Saturday, 26 December 2009

Dinner time for Duma

Having left Notch and Co with full stomachs last night it was not a huge surprise to find them this morning in the same spot. Vultures were feeding on a new carcass so evidently they had sourced more food during the night. Despite their fullness Notch and one of his sons were still managing to fit in some 'feline love'! To our surprise we came across a cheetah mother with the most adorable young cub, although it was hard to 'age' it appeared to be around 6-8 months old. Suprising as the area they were located in was thick rocky scrubland and rather worryingly near the Notch clan. This cheetah was seen only days ago very near to the Tanzanian border, which is more typical of the habitat where we usually find cheetah in this area. Having waited until most of the vehicles had moved on she spotted a herd of Impala and it was not long until she had singled out her prey, a young fawn. Showing an unbelieveable amount of patience she chose her angle of attack through an area that shielded her from the view and staying downwind to conceal her scent from the Impala. The cub showed an excellent level of maturity for its age, staying very still for a considerable amount of time whilst the mother lay in wait for the Impala to come a little closer. At a point in time when the Impala became distracted from a herd of Zebra running nearby she made her attack, running up an over a ridge and out of sight. For a moment it was not known if she had been successful, but as the herd came running out it was clear that one was missing, the young fawn. Minutes later she could be seen dragging her prey over 100m away, whilst its always hard to see any animal die we felt a sense of relief that the she had been successful. To ensure that no other predators or scavengers were alerted to her activities we moved away from the sighting and on to cook some food ourselves! Leaving happy in the knowledge that she had the opportunity to feed and replenish the energy expounded during the chase. Fortunately Notch and Co were simply to full to have noticed the activities nearby and given no cries were let out at the time of the Fawn's 'dispatch' we were confident she would be left to feed in peace.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Slipping and sliding in the Masai Mara!

Following torrential rains yesterday afternoon, lasting long into the night we awoke to a wet and cloudy Masai Mara. The evening was filled with lion roars from all around and first light revealed the Notch family in all its glory. First we came across one of the darker sons, mating frequently with a lioness. As the cloud lifted the light revealed more of the Notch clan, including the 'big man' himself with two of his sons and three lioness feeding on a wildebeest carcass not far away. Following a sumptuous Christmas lunch with good friends we set out again into the afternoon to find one more of Notch's boys with 6 small cubs and three more lioness, its always so hard to believe that one day these little lions will be as big as the parents themselves!  Sadly it appears that two cubs may have succombed to nature, perhaps being left behind or falling victim to Jackal or Hyena, as three days previous the number of cubs belonging to these lioness had totalled 8.  But the day's excitment was not only centered around the animals. The rains had created a wet and sticky terrain which made driving around an interesting challenge, the sticky black cotton mud providing a surface not unlike an ice rink! A Christmas day to always be remembered.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Notch...the black mane lion king returns

This evenings drive was a very special one, Since 2005 Andy and I have followed the trials and tribulations of 'Notch' and as a result have become very attached to this handsome chap! After spending some time in the last two days looking for him we have today been rewarded with our first sighting on this particular trip. Looking as majestic as always we found him, high upon some rocks and close by to the Mara River with one of his sons and three impressive lionesses. The sighting was just so lovely, and what made it even more special was that we spent this time totally alone with him, no other vehicles to be found. So far on this trip we have also found two of his other sons, sadly one with a rather sore and deep wound to his face, but given that lions are resiliant to injury we are sure that it wont be long until this heals.

Morning of the Cheetah

This morning our mission to find cheetah was a great success, not only did we find a beautiful lone female cheetah but we were also reunited with some old friends.....namely Sita (BBC's Shakira) and her three female cubs (approx 16/17 months old) It was an especially special moment to see this family having spent many hours with them a few months ago. As we sit and write this blog they are resting on a mound in the harsh African sun, having already made two failed attempts to kill and source food. The inexperience of the cubs is still evident as both attempts were foiled by the lack of patience that two of the cubs showed whilst stalking their prey, sitting up at just the wrong moment. It wont be long now until the young girls make a new independent life for themselves. Meanwhile a lone lioness can be spotted in the far distance having made a failed attempt to hunt a Topi.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Fun and frolics with a Topi carcass

At first light we found that two lionesses had caught a Topi, just 500m from our camp, sometime early in the morning. 8 cute little cubs had a great time while they explored their first taste of meat. But at this age its no substitute for a visit to the 'milk bar' which soon opened after the cubs exhausted themselves from clambering and chewing on the rib cage! (These little guys are the offspring from either Notch or one of Notch's sons)

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Happy to be back in the bush

Our first update from the Masai Mara comes whilst we are sitting by our campfire, listening to the sounds of the bush and smelling our steak dinner cooking. The African sky, as always, seems endless and alight with the most amazing concentration of stars. With just a scrub hare for company and the sound of lions roaring very nearby we are truly happy to be back in the bush!

Our first day has been filled with some lovely sightings, just 10 minutes after entering the reserve Andy spotted a male cheetah, relaxed and sitting on a mound perusing the savannah for what could be next on the dinner menu. Tired from the journey and in need of nourishment ourselves we left the cheetah to continue its path.

The afternoon continued to provide more feline activity, including the cutest little lion cubs up to mischief whilst the mother, a beautiful golden lioness attempted to hunt warthog nearby.

As we finish writing this our friendly hare has vanished...,,,will it be replaced by any other night time visitors perhaps? Hopefully our infrared night time camera will reveal all.......