Thursday, February 21, 2019

Kenya Day 7 - Porini Mara

I have to admit that it was hard falling asleep last night since the adrenaline of the Hyena chase and kill was still pulsing through my veins hours later.  But, eventually I managed sleep no thanks to the screaming Galago that woke us up a few times.  Maybe it didn't like its picture being taken earlier...

Anyway, this morning's schedule was the same as yesterday.  We would be out all morning and have a bush breakfast.  We had no particular plan to start the day so we just waited for Africa to throw something our way.  We didn't have to wait long...

Once the sun came up, we encountered a pride of lions.  It was nice seeing these cats in prime morning light.


Marking His Territory

On the Hunt

Hungry Lion

As we were watching the lions, a herd of elephants came crashing through the brush close by:

Elephant herd coming

There were a couple little elephants in this group and that fact was not lost on the lions.  One of them crept close:

Eyeing a BIG prize

And eyed the elephants with intent:

Stalking Elephants

Then it stalked even closer:
Getting Closer

And closer still:
Getting Even Closer...

I thought for sure we would see some action but the lion let the elephants pass. It seems like this was a juvenile and it wasn't that serious about hunting elephants after all.

Losing His Nerve

We continued on and received notification over the radio that the mother cheetah and 3 juveniles were spotted.  That was enough info to cause us to hustle over to see them.

They were as beautiful and regal as ever:

It was great to see them on the move:
Stalking Cheetah

Soon, it became apparent that something was causing them to move.  See the lion behind the trees in the distance?
Cheetah eyeing distant Lion

The cheetahs were looking stressed at this point and began trotting away faster:
On Alert

They looked back once in a while to keep tabs on the lion:

The lion was getting closer.  You can see that this cheetah is now on high alert:
Lion getting closer...

This was for good reason because all of a sudden a lioness comes running at us full speed which caused the cheetah to take off.  A chase was on!

I managed to get a few pictures of the chase itself but it's hard to convey the speed of the cats in these pictures:
Lioness chasing Cheetah

Full Speed

The other cheetahs watched from a distance:
The chase is on

The chase continued:
The chase continues

Lion losing ground

Was the lion gaining ground?
Nope, not a chance

Nope, not a chance.  We all know that the cheetah is way faster and eventually the lion admitted that and stopped running.  However, our guide told us that a lion could catch a baby cheetah so they are vulnerable when they are small.


Is the cheetah gloating at all?
Cheetah Gloating

"Hmm, I wonder if my man saw that defeat?"
Did the male see that?

Yup, he sure did...
Yup, sure did

At that point, the lioness retreated back to the male. It was likely there was a full pride back in the trees somewhere and they might have had cubs so the lioness was most likely protecting the pride by trying to drive the cheetah away.

Lioness walking away

We continued following the cheetahs as they walked quickly away from the lions.  They were no longer on alert now and stopped once in a while:
Keeping Watch

Cheetah Siblings

But, they didn't stop long and seemed to still be walking with a purpose. Were they trying to put more distance between them and the lions or could they possibly be in hunting mode?

On the Move

There certainly was a lot of prey within reach:
Prey is everywhere

Mama cheetah was aware of the prey as well:
Mama Cheetah

But, the juveniles were content to stop and smell the roses so to speak:

They were even comfortable enough to lay down and rest for a bit:
Cheetah Family

But then, it was back on the move:

The Three Amigos

Cheetah Pair

Once it became apparent that the cheetah weren't hunting after all, we all decided it was time for breakfast.  Tipa found the one shady spot around and that's where we stopped to eat.

Bush Breakfast Location

Here's a shot of George and Tipa getting everything ready.  They wouldn't let us lift a finger so we took the opportunity to stretch and "check the tires"  (Bush talk for go pee pee). Today, they had bananas so Karen was very happy.

Bush Breakfast

We had a lot of fun with George and Tipa.  Tipa didn't talk much but every once in a while he would say something in a deep voice emphasizing every syllable.  For instance, we would see some Impala and he would say "Im-Pall-La" in a deep voice.  Or we would ask to move the vehicle a little bit and he would say "Ha-Kuna-Ma-Ta-Ta".  I was very amused by it and Karen gets to hear me re-enact it every once in a while at home.  Pity her...

This topi wanted to see what we were eating:

After breakfast, we moved on again and that's when we found a small group of elephants:
Baby Elephant

The little guy was really cute:
Baby Elephant

But, it wasn't moving fast enough for mamas liking so she nudged it along:
Move Along...

As if the early four cheetahs weren't enough, we found two more.  They are brothers and were once again doing what cheetahs seem to do best.

Nap Time

Typical Cheetahs...resting in the shade

Sleeps just like a housecat

What a beauty!
Cheetah Closeup

Since the cheetahs were doing nothing we moved on.  Good thing we did because not soon after we saw something new and amazingly were able to drive up right next to a......


Leopard Tortoise that is...:
Leopard Tortoise

And with that big tease, the morning drive was over.  Pretty nice right?

At around 4:15PM we headed out again after a nice rest and filling lunch.

This young giraffe has yet to learn about the wonders of "shade":
Young Giraffe needs to learn about shade

Little Bee-eater:
Little Bee-eater

Some more of the great trees in the conservancies:
Huge Trees

Masai Giraffe

I finally got a picture of a Banded Mongoose that wasn't running away:
Banded Mongoose

Even though they are huge, these eland were quite shy and this is one of the few decent pictures I got:

However, this next animal was not shy at all.  It was something I had really wanted to see.  A leopard...............................

Leopard Tortoise

Damn you Alan!  Stop doing that!

Next we stumbled upon some Black-backed Jackals that had just caught a Scrub Hare.  Rather than fight over it, they each grabbed an end and pulled.  Make a wish...

There's some use to splitting hares...

They each got their wish, half a Scrub Hare:
Happy Jackals

I don't think they cared for the onlookers however:
Black-backed Jackals

A little while later Karen yells out "Lion!".  Sure enough, there was a beautiful male lion laying down in the shade surveying his kingdom:
Surveying His Kingdom

There was another not too far away and he looked hungry:
Looking for Lunch

That second Lion led us to a rather old eland Carcass.  The body was all bloated and covered with insects.  It was not fresh and the stench was horrible when downwind from it.  Of course, the only opening in the foliage for pictures was downwind.

Rotten Eland...Mmmmm

We only managed a minute or two before Karen and I called the photo session due to major rotting death smell.  Tim and Andrea had much stronger stomachs (or weaker senses of smell) and could have lasted longer but relented as well.  It's weird but even when I look at that picture I swear I can smell it still...

Even the lion couldn't stay there long as he was soon walking towards us and away from the eland:
After Lunch

Next up was bathing time for the first male and a chance to nurse some fresh wounds caused by who knows what:

A vervet monkey and baby kept tabs on us as we watched the lions:
Vervet Monkey and Baby

As we were wandering around in the vehicle looking for wildlife, Karen offered up some caramel hard candies.  George and Tipa jumped at the chance and seemed to thoroughly enjoy them.  Karen said they were both smiling as they sucked on them.  Sometimes it's the little things in life. "Car-Ra-Mel"...

With the sun going down, it was time to find a spot for a sundowner.  This was the only day that we actually stopped and had a sundowner outside the vehicle.  All of the other days we had them in the vehicle or skipped them because we were watching something interesting.  Even though the sunset was nothing special I had to capture the moment as best I could:

Sundowner Time

After dinner, we had another night drive.  Of course, that meant more Spring Hares:
Spring Hare

We also found a lone lion that was covered in bugs:
The insects don't sleep

Interestingly enough, even with all the bugs on most of the animals we never had any issues.  Sure, flies would buzz us once in a while but I only got one bite the whole trip which is by far a new record.  Karen had a couple more bites than that which is also a record low.

Dusky Nightjar:
Dusky Nightjar

The biggest excitement of the night happened when George spotted some eye shine in the distance.  Unfortunately, he then said "Aardwolf!" which got us all excited...but a few seconds later he said "No, Bat-eared Fox".   I was never so disappointed to see a fox in my life!

So, today's drive was not as eventful as last night's but we still had a good time. And you definitely won't see anything if you stay in your tent so it's good that we gave it a go.

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