During the two days break between trips I spent most of the time in the Rongai area looking at the female Leopard Luluka who had her cub hidden in the bushes along the river. She never took them out in those days but one evening I was caught up in a heavy thunderstorm in the company of a small group of Buffalo bulls.
On the first afternoon with the guests from the “Predators and Migration” safari we headed out to the Topi plains to look for the Topi plains pride of Lions. We first came across a mating couple of Lions. We found the pride with the cubs up on the Rhino Ridge in a quite rocky place with limited visibility and very hard to reach. Fortunately as the sun came down the Lions emerged from a thick bush and started playing on an open rock, beautifully backlit by the evening sun.
The view on the Topi plains from the top of the ridge was stunning.
After the sun went down the Lion cubs continued playing, trying to involve their mothers who wanted to come to the edge of the ridge to scan the plains for prey.
The next morning we returned to the place where the Leopard Luluka was keeping her cubs. We found her before sunrise and after a few minutes she retreated into her den, only to reappear shortly after with a cub in her mouth. She carried the first one a good couple of kms away upstream, making a long circle up on the plains to avoid a pride of Lions resting along the river. She hid the cub in a hole on the ground.
At around 12.00 she returned to the den and picked up a second cub, whose presence we were not aware of as it had not been seen yet. She followed the same path and hid the second cub in a different hole, quite close to the first one.
Luluka came out from the hole without the cub in the late afternoon to keep an eye on the Lions who were still in the area. We photographed her with the last light, a beautiful portrait of a concerned mother.
The next morning we returned right away to the area knowing that with the daylight and the Lions hopefully gone she would try to reunite the two cubs. And indeed even before sunrise, we found her transporting the second cub to the hole where she hid the first one.
We decided to leave her alone and headed east to look for the five Cheethas, Tano Bora. We found them quite rapidly but there were only two out of five, in the shade of a big Gardenia. They were looking around, apparently searching for their companions. We followed them for some time but it was clear that they were not keen to do much.
As we waited for the Cheetahs to make a move we practiced slow-panning techniques with a large herd of Wildebeests running across a dry stream.
Quite interestingly, in the afternoon we found another Leopard with a tiny cub, not far from Luluka’s area. And it was great to find that it was Lorian, Luluka’s mother, now 14 years-old, with her latest litter. They were in the thick foliage eating a zebra.