The food chain

One day we saw a newborn Grant’s gazelle. Its mother ran off as soon as we started approaching, and the newborn’s instincts kicked it and it dropped to the ground, camouflaging itself and looking like a stone from the distance.  The mother seemed unperturbed and was grazing quite a distance away – probably to deflect attention from her newborn in the hope that it wouldn’t be noticed by predators.  This was a lucky baby as it wasn’t spotted by anything else whilst we were there. maasai-159

A baby impala was not so lucky however. We were watching a cheetah strolling from the shade of one tree to another.  It sat for over 10 minutes watching a herd of wildebeest and zebras crossing the plain in the distance, when suddenly it seemed to swat something immediately in front of it.  As we moved our vehicle round to the front of it we could see that it had a baby impala.  We don’t know if that baby had employed the same tactic as the Grant’s gazelle and had been playing dead but suddenly moved and the cheetah had spotted it, or whether the cheetah had caught it before.  We certainly hadn’t seen a chase. 

Here are a few more cheetah images as I was lucky enough to see several during my two weeks here.

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Jackals look innocent enough, but they are extremely feisty and will work together to make and defend kills, or even steal from a cheetah. 

These two jackals were having a great meal.  I’m not sure what it was!

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On another occasion we saw an argument between a couple of jackals and a hyena – the jackals had killed a baby impala, but the hyena had stolen it from them.

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This one looks like it’s laughing at the jackal and taunting it with the meal it’s enjoying.

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Hyenas will of course finish off a kill until there is nothing left of it. They have a loping gait when they run and are not the most attractive of animals, but I do like hearing them whooping at night. 

The most dramatic feed we saw was when a cheetah had killed a pregnant impala.  It was lying near a bush eating the foetus, leaving the rest of the impala out in the open.  A couple of jackals were feasting on it, but it didn’t take long for the vultures to notice and come swooping down.  This first photo is probably one of the best images I’ve ever taken – it’s certainly not one of the nicest, but I was really chuffed to have captured it in flight and perfectly sharp 🙂

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maasai-208The jackals were desperately trying to defend their meal and kept temporarily scaring off the vultures.

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Unfortunately for the jackals there were too many vultures.  Within 10 minutes at most the ‘just killed’ impala was reduced to bones.  Absolutely incredible.  

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At the top of the food chain of course are the lions.  I have seen numerous ones whilst out on drives, and one of the guides heard one right next to his tent one night – I’m glad I hadn’t ventured out to the toilet that night! 

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They are most active at night, and as the light was fading one evening a couple of lionesses walked right past our vehicle and started roaring in order to find the rest of the pride.  We were so close that the sound reverberated right through us and we sat there in awe.  

When the light is too low for sharp photos I try motion blur instead.  

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