Week 42 … #36 Wild Card … The King

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The King, Richard’s River Camp, Masai Mara, Kenya.

Although our wonderful safaris were back in February, I still enjoy reviewing my images, and editing them at my leisure.  This handsome fellow was relaxing in an open field as we drove by.  We stopped and watched him for a bit, taking dozens of photos and interrupting his siesta.  (Male lions spend about 18-20 hours a day snoozing!) He sat up, looked at us with disinterest and turned away sniffing at the air.  Soon he laid back down and continued his nap.

Nikon d810, Tamron 150-600mm, 460mm, f/6

 

Week 31 … #21 The Wild Side

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Lioness, Ngala Wildlife Preserve, South Africa

Battle scars.

This lioness from the Birmingham pride had just risen from her suckling cubs when I noticed the wound on her nose, probably caused from a scrap with another lion.   It’s a wild wild world they live in with no guarantees that they will see tomorrow.

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Week 23 … #46 Fear … Circle of Life

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Cape Buffalo and lionesses battle over calf, Masai Mara, Kenya.

Cape Buffalo are fiercely protective of their young — and of each other — despite the fact that they have few predators.  Also known as Black Death, the Cape Buffalo can be extremely dangerous, and have a tendency to attack humans.  They are to be feared!!  It is said Cape Buffalos have killed more big game hunters than any other animal in Africa.  But then, I have little sympathy for big game hunters!

We came upon this scene of a young buffalo mother trying to protect her several day old injured calf.  She was alone which probably meant she had been there for a while as the herd had moved on without her.  Buffalo herds are very protective of each other and stick close together, even engaging in mobbing behavior when fighting off predators.  In this case, it would appear that the herd was aware of the futility of saving this baby calf and moved on without her.

The scene was filled with a dozen or so hyenas, two lionesses and a jackal, all surrounding the mother and the calf, waiting for her to walk away.  Each time that she attempted to leave the calf, the lions or the hyenas would approach the calf, biting at it or trying to drag it off.  The calf would cry out, she would run back and chase off the predators.  At one point, the lions attacked the hyenas, pushing them back, but overtime, they inched their way closer.  We must have watched this scene for over an hour with the mother torn between staying with her calf or leaving.

We decided to pull out of the area and find a spot for our mid-morning coffee and breakfast, a nice perk to early morning game drives.

IMG_0898When we returned to the site an hour later, the mother’s struggle to stay or leave still continued as the predators attempted to take the calf.  After another forty minutes watching this scene, the mother ultimately, but hesitantly, continued walking away from the calf as he no longer cried out when the lions were upon him.  She had made her decision to leave.

And so did we.

It’s a sad scene for any animal being attacked or killed but in this wild African kingdom, I came to accept the fact that one animal’s death may mean the survival of another.  Birth, survival and death … in its most raw form in Africa.

Week 22 … #49 Portrait with f/8 … The King

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The King of Masai Mara, Kenya.

We came upon this big guy in an open field around dusk on our game drive, just laying there, sniffing the air casually.  We had no idea where his pride was or even if he was part of a pride.  Young males are forced out of the pride around 2 years old.  They form bachelor groups and follow migrating herds until they are strong enough to challenge male lions of other prides.  A group of males stay in power in the pride for around three years before another bachelor group takes it over.  

He was just one of a number of lions and lionesses we viewed while staying several days at Richard’s River Camp, a private conservancy bordering the Masai Mara in Kenya.  Being set in a conservancy means contributing revenue to a conservation area, which has fewer other travelers, and the option to do bush walks and night game drives which are not possible inside the main Mara.

We stopped and watched him for a while.  He seemed quite content all alone.  It still unnerves me when these wild animals lock eyes with you when they are only 10 or 20 feet away.  But at that moment, it was a perfect time to capture a portrait of this majestic wild animal.  Captured with a Nikon D810, Tamron 150-600 lens at 350mm zoom, f/8, ISO 1600, 1/250 sec.