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Appointment with a Leopard - Masai Mara one year on


penolva

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penolva
8 hours ago, KaliCA said:

I believe you about the leopard that she is the same.  It’s just not clear to me what you are comparing. Ears? Whisker spots? Good for you that you can tell. 

Love those lions! Like you, I also love the wide open spaces. Must show your pics to DH to convince him to go there. 

Glad you are continuing your TR. 

@KaliCA Spots! ? Hope you can pursuade him! The next posts might just clinch it. Pen 

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You may have read my trip report from 2017 when we stayed at Brian Freeman's camp in the Masai Mara? During that trip, we spent a lot of time with a leopard called Bahati and she had two cubs, a male

Thanks for following along! A short distance away and sitting under a tree was Imani and her three beautiful cubs. They were quite young and had their 'honey badger' fur clearly visible. They fol

We planned a very early start as George was taking us to the edge of the border between the reserve and the conservancy to try to find the 'Five Musketeers', cheetah coalition, we had seen several tim

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Amylovescritters

Appears she has nick out of right ear in both pics...

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penolva
13 hours ago, Neeners815 said:

Wonderful pics - absolutely gorgeous!

@Neeners815Thank you very much. The Mara delivered for us two years in a row. We can't wait to go back!

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penolva

We had lunch by the river. It was very hot. We had fish and beetroot salad, it was very good. After a nap, we set off for out afternoon drive.  We had just left camp and this rhino was there. He was a bit skittish and tried to charge us. My DH thought he saw some men on foot in the trees beyond the rhino. George got on the radio and

reported this to the rangers. They were not from camp so we were concerned they were poachers.

 

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 George used the radio quite often but he wasn't intrusive. He only took calls from friends to report a good sighting. We heard him talking and he suddenly set off really fast. He had a cheeky grin on his face but wouldn't tell me what we were rushing to see!

 

Serval! Top of my list wow, Of course,:):) being a serval it was hidden in the grass. George said he had told his friend not to call anyone else in so we could have the serval to ourselves. 

 

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It was running through the grass and very difficult to follow as it was fast and disappeared several times. 

 

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We were very happy when it decided to cross the track just in front of us and we could see it very clearly. What a beautiful animal. Not quite four feet off the ground again but very close. It ran off and was gone in an instant. Well done George!_DSC9165.jpg.14902b6c8cf332c7600e6eee057afb96.jpg1X1A3653.jpg.43e0e4b89afb506b16e57b03b947f210.jpg1X1A3654.jpg.2fe37cdcefcab01e4e8459a96845d08d.jpg

 

We turned back towards camp. We met up with Josh who drove us last year and were able to shake hands across the vehicles. It was great to see him. Just before we turned down the track to camp the beautiful eland were out enjoying the evening. Each with its own oxpecker and quietly eating. They were so relaxed again. 

 

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KaliCA

Just beautiful. Congrats on that serval. Very elusive cat. How nice of your guide to keep it a secret!

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What a great sighting of the serval! Great catch of the leopard mid-leap - you do have very good luck with leopards. 

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penolva
On 1/6/2019 at 6:22 PM, KaliCA said:

Just beautiful. Congrats on that serval. Very elusive cat. How nice of your guide to keep it a secret!

@KaliCA George was a great guide. He worked really hard to find the best sightings for us. Pen

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penolva
23 minutes ago, Birdie said:

What a great sighting of the serval! Great catch of the leopard mid-leap - you do have very good luck with leopards. 

@Birdie we changed our luck by going to the Masai Mara and the Talek river area. Leopard central! Prior to that we didn’t have a lot of luck despite spending weeks in different African countries. Pen 

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penolva

We planned a very early start as George was taking us to the edge of the border between the reserve and the conservancy to try to find the 'Five Musketeers', cheetah coalition, we had seen several times last year. We were amazed they were still together as they were unrelated as a group. George drove very fast to get us to the area to catch them in the early morning light. When we arrived there were a few other vehicles. The five were spread across the land just outside the conservancy so we were able to get quite close. We noticed that none of them had a collar on, one did last year. George explained that the collar had fallen off but they were the same five.

 

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We had to laugh at the chap on the motorbike going to work! Quite a start to the day for him. 

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They split up and looked as if they were going to hunt. George got a call and said that Emani, daughter of Amani, had just come into the reserve from the conservancy with her three small cubs. Did we want to go and see them? What a decision, but small cheetah cubs were on my list after Bahati and the serval. Leaving the cheetah we quickly moved location. A fantastic start to the day and it was still only 06.40.

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penolva

Thanks for following along!

A short distance away and sitting under a tree was Imani and her three beautiful cubs. They were quite young and had their 'honey badger' fur clearly visible. They followed their mother as she set off in the direction of some bushes. En route they decided to give us a very cute photo opportunity by jumping onto a dead log and then playing. Cuteness overload.

 

We spoke to a woman photographer who was traveling alone at the sighting. She was staying in one of the lodges near the fires and said it was terrible. Smoke everywhere. She had left at 03.30 to get to the area to see the cheetah.

 

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penolva

Thanks @Game Warden and @madaboutcheetah. I have to tell you here are even cuter ones to come ? They were very playful and also had a run in with some elephants. Very interesting to watch. Pen 

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Great serval sighting and fantastic cheetah photos! I also really loved the vivid colors of your lion photos on the previous page.

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penolva

@Marks thank you. It was a beautiful golden light filled morning when we saw the lions. Pen

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penolva

Looking back at my diary the spelling is Emani, not Imani. I lose track of the names.

 

Emani led them off towards a mound. We hoped she was looking around for something to hunt. The cubs joined her while she seemed to be scanning the area. As we were so near to them it gave us chance to have a close look at the cubs. They all seemed in really good shape and were very alert and playful. 

 

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We watched as some elephants began walking in the general direction of the family. The cubs were very aware of the elephants and crouched low.

 

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One elephant noticed them and obviously didn't like them being there. We are sure cheetah do not attack, baby, elephants but this elephant was taking no chances. 

 

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The cubs were watching it but Emani didn't seem to notice until suddenly it gave a mock charge. 

 

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They all ran for it but of course, the photograph I took didn't come out as I hoped :( no time to focus!

 

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The cubs looked back at the elephant as if to say "What did we do?" They walked away and then it was playtime.

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amybatt

I’m pretty sure that’s Amani and her cubs, based on the number of them and their size.  Her daughter Imani also has cubs but I think they’re younger (and smaller!).  I can’t remember specifics on when all these cubs were born, but Imani’s cubs today on social media look smaller than those in your photos from 3 months ago, so Im going with Amani, currently the oldest female cheetah in the Mara.  There isn’t an Emani.

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penolva
9 hours ago, amybatt said:

I’m pretty sure that’s Amani and her cubs, based on the number of them and their size.  Her daughter Imani also has cubs but I think they’re younger (and smaller!).  I can’t remember specifics on when all these cubs were born, but Imani’s cubs today on social media look smaller than those in your photos from 3 months ago, so Im going with Amani, currently the oldest female cheetah in the Mara.  There isn’t an Emani.

Hi @amybatt I wrote down the name George gave me but I noticed you mentioned different names in your own TR. Thanks for the update. Whatever the name she was a great Mum and the cubs were very cute. Did you hear if they have all  survived so far? Pen 

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amybatt

Yes as of yesterday Amani still has 3 cubs!  But I think Imani is down to 1 or 2 now.

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penolva

Amani! led the cubs away and at that moment George started the engine and we drove off! Apparently, we were actually off road and only two vehicles had permits and the rest of us would face a KSH10,000 fine if caught. George said there was a number of permits issued each week but to get one you had to go to Narok. 

 

The rangers left and we went back. It obviously happens all the time but to be honest, there were only around 8 vehicles there and everyone gave the cheetah family plenty of room. 

 

The cubs began to chase around and play with elephant dung and also found a small piece of bone from a previous kill. 

 

'Killing' the elephant dung.

 

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Running towards what looks like a piece of bone but it could be anything.

 

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The cubs chased each other into a tree and then they decided attacking mum was a better game. Look at the size of the paws of the little one in the second picture. They seem out of proportion to the legs. It was very hot by this time so we set off for camp and lunch beside the river.

 

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On the way, we found a large group of wildebeest. Although there was a good number the plains behind were almost empty when last year they had been full. The migration was very different this year and @KaliCA  describes how different it was earlier in the year in Tanzania in her self drive TR.

 

They were marching south towards Tanzania and George said he had heard there were hundreds of thousands just over the border near Sand River. We decided to make an early start the next day to try and see them.

 

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blindbumpy

Awesome start to the trip, and great photographs.   We are very much looking forward to our first trip to Kenya later this year, and meeting you at Umani Springs.  Can only hope we have similar experiences.  Anticipating your next installments, don't keep us waiting too long!

:)

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penolva

@blindbumpy glad you like the photos. Next instalment on its way. We are all looking forward to meeting up later in the year in Kenya. It’s going to be fantastic ?? @Pamshelton3932 @optig Pen 

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penolva

Back to camp for lunch and a group of 12 from Sri Lanka had arrived. Great fun and very keen photographers. There were more hippo in the river near camp today. We had a nap and then out for an evening drive. It was quiet but we did see many animals and birds including a cute elephant that was very interested in coming over to the vehicle. Such a lovely little face.

 

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As we got back to camp we could see rain in the distance and it rained quite heavily during the night. 

 

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