Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Maasai Mara : Lions and Cheetah

This is the last post related to animals in Kenya.

Like every tourist, I wanted to see a lion on my visit to Maasai Mara. The area has a good population of lions, supported by a couple of millions of herbivores. So there is always a good chance of seeing the feline predators - which includes lions, cheetah and a leopard.

We didn't see any leopard, as it is the shyest of the three. But the lions have gotten used to tourists, and boy, were we lucky or what!

First, photos of a Serval, a wild cat that gave us a fleeting view. It's hard to focus on a small animal that's hiding in tall grass, or running away from you :-( So apologies for these photos not being sharp.

I wish I had seen a cheetah sprinting behind a gazelle, but I had to be content with seeing one resting. It was about 50 feet away from us. Beautiful animal.

It was aware of us, but made no effort to move away.

The next photo is an unforgettable scene for me. Something that I have seen only in nature shows, and something I have dreamt of seeing.

A vast savannah, a predator waiting in the golden grass, looking at its food and thinking about how to make the move. The problem here was, the antelopes had noticed the lioness and the distance was too much. There was no scope for her catching them. The antelopes were aware of it, and kept on eating their grass, only to pause occasionally to make sure the lioness was not moving towards them. A common scene from the constant battle of life and death that goes on here.

The waiting game continued till we were there, giving me an opportunity to take some photos when the lioness turned her face towards us for some fleeting moments. That look can send shivers down your spine. It was good to be secure in the safari vehicle.
That lioness was less than 50 feet away from us, and I was thinking of it as the highlight of my visit to the Mara. I had no idea then that I would come even closer to another apex predator, a male lion, no less. This time the king and his queen were on a honeymoon. Really!

How close ? Take a look - we were much closer to the couple than those vehicles.

Then they got up and walked all the way to our vehicle. Literally just 5 feet away.

Fortunately, they were interested only in each other, and not in us.

They paid no attention to us, allowing me to take some more photos

That's one good looking but extremely scary animal.

That, was indeed the highlight of my trip!

This concludes the photos of animals. Next would be plants, and then some images of the rural Kenya.


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