While staying at Riverside Camp at Talek we had four trips out into the adjacent Maasai Mara on the search for a variety of animals and birds. The variety of wildlife was hard to take in along with the fact that so much of the wildlife was so familiar but never seen by most of us unless in a zoo; yet here they were in their natural surroundings. It’s very hard, coming from the UK where animals are pretty benign to come face to face with creatures that can kill, not just lions but also things like the buffalo and hippos are not to be treated lightly.
Our first cat sighting was surprisingly not a lion or even a cheetah or leopard but one of the rarest cats in Africa. The small and somewhat shy serval was on Duncan’s short list of things he wanted to see, and expectations were not high of success, but within half an hour we spotted one creeping through a small area of scrub. Then a short time later we happened on another, or actually what turned out to be three more! Presumably this was a mother with two grown up cubs. She was guarding a kill of a small antelope and there was some bad temper between the adult and offspring.
A short distance away we came upon a group of young lions sleeping in the sun. As it was evening they slowly stirred, yawned, stretched then bounced towards mother who was fast asleep some distance away. The family enjoyed a few moments of play and grooming together before wandering away.
The next day we found a male lion wandering away from a kill. He purposefully headed off towards a lone tree where he flopped over next to an already sleeping male and also fell asleep in the limited shade. Their bloated bellies indicated that they had fed well and would simply rest for some time. Our final lions were a small pride at a kill. We watched them as the sun set over the Mara while hyenas hung around also watching what was happening and hoping to pick off some of the scraps that would be left.
We were unable to find cheetahs or a leopard but the rare views of a serval more than made up for this.