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Trip Report: Masai Mara 7-13 July 2019

We have been building up to the Mara season for the last couple of months so naturally I was extremely excited to return to what has become our second home.

Having visited the Mara last year around the same time, the expectations were that the Wildebeests would not be close to the Mara Triangle just yet, but that the predator viewing would once again deliver.

As we came in to land at Serena airstrip, one of the first things that was very obvious was how beautifully lush and green the Mara was looking.

The ever friendly faces of Sammy and Jimmy as always were there to meet us at the airstrip and after some paperwork at the airstrip we were ready to start our 6 night adventure.

The Masai Mara as I mentioned is usually very green and lush during this time of the year, with the open plains covered in a sea of long grass making spotting predators a little tricky, but at the same time offers some incredible photographic opportunities of predators moving through this long grass.

The Wild Eye Mara Camp as always was looking great with a few new additions to the Camp such as new signs in front of Camp, new flooring in the dining and lounge areas as well as a new water filtration system.  There really is an undescribable feeling of being on the banks of the Mara River, listening to the resident Hippos in front of Camp, the roar of a Lion in the distance and even the occasional rasp of a Leopard.  It is authentic and it is natural.

As the week progressed we were blessed with some incredible game viewing, most of which happened within a 2km radius from Camp.


There were two sightings that stand out from the week, as possibly two of the best sightings that I have witnessed…

Leaving the Camp one morning around 06:30 shortly before turning onto the main road, we saw a young Male Leopard moving past a big herd of Impala.  It was just starting to get light so from a photographic point of view was a bit tricky.

After spending a few minutes with this young Leopard, we heard the herd of Impalas frantically snorting.  Jimmy turned around and behind us was another Leopard who had just killed a big Male Impala.  Quickly turning the vehicle around we could not believe our luck…  Here, right in front of us was a Female Leopard with her jaws firmly around the throat of an Impala.  Being more than her own body weight, the Female Leopard slowly started dragging her prized kill towards a clump of thickets in the distance, regularly stopping to catch her breath.

As she paused every few metres, she looked back, making sure that no other predators were sneaking up on her.  As it always happens in the Mara, the presence of Hyaenas are never too far away and just before she could get her kill into a thicket and up a tree away from other predators, two Spotted Hyaenas appeared out of nowhere to spoil her morning.

With shear numbers on their side, the Spotted Hyaenas wasted no time in stealing her kill which soon turned into a feeding frenzy.  As we sat in absolute amazement, Hyaenas were appearing from the horizon, all wanting a piece of the action and before we knew it there were Hyaenas everywhere.  The Female Leopard and her sub adult cub would peak through the thickets every now and then, hoping that there might be some sort of reward for all her effort.

The Hyaenas were going about their business, making little work of the adult Impala, until a Lioness emerged from the thickets.  Could this be possible?  The Lioness approached with the upmost confidence and without any fear took the last bit of remains from the carcass.  What an unbelievable experience and sighting!!

The second stand out sighting from the week once again starred this Female Leopard and her sub adult Cub.

The very next day after having lost their kill to the Spotted Hyaenas and Lioness, she managed to kill a Thomson’s Gazelle and this time hoist it into a tree, once again a couple of minutes from Camp.

As we arrived late morning, shortly after our Out Of Africa breakfast, we found the Female Leopard fast asleep next to her kill in the tree, not looking like she was going to do too much.  We decided to return to Camp, enjoy lunch and then head back early in the afternoon and wait it out…

Returning to the tree a little later on we were pleasantly surprised to find the sub adult cub also in the tree.  With most of the kill still intact, the sub cub just couldn’t resist and started feeding, with every bite moving the kill ever so slightly until eventually dropping it out of the tree.  Desperate not to lose another kill, the female immediately raced down the tree, picked up the kill and hoisted it back up in the tree, this time making sure that she has secured it properly.  What made it ever sweeter was that all of this happened with half an hour of us being there!!

The Masai Mara once again showed shy it is considered to be the best Game Reserve in Africa and offers so much more and should be recognised for so much more than just the Great Migration.

I cannot wait to return in a few weeks time to see how area has changed.  Stay tuned this season, its gonna be a good one!!

Johan

 

4 thoughts on “Trip Report: Masai Mara 7-13 July 2019
  • Martha Myers
    5/5

    Johan, I simply cannot believe your luck in these leopard sightings, and your photographic skill in capturing them so evocatively. Jaw droppingly beautiful! How I wish I'd been there -- I hope we're as lucky end of August!! See you soon.

    • Johan Van Zyl

      Hi Martha. Thank you so much for taking the time to go through the post. We were very lucky indeed and thank you for your kind words, it really means a lot. I can't wait for our week together (2 in fact) in the Mara.

  • 5/5

    These big cats are really fascinating. Cool Images & insightful post

    • Johan Van Zyl

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read the post, really appreciate it.

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