May is generally a quiet month and we have had no visitors at the camp for around 2 weeks, although two nights ago we did have a different kind of visitor. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see it as it was the middle of the night, but a giraffe wandered in and left his calling card, so to speak, in the central area between the tents and the campfire. Animals won’t generally approach the camp when we are busy and there are lots of people around, but they can and often do come in during the quieter periods.
Before we leave this morning, it is decided we will try to find the blackrock females and their cubs, since we didn’t see them last week. So, with that plan in mind, we set off.
Here are photos of some of the animals we pass on the way. The Hyena, as usual just outside the camp and the Giraffe crossing the main road. Then as we leave the main road and head off along a track, Ntimama stops the car suddenly, there is a snake crossing the track in front of us, and he is in no hurry. I have no idea what kind of snake it is, but I am told it is a puff adder. it has a beautiful yellow and black pattern running down its entire body but is venomous and can be dangerous if you get to close.
Next, we arrive at the same pond where we saw the Egyptian geese last week, there are no geese this week but there are four herons sitting on the fallen branch of an old tree. I think these are the black headed Heron, they have a very elegant long neck which they are currently not displaying, this gives them a graceless hunched up look, also it is unusual to see four of these birds together.
A little further on we pass a small family of Elephants, consisting of around three female relatives, a couple of young and two babies, who are on the move across the open savanna. Elephants must travel around as they need large amounts of food and water each day. Fortunately, there is a lot of vegetation for them to eat around here and they are not too far from the river.
We travel down towards the sand river to find a nice spot for breakfast. There is a tree along this route that is used by a couple of camps located in the area, it is such a lovely spot, an area of grass around the tree has been kept short, perfect for a picnic. Ken even found something to photograph during breakfast, he saw this small kingfisher. First, singing in three above us then he came down onto the branch of a nearby bush, just to make it easier for Ken to photograph him.
After breakfast we reach the area of the blackrock pride only to find the roads into their territory are still closed and we are not allowed to enter. This is a shame; we will have to hope that the roads will be re-opened soon, or the pride will move further afield. We will keep checking.
So, we head further west until we come across the young males and females that were being disturbed by the hyena last week. When we arrive two vehicles are already there and the lions are using the vehicles for shade, these lions are not upset or disturbed by the vehicles at all, in fact they like to sit next to the cars, I see one young male looking thoughtfully up at the tourists, inside the car.
The other lions decide to rest near a bush on a small mound, it doesn’t give them shade, but it does give them a view over the long grass in the surrounding area. One young male whose mane is just starting to grow has what looks like a Mohican haircut. Then the young male stands up, he is interested in a large group of buffalo in the distance. He starts to move in their direction slowly through the long grass. We position ourselves near the buffalo, we see a baby buffalo that is having trouble keeping up with its mother, maybe this is what the lion is interested in. So we wait.
As we are waiting, we notice that there are hyena around, possibly the very same hyena that were harassing the lions last week. They have also spotted the baby buffalo and are keeping pace. In the meantime, the lions have given up and have moved back into the shade, so this is the baby’s lucky day. The lions don’t want to waste their energy in the heat, the hyena it seems don’t want to try an attack and they disperse, the baby catches up with its mother, and the buffalo move over the horizon. We also move on.
We head towards a small river called Orokenya rongai where leopards have recently been spotted. As we drive towards the main road Alison spots a lone lioness. There are warthogs close by so we watch to see what will happen. In this case the warthogs shrewdly walk behind her, so she misses them. We follow her for a while because she is headed in the same direction as us. We see two more warthogs in the distance but again she doesn’t see them, and they move safely away. She is not going to do well if she keeps missing easy snacks like this.
We continue on to the river where we see three other vehicles, with people looking up into a tree on the riverbank, this is a good indication that there is a leopard in it. We try to get a good spot, but the Leopard is very well camouflaged in the foliage as you can see from the first photo. We were told by the other drivers that there are two leopards, a male and a female. It was clearly a large male in the tree, we looked along the riverbank for the female but couldn’t find her. So, we settled down to see what he would do.
First, he got up and moved to a higher branch, it was then that we saw he had a kill in the tree with him, it looked like a small Impala. He was a little easier to see in the higher branch, but not much. It was Lorkorgol, a new leopard for me and Ken, but not for Alison and Ntimama. He is a fine big leopard. After a little while he came out of the tree and down to the river, probably for a drink, but the grass and bush is so dense that we lost sight of him. While the others were looking in one direction for the male I was just staring out of the front window when a leopard came up from the riverbank right in front of the car.
At first, I thought it was the male but then I could see this leopard is a lot smaller, it is the female, Luluka. Alison recognized her; we had seen her before a few times, I’m not sure what she was doing so close to Lorkorgol, they are not related in any way, and she is more than capable of catching her own food. She had obviously been watching Lorkorgol and as soon as he came out of the tree and left his kill unattended, she took the opportunity to try her luck.
She crept around the back of our car, using the dense grass and bush as cover, she slipped back down the bank and up the other side making her way cautiously to the base of the tree. She almost made it but Lorkorgol spotted her and climbed back up the tree quickly to protect his kill. Once up there he kept looking in her direction and snarling, there was no way he intended to share. And that’s where we left him, sitting over his prize.
It will be a couple of weeks before I do another post as high season approaches and we have bookings for the car.