Wim’s News from the Masai Mara Migration Safari: Lions Abandon a Carcass to Hunt …
Once again we were out before sunrise to reach the river really early, but before heading directly that way, we turned north to scout the area.
We very quickly found a lioness with three subadults and a large male playing, and chasing each other as they walked across a vast open plain. When they disappeared into a deep donga we quickly positioned ourselves to be in place when they emerged again. As they came out of the ditch, the male headed off in one direction while the others took a different course.
We concentrated on the male first. Now – picture this scene – a large male lion, in the prime of his life, healthy and robust walking along while the huge orb of the sun rises directly behind him, creating sparkling rim lighting all around him. No photographer could wish for a more perfect moment, and we made full use of the fabulous opportunity.
The remainder of the lions did the same – but walked off in a different direction. The sun rising higher and higher behind them, creating silhouettes and rim lighting (but not quite as striking as the male with his thick, proud mane).
Then as we moved along we saw a mass of vultures flying in and settling not far away, and when we approached we found a half consumed wildebeest carcass. We are not sure, but think it may have been a leopard kill during the night, and when it had eaten its fill, it left to rest somewhere for the day.
The lions also spotted the vultures, and dashed up to chase them away so that they could settle down and feed on the remains.
While they were feeding the lions spotted a herd of Impala, –
– whereupon they abandoned the carcass to start to hunt and chase. It was a thrilling few minutes! And it was so close! At one stage we thought that they actually were about to down one of the fleeing buck, but it somehow managed to get away! That was such a near miss!
After all this excitement we finally headed toward the river, and again before arriving there, we found two mating lions. The male turned out to be one of the most well-known lions in this area. He has dominated this territory for ages, and is quite easily identified by a large scar running across his face. This has given him the name, ‘Scar’, and it makes his appearance impressively formidable. It was great to see him again!
We spent the day at the river, retiring to our ‘dining area’ under a large tree for meals and snacks.
Although the wildebeest, zebras and Impala are gathering in increasing numbers, and getting ever closer to the river, they mill around, gaze at the river, and then retreat. They actually get as far the the banks of the river before they chicken out.
As we returned to camp this evening we drove through at least ten kilometers of animals. You could turn in any direction and see thousands of them. (Watch the videos!)
It was wonderful to be among them, and hopefully they will decide to cross in the next few days …
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