Saturday, February 16, 2019

Kenya Day 11 - Porini Lion

Last night we had a little bit of rain.  We also had another hippo grunting outside our tent. In fact, it must have rubbed against one of the tent ropes because it actually shook the wall of the tent a little bit.  In case the hippo broke in, we did have a 2nd bed available for it. But, it was only a twin size...

Once again, we met at 6:15AM to start our morning drive.  Our guide took us to an area where he thought a Honey Badger was living but we saw no signs of it.  So, we decided to go see if we could find the lion cubs again.

On the way, this Lilac-breasted Roller posed nicely:
Lilac-breasted Roller

We did find the lions pretty quickly and the whole gang was there:
Getting Some Morning Sun

The Pride

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Yes, I'm doing it to you again.  So, if you are one of the .00001% of people that don't like cubs then look away now...
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There's nothing like an early morning tail pulling to wake you up:
Tail Pulling


Mom's Not Happy

Two by two they came...

Here Comes More

I didn't mention this yesterday but the cubs were quite vocal.  They weren't loud since they were so young but they cooed and called a lot.  I will be posting a video on the last day where you can hear this cool vocalization.

Here is a photo of one of the cubs calling:
Calling for Mom

Leia was as cute as ever:
Last, but not least, is Leia

There were 4 females today and 1 male hanging around the cubs.  One of the females was younger and not nursing and she stuck really close to the male.  Our guide said that the two were related and that's when we learned about how much the lions inbreed.  Anyway, here is a shot of the two:
Just Resting

The other females tended to the cubs:

The troublemaker is at it again:
That ones still acting up...

Yup, more cub photos...
Yes, another cub picture


Leia Chasing Her Brother

All of a sudden, the peaceful scene was shattered.  Just in front of our vehicle and off to the right a bit something triggered the 3 females to go after the male lion.  I guess he showed some sort of aggression towards a cub.  Well, all three females attacked the male in a frenzy of growls and roars. The male needed to retreat and had 3 paths to choose.  The first option was through the vehicle right in front of us, the second was through our vehicle and the third was through the gap between our vehicles.

Luckily, he chose option 3. But, for a split second I was seriously worried that he would come right through us.  I think all of our hearts were beating a whole lot faster during this encounter and when I checked my pants for poop later I luckily found none.

The 3 lionesses chased the male a little farther away and I finally had the presence of mind to take a picture at this point:
Teaching Dad to behave

They then retreated back to comfort the cubs since they were more vocal than normal and seemed upset:
Sending one last message

The 4th female stayed with the male and appeared to try to make up with him a little bit. But, he wasn't interested:
Offering to comfort the male

The lions retreated into the bushes after this so we moved on.

As we were driving we saw some movement that lead us to a hyena den.  In fact, they had a few different dens in this same huge open field.  There were a couple adults and three pups.  This was one of the last things to cross off Karen's "Didn't see but everyone else did" list from her missed day at Amboseli.

Hyena Den

What a cute little puppy:
Hyena Pup

Curious Pup

Waiting for Mom

We decided to drive up into the rocky hills to try to find a Klipspringer.  On the way, we found another Topi on a mound:
Topi on a Hill

We didn't have any luck with the Klipspringer but the scenery was nice.  In fact, we decided to stop up on the hill for our bush breakfast.  Here is the view we had.  It included Richard Branson's Mahali Mzuri lodge in the background:

Bush Breakfast Location

On the way back down, we had a cooperative Red-headed Agama Lizard:
Red-headed Rock Agama

Who found a female to "bond" with:
Red-headed Rock Agamas

Before heading back to camp, our guides took us to a new part of the conservancy looking for another leopard named Tito.  Along the way, this Yellow-billed Stork posed for us:
Yellow-billed Stork

Our guides found Tito sleeping in a tree.  I have no idea how they spotted him since he was right in the middle of a lot of branches:
Tito Sleeping

Since it was obvious that he wasn't moving any time soon, we called it a morning and headed back for lunch.

After lunch, I did my usual walk around camp but it was a bit quiet today.  However, I did find a curious Dwarf Mongoose:
Curious Dwarf Mongoose

Dwarf Mongoose

I also found a new bird for us.  A White-bellied Canary:
White-bellied Canary

Just like yesterday, our 4PM afternoon drive started out with ominous clouds:
Storm's Coming

We headed out to see if we could find Fig, but the rain ended up catching us pretty quickly.

Storm's Here

We didn't end up finding Fig, but we did find some other wildlife that wasn't too bothered by the wet conditions:
Rain doesn't bother the Giraffes

This impala herd was huge.  Just after I took this picture they all started running and we could literally hear their hooves pounding against the earth.  It was like soft thunder.

Impala Herd

Since the search for Fig was a bust, guess what we did next...

Yup, we went looking for Cubs.   We are so predictable...

We found the pride just as two of the lionesses started out for a hunt:
Beginning of a hunt

There were some zebras on a hill across a small river which we assumed were the intended target.  But, after one of the lionesses crossed the river all of them seemed to lose interest.  So, we did the same and drove over to where the cubs where.   They were up on a rocky area and we couldn't see them that well.  Our driver positioned us so that we had a little opening.  Well, I couldn't believe what happened next.  The cubs came out into that opening and posed incredibly for us.

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The owner of this blog takes no responsibility if you hurt yourself ooohing and awwwing at the photos that follow.  You have been warned... 
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Naturally, the first one to come say hi was our little princess:

Then one of her siblings came and interrupted our photo shoot.  Well, Leia being the young diva that she is didn't take kindly to that:
Unwelcome Attack

Stop it our you'll be sorry

I said STOP IT!

To show her disgust she did the only thing she could.  She peed and flicked it up with her tail and onto her sibling with tremendous coordination:
I warned you...take that!

Naturally, a truce was called after that and the two played nice for a photo or two:
Cubs Chilling

"I'm coming to pose for you again..."
Is this where you want me to sit?

Leia the teddy bear

I mean this whole encounter was absolutely melting our hearts.  So, naturally the trouble maker decided to get involved.  That's him/her on the right.  Does it look a little "off"?

Hmmm...the one on the right doesn't look too good.

Well, that cub obviously wasn't feeling well and proceeded to throw up some liquid.  This photo makes me laugh every time I see it.  There is nothing like catching a cat pre-vomit:
I'm going to be sick

After barfing, the cub looked down and decided to lick it up.

"Hmmm...what happens if I eat this?"
Hmmm...what happens if I eat it?

"I shouldn't have eaten it!!!!"
I shouldn't have eaten it!

After this the cub threw up again.  We were all doing a bad job at suppressing our laughter at this point.  Luckily, more cubs decided to pose for us to take the spot light off the sick one:

Is this the rock for photo posing?

The cubs eventually disappeared only to reappear out away from the rocks and into a more open area.  They were all full of energy.

"Yeah, tail!"
Yah, Tail!

Leia actually did a little cat crab walk for us:
Cub Crabwalk

And then she proceeded to find a small rock:

Which she immediately tried to climb:
Climbing the rock

She made it on top for a split second:

Before the rock fell over and dumped her on her side:
Stupid rock!

A chaos of cubs.  Yes, there is a lioness under there...somewhere:
Mass Of Cubs

A few of the cubs decided to battle over a tree:
Attacking the tree

I Will Climb This Tree

One even got a little boost while trying to climb it:
Getting a boost

Leia ended up being as good or better climber than the others:
Leia Wins!

OK, deep breath now because this cub-a-palooza isn't over yet.

Not content to just play with a tree, the cubs decided to go harass one of the two males that was sleeping nearby:
Hey Dad, whatcha doing?

He was not amused:
Leave me ALONE!

So, he proceeded to get up and lead the cubs over to the other male.  What a brilliant strategy!
Here, go bother your other Dad...

At the same time, another cub was playing with a lioness:
Being ornery

And biting her a little too hard maybe:
Biting a little too hard

While yet anther cub took a break to "check the tires":

It was impossible to figure out what to take pictures of.  That's a nice problem to have.

The cubs harassing the males would not give up however so I focused on that for a while.

When you can feel it coming:
When You Can Feel it Coming...

"Hi Dad, whatcha doin'?":
Smaller than Dad's whole head


Here's another cub with the other male:
Dad?  Are you sleeping?

It didn't learn its lesson either since it got swatted:
Yes, I was sleeping!

Boy those cubs are persistent:
Play with us

Hey Dad, you awake?

Attacking in force

But, "Dad" got the last laugh.  Obviously, Leia learned her master defense strategy from this male:
Oh, a BIG tail!

Yeah, take that you pest!

While all this cub on father harassing was going on, we also witnessed a fantastic sunset.

It started out innocently enough:
Sun's going down

The Perfect Sunset - Part 1

Then the color started to appear:
The Perfect Sunset - Part 2

The Perfect Sunset - Part 3

And it ended in amazingly intense yellows, oranges, reds and purples:
To orange

The Perfect Sunset - Finale

To say this was an amazing day would be an understatement.

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