Predator’s Preyground 2013

Morkel Erasmus All Authors, Morkel 2 Comments

This title is a bit of a cliche and a play on Chinese “Engrish“, but I am a sucker for alliteration and assonance and word games(that’s what you get when your parents are both language teachers by trade)…

In all honesty, this title pretty much sums up my experience over the last two years of hosting Wild Eye’s Great Migration photographic safari in the Mara Triangle. It’s been a total predator’s preyground – and I have not even been spending more than 7 days per year in this area!

Let me take you through the predator-prey interactions we encountered over the course of the two safaris I hosted…blow by blow as it were. There were many more sightings on the safari than listed here, but these are the specific moments of interaction that stood out to me.

I’ll cover the 2013 predator/prey highlights here, and reserve 2014’s moments for a follow-up post.

2013 Safari – 22 to 28 September

23 September

We drove out of our tented camp on the banks of the Mara river at the crack of dawn, eager to see what we would encounter. Not 1km from camp we came across a wildebeest with a badly wounded rear rump, chased by a spotted hyena! The light was still very poor (plus it was overcast) so this one has no images to show, but moments after we stopped the wildebeest and hyena moved into a section of particularly long oatgrass which impeded visibility, they then squared off and the wildebeest chased the scavenger off and ran off.

The remainder of the morning was spent watching herds cross the river, and a few massive crocodiles hunting them!

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On our afternoon drive we found a young male lion guarding the remains of a zebra carcass, and a little further on we found the rest of the pride feasting on a fresh wildebeest kill. The Predator’s Preyground was certainly open for business on this trip!

24 September

Our morning started off with some bird photography (crowned cranes and vultures) but soon escalated to a pride of lions with full bellies and a fresh carcass, watching a herd of wildebeest and zebra descend from the Oloololo escarpment and run right by them. They showed interest, but never committed to the hunt…

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We eventually left these lions when they were properly getting lazy, and went looking for river crossings. What we found, was an awesome sighting…

We came across a small pride of lions (presumably a female and her sub-adult cubs roaming alone), lying on the banks of the Mara river. Before you could say “Predator’s Preyground”, a lone wildebeest swam through the river from nowhere and walked right into them. It didn’t end well for the gnu…

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We opted to stay out in the field all day – why wouldn’t we, with action coming thick and fast? After spending quite some time with the lions as they fed on their meal, we went to a small crossing of wildebeest that we could see was taking place further upstream. The crocodiles were having easy pickings again (they make them BIG in the Mara!). Our last minutes of the day were spent with a lioness waking up from her nap in the fork of a tree – and as she descended, she stalked some nearby zebras…but alas she didn’t move in for the kill by the time we had to leave for our camp. Two of our vehicles also saw another wildebeest being killed by lions close to camp just as the sun set! What a day!

25 September

Our morning kicked off in high gear after spotting a lioness in the marshes around our camp before setting out on our drive, and then coming across two handsome male lions who were patrolling and roaring loudly right next to us. Giraffes are a prey species that never lets predators out of their sight…

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Later on that morning we came across a female cheetah, and lo and behold, she was stalking a Thomson’s gazelle! Needless to say, it all went down right in front of us…

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That afternoon we decided to head south to look for some crossings further away from our camp – but not before we found lions and hyenas battling it out for a kill the lions had made earlier!

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By this time we’d lost count of how many carcasses we were driving past on every game drive. The afternoon was rounded off by mating lions amid a massive herd of wildebeest.

26 September

We headed south immediately as we were hoping for some huge crossings down that way. Our decision did not disappoint our guests!

After witnessing some massive river crossings (with no real crocodile activity), we spent time with a pride of lions who almost looked like they wanted to chase after a warthog that was passing by. On the way back to camp we saw some more mating lions, as well as a beautiful Serval hunting for rodents…

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27 September

This particular morning kicked off with a lioness and the 7 cubs she was minding (we had found them on other days, too, though) – followed by a brief sighting of a leopard jumping from a tree and slinking into the thickets, followed by our tree-climbing lioness asleep in her favourite tree. A drive to the massive crossing point from the previous day revealed a grim migration scene over the Purungat bridge…

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That afternoon we spent time with the female cheetah who made the kill 2 days prior, and also with the lion cubs again at sunset – although no further predator-prey moments occurred, it was a day filled with fabulous photography in the Mara.

28 September

This would be our last day in the Mara – our flight out of the Mara would depart at 16h00, so we headed out early to maximise our time in the field. We found some young male lions lounging around early on, and then spent time with the cheetah female again as she scanned for breakfast. At one point an oribi came close enough for us to get excited, but she didn’t fancy her chances.

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After our Wild Eye tradition of brunch on the Oloololo Escarpment looking out over the Mara, we packed up and headed the long way home.

Predators’ Preyground 2013 had come to an end…but stay tuned for the 2014 episode coming soon!!

Want to experience the drama of the predator-prey interaction in the Mara Triangle during the Great Migration for yourself?

There are still limited spots available on our photographic safaris to the Mara in 2015

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Morkel Erasmus

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Just a regular guy, camera in hand, overcome by the beauty of the African continent, and passionate about sharing this beauty with others!

Comments 2

  1. Pingback: Predator’s Preyground 2014 - Wild Eye

  2. Ann Robinson

    Love your skillfully taken photos. My favourite is the giraffes and lion. Your clever alliteration was lost on me as my brain read the title as Predators Playground !

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