Ndutu Serengeti Wildebeest Calving Safari: Wet Cats in the Welcome Rains

Brendon’s Bulletin from Serengeti:

We left our Serengeti Camp in the early darkness, planning to visit some of the rocky outcrops (koppies) that are dotted around the area.

Along the way we saw elephants looming in the grey light that heralded the dawn. Buffalo, Red Hartebeest, wildebeest, zebra and gazelles.

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In addition, vultures lurked around hopefully and Rock Hyrax started to move into the rocks in the koppies to catch the early rays of the sun. Then a few Dik-diks caught our attention looking really tiny in the vast expanses around.

It rained a lot – not heavy, but very constant. Wow, the area sure needs the water.

Then as we approached a koppie we saw a cloud of vultures taking off. And as we rounded the rocks we saw a large pride of lions. Ten lions of all ages including one large male, a few 6 month old cubs and a couple of lionesses were feeding on the scraps of what appeared to be a wildebeest kill. Now and then one or other of the pride took a break from feeding to chase the vultures that amassed around them, stepping daringly closer and closer until they were chased again and again.

The cubs played around, chased each other, tumbled over the others and the adults, and occasionally used the carcass as a handy springboard. They chased the vultures, worried the adults, and behaved in the typical way of children everywhere in the pouring rain.

Now and again one of the lions stood up for a vigorous shake to get rid of the accumulating rain in their sodden fur, giving us even more opportunities to add to our growing collection of cat images. The big spray of water that forms a halo around the lions as they shake always looks fantastic. In addition, the male was in an unobstructed, east to photograph position, making our photography even easier!

We left the lions when the rain started to bucket down and they moved into the rocks in search of some shelter under the handy bushes there.

Checking other koppies revealed two more male lions walking along, shaking the water from time to time until they also decided to seek shelter in some bushes on a nearby rocky outcrop.

After a great brunch at one of the picnic spots we continued our game drive through wildebeest, zebras, gazelles, hartebeest and buffalo.

We turned towards the camp to take a slow, meandering drive back and as we crossed the Seronera River we saw large pods of hippo and a variety of water birds, as well as a Pygmy Falcon.

We drove past the tree where we saw the leopard yesterday, and found him just climbing back into the tree as we drove up. We spent a long time with the handsome fellow, and again filled our cameras with fabulous images.

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This afternoon the sun came out and we headed straight to the koppies, hoping that the lions would be sunning themselves and drying out in the rocks. At the first pile of rocks that is exactly what we found, but they were partially obscured by a large fig tree so we carried on to the two male lions. When we arrived we found that a lioness had joined the males and she was lying on a large rock. She is either pregnant or has very recently given birth – as she lay there we could not quite determine which? She lay around for a long time before she jumped down and disappeared from view.

Moving on to another rocky outcrop we found yet another male lion. This one lay right on top of a large boulder and we spent the remainder of our time photographing the very handsome young man. He peered at us, yawned, looked around, and posed beautifully for us. No model could have done better!

So after another very full day we are back at our camp, looking at more rain rolling in and looking forward to a snug rest and another day in this wonderful place …