Sunday, February 17, 2019

Kenya Day 10 - Porini Lion

As we were escorted to our tent after dinner the night before, two hippos were seen munching on the grass nearby our tent.  Well, they must have really liked that grass because we heard them grunting on and off all night.  We also heard lions and hyenas.  All the sounds were very cool.

At 6:15AM we headed out for our morning game drive.  Just like at Porini Mara, the plan was to have a bush breakfast to maximize our time out in the field.

We had only driven maybe 15 minutes from camp when we saw a hyena wandering around.  Just then, we got a call on the radio.  Lions were making a kill so our driver took off in the direction of the lions.  Well, that hyena must have had a radio set to the same frequency as ours because right after we got the call, it took off running towards the kill as well.

We burst out of the tree line into an open field and the hyena burst out right next to us. It was keeping pace.  A split second later another hyena burst out of the treeline.  Then a 3rd and a 4th.  All were keeping pace with us as we raced across the field towards the lions.

In was an incredibly surreal scene because it felt like we were watching a movie like Lord of the Rings with wargs charging across the plains.

We arrived at the scene to find 5 lions eating a small zebra.  The hyenas were everywhere.  In fact, at one point we counted over 30 Spotted Hyenas.

Lions killed a young Zebra

The kill was too small to sufficiently feed the lions so they were all fighting each other over the best parts:
Lions fighting over small kill

The lions really battled it out over the scraps:
Still Fighting

A few got a piece and went off by themselves:
Leaving with a

Or tried to:
Bogarting the head

This lion does not look happy that the hyena is getting a piece:
Not a happy Lion

A prancing lion?
Proud Winner

After the meal was finished, the lions appeared to make up by rubbing and licking each other a little bit.  All must be good in the pride again:
Making up after the fight

After these lions, we decided to look for a different pride that had cubs.

One the way, I found a cooperative Grey-headed Kingfisher:
Grey-headed Kingfisher

We found the lions and they did indeed have cubs. In fact, these cubs were much smaller than the ones that we found at Porini Mara. Our guides mentioned that this pride had 9 cubs.  9 cubs!

I think we all new what we were doing for the rest of the morning drive. 

------------------------------------------------------Cub Alert---------------------------------------------------
If you don't like pictures of lion cubs, you might want to stop reading now.  Of the over 7,000 photos I brought back 6,990 are of lion cubs (Well, that might be a slight exaggeration, but not much).
---------------------------------------------------End Cub Alert------------------------------------------------

Tiny Cubs

These cubs were so cute.  Then all of a sudden we saw one that was even smaller.  Oh my god it was the cutest thing I have ever seen:
And the smallest of all is Leia

Mom, I'm hungry

Lioness and Leia

Our guides thought this little cub was too young to know its sex yet but some other guides in the camp said it was a female.  So, when I got home I felt the need to name this cub because saying "the little cub" all the time would get old.  Since this cub was a female and such an absolute princess, we decided to call her Leia.

Princess Leia

The other cubs were adorable as well and quite the handful.  We watched them play with each other and play with the 3 lionesses that were looking after them.  It was the most enjoyable time we have had on a trip in a long time.

What is it with cats and tails?
Lion cubs like tails too

"The grass tastes yucky"

I can imagine this lioness saying "Help me":

Early Morning Sunbathing

Here are some good shots to see the difference in size between Leia and her older siblings:
Leia and Older Sibling

Tiny cub next to even tinier cub

Our guides told us that the lionesses tend to give birth at the same time so that they can all share in the raising of the cubs.  But, one gave birth a few weeks later than the others to 3 cubs.  Leia is the only surviving member of that small litter which explains why she is smaller than the others.

Looking For Something

"Hey, what was Mom looking at"
Hey, what was Mom looking at?

One of the lionesses appeared to only have one good eye:
Keeping one eye on the kids

When the cubs weren't playing, they tried everything they could to nurse...even when Mom was standing up:
That's A LOT of energy to control

There appeared to be one cub that was a bit of a troublemaker.  On more than one occasion it got picked up and carried after misbehaving:
That one is trouble

"Please help me"
But won't stop acting up


Look at that size difference:
What a size difference

The Lions moved around a lot but our driver expertly got us into good positions without altering the behavior of the lions.  They did a great job the whole time and best of all there were only a couple other vehicles because we were in the conservancy.

There was some water nearby and some of the lions headed down there including Leia who seemed fascinated by the mud:
Mud bath

A muddy princess Leia:
Leia coming to see us

Princess Leia

Muddy Leia

The troublemaker:
Someone was a bad boy

Still acting up...

The poor lioness was trying to get all the cubs to follow her but she was having a hard time. It was like trying to herd cats...
Herding Cats...

After the excitement of the water, the lions retreated into the shade to rest and nurse.  This is the only shot I have of all 3 lionesses and all 9 cubs:
All 3 Lionesses and 9 Cubs

"Is there a teet for me?"
Looking for a spot

Breakfast time:
Breakfast time

Notice the lioness in the back getting swarmed by hungry cubs:
Hungry Cubs

Nursing all Nine

Looking for a free nipple (Coincidentally enough, that is the title of my college journal):
Looking for a Free Nipple

"Really, help me!"

Sometimes, the lionesses couldn't take it anymore:
Hey, don't get bitey!

But, when they got up, the cubs just moved to the next available female:
That's it, we're done!

They are relentless

After breakfast, it was nap time:
Too full to move

I took the first cub picture at 7:49 AM and the last at 9:05 AM.  Talk about a great way to spend an hour and 15 minutes.  Can it get any better than that?

Once nap time started, we decided to leave and look for a breakfast spot but Africa had a few more photos ops planned for us.

Late for the pond:
Hippo Late for the Pond

Do I have something in my teeth?

We found a newborn Thomson's Gazelle that could barely walk. We must have just missed the birth:
Newborn Thomson's Gazelle

Here's a bit of the scenery that shows off some of the Olare Motorogi Conservancy:
Zebras Gathering

Time for breakfast and to "check the tires":

After breakfast, we decided to check in on Fig and her cub.  Along the way, we found this Black-headed Heron:
Black-headed Heron

We found the Leopards relaxing in a tree:
Just Lounging Around

Our guides thought that Fig might climb down to hunt so we went around the small creek bed to the other side for a better view.  While we were gone, Fig did indeed leave so all we found in the tree was the cub:

Cub Stare

We drove around a bit looking for Fig and it didn't take long to find her scanning the area for prey:
Looking for Lunch

While she was checking out the Cape Buffalo our guides said they were too big and mean for Fig to actually hunt:
Nope, they are too big and nasty

There was no other prey anywhere in sight so since it was now after noon we decided to head back to camp.  What an awesome morning!  All safaris are this good, right?

In the early afternoon, I wandered around camp to see what was out and about.  I found a spot under a tree that was attracting tons of birds.  They were after something on the ground but I have no idea what.  Luckily, some of them cooperated for pictures:

Spectacled Weaver:
Spectacled Weaver

Male Purple Grenadier:
Male Purple Grenadier

Female Purple Grenadier:
Female Purple Grenadier

White-browed Robin Chats:
White-browed Robin Chats

Big clouds started to form in the afternoon and it did end up raining. In fact, we had afternoon thunderstorms everyday at Porini Lion but they didn't last very long so we weren't majorly impacted by the rain.

Since all four of us are big time cat people, the first thing on the agenda in the afternoon was to see if Fig found something to eat.  We found Fig some distance from where she was in the morning but it didn't appear that she had made a kill and the cub was nowhere to be seen:
Still looking for food

Queen of the trees:
Queen of the Trees

A little bit later we came upon another mating lion pair:
Playing hard to get

The female walked with her tail up:
Let the dance begin...

And, the male was very interested:
Hope He's Not Hungry

Walking with a purpose:
Walking with a Purpose

After "tasting" her urine maybe he figured she wasn't quite ready yet.  By the way, that's probably the same face I would make after tasting urine:
But, not too cool

So, they kept their distance:
He's playing it cool

What a beautiful mane he has:

Then, they started calling to each other:

It was sundowner time but no one wanted to leave so we once again had our drinks and snacks in the vehicle watching cats.  It's a tough life...

The male lion was in really good condition except for a bit of a mutilated nostril:

This whole time the two would walk a bit and stop with the male 10 meters or so behind the female.  Once again our driver did a great job getting us into good photo positions without impacting the lions:
The Chase Continues

In fact, at one point the drive got us in great position near a puddle and the male cooperated:
Drinking Reflection

We lost our light at this point and headed back to camp.  Another spectacular afternoon in Africa!

One of the other guests had a birthday today and the staff at Porini Lion made him a cake.  Then they all came into the dining tent and did some traditional Masai dancing which included the leaping contest.  It was fun to watch and we learned that the chef can cook AND jump really high.

We had arranged for a night drive after dinner tonight.  But, unlike at the other camps, they used a red filter at Porini Lion so all my pictures are a bit "rosey" from this drive.

The drive started out great with a Common Genet that let us get close enough for good photos:
Common Genet (Red spotlight)

We then had out best look at an African Cat:
African Wild Cat (Red Spotlight)

And, our best look at a White-tailed Mongoose:
White-tailed Mongoose (Red Spotlight)

We ended up seeing another African Wild Cat, 3 Spring hares, at least 3 Scrub Hares, 2 Bat-eared Foxes, and a second White-tailed Mongoose.  That's a pretty successful night drive in my book.

Even though we weren't in bed until after 11PM and we were really tired, it was hard to fall asleep after an amazing day like today.  Thank you Kenya!

No comments: