Masai Mara Predator Photo Safari: Cheetahs Hunt While Lions Hunt Them … Hyena Kills … and more …

Wim Reports from the Masai Mara Predator Photo Safari:
(Photos from Back of Wim’s Camera)

We left the Camp about and hour to an hour and a half before the sun rose. Actually, if we had realised what a fantastic day lay ahead we may have left even earlier.

During the day we saw so many lions that I am only going report on some of them. We saw lions all day long, in fact. We hardly turned a corner or went down a road without spotting a lion somewhere.

To start with the early morning then. Having heard of a pride of lions with tiny cubs we headed straight there and arrived just as the first shards of light started the change the dark sky to that predawn grey colour. It was fabulous! There were three lionesses accompanied by two males moving through a wooded area from where they went onto a granite koppie. There were nine of the cutest little cubs, probably about a month or so old. It is the first time I have seen so many tiny cubs from three females together. The three lioness mothers must have given birth at around the same time as the cubs are of a similar wee age.

The lions climbed onto the large twenty meter high granite koppie. They lay on the koppie and next to the koppie, while the youngsters tumbled around up and down the slopes, and up and over the adults and each other. It was the most endearing scene. The cubs played, and stopped to suckle periodically before continuing their boisterous play. They were real little balls of energy.

After about ninety minutes the lions moved into a shady thicket – our cue to move on …

We went in search of five male cheetahs that we were told were hunting daily. We found them but they were not very hungry, having made a kill late last evening. They were lying in the shade as the sun was getting rather bright and warm.

After a stop for a quick breakfast we found two more cheetahs just south of our camp. They looked as though they would start hunting, but there were hyenas close by lying in bushes, and very alert to the cheetah’s activities.

So, being midday and hot, we decided to return to camp for lunch, and a short rest. We set out again at 3pm, and had an incredible afternoon.

We went to the cheetahs first, while a big rainstorm threatened. We drove in the rain and found the cheetahs up and starting to hunt. They were focussing on anything and everything to hunt. They made several attempts, but missed their prey each time. They chased anything from Thomson’s Gazelles to Waterbuck.

Then the drama really intensified, leaving us almost breathless with excitement and wonder:

During their hunting efforts the cheetahs wandered into an area with a pride of lions. The lions spotted them and started to hunt them! We could hardly believe our eyes. The lions stalked the cheetahs as they in turn went after their prey. Then the lions gave chase and the cheetahs were forced to flee as fast as they could. Whew!

We followed the cheetahs onto a plain as they hunted but by now they were quite tired and went to lie down. While watching the cheetahs we turned around to see hyenas feeding on a carcass. It was a wildebeest kill. And within moments there new arrivals … two adult nomadic male lions arrived on the scene. The hyenas scampered away when the lions chased them aggressively and took the kill for themselves. We raced up to them and managed to photograph the entire scene.

This evening a very dramatic sky gave us some beautiful photographs. We were parked next to the lions with their stolen kill, with cheetahs just over there, and wildebeest on the horizon. We moved to get photos of the wildebeest against that vibrant, glowing sky. It was spectacular.

On the way back to camp we saw a whole herd of wildebeest running, scurrying, dashing haphazardly around. We stopped and saw about twenty to thirty hyenas following them and the next moment, just as we were positioned perfectly, a hyena caught one of the wildebeest. They took the wildebeest down and were beginning to settle down to feed when the two nomadic lions arrived – and chased all those hyenas, scattering them in all directions with their tails between their legs. A huge standoff then developed, with plenty of furious vocalisation from both groups. It was a thrilling – and almost terrifying sight to see and hear.

But that was not the end of it. The hyenas regrouped, ran behind us – and made another kill! We stared almost in disbelief.

So, as you can imagine, today was quite the most exciting, amazing series of experiences that anyone could hope for in the bush, and all memory cards are chockablock full, waiting to be downloaded tonight. And for our first time African Safari guests the day was totally beyond belief and beyond all expectations. Tomorrow we may start with the cheetahs again …