Sunday, September 17

Our Lion Morning

ike most days, this one began with our customary 6:00 sunrise. What a beautiful way to begin any day!

The Maasai Mara Reserve is noted for its many lions so today was our day to explore their territory. It began well.

I especially liked the intent look in the eyes of this lioness. Something is very interesting to her.

This lioness (left) is clearly in charge of her territory. The lioness on the right plays with a cub which may or may not be her own, but is related to her.

Lion cubs can be playful, like the kittens they are, (left) but they are learning about hunting also (right).

Lions are fearsome hunters, but treat their cubs tenderly.

Eternal vigilance is the life of the lion, and the cub must learn it from an early age.

We moved on and found the Yellow-billed Stork waiting for its meal to come by.

On a fresh kill we found this white-backed vulture displaying its enormous wings

On a stream an Egyptian Goose swam past. Its markings were especially beautiful.

Egyptian Goose, Alopochen aegyptiacus

Somehow, the atmosphere seemed different today. At one point we saw wildebeest running, apparently going nowhere; later we saw them walking along in single file.

A young zebra stayed close to its mother.

A black-headed heron strutted across a field.

Black-headed Heron, Ardea melanocephala

In the river, we noticed these fearsome-looking crocodiles.

Notice the head of the second crocodile almost at the right of the picture.

Later, we found a spotted hyena, also known as a laughing hyena.

Spotted Hyena, Crocuta crocuta

A lilac-breasted roller was sitting atop a branch.

Lilac-breasted Roller

A Very Small Story About A Very Large Animal

ur animal is an elephant, which is known to be very intelligent, and able to solve problems. In this picture story, we will watch them solve a problem, and see how other elephants learn from the first one.

The elephants have reached the top of a steep riverbank and want to get down to the river below so they can take a drink.

Elephants will not walk where they cannot touch the ground with their trunks.

Eventually, one elephant tries bending his hind legs to get low enough to touch the ground with his trunk.

Now that his trunk can touch the ground the first elephant can move down the hill.

Now the other elephants see how the first one is getting down the hill, so they try the same thing.

A young elephant tries next.

Other elephants see how to solve the problem and imitate the first ones. Some even lie down on the ground.

Notice how the elephant on the right is lying down even before getting to the edge.

Now that they are safely down the hill, the elephants walk toward the river for their drink.

Notice the baby elephant, always near an adult.

These three elephants enjoy the brush.

The Talek River has good water for the elephants.

Sometimes, the mother elephant has to push the baby elephant away from the water. Sometimes our children don’t want to leave the water either.

Elephants are the largest land animals on earth, and require a lot of food.

Notice again that the baby is near its mother.

Elephants can be beautiful animals, I think.

Mother elephant makes certain that her baby gets enough food to eat.

The baby elephant stays close to its mother.

At last the herd heads back up the riverbank into a forest to continue their constant search for food.

The Leaping Lion

lephants are not the only animals which enjoy the Talek River. A male lion has come for his drink this afternoon.

Perhaps the water is better in the middle of the river.

Lions, and most other cats hate to get wet. There is only one solution. Should he try it?

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He made it!

Other Animals And Birds We Found This Day

here are three species of giraffes, but one species is found only in this park area. We were fortunate to see one of them - the Maasai Giraffe.

The Maasai Giraffe, Giraffa camelopardus tippelskirchi

Did you know that a giraffe has horns?

We found a troop of baboons again.

Baboon, papio anubis

The mother found a comfortable place to feed.

This Egyptian Goose helps us to understand the term “goose-stepping.”

There are some quiet streams running through the savannah.They provide a home for an entire different group of animals and birds.

Not far from this quiet stream this male lion was sleeping very soundly. Not even the sound of our truck disturbed him.

Were it not for all the extra feathers on its head, I would identify this bird as a Bataleur. The feathers make me wonder. Tell me what you think.

These Plains Zebras were gathering into herds. What did the zebras and wildebeests sense?

Plains Zebra, Equus burchelli

A young zebra with brown stripes. They will turn black as she matures.

Our last sighting of this rich and varied day was the Black-bellied Bustard.

Black-bellied Bustard, Eupodotis melanogaster

As we were returning from our afternoon game drive someone asked our driver/guide if there was much of a poaching problem in this park. He replied "No. At 8:00 every night the armed rangers go out on patrol. They shoot at every light that moves. There are no inquisitions, no questions and no poaching." I was impressed.

A little farther on, we drove down into an almost dry creek bed as we had done many times. This time, however, we were unable to drive up the other side. Our driver/guide explained that it was because our 4-wheel drive mechanism had somehow failed; and we were now a 2-wheel drive vehicle with not enough power to make it up the riverbank. He tried several times, and could get up only part way.

It was rapidly getting dark, and on the equator night comes quickly with no twilight. His radio would not work because we were below ground level at the bottom of the river. The number one rule is "NEVER LEAVE THE VEHICLE." In it you are safe from lions and other marauding night life, which you will never be aware of until too late. Even the natives won't take this chance. I began to think of how we might keep warm overnight. We had some water with us, but no food. I also knew that we would be missed, because each Land Rover is checked in each night on arrival, and it was known what area of the park we were in, so searchers would be out looking for us, as well as the park rangers. The smell of burning rubber from the spinning tires might attract unwelcome animals, I feared.

Eventually, we let things cool down, and tried a different route up the riverbank, and thankfully, we made it! All three of us cheered! Although covered with mud, we were most grateful to be home. A night out in the African bush was more adventure than I had bargained for.

By the next morning, this vehicle had been "repaired" and was back in service, but I was just as happy to be assigned to a different one.

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