Day 4 – Looking for breakfast!

After a good nights sleep and well recovered from our adventure to Bila Shaka, we awoke to the horrid sound of my alarm. It had just turned 05:30am and it was time to get up and prepare for our next adventure in the bush. The sky was clear after the rains in the night and the moon was in its full glory. As we drove out into the Mara the sun was just starting to creep over the land. The safari hot air balloons were rising in to the sky as we made our way south east from camp, towards a bushy area between sign post corner and Simba Lodge. Godfrey had been doing his usual networking the evening before and had also been on the radio discussing what had been seen whilst we were at Bila Shaka.
Yesterday saw a great sighting of a Black Rhino and her calf and we were one of several vehicles that was on the hunt to see if we could spot them today. We stood a slim chance of spotting them but if you don’t try then you never know, and at this time of year the Mara is not full of safari vehicles all chasing after the same animals. Good for the animals but making spotting much harder. After several hours of creeping around the bush, we had no luck finding the Rhino and her calf. She probably was not far from us and just deep in the bush where we could not go, but as long as she was safe we did not mind. Black Rhino need all the help they can get if they are to survive in Africa, sightings can be extremely rare in the Maasai Mara. Poaching has brought Black Rhino numbers to such low levels they are fighting for survival. The KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) are doing a fantastic job in tracking and protecting these animals within the Mara and every sighting is valuable data collected.
We had decided to turn back and head towards camp and as we did, from out of the long grass two very hungry male lions appeared. They were very lean and with the posture and pace they were marching, they were definitely looking for food. We were situated along a bush line which the lions were heading towards, as they reached the bush line they stopped, the concentration on there faces was intense, they meant business. These lions needed to find something to eat!
We had seen lions feeding the day before and also during migration time the previous year, but for our first time we truly could see real character when they had a job to do.
The lions marched along the bush line and both would take it in turns to stop, head would lift up and with a raised top lip would taste the air with the sensory gland in the roof of the mouth.

All cats have this sense, and if you watch a domestic cat do this he is not just pulling a funny face, but tasting the air around him, sensing what is in his surroundings. These special tools give the cat the ability to home in on a specific target and in the case of our lions, it would be for one of two things, food or finding the pride. Given the body language and how lean these lions were it was dinner time!
We followed the lions for as long as we could, but as they moved into an area that we could not drive, we decided to turn around and head back. Along the main dirt track which lead us back to our camp – Fig Tree, we saw a line of vans parked up in single file. As we joined the vans our luck was in! A young male cheetah was on the hunt, he was pacing along the edge of the track searching for Thompson gazelle.
To the left of the track was a vast expanse of open grass land, the grass was tall but the plain fell away down hill from us. We could see in the distance several Thompson’s and guess what, so could the Cheetah! The Thompson gazelle were too far away to get any good photos if a chase developed, but it would definitely make good viewing. The wind picked up and unfortunately for the cheetah he was up wind of the prey, his smell spooked the Thompson gazelles and they were off. Our young cat would need to find a different target if he wanted breakfast. As for us, if we wanted breakfast we would need to get back to camp pretty quick, however we would have happily missed breakfast to see the cheetah take a gazelle. This was day 4 of our 9 day trip and in a time of year where the grass was very tall, we had so far experienced unbelievable sightings. What would our early evening game drive bring…….
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