195 posts in this topic

OMG Fig and cub, cuteness overload! So relieved that she is okay and the cubs survived. Hope they are still doing well.


I guess she may have been pregnant when we saw her in September...or maybe not...not sure how long the gestation period is.

(Okay, I just looked it up...3-1/2 months, so she probably wasn't pregnant yet.)


Fabulous photos bringing back memories of my trip to Porini Lion!

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Will do! Always shoot in RAW so hopefully it will be good enough. Can't wait to try. Pen

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Posted (edited)

It's what you have been waiting for... it's "Bibi’s shocking secret"

I’ve thought long and hard about whether to share Bibi’s shocking secret on a public forum, but just the title alone is pure clickbait so I have to do it. I don’t even have to warn you about the graphic content because the “shocking” does that already surely? If you read something headlined “shocking” then you can’t really complain if it is actually a bit shocking – in fact you should be pleased. Win-win.

It is the second afternoon in Olare Motorogi and we are going to ignore those lions and leopards and find something new.  Although we head out with Patrick and his guests, we get separated very quickly as we are stopping more with Mum on board and actually I don’t think we saw another vehicle for the rest of the evening – not even in the distance. That’s a funny thing about Olare Motorogi – some of the leopard sightings and hunts can be a bit crowded (although by no means always – we have probably shared only 50% of our leopard sightings here over the years) but when you head out on your own as we often do with Nelson you can really appreciate how much space is available to you – and there is a lot to see.

Not far out of camp and we get our first treat of the evening – a serval hunting on a hill. We couldn’t get closer due to the terrain and after a few minutes it disappeared into the rocks and bushes and did not reappear. Third of the trip – well fourth if you count Zarek’s third.




Nelson continues the usual driving and scanning for signs of something going on.


A male ostrich was behaving a bit oddly and appeared to be surveying sites for a nest - or protecting invisible eggs (the second one my theoty, the first Nelson's)



We see a lion way up high on a hill. In fact there are two, but they are far away and anyway just seem to be heading to a bush to rest up with a view and a cool breeze. We move on.




There is some hyena movement a good distance away (specks with the naked eye) but it is difficult to work out what it means – Nelson concludes it is probably just excitement over other hyenas somewhere, but we keep an eye on them just in case.  

Anyway, not too far into the evening a hyena goes rushing past us, clearly very excited. Nelson looks that way and then speeds up to overtake the hyena when he sees some impalas running in panic. They come past us but if they are being chased it is by an invisible predator. Then Nelson spots an impala lying down, still and as we come closer we can see there is nothing else there. No wounds either. Huh?

First I realise where the hyena is heading and so work out we are going to see a hyena consume a whole impala again (we did that last time we were here, with the one that Fig killed but couldn’t hold in a tree). Well I suppose that is better than nothing.

Then I realise something else. The impala is not dead and in fact is trying to get up, but it is disoriented. “Maybe a snake bite” says Nelson.

“Mum you better look away now” say I, realizing that the hyena is going to kill the impala but not the quick way. And then “Mum, don’t look at this. It might be distressing” as I see she is not looking away yet (poor dear has no idea what is going to happen) and the hyena is attacking from the rear, as expected.

I briefly considered asking Nelson to drive on, but we don’t do that. At least not for something as natural and common as this.

Fortunately the poor impala was pretty stunned by what was very likely a snake bite – it had been drifting off to death before the hyena arrived – and not just suffering from a broken leg. That and the camera made it easier to watch.



Still though, I announced to Mum it was probably dead three times before it actually was – in fact Dr. Hyena revived it so often that only once the hind legs had been separated was I really comfortable calling time of death. Of course it had been dead for some time before that.

Dead now…. oh no, still kicking… sorry Bibi!



I think I got it now, Bibi!



A pair of jackals soon showed up, looking to dart in for scraps.



And after a while the vultures began to arrive.





But the hyena was not sharing. Not even a bit. The Jackals waited.



Sighting pretty much over in my book.


“Sorry about that Mum. That was pretty gruesome. How about we have an early sundowner today, since it is your last evening?” Asked the considerate son.

“Well, I suppose we could.”

Hmmm… that wasn’t the expected “Yes!!”

“Well we could stay here if you want I suppose.” I said expecting a “No let’s go.”

“Yes, well it’s absolutely fascinating and I want to see how it ends.” Is the response I got.

“Really? Well it’ll take a while. You might not get the sundowner at all.”

“Oh goodness. I can have a G&T in my back garden.” Bibi snapped. “Can’t see this is my back garden. I think this is my favorite sighting ever.”

Considerate son firmly put back in his box. Well, I’ll just be evil son from now on, then I think. After all grannies whose favorite sighting involves a hyena eating a poor wee impala alive probably only have evil sons!

And the drama did not quite conclude before dark, although as the light dimmed the jackals increased the frequency of their forays and were clearly beginning to wear down a hyena who had eaten far too much already.






And so Nelson served some snacks and drinks right there in teh vehcile and we enjoyed the battle for the corpse with popcorn.

When we left after dark the jackals had already got some nice scraps and the completely stuffed hyena had dragged the remaining half of the impala into a hollow, where it was making a futile last stand to protect it from the vultures.



Edited by pault
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Although slightly disappointed it wasn't more salacious :P

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I may have oversold the great Bibi exposee a little @Patty, but I was shocked.

Anyway, the following day was Mum’s last and it would be a differnt kind of jaw-dropper, although Mum would actually miss most of the action.

Mum had decided to skip the morning drive as she wanted to get up late – long journey and all that – despite our protestations and encouragement from Nelson, Darren, Emma and others at the camp. There was no plan at all for this day, but it started with lions in the dark, just sitting out on the plains.



Since they were not being interesting enough for us and the terrain and their flat position presented limited opportunities for interesting photos as the sun came up (in fact the sun probably wasn’t coming up as it was a fairly cold and damp morning, with rain looking very likely) we moved on and found a pair of bat-eared foxes, jogging around. It still wasn’t even light yet, so this was a very promising start to the day.



The bat-eared foxes were not really happy to see us, so we let them be and looked to see what else there might be. A herd of impala came sprinting past, which of course might be a sign of something happening. Perhaps we should take a closer look?



And when Nelson looked to see what that something might be, he was very happy that he had done so. He saw wild dogs jogging away from us.

It didn’t take us too long to catch up and this time Nelson didn’t wait to tell the other Kicheche guides, although. Up to them to share the news with some other camp guides (or not, but of course they would do so and then it would spread) as Nelson had some driving to do keeping the dogs in his sights – they were not going to use the tracks.

There isn’t a lot I can say really about the dogs. There were two (both females I believe) and one was collared, although Nelson said it was thought to be from a now defunct project in the Northern Serengeti. This was only the second time this year dogs had been spotted in Olare Motorogi, although as you may know dog sightings are up a little bit in the Mara. Still very rare though – more common than pangolins but much less common than caracals and aardvarks for some context. And the thing about dogs is they do things – lots of things. I’d never seen them in such a wide open area before and it really is great, especially when your guide can guess more or less exactly where they are going and knows the terrain intimately.

They were moving so fast that if we got ahead and stopped they would be past us in less than 10 seconds – and half of the time my 400mm lens was too long. Really lucky I hadn’t put the teleconvertor on actually as it was very murky still (with occasional rainfall) and even at f/4 and ISO6400 (right on or arguably beyond the limit for my gear) the shutter speeds were barely enough for trotting dogs. I was mightily tempted to go to ISO 12800 but I’d still need to use tricks to prevent too much motion blur and the quality of the picture would deteriorate significantly, so I stuck with the tricks.

Non-artistic panning at 1/125s (you’d never normally do this as it just gives you a less sharp picture for no benefit, but when there is no alternative it can rescue something – I use it on night drives too.



Ye olde “wait for them to stop” trick



They had some blood stains that suggested they had just had breakfast but they were more than ready to have a second breakfast if anything wasn’t quick enough off the mark. They went for a reedbuck (ironically this was our first sighting of one with Nelson – since Aberdares actually -and a good one as the reedbuck ran towards us and away from the dogs) but although they got close at first, it had the advantage in a boggy area with very long grass and bounced away from them - and they weren’t hungry enough to get into a long distance chase. Still, this was definitely a hunt.

End of the hunt



Occasionally they were kind enough to use the tracks.



About 15-20 minutes into our chase they frustrated the photographers (we had now been joined by the other Kicheche Bush Camp vehicles and one each from Porini and Mara Plains) by engaging in some fantastic play while the light was still too low for a shutter speed to effectively freeze the action. Non-photographers just got an eyeful!

Using the high speed burst judiciously rescued something…



Whoooo! Aren’t you glad you got up this morning guys?



Of course after 25 minutes or so the number of vehicles had increased – this couldn’t be kept a secret.



Whoa! Water!



The scent is definitely going that way, isn’t it?



Well they thought that was where the scent (whatever it was) was leading and so they crossed the lugga and so did we, although a couple of vehicles gave up at that point – not everybody would have appreciated this sighting and wanted to follow forever.


On we went… at a very bouncy trot



Gazelles scattered, desperately showing their best leaps to tell the dogs they were not good targets..



The dogs were having fun with everything, even animals they likely had no intention of hunting. And wild dogs may not be seen frequently by us humans, but every animal on the plains that saw the dogs scattered when they came their way. 



The rain got heavier but the dogs just got busier. Some hyenas were hoping to take advantage of teh chaos the dogs were causing, and became a new target, with the dogs running around them, letting them get close and then sprinting off.



A dangerous game but the dogs seemed to enjoy it.



And on and on and on they went, towards Mara North where gleeful Kicheche guides were no doubt already heading towards us.



Of course tsometimes he wildebeest ganged up and faced the dogs down, but they always had the speed not to get cornered.



And on they on and on.......



We reached the border with Mara North and Nelson asked if we wanted to continue following. We'd need to take a detour to cross the valley they had just run into, but it could be done. I don't think I was thinking straight when I replied that it was okay. We'd had well over an hour with them and we could let them go now. Really that was pretty dumb, especially as the light had been gradually been improving. Don't ask me why - my wife did and my nocomittal answer got me a bruised arm. The best I can do is that my Mum's imminent departure was causing me worry and stress....


Anyway, good reason or not, we watched them trot off into the valley and through into Mara North.





Looking for wild dogs in unlikely places?

I am available for hire.


And yes, it's barely 8 am .... plenty more left of Bibi's final day.

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Another wonderful episode @pault

The hyaena segment is captured vividly. 

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The morning continued with those mating lions and more of the rutting (which I haven't forgotten to tell you about - it'll be next).


It was much brighter now.
















On the way to breakfast.





A Grant's gazelle strutting his stuff and don't the ladies love it?.(She must be rushing to call her friends to come and see too)





Unfortnately Mum's time in Kenya was nearly over. She had a 4 o'clock flight that became a 3 o'clock flight and so we planned to leave camp at 2 o'clock to take her to the airstrip. She'd got her 5 purses and 20 pockets stocked up with what should be in there so she was going to be able to find things (eventually) during her long journey which went Mara-Nairobi-Paris-Manchester-Alicante because she had promised to be somewhere for one of the grandkids (I told her to cancel, but she wouldn't). She showed up on Whatsapp two days later looking dressed for safari because she didn't really have any other clothes with her.


We had to go to Olkiombo airstrip because planes will only land in Olare Orok for two or more passengers, but it was still a comfortable drive to get there by 3 pm... or it was until Darren called and told Nelson the flight had been shifted again to 2.30 pm, although there would be another one at around 3,30 pm if we couldn't make it. Mum decided we should try and Nelson put his foot down, guaranteeing Mum an exciting and rather bumpy last 15 minutes in the Mara. We arrived just as the plane landed.


We got her on board, said our farewells and found ourselves next to Intrepids at 2.30 pm, with at least 4 hours before we were due back at camp. Cheetahs maybe Nelson? Haven't seen one yet.


And it took us all of 90 seconds to find one - I am sure Nelson had spotted it on the way in, but he denied it and said it was just our good luck. "I think it might hunt. That gazelle is alone there and not paying attention. But it is a lot of ground to cover, so maybe not. And there are baboons over there. She probably won't hunt if there are baboons around and they see her."


And the cheetah did perk up and stalk a little when she saw the gazelle, but then she sat down as if doing the same assessment as Nelson and deciding "no". But we weren't in any hurry and Nelson had added "but you never know", so we watched the cheetah a bit longer, attracting a grand total of two vehicles even though we were right next to the airstrip and on the road.


And you never know.......... hopefully no words are needed.














What? Why did she stop just when she had it?


Oh, I see.......oops!






You can see how close we were to Intrepids in that last one.




And chased right up to the airstrip itself.





What happened next has to go in another post because it carries a warning.... don't read on if you are a nervous flyer.

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Posted (edited)

Do not read this if you are very nervous flyer - you may regret it.  Averagely nervous flyers should survive.





What happened is that the harrassed and disappointed cheetah decided to cross the runway to the termite mound on the other side. As she was constantly looking over her shoulder for the following baboons, she disturbed a Kori Bustard that was looking for food in the grass alongside the runway. The bustard ran onto the runway out of the way of the cheetah and as she did what I assume was Mum's alternative flight to Nairobi came in to land. As it got close to the bustard the bird saw it and tried to take off - too late and it flew right into the propellor with an awful sound and a sudden cloud of diced bustard, feathers and blood.


It happened very quickly - not so quickly that I couldn;t have photographed it if I wanted (I didn't want) but too quickly for the pilot to really do anything safely to avoid it I guess. It was horrible though, because we knew it was going to happen a few seconds before but didn't know what the impact of such a big bird would be. We didn't want to see a decimated bustard but even more we didn't want to see a plane crash. Without a doubt this is the worst we have ever felt on safari. Even after the plane managed to carry on with just a few wiggles of the tail and stopped safely we were white. That was a close thing - if the plane had still been still even a bit airborne it could have been horrible.Two or three seconds nearly killed those people and two or three seconds saved them. I doubt they would have known what happened although it must have been an intense few seconds ("Oh look there is a cheetah!" followed by "splat" "crack" woblle, wobble, "shit!!!" - last from the pilot!). I am really not sure what Bibi would have made of it if it had been her flight. We would have been too shaken up to fly with our view of it.


Anyway, they cleaned the propellor and engine, did whatever checks they needed to do, sent the short-straw-drawer out to clean up the Kori Bustard  pieces (the cheetah, barely 20 meters away had absoutely no interest in this sushi offering, although the smell  of blood must have reached it immediately) and the plane took off again about 15 minutes later.


By that time we had moved to the other side of the runway - the cheetah hadn't flinched.throughout.





Edited by pault
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Nelson pulled us back to the land of those with colour in their faces with another cheetah on a gazelle kill (cheetahs are like London buses - who knew!)





And then the clouds finally broke and it started to rain quite heavily  - but that didn't worry these elephants enjoying a wade in the river to get at juicy grass.







And it didn't worry this little one, who had the perfect umbrella.




With the rain getting heavier we returned to camp a bit early and disturbed Emma and Darren's little time alone chillout drink while they waited for everyone else to return - which was good because we wanted to tell someone but didn't want to tell everyone just in case someone was flying next day and nervous about it.


When the others  did return it was late, all hatched battened and with news of massively heavy rain - we had been lucky it seemed.

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@pault What a trip! What a trip report! Will try and find some words but they will be insuficient!

Incident packed, filled to gills with great photography and your usual great writing style. Fantastic stuff!

Have we finished yet or are there still more days to come? There surely can't be more.....

You should definitely hire yourselves out as 'animal magnets' Always something happening when you are in town:)


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@CaroleE  I am afraid we are not finished yet. Mum is gone so the Bibi fanclub can stop now,  but we still have some more days.  :D


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Wow, what a story, can only imagine how awful you must have felt during those seconds when the plane hit the bird and waiting to see what happened.


Lovely lion pics and cheetah chase sequence

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Very cool you saw the Dogs - a Safaritalk report first for the Mara? Urgh, terrible about the Koriplane incident. In Botswana we had a Blacksmith Lapwing collide with our plane, and even that was bad enough.

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Lovely Cheetah action shots ...... and Wow!  You saw dogs in the Mara!!!!  SUPER

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Posted (edited)

WOW @pault- finally getting a chance to comment - been loving this action-packed report. The dogs in the Mara? Amazing - but I think you should have stuck with them!  The shocker about Bibi - interesting! That was quite a graphic one too.  VERY jealous of the Fig and cubs sightings! I could see the cubs in each photo and they are adorable. I didn't even get to see Fig herself when I was there - I must go back. Enjoying it all and glad there is still more to come.

Edited by SafariChick

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@michael-ibk "Koriplane" :lol:  Love it.  And I like the very specific bird identification that goes with your collision story. For some reason I imagine a heated  argument  on board over exactly what type of lapwing it was as the plane plummets towards the earth.


@Zim Girl  Yeah, it was a bad feeling for sure..... and thanks.

@madaboutcheetah I'd say "of course" but you well know it's probably 90% dumb luck (and 10% an alert guide's sharp nose and eyes). :D


@SafariChick  A bit dumb turning down the offer to follow them into Mara North, yes, but it seemed noble at the time - leave the girls be. Fig will be there but she does have a significant entourage sometimes. On the plus side that does make her easier to find nowadays.

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i;m just up to post #97 - my apologies to Bibi, but your account was so funny. I bet it was a leopard she saw and it sure would be worth to get half naked for!


but I am so envious - a zorilla and a striped hyena!! incredible


your wife graces that palatial villa very well . :)


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WoW! what a sequence of events! it was just incredible seeing that baboon chasing the cheetah, and then to have that catapulted into the poor koribustard meeting its end is just surreal. it's almost like watching part of a movie. 


i think your lesson is - never underestimate Bibi. she still can spring a surprise or 2!


and you caught the wild dogs in OMC! i'll need to go back too....one day.....soon i hope. 




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Posted (edited)

@Kitsafari Bibi accepts your apologies but she doesn't think it was funny (it was though).


Well I left my half-finished text about rutting at work (lunch at my desk - life is not that easy!) so since I want to get this over with before another busy season starts and I am too knackered to think of nice words, I'm going to carry on in chronological order first. 


Our penultimate full day was almost an average Mara safari day - which is a very good thing, but would have been the first full day that fitted that description so far. It was actually a good thing after "the koriplane incident" but in the end we surrendered again to the magic again and ended the day with another highlight. 


The day started with some confusion and a rare misread of the signs by Nelson, but nobody is perfect.






And during the dawn we saw a lot of hyenas running around very excited about something.







We followed them but they appeared only to be chasing off an invader and so after a while we stopped and moved on to look for something else. Actually Nelson was puzzled as it didn't quite make sense and he told us later it turned out there were lions on a kill out in the open and the invader was a red herring, so if we had followed them we would have been rewarded.


Instead I used the nice early morning light up on some buffaloes.... well, you have to use it!




I couldn't get a clear shot of this little one for long grass and herd protection but strangely we were allowed to see it suckle.





Balloons in the Reserve





However, we soon came across the two youngest cubs currently in Olare Motorogi (well not exactly came across - as was often the case Nelson knew roughly where they were already). Not tiny by any means, but a pleasant way to spend part of a morning.


In the shade





In the sun








After their walk in the sun they settled down in the shade and we moved on. We didn't see anything too exciting that morning, although we spent a while with the wildebeest for rutting action and we also spent quite a while with some baboons, just trying for fun to shoot the baby. We even stopped for some birds - very casual and gentle and also very nice.









Everyone wants to see the baby!
















And no... there is no surprise. Just  pottering around and actually that set of photographs is probably more representative of Olare Motorogi than any before!


I have no memory of lunch and after, although lunch was probably healthy and delicious and after I probably deleted a stack of photos as I was a little concerned about space on my laptop (no stress in the end though).



Edited by pault
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Posted (edited)

The afternoon started off in a similar vein but got very interesting as the clouds darkened and the rain came. It was a day when the rain certainly didn't spoil the experience.


Still pottering around catching up on the things I hadn't photographed properly here yet.




A terrapin 




A wattled plover




The sky was getting quite gloomy but this little newborn giraffe brightened things up.






So small compared to its mother










More giraffes




And then it started to get very dark. We were going to get rained on.








A rainbow came and went quickly, 








I wonder if giraffes get struck by lightening?




And then the rain came and it was heavy, We closed down the sides of the vehicle but I kept one flap open for my camera and put its raincoat on. I put my poncho on too, but it didn't help much as the rain gathered in a pool on my seat, with their waterproof covers.








And the rain didn't stop. It slowed down slightly but it was here for the rest of the evening for sure. We could barely see so Nelson had little chance of spotting anything and were almost ready to give up (but not yet!!). Then Charles or Patrick called and said some lions looked like they might be plotting a hunt, using the rain as cover.


So we slid our way over to where they were as fast as we could in the circumstances, crossing previously nearly dry luggas that were suddenly flowing fast, and arrived to see a herd of wildebeest backs against the rain. Nelson located the stalking lioness for me and I tried to work out how I could possibly shoot a hunt in this murk, and to get myself ready. Within 45 seconds of us stopping the wildebeest scattered and I looked wildly for a lion in the rain and murk, just spotting it in time to see it leap on a wildebeest calf. Naturally, theses shots do not reflect how dark it was.






The lioness dragged the calf into the bushes and so we had to drive around the other side to get a view.




Having killed the wildebeest and stashed it, the lioness went off to call her cubs and the sub-adults to feed. They were all sheltered somewhere, but came out when called.












Of course,being cats, they got distracted on the way,,,,,,





A tasty puddle






And some weren't even hungry in the end, but enjoyed the social side of it all.




The kill was in the bushes and it was nearly dark now but the sky was interesting and so I suggested we go for a quick sundowner in the rain, which was lighter now. 




And that was the wet end of another very interesting day!






Edited by pault
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Great photos and you coped very well in the low light. I really like the "moving lions" - the slow shutter speed really gives the sense of movement.

We had a very wet sundowner when we were in Olare Motorogi - it gives a different perspective.

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Love the giraffes - the tall one and the stylish hairy young one with the tiny masaai prints!


and wow! you got there in time for that awesome shot of the kill. the rains were showers of blessings in disguise. i think the rainbow was a good omen. 

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Lovely captures of the pre-rain sky.

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Love the rainbow Giraffe shots!


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What luck having a rainbow!

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