Lion Series 1: A Super Mom – Grumeti 30 Sept to 4 Oct 2017

What originally started as “A Photographer’s Hunch” in 2015 has now grown into a dedicated wildlife safari travel product run by CNP Safaris and our East African partners &Beyond. After spending months on back-to-back safaris photographing high season migration crossings, whilst based at Kichwa Tembo in the Mara Triangle, a nagging idea got hold of me. “What do the lions do to sustain themselves when the migration of White-bearded wildebeest, Burchell zebra and Thomson Gazelle move South to the Nogorogoro Conservation area where most of the calving and lambing will take place”? During the migration lions, and for that matter other predators like Spotted hyena and cheetahs, just have it too easy. It is like take away meals on hooves with a lot of hunting by lion and Spotted hyena taking place in daylight.

My hunch was that lions operating in territorial prides will have to work much harder to survive and that would result in superb photographic opportunities. Another major advantage in photographing outside the so called “high season” across the entire migration route, is that the multitude of tourist also migrate.

One will say that you have hit the proverbial photographic jackpot, when contrary to recent migratory route history, the migration arrives and there are no tourists around!  This is exactly what happened to us midway through our five night stay at Grumeti Tented Camp.

Great wildlife photography is about allowing nature to tell its own stories. Our stay at &Beyond Grumeti Under Canvass provided me many stories to tell. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

07H55 : A senior pride lioness – darker and less white under the belly- goes down to the water to drink, followed by her cubs and another younger pride female. Another lioness has already made her way to the other side of the water and the lioness on the left is clearly communicating with her.

Nikon D 500 | Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 | F11 | 1/1600s | ISO 640 | EV -1.3

The younger lioness decides to join the one on the other side and as the pool of water she wants to cross is actually not that wide, she opportunistically launches herself, but from too far back.

Nikon D 500 | Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 | f/9 | 1/2500s | ISO 640 | EV – 1.3

Puzzled by the younger female’s clumsy effort the senior pride lioness watches the younger lioness.

Nikon D500 | 120-300mm f/2.8 | f/9 | 1/2500s | ISO 640 | EV -1.3

Although the younger lioness lands short of the opposite bank, the lioness at the back is now looking at where the noise is coming from, where Four photographers are burning their cameras’ motor drives to the maximum and loving every split second of it!

Nikon D500 | Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 | f/9 | 1/2500s | EV – 1.3

08H02 : While another pride lioness joins the party the cubs turn their attention to the prime source of their daily delight – their mother’s milk, pressurising their mother┬árelentlessly.

Nikon D500 | Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 | f/11 | 1/2000s | ISO 640 | EV -1.3

Nikon D500 | Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 | f/11 | 1/2000s | ISO 640 | EV -1.3

Both lionesses really wanted to simply jump over the pool to join the other pride lionesses on the opposite bank, but the cubs’ relentless pursuit reminded their mother of their vulnerability, so she abandons the shortcut and takes them on a much longer route to join the others. What a special mom!

Warm Photographic Greetings.

Lou Coetzer

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Posted in African Travel, Lions, Lou Blog.

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