Wim’s News from the Masai Mara Migration Safari: How Many Kills in a Day?
Half of our group decided to take a balloon ride over the Mara this morning – and what an experience they had, seeing the tens of thousands of animals on the plains below, with buffalo, lions, giraffe … you name it, they spotted it from up there.
Meanwhile those of us on the ground were in for a stupendous day – no other word will suffice …
As we left the camp we photographed some giraffe against a vivid sunrise, and shortly after, we got stuck in a drift. We hardly managed to get ourselves out of the mud when we saw a tremendous buildup of animals as far as the eye could see.
Our guide informed us that this is a well-known area for lions hunting wildebeest, and the words were hardly output of his mouth when we arrived at a river. Wildebeest were clustered on the ridge overlooking the river, contemplating the 4 meter drop before making a crossing. The density of animals was such that it didn’t take long before the first animals slid down a kind of ‘chute’ to enter the water and within seconds the crossing was in full swing.
And exactly as our guide had predicted, the first wildebeest had hardly started that slide to the water when a lioness pitched up – anxious for those vulnerable moments when the animals are slowed down by the crossing.
The lioness failed!
But we decided to hang around and see what would happen next. We positioned ourselves so that we could watch the ‘chute’ and the lioness, – and we waited!
The numbers of wildebeest built up again, and like earlier, the animals were lined up on the ridge overlooking the river – when suddenly it started –
The first wildebeest came down that ‘chute’ and this time there was no hesitation. The lioness charged out at lightning speed and grabbed one of the wildebeest as it slid down the slope.
We managed to photograph the entire sequence of events.
She was on top of the wildebeest in a split second, and when she had managed to kill it, she had to drag it back up that 4 meter embankment! The power! Without stopping she then dragged the carcass between her legs for about 50 meters to a nearby forest, where she disappeared with her bounty.
When it was all over, we looked at each other, stunned by what we had just seen, and because we were close to our camp we decided to go there for a very quick lunch.
On the way we had yet another incredible encounter. This time we came across a troop of Olive Baboons. To our surprise one of the very large males had just caught a smallish Thomson’s Gazelle (Tommy), and as we watched, it settled down to devour the entire animal! It was fascinating to witness this behavior.
We rushed through lunch, eager to set out again, and soon after we left the camp we came across the first cheetah that we had seen yesterday. She had also just caught a Tommy and she and her cubs were settling down to feed. We watched for a short while, but not wanting to pressure her or the cubs with our presence, we left after a few minutes and some fabulous images.
We arrived at the Talek River, along a very picturesque road that winds down to the water’s edge, we saw crocs in the river waiting, waiting, waiting …
As we approached we saw a pride of seven lions lying on the banks of the river, and as we drove slowly down the winding road we spotted a crocodile that had a newly caught wildebeest in its jaws. One of the lions decided to pressurize the croc into giving up its spoils, and a huge todo developed. The croc thrashed this way and that, creating massive splashes as it made elaborate jumps in all directions …
We sat quietly as more drama arrived in the form of a large elephant bull. The elephant was clearly upset by the presence of the lions, but they were cool and relaxed, and watched the elephant with interest but no hostility. (Actually, their stomachs were still pretty full from feeding a day or two ago). The elephant hung around for a while pacing, waving its trunk and ears, but as there was no reaction from the lions, he stomped off.
Just then a buffalo arrived and started to cross the river right next to us. We could see lions, elephant and buffalo all in one picture frame. Great, huh!
After the elephant departed the lions jumped up to the top of the embankment where they lay down to sleep.
On the way back to the camp we again enjoyed the most glorious sunset, and luckily we not only found two more male lions to photograph in the foreground, a large buffalo bull also stood up in time to give us a lovely silhouette against that sky.
So, another perfect day in the bush came to an end for us … and as tomorrow morning is our final morning here, we are happy to just enjoy whatever the bush has to offer …
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