Wim Reports from the Masai Mara Predator Photo Safari:
(Photo from Back of Wim’s Camera)
Who would have thought that another day could live up to yesterday’s experiences. Well – read about today …
We were out again about an hour before sunrise. We headed straight to where we last saw the five cheetahs, hoping that they would hunt. We searched for them and while doing so we encountered the Sand River Pride of lions. The pride consists of five or six lionesses, two large males – and twelve three month old cubs. The large pride were playing around in the open at first, but when they moved to some bushy cover we returned to our search for the cheetahs.
It took us quite some time to find the five brother cheetahs, and when we did, excitement mounted – they were actively hunting! We spent a few hours with them. We followed them as they stalked prey after prey but just did not get to a point where they could catch anything. It was quite nerve-wracking to watch their efforts fail again and again. When the day warmed up the brothers rested in a shady spot, and we took the opportunity to enjoy a late breakfast out in the bush.
Reluctant to leave the area while we knew that there were hungry cheetahs keen to hunt, we stuck around. We returned to the cheetahs and waited until a thunderstorm started to loom and the air started to cool. The cheetahs were revitalised by their rest, and as it was cooler now, they were up, and quite soon they spotted a herd of wildebeest on a nearby ridge. We quickly positioned ourselves closer to the wildebeest, across a riverine and waited for the cheetahs to approach.
We watched with bated breath as the cheetahs crept closer and closer. It was raining by now, which helped to hide the cheetah approach a little. The wildebeest remained unaware of their presence until suddenly the cats were upon them. We sat wide-eyed (some almost forgetting their cameras in the tension and excitement of the moment) as the brothers maneuvered and positioned themselves. One brother had a short chase and brought down a two-year old wildebeest and within seconds the four brothers joined him. There was a tussle as the prey was rather large for the cheetahs.
The whole scene took place right in front of us, and everyone was able to photograph the entire sequence – the kill was so close that we were able to get full-frame images of all five cheetahs with their large kill.
After the excitement our pulses started to slow down and we were breathing normally again when we caught up with the large pride of lions. As we arrived we could see that the lions had also made a kill during the same rainstorm that cheetahs had made their kill. The lion’s wildebeest kill was right out in the open. When we arrived the youngsters were having a great time as they cavorted around.
They played together, jumped around, played with the adults, tumbled, and stalked one another or pounced on flicking tails. It was wonderful to watch and we could scarcely believe when we saw that more than an hour had passed, and the light was becoming too dim to see much.
On the way back to the camp we passed even more lions. There are just so many here at the moment … and we passed another hyena kill (also wildebeest) as well …
It is almost unbelievable what one can see at this time of year at the Masai Mara – predators galore, and wildebeest everywhere. We have no plans for tomorrow. There is just too much to pick and choose from, and we would like to take the day with whatever it produces for us …