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The life of famous cheetahs (Porini Mara and Porini Lion camps)


bettel
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I am back from my 10 nights safari in Maasai Mara: 3 nights in Naboisho (Porini Mara) and 7 nights in OMC (Porini Lion)


Warning #1: it was a little bit different type of safari so I guess this trip report will have a very limited audience. I spent 80% of my time with cheetahs. I sat with them almost from sunrise till sunset. We visited other animals only when cheetahs were sleeping (e.g. early morning or after cheetahs seemed to be settled for the night) or if we could not find our "victims". Saying this we still had some very very nice leopard and lion sightings but there will be a LOT of cheetah pictures. Please don't complain :), I warned you.


Warning #2: Please don't shoot the pianist, he is playing the best he can ©. While I was trying to do all my best to have good pictures, due to the lack of light, a lot of action, and lack of photography skills some photos are not that good (or better to say " not good at all") but I will post them anyway as they are part of the story :)
Edited by bettel
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@@bettel - look forward to this report! My kind of safari...... ;)

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If there are cheetahs around, why would you waste time looking at anything else? I'm eagerly awaiting lots and lots of pictures.

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@madaboutcheetah, @jeffb, thank you and welcome to the report!

 

 

Day1:

 

I was met at the airstrip by Jimmy (guide) and Morema (spotter). As well as there was already a quite large welcoming committee nearby:

 

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It looked like one of younger females was going to come in heat as there were a few males following her everywhere. Young males were chasing each other around:

 

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The older male knew that sometimes a bunch of flowers worked really well :):

 

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I was again shocked by the majesty of these beautiful animals as well as by their kindness. It is an amazing feeling when they quietly come close to the car and watch you for a few seconds. As if they look straight into your soul

 

After some time with them we continued our way to camp. Waivers, lunch and back to safari. We were wanting to find Naborr and her three cubs (approximately 12 month old). Jimmy knew where she had been seen last, but she already left (we soon noticed that she moves a LOT). Juvenile bateleur eagle:

 

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Some vultures on the rest of an elephant carcass:

 

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And when we decided that we probably would not be able to find Naborr this time, I noticed some silhouettes in long grass. My pulse went up :) . Wait a minute, they look like… Jimmy, I think there are some cats there! And yes, it was Naborr, she moved far from her last position:

 

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The family was hungry and cheetahs were looking to hunt something:

 

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Soon we heard an alarm call nearby and we decided to check what was going on there. But it was only a hyena:

 

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We went back to Naborr but cheetahs already moved. We started to drive around to find them and Jimmy pointed me that giraffes were staring at something. We checked and yes, it was Naborr’s family:

 

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At some point giraffes left:

 

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There were no antelopes around but there was one a very annoying jackal. And one of the cubs could not stand it :):

 

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He was very close. Actually at some point the cub got the jackal, the jackal squealed. And I almost decided that we would start the safari with a jackal kill (I don’t like intraguild predation) but the jackal went back at the cheetah cub. The cheetah got confused for a second and it was enough for the jackal to escape. It ran as fast and as far as it could.

 

We waited for the family to settle down for the night and went back to camp.

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@@bettel

 

You are kindly asked to remove the warning #2 :) ! Absolutely obsolete judging by the first batch!

 

To follow your photography with more knowledge, would you be so kind and share the equipment used? Thanks!

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Was that segment from Naboisho? I ask that because I don't think I've heard of Naborr until now - so, she might be one of those from Naboisho/Ol Kineyi?

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I consider myself warned and am looking forward to more! 80% of the time with cheetahs sounds really cool. You may have to change your name to @madaboutcheetah II.

 

Well, I am mad about all cats, but cheetahs are almost always the best object to watch :)

 

You are kindly asked to remove the warning #2 :) ! Absolutely obsolete judging by the first batch!

 

Wait, wait! These are not the worst :).

 

To follow your photography with more knowledge, would you be so kind and share the equipment used? Thanks!

 

I have Nikon D7000 and Nikkor 70-200 F2.8

 

Was that segment from Naboisho? I ask that because I don't think I've heard of Naborr until now - so, she might be one of those from Naboisho/Ol Kineyi?

 

Yes, it is Naboisho/Ol Kinyei and Naborr almost always stays here. There is at least one other female cheetah, they call her Ol Kinyei, she also almost never leaves this area.

Edited by bettel
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~ @@bettel

 

What can I say?

This is like a dream, to see your fine images so soon after your visit.

Many, many THANKS!

Tom K.

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@@Tom Kellie, thank you, it is my therapy (it helps to make a transition from Africa back to normal life)

 

 

Day 2.

 

The wakeup call was at 5:30 so that we could leave the camp at 6:00. We took packed breakfast and lunch with us to make sure that we didn’t have to leave if something interesting was happening. It was especially good decision in Naboisho as Nabor was constantly moving; we had to have our meals not too far from her and to watch her through binoculars so that she did not hunt while we were eating.

 

On the way to cheetahs we saw a bat eared fox (well, it was still very dark outside and the fox was quite far):

 

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That was my first one and I was extremely happy. I became even happier when just 200 hundred meters further we saw a whole family of foxes (but the family did not want to stay with us even for a second)

 

We found cheetahs with the help of a barking jackal. Cheetah had just got up and were stretching, cleaning and drinking:

 

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Naborr was thinking where to go:

 

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Kids were playing:

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Naborr impressed me with her determination. Out of all cheetahs we saw she was the most restless. She was doing one hunting attempt after another (with good chases) and she never rested for more than 20-30 minutes. That day she just did not have enough luck (she did probably around 10 chases).

 

A few times antelopes noticed her too soon, one time a driver, I guess, did not realize that the hunt was happening and drove right into the herd of antelopes she was hunting (all other guides were trying to wave him to stop him, but it did not work). Antelopes ran and although Naborr still tried to chase from far it was not successful.

 

There was a funny moment when the family was resting under a tree and suddenly a hartebeest came. Cheetahs did not want to get noticed so they pressed themselves against the ground but the hartebeest continued to walk towards them. When the antelope got just couple meters away from them, cheetahs gave up, jumped up and gave the hartebeest a good chase. Jimmy told that in this case the hartebeest would not be able to alarm. And it was true: the poor antelope almost got a heart attack. No alarming, it was just running away for its dear life.

 

Naborr was resting but still monitoring:

 

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A bird :) (that is how good birder I am):

 

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Another break to drink:

 

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Naborr failed again and antelopes were signaling:

 

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Wildebeest were also alarming:

 

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It brought giraffe’s attention and she galloped full speed towards cheetahs. She definitely was not going to talk about the weather. Jimmy thought that she might have lost a baby recently to cats so she was little bit mad:

 

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Naborr and two cubs quickly escaped, but the last cub decided to stand his ground. But you could see that he was not sure that the decision was right:

 

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For a few seconds they were staring at each other and then the giraffe probably remembered that this was a predator so she turned and left:

 

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Between hunting attempts the cubs were practicing some climbing skills. Obviously they were not as professional as leopards but they did all their best :):

 

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To be continued…

Edited by bettel
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~ @@bettel

 

Might it possibly be Francolinus afer, Red-necked Spurfowl?

I'm unfamiliar with the species, having first observed it earlier this month during Porini Lion game drives.

I like the bush-climbing cheetah image. I saw such behavior firsthand in Masai Mara in May, 2015.

Thank you for letting us share in your post-safari relaxation!

Tom K.

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What a fantastic plan for a safari - make it all about cheetahs! And then have it work out so wonderfully as this one did for you. Beautiful pictures of beautiful animals. I will enjoy this one all the way.

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Might it possibly be Francolinus afer, Red-necked Spurfowl?

 

 

Thank you, Tom. I think you are right. My knowledge on birds is very limited :)

 

@@jeffb, @@Terry, thank you very much for reading and commenting. It motivates a lot :)

 

 

Day 2 (continuation)

 

After lunch (our lunch, not cheetahsone :) ) Naborr found an impala herd and was deciding to hunt or not to hunt:

 

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She decided to try but she was going to approach the herd from a different direction so she crawled along a window in bushes. All her cubs repeated her maneuver. It was amazing to watch Naborrs cubs. They were very well trained (lol especially comparing to Imani’s cubs). As soon as mother started to hunt, all cubs stayed at least 50 meters behind. And they mimicked all her movements without any slightest delay:

 

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This time Naborr took her time but she was still noticed. She chased impalas anyway. I think, it is actually her style. She chases animals even if she knows that it is unsuccessful. It seems to help her to avoid alarm calls as she flushes antelopes away. Multiple times we witnessed her starting a hunt almost on the same spot as animals would not notice that she already made an attempt nearby.

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She got tired and cubs were checking on her. Mom, did you bring us something?

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«Don't get upset, kid, I will try again

 

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After having some rest they continued walking and came across another herd of impalas right near the rangers’ camp. Impalas did not expect to have predators so close to humans and Naborr was going to use it…but she got noticed by two topis.

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Topis were alarming and we thought that it was the end of the hunt. But Naborr did not give up, she was crawling towards impalas. Impalas were trying to understand what was going on, but they did not see cheetahs. We were very impressed by Naborrs patience. For more than 40 minutes she was moving towards the herd (tiny steps) and her cubs were doing the same. Even topis gave up and ran away. The final chase and… they got it:

 

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Getting close we were surprised as cheetahs were already eating instead of suffocating. But suddenly antelope raised her head and cried loudly. I almost dropped my camera! Poor thing was being eaten alive! Naborr had a lot of dripping blood on her face, and Jimmy told it was because of blood still running through vessels.

 

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Well, cheetahs paid for the inaccurate kill. The cry attracted couple hyenas. We did try to help cheetahs by parking a car as close to them as possible. It did not bother cheetahs but hyenas were afraid of us. We gained some time for the family. Jackals also arrived:

 

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Cheetahs were eating, hyenas were running around. But after some time hyenas decided to try and ran towards the kill:

 

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Naborr let the kill go almost immediately, but one of the cubs tried to protect it. My heart sank. I was totally sure that hyena would just kill a cub (Jimmy told afterwards that it would not happen. Hyenas were interested only in food). So I took my bottle of water and got prepared to throw it (yes, yes, I remember that humans are not supposed to interfere :) ). I did not have to, the hyena just grabbed the carcass and escaped:

 

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At least family had some snack.

 

Some cleaning time:

 

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Chase the jackalgame:

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Proud hunter was coming back:

 

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Greetings:

 

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It seemed that cheetahs were settling for the night so we went back to camp. But we visited lions for a few minutes on our way. Lionsday had only started:

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Edited by bettel
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~ @@bettel

 

WOW! WOW! DOUBLE-TRIPLE-WOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What I've just read and looked at far exceeds anything that I might ever have imagined.

Your storytelling ability, patience and fine photography pulls the reader into the life of Mara cheetahs.

You and Naborr make a magnificent combination, as you get her story out to a wide audience through posting it here.

The drama and immediacy of your commentary is over-the-top WONDROUS, @@bettel!

What a service you've done, and how fortunate we are that you've chosen to post this in Safaritalk.

With Heartiest Admiration,

Tom K.

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Really enjoying your Cheetah focus. Great storytelling and pictures - especially like the ones with the Giraffe. (Obviously a Bettel-specialty, I think you already took pics of such an encounter in SA.) As children we are told about the noble predators who kill their prey quickly without too much pain. Unfortunately we have all learned on safari that this is often nothing more than a myth.

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Fantastic start to the trip report! Seems like you had a great time. Fantastic photos - and I am perfectly ok with the focus being on the cheetahs :)

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Is there such a thing as too many cheetah?

 

Reading this with much interest and even more envy as I had planned a safari to Porini Mara & Lion camps for this June but had to cancel when the Canadian loonie tanked increasing the cost by 47%. Fingers crossed things will look better in 2017 and in the meantime I have your wonderful trip report to enjoy!

 

Would also like to hear your thoughts on Porini accommodations etc.

 

Thanks bettel!

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"Only" a hyena!? ;)

 

I think you have found your audience, and it doesn't seem too limited. All of your cheetah shots and observations have been excellent thus far. The hyenas' appropriation of the kill makes for a dramatic scene.

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Your storytelling ability, patience and fine photography pulls the reader into the life of Mara cheetahs.

Thank you very much, Tom!

 

As children we are told about the noble predators who kill their prey quickly without too much pain. Unfortunately we have all learned on safari that this is often nothing more than a myth.

But cheetahs... cheetahs are perfect :), it should not happen to them :)

 

Fantastic start to the trip report! Seems like you had a great time. Fantastic photos - and I am perfectly ok with the focus being on the cheetahs :)

Thank you for kind words!

 

 

Reading this with much interest and even more envy as I had planned a safari to Porini Mara & Lion camps for this June but had to cancel when the Canadian loonie tanked increasing the cost by 47%. Fingers crossed things will look better in 2017 and in the meantime I have your wonderful trip report to enjoy!

I feel your pain, for the last year and a half I am constantly hoping that one day the rate will come back to normal 1:1.

 

 

I think you have found your audience, and it doesn't seem too limited. All of your cheetah shots and observations have been excellent thus far. The hyenas' appropriation of the kill makes for a dramatic scene.

Thank you very much!

 

Day 3.

 

It was raining at night. Well “raining” is little bit colorless word. Based on the sound, the tent was placed under waterfalls. It got quieter by 6, but it was still raining. Roads were entertaining :), we even did a full donut. It was fun!

 

However, cheetahs probably did not enjoy rain too much and started to move early. We did not find them where we had left them. Actually, we did not find them even after checking all the area around and not so around. We climbed the hill to check from there and came across big group of hyenas sharing a stolen kill (+20 hyenas). To be more precise, one hyena was eating other 19 were watching and trying to participate:

 

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The good triumphed. I mean the good always triumphs over evil. It means whoever won is good :)

 

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Then we found a young lioness on a baby giraffe kill. The lioness was trying to re-hide the carcass. But it was obvious that she was not that experienced. The carcass was getting more and more stuck in bushes:

 

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After a few failed attempts she tried to cover the body with grass. That would have been a nice try if she had actually targeted better. But she was just covering invisible something near the carcass. The lioness was also not pleased with the result so she started to pull again. Well, she had her muscles for brains so bushes gave up:

 

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But it was not quite convenient to pull so the lioness changed the grasp:

 

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It did not work that well either. She made a break to develop the strategy:

 

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Another change in a pose…:

 

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… and nope, this one also did not work:

 

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I will not give up! – the lioness was thinking

 

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The carcass refused to cooperate:

 

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But the lioness insisted and finally they made it together to the new bush:

 

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The lioness lied down to rest and to have some snack. We went to have breakfast and met a tawny eagle nearby. It was watching the lioness with great interest too:

 

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After the breakfast the disposition changed as lioness ate the head. She was going to continue to re-hide the body, but giraffe ears that were so convenient disappeared:

 

11_2_2016-18_zpsgmw0jabc.jpg

 

So she had to accept the fact that the current bush was the final destination :).

To be continued…

 

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~ @@bettel

 

The lioness and baby giraffe kill — what a sequence!

Your outstanding photography captures the most remarkable scenes.

Thank you!

Tom K.

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@@bettel

What a wonderful idea for a trip. And it appears to be working so well. How fascinating to spend so much time with one family.

Your story telling is very engaging and your photos are superb. Cheetah with giraffe, hyena taking kill, lion with young giraffe -all excellent.

I am looking forward to the rest of this

Edited by TonyQ
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The lioness and baby giraffe kill — what a sequence!

We were laughing hard watching her :). She had a lot of determination.

 

 

What a wonderful idea for a trip. And it appears to be working so well. How fascinating to spend so much time with one family.

Your story telling is very engaging and your photos are superb. Cheetah with giraffe, hyena taking kill, lion with young giraffe -all excellent.

Thank you for reading and commenting! We actually spent time with 4 families (3 days with Naborr, 3 days with Imani, 3 days with Musiara and 1 day with Nolari). It just happened that with Naborr we spent three days in a row. But we were switching between Imani and Musiara depending on their hunt success. I mean after a good kill a family would sleep the whole next day anyway.

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@@bettel

We saw Imani and cubs when we were in OMC a few weeks ago. I look forward to seeing her again in your report!

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~ @@TonyQ and @@bettel

 

To make a trio of it, yours truly saw Imani and her cubs in OMC three weeks ago.

She certainly does attract admirers, doesn't she?

Tom K.

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