Sunday, June 15, 2014

Masai Mara: Day 2 PM

After lunch and the spa, I rejoined the group for an afternoon in search of lions and rhino. Our first sighting as we left the camp was male sheep with an ingenious form of birth control - a shield attached around their waist and hanging down to the ground to prevent mating. Fascinating! Probably in use elsewhere, but I hadn't seen it.

As had been the case on each drive so far, we encountered a herd of elephants right beyond the park gates. This particular herd had a very special sight: one mother elephant nursing two babies at the same time. Twins are exceedingly rare in the elephant world; as I did more reading on the subject, I found it was also very rare for a mother elephant to adopt an orphan elephant the same age as her baby. Given that these two were almost exactly the same size, it's likely they are a pair of twins. What an amazing sight! Joseph said he had never seen this before.

We drove on into the Out of Africa section and began looking for our mating lions. With the help of another vehicle, we soon found them. Although, as I look at photos now I think this was not the same pair as the morning. More on that later. This pair mated quickly after we arrived, and we then sat and waited for the encore. The lions just completely pass out after a mating session and do nothing except roll over, yawn, and occasionally look up after it's done. It took about 25 minutes for the next viewing, so they clearly had had a tiring day. Sometimes it's only fifteen minutes between sessions. My favorite part of the mating is that one or both lions starts growling and/or roaring toward the end. It's such an amazing sound!

We drove on and soon encountered a pride of ostriches (aren't collective nouns fun?), one male and several females. The lighting was perfect, so my photos turned out great. Lots of zebra and antelope and birds, but I was apparently not too into taking photos of these. We drove on in search of rhino and finally spotted one quite a ways away. While there are some parts of the Mara where you can off-road, there are a number where you can't. Rhino territory is in the 'can't' segment, so we had to be content with zoom lenses and binoculars. We did see another rhino in the distance beyond this one, but there was no hope my camera could capture it.

It was getting late, and we had to be at the gates by 6:30, so we started back. We stopped on the side of the road to watch the mating lions from earlier perform again (that's four copulation sessions so far, if you're counting) and then headed on. Just as we started picking up speed, we saw a head pop up on the other side of the road. ANOTHER pair of mating lions! Looking at photos, it now seems that this pair was the one Joseph and I had seen early in the morning.

There was a rainbow in the background of the photo at this point, and the lioness was posing oh so perfectly. Love these photos! We saw one mating session and then headed to the gate.

On the way to the camp we encountered a herd of elephants; several of them were grazing on the side of the road just a few feet from our vehicle. Only one of my photos came out (it was getting dark), but it was just a butt shot.

We arrived back at the lodge to warm towels and roaring fires. By now Mohamed had our drink orders down, and I happily accepted my soda water. Dinner was perfect - Mara Triangle ostrich! - and I thoroughly enjoyed the tender steaks. After dinner I went back to my tent, showered, and got into bed. I forgot to mention that each night when they turned down our beds the staff left an African animal folk tale on our bed to read. The first night was why the aardvark lives underground, the second night was (I think) how the leopard got his spots. Such a nice touch. I slept very well this night.

Sheep birth control.

Twins! One is nursing, the other one is heading that way.

Pretty much the same size.

Sticking close to Mama.


And, nap.

And, rest. You can see how hard it is to find them in the tall grass when they're lying down.

Oh, wait, one more time for the tourists.

Pride of ostriches.

Yum - it's what's for dinner!

Black rhino. The other one is waaaay in the distance.

Super zoom.

Rainbow lions!

Love the tongue.

I adore this photo.

And this one.

Love the eyes and the tongue here!

One last session for the day.

He yawns as she walks away.

This photo would have been so much better if the silly elephant hadn't started to walk away.


Lydia Durant said...

LOVE the baby elephants!!! AND the mating lions- hilarious :)

Nomads By Nature said...

We too had so many unintentional butt shots that we contemplated at one time of just making a specialty album of them. Love the rainbow lion shots -- and those twin elephant calves, so incredible!