Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Life and Death on the Mara

Life in the Mara is a cycle of life and death. Below is a photo of a mama lion with two cubs suckling. Dominic said the two babies were about three months old.

But life in the Mara is also about death. The predators hunting their prey. They all live together. The photo of the cheetahs show three brothers laying by a bush yet the zebra and wildebeast were not further than 200 yards away. It was kind of odd that their smorgasbord was right there and they didn't care, or at least didn't care at that moment.

We never saw a kill even though Dominic tried. One morning we were out and came across one cow lying in a field. That had to mean certain death for that animal as we were watching the hyenas circling us and the cow. But then the hyenas weren't sure and Dominic started the engine to drive up right next to the cow. I wasn't so sure I wanted to see the cow turned into dinner but also couldn't understand what was happening because he scared the hyenas off.

Masai believe all cows belong to them. They also believe that the bright red or orange cloth that they wear keep the predators away. Lying next to that cow was a stick and a red cloth. Perhaps the cow had been hurt and the Masai herdsman had left his red cloth on a stick to protect the cow until he could come back to retrieve it. Don't know but what I watched happen was amazing.

Dominic got out of the Land Rover, put the stick back in the ground and hung the red cloth on it to protect this cow. The amusing part of this story is that it was not a red cloth but a University of Wisconsin sweatshirt. The Big Ten rules in Kenya.

As I said above, we didn't see a kill but we saw two feeding frenzies. The first was a gob of turkey vultures and Maraposa Storks pulling apart a wildebeast. It was a mass of moving birds pulling and pecking and fighting. The wildebeast was leftover from some cheetah or lion kill and then the scavengers set in.

The next feeding frenzy we saw hyenas eating another unfortunate wildebeast. Mama hyena had had her fill and was watching her two youngsters pull at the rest of the carcass. They had blood all over their faces and didn't care that we were watching.

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