|Lions devour a fresh wildebeest carcass|
|A Serengeti endemic - grey-breasted spurfowl|
|Great 1st sighting of lions - with a kill|
And shortly after we were rewarded with a great sighting – 5 lions with a kill fairly close to the road. We have always considered ourselves unlucky to not have come across this type of scene before; normally it’s one or 2 lions with an old carcass, but this was a fresh wildebeest kill and the lions were getting stuck in, with the exception of the male, who had obviously had his “lion’s share” already. So we relaxed and had coffee with lions, which would kill some time with a worthy sighting before heading to the mechanic.
|Too full to move|
We were also intrigued to see an Japanese photographer off road close to the lions, but apparently not watching them. We could see that he had an off-road permit as there was a big sign on his car saying “We have an off-road permit, do not follow us!” but we couldn’t figure out what he was shooting as he appeared to have his camera pointed at a bush away from the lions. We spent a lot of time over the next few days trying to figure out what he was documenting ;)
|Lioness stalking right next to the road in daylight|
Before that, however, we found a pride of lions that seemed to be hunting. We hung around with them and the dozen or so cars that were also waiting for them to hunt, but eventually decided to leave them and sort out the car as it was past good light time.
We did get another good sighting of a kill on the way – a black headed heron attempting to swallow the biggest mole we’d ever seen. We didn’t think he’d get it right - the mole was bigger than his head – but after a few unsuccessful attempts, managed to swallow the mole whole!
We finally arrived at the Frankfurt Zoological
Society (FZS) workshop next to the TANAPA headquarters, who were prepared to
help us, but could only assist after lunch at around 2.30 pm, as they needed to
find a mechanic for us. Luckily another
research guy happened to be walking past and suggested we try the Serengeti
Balloon Safari guys as they had a fully serviced workshop and were the best
Thanking the research chap, we decided to head to Balloon Safaris and try our luck with them rather than waiting 4 hours until the FZS mechanic could help us. Well, they were a waste of time, they wouldn’t even consider helping us! We understand that they don’t want the tour operators coming in all the time with car trouble, but we had thought that they would at least let a mechanic take a quick look and help us out.
No such luck – we were completely denied entry and told to try the research centre. Pissed off but with no choice, we headed to the Research workshop. We found the workshop shortly thereafter and it turned out to be what Dru suspected – broken bushes. In fact, the back right bush had been shredded, and the front left was also starting to go. It’s a common problem and a quick fix – the mechanic got the car up on the ramp and 15 minutes later Kili had new bushes. Dru also suspected a leaking shock, but the mechanic assured him that it wasn’t after tasting the liquid on the shock ;) So after parting with TZS50,000 (highway robbery, but figured we didn’t have a choice) we were up and running again.
|Keeping cool in the heat of the day|
It was now around lunch time but we wanted to go check out the hunting lions again. What we’ve realised in the Serengeti is that lions hunt at any time, and these were obviously hungry so it was quite possible that they would hunt in the heat of the day. And it seemed like everyone else had the same idea as well, because you could spot the huge clump of cars from far away!
|Walking down the road with 2 youngsters in tow|
|Young lions waiting for the moms to find something to eat|
|Finding some shade under mom|
It was afternoon by now, so we decided to head back to the lions with the kill that we’d seen in the morning, hoping to get some shots of the vultures that would no doubt be feeding on the carcass.
|Drinking from a puddle when there's a river nearby|
We stopped to catch a giraffe drinking from a puddle in the road and were entertained by a small band of banded mongooses having a wash in a water puddle as well before getting to the kill sighting.
|Hooded vulture near the kill|
There were vultures, but only 3 hooded vultures – the smallest of the vultures, and always at the bottom of the pecking order when it came to feeding. There was not much left of the carcass by now except for a few scraps, so we assumed that the other vultures had already had their fill, just like the lions who were still nearby fast asleep with bellies full.
|Banded mongooses enjoying their mudbath|
A quick detour to check up on the other lions but they had already disappeared into the scrub, so we did a quick drive to Maasai Kopjes for the evening and were rewarded with a first time sighting in East Africa – a Klipspringer. It’s a small antelope which has adapted to living in the kopjes by almost walking on the tips of his hooves.
|A first time sighting for us in East Africa - klipspringer|
We saw a number of cars whizzing past us and sure enough just around the corner we found the clump of cars. We couldn’t see what they were looking at – it was something obviously sleeping in the grass out of our line of sight. But just after we stopped the car, we saw what everyone else was looking at - a nice male lion got up and started walking along the road before heading into the veld.
|Surveying his domain|
While there are always plenty of lions along the Seronera River, we find that it’s mainly the lionesses with cubs and juveniles, so seeing a nice male lion with a full mane is always a treat.
|Always a prized sighting - serval!|
|Looking for food|
|Sunset competing with the serval for our camera shots|