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Lion in the rain - Kenya, November 2022


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The next morning was slightly nicer, at least there wasn't any rain but it was almost completely cloudy. So no morning colors.  We decided to look for the lions to see what they had done in the night, but at first we (and a couple of other jeeps that were also looking) couldn't find them.  We did see this nicely posing giraffe, that would have made an especially nice photo with sunrise colors behind it, but as it was the dull light meant that it worked better in my mind in B&W.  



Posing giraffe, in mediocre light


Not long after, a lone adolescent male lion was found wandering around - he seemed to also be wondering where all of his family had gone.  



Where is everybody? 


Not long after, Jackson got a message that seemed to explain part of the issue.  Some cars had gone in the opposite direction when leaving camp, and they had come across a few female lions that did not belong to the pride, and it seemed there had been some type of confrontation in the night.  So we headed off in that direction, and we did get to see the interloping females briefly.  


We also then heard that a rogue male lion had been seen in the area.  We didn't know at the time, but subsequently I have found out that this lion is known as Ron 2.  Ron 2, based on what I have read on the Mara Predator Conservation facebook page, is the second oldest male lion known in the Mara region, at 12 years of age.  He also is either the son or grandson of the famous Notch. He used to be part of a coalition of 5 males, but when the Olarro South conservancy failed all of his brothers disappeared and are presumed to have been killed.  So he's had a tough life recently, and even without knowing that we were wondering what would happen as the 3 males we saw the previous night (Rongai males, I think) were really not that far away.  But as best we could tell the males never crossed paths.



Regal old man, I quite like the hairdo


He seemed pretty settled, so we went over to where the three Rongai boys were.  It was only maybe 500 meters.  This was one of the few times where we had to wait our turn to get close to them.  But once we did they did pose nicely for us.



Not looking too happy



Getting ready to get up


Once we had gotten our photos, we moved out to let the next vehicles in.  Jackson thought that the males were going to get up soon and try to follow the strange females, which is what they did after not too long. So we were well-positioned when they made their way through the bushes.



Big boys



Heading with a purpose


At this point Jackson didn't think they were going to do too much of interest - he said if we felt we had enough photos that we might want to move on to another sighting, but that it was up to us.  

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Your exceptional photography continues to astonish- the pictures have a pop that on my iPad jump out. Fabulous, the cheetah chase shots, the lion portraits etc etc. 

Hope your wife has fully recovered from the mishap. Hey, perhaps safari vehicles should have seatbelts🥹

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Thanks @AKR1, I appreciate the kind words regarding the photographs!   Yes, my wife is good now thankfully.  Ping's vehicle, at least, did have seatbelts - it became a bit of a running joke after the accident,  any time there was even a minor bump I would turn around to check if my wife had attached hers. 


We left the male lions because another Encounter vehicle had found some of the large pride with a fresh zebra kill, and they were just starting to eat.  As an aside, it seemed as though the vehicles from Encounter would generally head off in different directions at the start of a drive, and then keep in touch regarding what they were seeing.  I know some people feel pretty strongly that a guide should always find their own sightings, but this system seemed to be a good compromise.


We got to the kill, and it was kind of hard to see as the lions had dragged it into a large bush.  So at first we mostly enjoyed the sounds of the feast.



But gradually we got a decent angle, and some animals would eat their fill and leave the immediate area.



Done eating



They're cute when small, but sometimes their true nature comes out



Getting full


Once the zebra was done, we enjoyed some time with some very content kitties.



Food coma



Play time


Once they were all settled down, we decided to move on, likely to head back to camp (it was about 11:30).  Jackson asked us what we would like to see in the afternoon, we said it would be really great to see a cheetah.  That was when we were told that there weren't many cheetah around Naboisho, which perhaps makes sense given the size of the lion pride.  But maybe we'd have luck... 

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Omg - not many cheetah in naboisho now?  How quickly dynamics in an area can change ...... we were there in Jan 2021 in the middle of Covid - cheetah sightings were exceptionally good.

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@madaboutcheetah, we actually ended up doing quite alright with cheetah, as you'll see now. :)


About two minutes after we set off for camp, Jackson got a message, and after looking at his phone asked if we wanted to delay going for food, because a cheetah had just been seen.  Sounded like a good plan to us!  So we headed past our camp over to the area where Eagle view is located, and found a mother cheetah and her baby.  








They were clearly on the prowl for some food, and seemed headed for an open area where a variety of antelope were grazing.  So we (along with the 2-3 other vehicles there) headed way off in front of them to ensure we didn't affect their progress.  They ended up briefly down in a ravine about 100 meters from us, and while they were out of our view we saw a family of warthogs heading roughly in their direction.  Jackson was skeptical that the cheetahs would mess with a family of warthogs, but next thing we knew the cub was up over the hill toward us with a still-alive piglet in its mouth.



Cub with the prize


Mom eventually took the piglet back to finish it off, but her little one thought this was a fun game too. 






Eventually she gave the piglet back to the cub, who practiced its suffocation skills for a bit. 



I think I killed it mom!


Before digging into its meal.  



Happy kitty


All-in-all a fun sighting, it was a shame not to see the actual hunt but still a pretty good end to our morning drive. 

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The afternoon drive started on-time after our tea and cake, with the decision to go back to where the cheetahs had been to check that area out.  We did find them, and spent a bit of time watching them, but they seemed content with the meal they'd had, and there was a hyena shadowing them, so we moved on.  No pictures, sleeping cheetah didn't seem worth it after the morning!  We were fairly close to an area that can have leopard, so we thought we'd check that out.  But no leopards were to be found, instead a lot of baboons and vervet monkeys were in the area.



Baby a little uncertain about the vehicle



Just hanging out


It was pretty quiet in the area, so we headed off in another direction, where we came across to lionesses looking intently at a small group (5-10) of zebra.  So we settled down to watch the hunt, it was interesting how they coordinated and one lioness left to (apparently) circle around and try to flush the zebra.  Meanwhile, we could still see one who was intent on the dazzle (how many animals need to be there for it to be a dazzle?).



Watching the zebra


But for whatever reason the one that had headed into the bushes never really seemed to make any progress, and the zebra just kept wandering farther and farther away.  So the lioness we could see gave up, and started heading toward a thicket of bushes on the other side of our car.



I think you can feel the frustration in her sister in her look!


Her sister followed not too far behind.  It was at this time that I noticed that tea at 4PM, and G&Ts at 5 watching the lionesses, can lead to a bit of an urgent need to check the tire pressure!  Both females were almost out of sight, so I asked Jackson if I could hop down on the other side of the vehicle.  He said sure, so I did, and started my business. Not a couple of seconds later, my wife said that the rear lioness had actually stopped to look back where we were.  So I also put my head up, and at that time we realized that there were also two ~2 year old sub-adult males with these lionesses, who we hadn't seen before, and they were following in their tracks.  They were still a long way off, but I was ready to jump back into the truck regardless of what state I was in! Definitely one of the most exciting tire pressure checks I've experienced.  



One of the young boys a bit later - it was essentially dark at this point and we could barely see them (f/2.8, ISO 12800, 1/160th of a second!)


Since it was dark, we headed back to camp.  We did see a hippo out on the road, but the lack of a spotlight meant we couldn't really see it particularly well.  

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really enjoyingthe report and the photo's' - @Zubbie15-you do seem to be a bit of a dying warthog magnet!

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Phew!!!  Thank God - no surprises!!! Naboisho and cheetah go hand in hand ........  That area near Eagle view with the Balanyte trees is absolutely stunning! My fav part of the conservancy.

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The next morning, our goal was to find some young lions.  There were two lionesses in the conservancy that had ~3 week old cubs, and they were hanging away from the pride at that time.  But they had been bringing the cubs out a bit, so tourists had been seeing them.  We scanned the normal area first, but didn't come across any babies. Instead, nearby was the main pride, including the pride males, all hanging together.



Hanging out



Paying tribute to the king



The males were very patient



Play time


But after a while they started doing lion things, and all settled down, so we continued our search for younger lions.  It wasn't much longer that we did find them, and they were as cute as expected.



Practicing for the future



Hi Mom



Don't leave me behind



Coming close


After a while the mom stashed the cubs in a bush, and it looked like she wanted to hunt some wildebeest that we could see in the distance.  But after a while she returned to the cubs, and we decided to head off for something else.

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@madaboutcheetah, definitely a beautiful area, no doubt.  And there might be some more cheetahs coming up now...


Leaving the lions, we headed out to a more open area that we hadn't visited before.  We arrived just at the end of an interaction, where a pair of jackals had killed a baby antelope, but then had had that stolen by a baboon.  When we arrived the baboon was just coming down from a tree, where it dropped the remains of the carcass and ran off.  The jackals did recover it, but there wasn't really much left.



Jackal with remains of a kill


Continuing on, we found another female cheetah with a cub.  I don't remember if it was this one or the other one, but one of these cheetahs is known as Selenkei (I don't have an ID for the other).   They were relaxing together, and occasionally looking around.



Time for some grooming



Synchronized yawning



Still tired



Play time!


There were some goats and herders in the area - Jackson was pretty convinced that they would hunt once the domestic animals and people had moved on, so we settled in to wait.  Pretty much as soon as the herders disappeared, the cheetahs started to walk along, and they eventually ended up under a bush.



Care to guess where the prey is?  


This photo was taken at 12:42 PM - we debated whether to leave and come back or to stay, but decided we should stay.  We ended up being the only ones who did so.  We backed off quite a bit, and headed over toward where a mixed herd of antelopes was present.  Not long later, mom got up, and went into a large shrubby area that came almost up to the herd.  And then we waited... and waited... and waited a bit more?  Where did she go?  And then, all of a sudden the impala closest to the bushes gave an alarm call, and at the same moment she came bursting out of the bushes.  Sadly neither of us was ready at all, so we just enjoyed watching the antelope scatter, while mom ran full speed from our right to left, and then quickly back from left to right, have zeroed in on a Tommy.  They ended up back out of sight behind the bushes, so we made our way slowly around to find that they were successful.



Another cub practicing on a dead prey


We stayed with them a while, and saw them make good progress on eating the Tommy.




But eventually we decided to head back to camp for a late lunch - there was the option to have something brought out to us, but we thought the big excitement was over by now, and in any case we needed to start packing up as it was our last night coming up.  As we left, we saw the first of the vehicles that had left for lunch coming back, Jackson told them where to find the cheetahs, and that they'd missed all of the excitement.


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For some reason the last two lion cub photos don't seem to work on my phone or iPad, but they do show up on my computer.  Not sure why, but in case they aren't working for others here they are again:





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So glad you caught up with Selenkei !!! 

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always awesome to watch the cheetahs in full speed in a hunt, even if you don't capture it on a camera. 

excellent shots of the lions. 

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>>For some reason the last two lion cub photos don't seem to work on my phone or iPad, but they do show up on my computer.  Not sure why, but in case they aren't working for others here they are again:


Actually they aren't showing up in the first post on my PC (I see the re-posted ones.)


Awesome stuff all around. Beautiful cheetahs!


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It seems like people often hesitate to write trip reports covering areas that have been visited already by a lot of people, but hopefully there's an appetite for revisiting well-trod ground.  


Not really an issue I think - got a way to go before we become blasé about these trips again I think. And November isn’t a well-traveled month so even more interesting.


Lovely, lovely photos. Thanks.

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34 minutes ago, pault said:




Not really an issue I think - got a way to go before we become blasé about these trips again I think. And November isn’t a well-traveled month so even more interesting.


Lovely, lovely photos. Thanks.

Yeah, melanistic leopards usually take the edge off the boredom too. :D

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  • 4 weeks later...

So I clearly didn't get this finished before we left for Tanzania.  :lol:  Let's get this wrapped up, not much more to go.  Sorry I missed your comment while traveling @pault!


We left camp for our last afternoon drive. Jackson asked us what we hoped to see, and we said that we hadn't seen any leopards in the conservancy and it would be nice to try for one.  Jackson said that they hadn't been seeing a lot of leopards recently, but we would give it a shot.  We headed off, but made a quick detour to where some lions had taken down a wildebeest.  They were basically done eating, and were all hiding in bushes, but we did stop for a few minutes.





We then headed off to an area we hadn't been to previously, which was definitely rockier than the rest of the conservancy.  There was another vehicle there also looking for leopard, and it wasn't long before they signaled to us that they had found a female up ahead. She was posing very nicely for us, out in the open.



Time to wake up



There we go



Almost too close for pictures - she came within ~10 feet of our vehicle


I don't have a name for this leopard, but Jackson knew her because she had given birth to cubs a few months previously.  The cubs however hadn't been seen in a while, and the guides were worried that they might have been lost somehow.  She also had successfully raised a young male prior to that - he was actually seen by some other cars this same evening, but we missed him as he'd disappeared once we left her.  



Heading off to an area we couldn't follow


We'd spent most of the afternoon with her, and so started to head back toward camp.  For the first time in ages, the sun actually came out, which was nice.  Part of me wanted to say let's skip sundowners, but since it was our last night I decided to take it easy and just grab some photos while we were drinking.



Nice light, which was rare



Sun almost gone, I was really hoping this zebra would put up its head but it never cooperated


So that was our last afternoon/evening drive in the Mara - I think it was a nice send-off, although we still had one more day to go.

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The next morning, Jackson had given us the option of sleeping in or going out for one last game drive.  Very tough decision...


We headed out with no real plan, but since the sky was clear and it was going to be a good sunrise I said we needed to just find something worth shooting.  So, of course, we ended up finding the large pride of lions, and we were fortunate that the 3 pride males were there as well.  



Portrait of the king



One of his brothers getting up from his nap - he didn't seem to happy!


At one point I asked Jackson if the other cars (there were 2 or 3 there) would be ok if we did a quick drive around the male, to try to get him backlit.  He asked the other drivers, and not only were they ok with it they decided to follow us.  So everyone got this big guy backlit, but we were in the best position.  



Life is good when you're the king


Eventually we decided to leave the male lions to some other cars (the lions were spread out over about a space of 100 meters by 100 meters - this was the one time we had more than 5 vehicles around, but the ranger - who were there - let it go because there were different clusters spread out).  There were a lot of opportunities, including this female who was stalking something.



The last thing many zebras see just before the meet their end


The pride had several adolescent male lions in it, and they were probably getting pretty close to being kicked out.  We could see this dynamic starting, as the third pride male was putting one of these younger males in his place.



Who's the boss?  No question here


After a while, Jackson told us that another guide had located mating leopards, and while it was far did we want to try, or did we want to stay with the lions.  We didn't really hesitate to say the leopards.  So off we went, going pretty fast, and got there just in time to see the two leopards walk into some thick brush.  We saw them quite well, but no pictures at all.  It turned out the mating female was the one we saw the previous night, so clearly she had lost her cubs as worried.  We waited as long as we could in the area, and could hear the sounds of leopard baby-making, but never really got a clear view of them.  Eventually Jackson suggested we move off to have our breakfast, and he would have one of the guides message him if they came out.  So we did that, and were treated to some music from Jackson while we ate:



The leopards never came out, so we headed off to the airstrip for our return to reality (with a slight detour).

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I forgot to upload a couple of videos of the leopard:


First time I'd had a leopard "saw" close to me:


Coming in close:


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Arriving in Kenya, we were picked up by Joe from the Emakoko.  I'd really wanted to see this hotel, having heard lots of good things, and it was really nice.  We were kind of sad to only have a day room there! One of the unique parts of the hotel is the outdoor elevator to get to some of the rooms.



The main goal for me for the afternoon was to try to see a rhino or two in Nairobi National Park, in particular a white rhino as we had never been in a position to see one.  So we had arranged for a short game drive in the park for the late afternoon.  We actually saw a white rhino on our drive to the hotel, but it was very distant and looked mostly like a rock (with horns).  So after our lunch and a siesta, we headed out for a quick drive.  Joe seemed to have a specific location in mind, but on our way we of course ended up with one last lion.



This male had apparently killed a topi of his own, but he didn't seem interested in looking at us so after a few minutes we continued on for our goal


We continued along, and really didn't seem to be having any luck as the sun got lower in the sky.  We took one last road toward a waterhole, and there was a rhino posing for us. 



A nice, big, healthy white rhino, and a great way to end the trip.  We had our last sundowners in its company. 


And with that I guess this report comes to an end.  Thanks to all who have read, liked, commented along the way.  We had a really good time, and our kids enjoyed Tanzania so much last month, that we're already talking to the Wild Source about a return to Kenya in 2024 (likely focusing on the conservancies, something along the lines of 4 nights Naboisho, 3 nights Olare Motorogi, and 4 nights Mara North). 


Safari njema.  

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What an outstanding safari @Zubbie15!   Your good plan came to fruition in a major way.



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@Zubbie15- A lovely trip!!!  I love the emakoko too ... I was there for a night after my Rwanda trip in September.

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hurrah! what a splendid trip with some fabulous photo's @Zubbie15

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