This morning's highlight: Lion with Zebra kill
07.11.2018 - 07.11.2018
My back has not improved at all overnight, resulting in me feeling rather fragile and somewhat uncomfortable this morning. As is usual on our safaris, we leave the lodge before daybreak, setting out to 'see what nature has to offer us' as Malisa loves to tell us.
As we start our morning game drive, Malisa asks us whether we'd like to go off to find the migration today, or whether we'd prefer to search for cats. Four voices pipe up in unison: “Cats, please”. That's unanimous, then.
This morning's breakfast (Malisa's expression for the first animal spotted that day) is a large group of hartebeest, including a number of youngsters.
As it is still pre-dawn, the sun has yet to make it above the horizon, making for challenging photography and somewhat dull and grainy pictures.
This guy has lost one of his horns, presumably in an altercation with another hartebeest over a possible mate.
Or maybe she lost her horn while protecting her baby, as this is obviously a female hartebeest (my hartebeest gender identification skills are obviously sadly lacking).
Buffalo in the sunrise
After a dull start, the light is now lovely as the sun rises and promises us another beautiful day.
Some people may find the following images disturbing
We haven't travelled far from the lodge before we see our first evidence of a big cat this morning: an abandoned zebra carcass. Probably the result of a leopard kill, and the cat vacating the dining table after being disturbed by our car approaching. With not many tourists venturing this way, the animals here are nowhere near as accustomed to cars as those in the much busier Central Serengeti region.
The predators tend to start eating the 'soft' targets first, such as the eyes, ears, tail, genitals and other easily accessible bits.
We hang around for a while, hoping the leopard will return to finish his breakfast. David spots him first, appearing in the distance behind the trees. It is not a leopard, however, but a beautiful male lion.
As soon as he spots us, he stops in his tracks, unsure of whether to continue or not.
The draw of the food is greater than the fear of us humans, however, and he ventures into the glorious light of the early morning sun.
After initially settling down with his meal, he appears uncomfortable about having an audience while he is eating; and merely grabs a few half-hearted bites, then drags the carcass away with him.
"What are you looking at? Can't a lion even eat breakfast in peace these days?"
There is, of course, a much more logical reason for him moving his breakfast: the smell does not travel so well if the kill is positioned inside the bushes, thus less likely to attract other hungry predators (rival lions, leopards, and even hyena have been known to steal kills)
Soon our lion is all but hidden by the trees and we realise that we are undoubtedly the only people to see the lion with his feast, as this road only leads to the lodge and the other guests were just arriving for breakfast when we set out earlier. By the time they'll drive past here later, they may not even spot the lion, let alone see the zebra carcass. Feeling smug for getting out and about early (and thrilled for having experienced this), we leave him be and continue on our way.
This youngster is around seven or eight months old and will suckle his mother for the first year or so of his life.
They seem blissfully unaware of what happened to their cousin just a short distance away.
Ngare Naironya Springs
There is lots of goings-on here at the pub (AKA waterhole), with hyenas and a few scattered birds crowding the bar, despite the spring being almost dry.
I am loving the backlighting and the long shadows from the low morning sun.
Black Faced Sandgrouse
On a hillside overlooking the waterhole, with 180 degree views, we set up our picnic chairs and table and get the breakfast boxes out.
Amazingly, there is even a toilet block here, miles from anywhere.
While we are enjoying our packed breakfasts, it seems that the zebra are arriving at the spring in their droves.
After breakfast we too return to the waterhole and spend most of the morning there observing and photographing the goings on, but I will leave that for the next blog entry.
Calabash African Adventures, the best safari company by far.