Wim Reports from the Masai Mara Predator Photo Safari:
(Photos from Back of Wim’s Camera)
So it was with great anticipation that we left the camp before dawn, ready for anything the day would bring – and yes, it was another amazing day!
We started by visiting Black Rock where we previously saw the tiny cubs. We arrived as the most magnificent sunrise lit the world with a glorious golden glow. The three lionesses with the nine little Cubs were playing out in the open. The cubs were so much fun. Then the pride moved into a drainage line, but not for long. The emerged one by one and moved over to a nearby sausage tree that some of them tried to climb. One of the lionesses really struggled to get up, but she persevered, and eventually she managed to attain the loftier branches where she settled. We were parked in the perfect spot to watch the action. The lioness watched the cubs as they tried to climb up to her, but it was way beyond their capabilities. Eventually the mother descended from the tree, much to the joy of the cubs. The whole pride moved back into the drainage line – time for us to move on …
There were three large males and two female lions in close proximity. As I said, the concentration of predators here for the migration is incredible.
We heard that a leopard had been spotted close to the Sand River. We drove along the river and the Tanzanian border. It was very picturesque, but we could not see any signs of the leopard.
We started back to the camp, stopping for a delicious breakfast along the way. We spotted several lions again, and reached camp, in time for lunch and a very quick rest.
When we headed out again at 15:00, we drove through a massive thunderstorm. We pushed through because we wanted to reach the five cheetah brothers, knowing that they prefer to hunt during rain showers.
We found Malaika (a famous mother cheetah) with her two subadult cubs in the area we had seen the cheetah brothers yesterday. We followed them for not more than 20 meters or so when one of the cubs almost walked over a baby Thomson’s Gazelle that was sleeping. The little Tommy jumped up and ran away, with the cheetahs right behind. It didn’t take long before the cheetahs caught the little one and before we knew it the kill was over and the remains were eaten by the three cheetahs almost as quickly.
We left the cheetahs to try and find the five males, but our search was interrupted again. This time it was because we found a leopard. We didn’t spend too much time with him because he was not in an ideal spot for photography.
Then we found the cheetah brothers. All five were strolling along, keeping an eye on a herd of wildebeest. We thought that they would hunt, but they didn’t. The walked on, through a wide open area, about a kilometre long. When they reached the top they walked right past us.
We could see some wildebeest strolling up behind us. They could see the cheetahs, and an exciting scene then developed right in front of us. The wildebeest ran up to the cheetahs, full of bravado, and trying to look very threatening. The wildebeest challenged the cheetahs again and again. Meanwhile the cheetahs concentrated on scent marking a tree. The wildebeest challenges became more and more daring. These cheetahs have shown themselves to be specialist wildebeest hunters, but the foolhardy challengers ignored the dangers inherent in taunting a predator. The light was beginning to fail while the wildebeest continued to put pressure on the cheetahs. They kept running up, challenging them from very close. It really was as though they were taunting the predators, daring them to respond.
Then the drama suddenly surged into frantic activity. One of the cheetahs seemed to have had enough. We could almost hear it thinking to itself ‘OK, you have pushed me far enough, and watch what happens now!’. The chase was on! It seemed to go on and on and on. A really long chase, but the cheetah was not prepared to give up. Then he had him! He took down one of the wildebeest and with the four brothers behind him they killed the wildebeest and started to feed. In the morning they will still be nice and fat, very full after their large meal.
So after another fantastic day with lions and their cubs in the morning, two cheetah kills in the afternoon, plus hundreds of thousands of animals everywhere. There are Eland, Lions, Reedbuck, Topi, Hyena, Coke’s Hartebeest, Giraffe, Elephants, animals everywhere!
I have experienced some of the most spectacular game viewing that I have enjoyed in my life! That is how good it is here at present.
In the morning we plan to leave the camp early again and see what transpires through the day …