Another early start this morning, we had planned to watch the sunrise from the park, but a thick blanket of cloud put a stop to that, this is what happens here when you try to plan something, but it’s not important, there will be other days.
Today, I will be spending all my time with my favorites, the ‘Big Cats’ providing we find them of course. As we were heading to the place where we had last seen the lioness with the three 3-month-old cubs our guide spotted other lions on a rock, off the road but not too far away. One male and 2 females. It was decided we would continue on our way to see the cubs as planned, but just then the females got up, stretched, and made their way to the road, I saw what they were looking at.
. Two Zebra on the other side of the road, so we decided to turn the car around and wait for a while to see if they would hunt. They made a half-hearted attempt, but the Zebra were never in any real danger, at least not this time. So, since we were here, we went to take a closer look at the male, who was sitting under a bush just around 50 meters away. He was a fine example of a male lion, very handsome, very powerful. See what I mean about making plans.
After taking a few photos we drove back to the road, which had a ditch along the side, we must have come out in a different place than we went in, where the ditch was deeper, because when the back end of the car went down, it went down with a bang and no amount of revving was getting us out. The guide got out to check any damage to the back of the car while the driver went to the front wheels to put on the 4-wheel drive. Now, bear in mind we were not far from a fully grown, male lion, who had got up to see what all the noise was about and was already looking in our direction. It was quite amusing that when the guys got out of the car, the lion, who was walking towards us, saw the red shukas they were wearing did an about turn, and ran away, it was afraid of the Maasai! Anyway, the ditch was no problem for the 4-wheel drive, and we drove on to see the cubs.
When we reached them, I was surprised to see them at a kill with not just their mother but other females in the same pride, and they were not afraid to take their fair share. It was only last week that the mother was teaching them how to behave at a kill. They are fast learners. After spending a little time with them we went to take a look at a male lying on a rock nearby, he had clearly already eaten, the male always eats first, even if he has taken no part in the kill. Now he was just relaxing.
As we got closer, I could see that there was a female with him as well, just chilling out. It is clear from one of the photos that the male was very affectionate towards the female next to him.
The Sopa pride females that we had been with a few weeks ago had moved across the sand river and into Tanzania, so unfortunately, we can’t go to see them. Hopefully they will be back soon. Lions don’t distinguish between countries; they only know their territory. The females we are watching this morning are from the blackrock pride, so called because their territory has many of the black rocks that are a feature in this part of the Mara. But the Male on the rock and 2 other males, were originally with the Sopa pride but have now joined up with the blackrock females, and very successfully too if the number of cubs they have fathered is anything to go by. In addition to the 3 cubs at the kill there are also the four 3-weeks old cubs that we saw last week and two other very young cubs that we haven’t yet seen.
We eventually move on to try and find the 3-week-old cubs but without success. So, we made the decision to come back later in the afternoon and try again.
Next on the agenda is to find a leopard. We had some sad news that a few days ago Lorrian the leopard we had tried to find last week, but found her son Roho instead, had been found dead, probably killed by lions. So, we wanted to try and find Roho to see how he was doing but, again, had no luck, I really hope that he can look after himself and survive, we will have another look for him next time.
However, we did manage to see a Leopard, well, we caught a glimpse of him in an area of dense bush as he ran away through the long grass. We couldn’t follow as there was no way through for the vehicle. As we were leaving, we just saw him heading up a tree. We returned this way on our way back from the game drive but approached from a different direction and were able to get close to the tree, and there he still was, lying along a thick branch, indifferent to anything going on around him. I suspect he had not moved since we left him this morning.
Now only the cheetah left to find, we drove over towards Talek to the territory of 4 male cheetahs. These are not brothers but formed a coalition as it made hunting easier. Originally, they were a coalition of 5 but one of the cheetahs left to go with a female and when he returned the others refused to have him back.
We found them as they were resting in the open plains, camouflaged in the grass. We kept back a little as there were a few zebra and Impala in the distance, near a line of bushes. Then one by one the cheetahs took an interest in them and got up, organized themselves into a hunting party and started forward. The only problem was, they were exposed in the open, so they were seen, and the prey moved to the other side of the bush. This meant the cheetahs could move up and hide, a perfect place for an ambush. We had also moved the vehicle to the other side, close to the Impala, I felt sure that the cheetahs would make a surprise attack.
Unfortunately, a herd of cattle with a Maasai was also headed toward the Impala, this spooked them, and they ran away before the cheetahs had a chance. This is Life in the Mara for the ‘Big Cats’
The afternoon was wearing on so we went back to see if we could see the baby lion cubs. Luck was with us, and they were outside their den, playing with their mother, with each other and feeding. They are now exactly one month and one day old. It is clear from watching this family that female lions are devoted and loving towards their cubs.
Since the other blackrock females were not far we decided to drop in on them again. As expected after their large feast this morning they were lazing around not doing much, but all three of the male lions were with them now, one hiding in a bush, another, posing for the camera. Then as a bonus we found the other two baby cubs with their mother and the third male lion who was not so happy to see us. They were a little apart from the main pride hidden by bushes, these cubs were just a little younger than their Cussons we had just left.