Black Rhinoceroses, a mother and a calf. Soon after we found the pride of Lions feeding on two kills. This didn’t deter one of the females from making another kill when she found a solitary Wildebeest calf in the plains. She could have killed it immediately but instead she decided to let her cubs practice their hunting skill with it.
As the Lions settled down we went to the Mara River where a small herd of Wildebeests and Zebras was crossing southbound. A huge Crocodile killed a calf after some failed attempts.
As the sun came up on the horizon this morning we found the Lion cubs stalking the Black Rhino and her calf who were peacefully browsing on a bush and didn’t even notice the Lions! As small herds of Wildebeests gathered both at the Main Crossing site and at Lookout Hill, we left the Mara Triangle and returned to the Narok side of the Reserve. And to welcome us back we had some fantastic Leopards’ sightings. First Olive’s cub Ngayoni came out of the bushes and stalked some Guineafowls, then his brother Paja appeared more relaxed than usual. And finally Olive came from across the plains to call them out. The cubs played with their mother of course for a while, then they followed her back across the plains probably to a kill she had somewhere. Just amazing.
One more day devoted almost entirely to Olive and the cubs. They were found early this morning along the Talek River with a Wildebeest kill. They had been eating all night and were in the mood for playing, but shortly after our arrival on the scene they retired to bed for the day. In the afternoon the cub Paja showed up first this time, took his fill and after a short shower left the kill to his brother Ngayoni. Olive didn’t show up in the evening.
We reached the place where we left Olive’s cubs yesterday along the Talek and we found them around a beautiful log when the sun hadn’t come out yet. It was cold and their breath left clouds of steam in the air. Upon closer inspection we realized that Olive had made another kill during the night, as a Wildebeest calf was lying dead on the river bed. She dragged it to a bush and the whole family stuck around the area for the whole day. Driving along the Talek River we found two majestic bull Elephants sparring in the river bed.
While we were with the Leopards yesterday afternoon, many Wildebeests crossed at the point known as Cul de Sac, heading south. Hundreds of them died as they trampled each other trying to get up the steep banks of the river. Today we found many dead bodies in the water and Vultures feasting. Large herds gathered again in the mid morning and by 3pm thousands of Zebras and Wildebeests had crossed. The giant Crocodiles of the Mara river took three Wildebeest calves and one Zebra foal. The Leopard family on the Talek kept us busy in the early morning and the afternoon.
The morning started with a brief encounter with the Ol Kiombo pride of Lions along the Talek River. Six females and twelve cubs of two different ages crossed the river and settled in the bushes as the sun struggled to shine due to a thick layer of clouds. We proceeded to the crossings were big herds gathered to cross southbound into the Mara Triangle. Unfortunately and rather unexpectedly they chose to cross in a new location where they seldom do it, in the middle of the forest along the Mara River where we could not see the animals in the water. However, the animals running back and forth in clouds of dust were maybe an even more interesting sight.
Any day that starts with the sighting of a three months old Leopard cub is already a great day. This is one of a litter of two from a female I have never photographed as she is very shy and secretive. Her cub was lying on a tree way before sunrise, and disappeared in the tall grass a few minutes after we arrived. We decided to leave it alone and found various Lions in different situations, one male eating, a mating couple and three females walking across the plains. And this was truly a great day for Lions sightings as in the afternoon the whole Ol Kiombo pride of Lions was out, more than thirty Lions including at least twenty cubs of different ages. Only in the Mara!