Sunday, 9 October 2011

Day Fifteen - Lust and Drama in the Mara

Today started straightforward enough, with Superb Starlings and a pair of Ruppel's Long-Tailed Starlings, but quickly developed into a day of lust and high drama that sums up all that the Mara is famous for. We had not gone far, when we came upon one male and two female Masai Ostriches. As we photographed them browsing, the female began to display, followed soon afterwards by the male. After about two minutes of wing-flapping and swaying, the female lay down and the male mounted her, continuing to sway. Ostriches have the most balletic courtship and this was a pleasure to see.

The flirty female Ostrich

The flashy male responds

The beautiful mating ballet of the Ostrich

Further on we found some Zebra that were very distressed and fighting among themselves and Thomson's Gazelle fighting too. All this before 9am!

Zebra fighting

Thommy in full flight as Zebra looks on

Thomson's Gazelle fighting

We then headed round some of the Wildebeest crossing points until we found one that had a herd of Wildebeest massing nearby. We were very pleased to see the Rangers moving everybody back to allow the animals to do what comes naturally. We were especially pleased when a Landrover full of Chinese (complete with parasols!) and diplomatic number plates steamed right past us and down to the crossing, that the Rangers gave them what for and sent them packing. Big thumbs up to the Mara Rangers. We continued to wait for the crossing to start and we waited and we waited and we waited. Eventually, after three hours baking in the mid-day sun, the crossing started and it was as spectacular as anything we have seen.

The crossing starts...

The charge is under way

Almost all of the Wildebeest made it across un-scathed but one poor animal was grabbed by a large Nile Crocodile. He put up a terrific fight for over twenty minutes, as up to three Crocodiles grabbed him, trying to pull him into deeper water and tearing at his flesh.

Crocodiles grab the poor Wildebeest

He fights desperately as they drag him to deeper water

Torn and bleeding, he continues to fight for his life

Against all the odds, this plucky Wildebeest battled free from the Crocodiles and finally found safety on the shore he had left from, over 100 metres downstream. It was a breathtaking finale to a fantastic day in the Mara.

Against all the odds, our plucky hero survives!

Back at the Oloololo Campsite, we made our fire and enjoyed the company of some Zebras as darkness fell.

Jason relaxing by the fire with some stripey company

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