African Safari (Kenya) Pt. 15

“STOP!!” I scream from the last row of seats in the Land Rover while launching myself through the roof opening slamming my back against the driver’s side edge in a desperate attempt to steady my large 500 mm lens on the beanbag attached to the roof rack. Even while being buffeted from side to side in my small roof opening, I am focused and firing away before our guide can stop and my 2 mates realize that from the deep bush we are being watched.

Lion drinking

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leopard's eyes 3197

I grew up in a white-tail deer hunting family. Having spent countless hours in the New England woods with my Father and Uncles, I sense the texture, color and shape differences that help identify wildlife trying to camouflage a little more quickly than my travel mates. Even our guide was impressed as he related the incident to the entire group at dinner. Of course, my credibility as the great scout will be shot to hell a few days later when I misidentify a distant dead tree as a giraffe.

With some patience this magnificent Masai Mara leopard decided to reveal itself.

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leopard walking200

Its long tail acts as a rudder while running down prey. At speeds of up to 36 miles per hour, this agile cat’s large head and powerful jaws enable it to drag down its pursued by the throat strangling it in the process.

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The leopard’s comfort with our presence allows us to provide a shaded observation point ……

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prior to assuming the stealth hunting crouch while beginning the stalk. By the way, I am very pleased to have Mr. Leopard cozy up to a vehicle other than mine. His eyes may be scanning the horizon of the grasslands, but mine are absolutely locked on to him until he decides to move on.

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Less dramatic but just as busy, this Black-headed Weaver works feverishly on his multiple nests in hopes of attracting a mate.

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bird on horizontal206

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And this little Dik Dik prays the leopard has bigger things in his sight….

Dik Dik208

while the ever alert Banded Mongoose decides it is time to find a new hiding place for her young.

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Mongoose moving young

But for all the rain, dried burnt grass, normal for this time of the season, may have concealed these three resting brothers from our vision.

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It is my good fortune the hot mid-morning sun inspired a walk to the watering hole that normally would not have existed…..

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creating the opportunity for one of my most favorite shots of the trip. And yes, I did darken the edges of the image hoping to funnel your eye to the lion’s tongue creating a sense of motion with the rippling reflective pool.

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Click here to return to Africa Safari (Kenya) Pt. 14

Click here to see Africa Safari (Kenya) Pt. 16

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