The line of wildebeest extended to the horizon in both directions:
We watched this leopard for almost an hour as it rested in a tree. Our guides knew that its cub was in the area, and when the cub emerged from the undergrowth, the leopard descended from the tree. Some rough spots in this unedited video, but fascinating all the same I think.
Here, a few yearlings finish the remains of a wildebeest as the sun sets in the Maasai Mara:
As I described some days ago — watching a cheetah and her cub in the Masai Mara, we were amazed when she walked over and jumped easily onto the roof of our vehicle. She was ready to hunt, and we provided a convenient high spot to scan the horizon. I climbed up the side rails and shot some video.
A few minutes later, the cheetah jumped down from our vehicle across the engine compartment.
Early one morning we were in a grove of low growth among elephants
About a dozen all in all including this mother and calf
We watched for a while as they grazed, then by some odd chance the mother and I locked gazes
We held the gaze for a while, and she began to rock back and forth from front legs to hind legs then back and again. I was amazed and continued to hold the gaze. After a few minutes something distracted me. It was the calf a few paces forward from her Mother. She took a couple of steps towards our Land Rover and dropped her head keeping her eyes on the truck, then lifted her head and backed up, then did it again — stepped forward and lowered her head, backed up and lifted it. She was offering to play
She took the Land Rover for a large but not unfriendly creature it seemed. But it didn’t respond, and after a while she dropped her trunk and returned to grazing.
Elephants seem unlike any other creature. This enormous male
could also seem delicate
An hour passed quickly watching them in the grove
Our last morning in the Mara, we saw a hyena chase down a baby gazelle. The gazelle’s mother was chasing the hyena in a helpless way. We followed and in a moment saw the hyena trot away with its kill:
It carried the gazelle into a water-filled gully and submerged it to hide the scent from other predators. I grabbed an out-of-focus shot:
Our Land Rover was above the gully, perhaps twenty feet from the hyena. It looked up at us with some concern:
And then, it seemed, with greater calm or even purpose…
…as if expressing that “this is my work, my place to be, what I do and must do.” The hyena remained in the water for a while, motionless, then clambered up the bank and moved off — perhaps to gather his family and return for a meal — but stopped first to look back at us a last time:
We drove away in some silence. Then, only a few minutes later, Maschek, our Masai guide spotted something in the grass about fifty yards from the dirt track on which we traveled. It was a gazelle, its head down nuzzling a small creature with its nose. We turned onto the savannah; the gazelle backed away a short distance, and we saw the baby; it had just been born.
It was still wet, still folded up in the compact shape that enabled it to travel the birth canal. We watched for a few minutes..
…as it began slowly to stretch and unfold.
We drove away, and the mother returned immediately, needing, I suppose, to get the infant on its feet and moving, to get back both of them to the relative safety of the herd.
This post in memory of legendary DC artist Tom Green who died September 3, 2012, aged 70, and of the ineradicably brilliant poet Arkadii Dragomoshchenko, dead three days ago at 66. In the future everything will be a memory and a blessing.
We head home early tomorrow morning, and it’s been impossible to keep up with this. I’ll update it from home.
But, I must upload at least these pictures. A cheetah jumped onto the roof of our Land Rover to scan for a potential kill. You could see the depression of her weight on the canvas roof:
As you can see, the vehicle is wide open. I clambered up onto a side rail and took a series of shots of her:
She was maybe 4-5 feet away, and my heart was thumping, but she showed no interest in me. After a while, she climbed down via the hood, and I grabbed a shot:
Quite an experience. More when I’m home — maybe as early as Sunday. And there is much, much more.
The morning after our return from Zanzibar to Nairobi, we took off on a very short visit to the Masai Mara. We took off from Wilson Airport:
The plane made several stops in the Mara; we got off at the 4th stop where we were met by Jackson:
The drive to the camp was our first game watch. Here’s some of what we watched:
(Wildebeest and zebra are often found together)
A wildebeest crossing — the water was shallow, so no crocodiles and no death. We watched thousands of these creatures come across, and the herd stretched into the distance seemingly endlessly. The annual migration involves upward of two million wildebeest (and 700,000 zebra).
A pair of cheetahs — they are brothers:
They had eaten recently enough that they were relaxing, sleeping it off.
These are Thompson’s gazelle — “Tommys” the guides called them. Later we also saw grand gazelles, impalas, topus and more.
We found the camp to be simple and relaxed. No “luxuries” thank goodness, but wonderful people, good food, great guides and unpretentious tent accommodations that we liked a lot:
While on Zanzibar we did spend a few quiet days at the beach. It was beautiful: