Masai Mara: Lions! Cubs! Hunts!

By September 4, 2012 Uncategorized No Comments

Wim describes another full day at Masai Mara:

The is a special area at Masai Mara named Out Of Africa, because scenes from the movie were shot there.  The area is up on the escarpment with lovely views and plentiful wildlife.

We headed there this morning hearing that lion were in that area. As we arrived  a large male lion walked directly past us, toward a lioness we had only sent now. As he approached, she moved cautiously to the side and we realised that she was hunting.

As we tried to manoeuvre our vehicles for a good view she disappeared behind a bush. Because of the terrain we were unable to get closer than about 50 meters, but within moments a wildebeest ran out from behind the bush with the lioness in hot pursuit behind it.

The wildebeest hightailed it down the outta inside with the lioness hot on its heels. Seconds later the male streaked down the mountain to assist in the hunt. We held our breath, pulses racing as we saw the inevitable beginning to unfold in front of us. Together the lions chased the wildebeest for about 400 meters but the terrain was not in their favour and their prey escaped unscathed. 

As we watched we were most surprised when the pair turned and strolled straight back to us. We got some great shots of them approaching and then walking majestically past us.

The lioness disappeared into the bushes behind us, and guessing that we would not see her again, we prepared to leave.

But suddenly she reappeared with four tiny cubs. They were so tiny that as they walked she would have to lift them in her mouth to help them over bushes and rocks.

The family (male, female and cubs) now followed the edge of the escarpment with us close behind, our cameras capturing every moment of their progress. After 3 or 4 Km the cubs were becoming very tired, and the family stopped for a rest.

Now a totally surreal moment unfolded in front of us. The male enjoyed a long drink of water and then leaped up onto a huge boulder about 2 or 3 storeys high, with bushes forming an arch at the top. From there he looked out over the Plains below him … it was so like the iconic scene from The Lion King movie that we blinked and looked again and again at the extraordinary likeness to the movie.

After our morning coffee break at the Mara river where we checked for any buildup of wildebeest (there were none) we headed to the Tanzanian border where we hoped to see a cheetah that resides there. We found two cheetah lazing around in the noon sun, quite content to be photographed in their relaxed positions.

We had lunch overlooking the Mara River and then decided to check out any action at the Maui Maui point which is a favourite spot for crossings, and where we were so successful a few days ago. When we arrived there was a huge buildup and again we could see thousands of animals preparing to cross, but just as happens from time to time, just as they appeared ready to cross the river the wildebeest looked around and then dispersed. 

We took a slow drive back toward the camp, stopping from time to time for different animals. Then about 5km from the gate to the Mara we found the large pride of lions with cubs aged six weeks and some around three months. This is the OutOf Africa pride and there are almost more cubs than adults. We stopped to photograph the interactions and playing, and as we watched the lionesses stood up, grouped together and headed off with the cubs behind them.

We realised that they were hunting and followed at a discreet distance. Suddenly they charged, their target a buffalo. They gave chase but once again the prey escaped and our racing heart rates returned slowly to normal.

The sun was beginning to set by now and we grabbed some lovely sunset shots with elephants and beautiful African trees in the foreground.

So after a day of lions, cubs and two close kills we are again left wondering what action we can look forward to in the morning …