Cats and kills were the keywords of the day. A cheetah chasing and catching a thomson’s gazelle started us off, and was quickly followed by a large male lion dragging his topi kill away from some vultures that looked a little too interested for his liking. The single lioness with the 3 small cubs were working their way through a large zebra kill, while the mother with the 4 cubs played happily next to a warthog that didn’t make it. Earlier on on the day, we found 6 sub-adult lions reuniting after being briefly separated, and in between all the cat action, many herds of elephants were seen along with numerous buffaloes.
Major sightings of the day:
Female cheetah chasing and catching a thomson’s gazelle
Many herds of elephants
Male lion dragging a topi kill
6 sub-adult lions reuniting
2 black backed jackals
Lioness with 3 small cubs on a zebra kill
Lioness with 4 small cubs playing around a warthog kill
What a start! We seemed to pick up right where we left off last year – the big 5 on the first afternoon. The rarest of the five, the black rhino came out early in the afternoon, and the leopard (which completed the set) arrived out of the darkness on our way back to camp. The afternoon was all about lions however, and a female with 4 small cubs kept our cameras clicking most of the afternoon. Another lioness with 3 little cubs tucking into a fresh warthog kill also welcomed us back.
Having recently come back from Kenya, and having witnessed the most incredible wildlife spectacle first hand, I thought it was only fair to share with you some of the madness!
I will be leading The Great Migration Safari again next year, and am already looking forward to getting back amongst the tens of thousands of wildebeest as they gather on the banks of the Mara River waiting to cross, as well as all the predators that roam those beautiful, wide open plains. The photographic opportunities are endless, as animals seem to constantly fill the viewfinder of your camera. It really isn’t fair that one place on earth can have so many animals, with so much diversity! It is a photographic safari like no other.
It does all come down to the famous crossing of the Mara River though. There is something about that experience which is quite difficult to explain – you can watch it on TV a hundred times, but you will never get the level of panic at each crossing. The wildebeest herd is extremely sensitive, which seems odd given that they are not the sharpest animals around, and even the slightest disturbance will turn the mega herd around, delaying the crossings. They seem to do their best not to cross, but the overwhelming instinctive drive eventually pushes them to do it. The tension that emulates from the herd is palpable, as they pluck up the courage to start the crossing. Eventually, one brave/stupid/pushed wildebeest makes the leap of faith, and is rapidly followed but the rest of the herd. The tension climbs to a maximum in seconds as literally tens of thousands of wildebeest and a few hundred zebra hustle to get across the most daunting challenge that faces them on their yearly migration. Add a crocodile to the mix, and the panic reaches melting point. The wildebeest do their best, but many succumb to the strong current, and even stronger crocodiles. The only way to truly understand what happens each year, and what has happened for millions of years, is to experience it.
Have a look at the little teaser I have posted for you, which should whet your appetite! If you would like to join me on next year’s safari, click here!
Our final morning drive proved to be as productive as the rest of the safari. Great sightings of two large male lions, two male cheetah on a fresh wildebeest kill, a baby giraffe and a troop of baboons giving us a show to remember – all topped off by mating ostriches!
A hunting leopard and her cub started off our last full day in the beautiful Masai Mara, and even though we spent a good hour watching the attempted hunt, the river crossings again came to the fore. Madness for close to two hours! We had some more good luck with another monster crocodile adding some flavour to the mix, and clicked away as one of the more unorthodox crossings unfolded in front of us. Add all the general game and the couple of lion sightings we photographed, and it made for what is often referred to as a great day!
Major sightings of the day:
Leopard and cub, hunting wildebeest
Lions, 2 sightings, both with cubs
River crossings, up to 20 000 wildebeest and many zebra with 2 crocodile kills