Friday, Massai Mara Today is Friday and we started out on our game drive at 6:30 AM. The Entim staff had prepared a breakfast for us to take along. However, we did have our wake up of coffee-just before 5:30 am, delivered to our tent. Right out of the driveway of the lodge, we encountered two hyenas, that Michal says have sort of taken up residency near here. They were a bit quick and  unable to get photos.

On the knoll above the lodge was a vast herd of Gazelles. Then we came upon a Mom and baby elephant about month old but not with a herd. Michal guessed that probably they were alone because baby can’t keep up with herd. We saw a pair of Topi, foretelling lots more to come.

In the distance, there was a herd of buffalo on the hill. As the sun was rising we saw Hot air balloons drifting along, actually 10 of them. We caught sight of a pair topi with young one, and buffalo.

Along the side of the road, we saw a hyena with a nursing young one. They can have litters up to 6 but mortality rate is high and they lose a lot of them. Female hyenas are usually larger than males. Sightings take place at dusk and dawn and is highly vocal at night.

Then a herd of gazelles. We had ventured into an area when the grass was shorter and the wildlife was plentiful and more easily visible. 

We found more Hyena and then came upon a Leopard eating what was left of a gazelle, in tree. At the foot of the tree a  jackal was barking at her as if to say “save some for me.” She climbed down out of tree and left her perch. There were about 30 trucks around and regretfully a few started following or chasing her – until they saw the Warden coming.

The leopard is the most elusive of Africa’s large predators. It has a rosette patterned coat, a powerful physique, and prefers dense cover. The leopard is among the most solitary and territorial of cats. Adults live alone in well-marked territories that are never shared with the same sex, but males and females have partial territorial overlap. Females give birth to litters of two or three in a sheltered thicket or cave. They keep close watch over them for about 2 weeks, when their eyes open. Infant mortality is high, it’s unusual for more than one cub to survive into adulthood. Cubs can fend for themselves at around a year, but usually hang around Mom for another 6-12 months before becoming fully independent.

We have now seen the Big Five! The term “Big Five” has nothing to do with size! It originally referred to the difficulty in hunting the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and African buffalo. These five large African mammal species were known to be dangerous and it was considered a feat to bring them home.

We encountered Giraffe, Impalas, Common Zebras, the Maasai Ostrich.

We had heard of a Lion pride nearby and went off to find it! The pride consisted of  17 animals, including two males. They were moving in a coordinated effort across a field toward the big herd of buffalo we had seen yesterday. There  must have been 100 vehicles in attendance and this is low season. I’d hate to see how many would be here in high season. The lions seemed oblivious of the trucks, weaving their way through them with the huge male bringing up the rear. It appears they gave up on the hunt  since it was getting too hot and will spend the day by the stream under shade of trees. Another hunt opportunity lost!

We drove up a hill, claimed a spot in the shade under a tree to stop for breakfast. Michal set the hood of the truck with juice, coffee, yogurt, fruit, potatoes, pastries, and a hard boiled egg.

We headed back toward the lodge and our tent. On the way, we saw a family unit of elephants, a stork perched beside the road, a lumping buffalo (obviously hurt his leg), giraffes necking (sometimes a sign of aggression between males, but can be play among younger individuals), and dwarf mongoose. The dwarf mongoose is small with a shoulder height of only 2.8 inches. It is often seen around termite mounds and hollowed dead branches it uses as home. 

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