Cats equal Maasai Mara National Reserve
Cats and the migration. Those are two of the elements that draws people to Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. I knew I would have a good chance to see all three big cats when I visited Maasai Mara for the first time in 2019. Lion and cheetah would be hard to miss and leopard would be the elusive one even if I thought the chance would be good.
The biggest of the three cats was hard to miss. I recon we could have spent time with lions all of the days if we put in an effort. That is how “easy” they are to find with a good guide on the vast plains of Maasai Mara National Reserve.
The biggest treat during the time in Maasai Mara was that most of the prides we found had cubs. That meant more action than I am used to when it comes to the biggest of the African cats. The adults normally rest during the day, but with cubs there is a completely different energy in the pride. That meant it was easy to fill the memory cards with super cute kittens.
We also witnessed a lioness move her litter from one place to the other by carrying them in her mouth. To see how tenderly she picked them up one by one in her massive jaws was extraordinary. It is certainly not something one could expect to witness, and it was the highlight among the lion sightings if you ask me. It even outcompeted the time we witnessed a successful hunt, more about that in a later blog.
Cheetah the fastest cat on the plains
I knew we would see Cheetah during the 12 days in Maasai Mara. I mean just the time spent meant we could focus on finding the fastest of the big cats. We had the pleasure of many good encounters with different individuals and got the opportunity to watch several hunts. We dedicated two days to working purely with cheetah and that meant we also saw a successful hunt. I have already posted some material about the Cheetah that might interest you.
I must admit that I had given up hope to witness a successful hunt, but when you dedicate time you improve your chances. Most times the adolescence ruining the hunt for their mum by being impatient.
I would recommend anyone going to Maasai Mara National Reserve to spend proper time with the Cheetah. Mainly because they are diurnal and will try to hunt most days. It is astonishing to watch the acceleration and see the stride length at full speed. I highly recommend it if you go there, or to Serengeti with their good numbers of cheetah.
Leopard the secretive one
Leopards are my favourite cat. I have always liked the Cheetah with their adoption to speed, but the leopard is the special one among the big cats of Africa. In particular females that have better looks and not the brutish look of a big male with dewlap and broad shoulders. To me they are the perfect cat as well as the hardest to find.
Still we got a couple of nice encounters with leopards. Most of them where females, but we also had an encounter with a big male. He was clearly the alpha in the area and a proper brute.
Video: The big cats of Maasai Mara 2019
I did expect many encounters with the big cats of the Maasai Mara. Still, I think we had more than I thought was possible and I now understand why people speak highly of Maasai Mara.
I will surely go back to Kenya in the future to explore more and most probably stay away from the migration as it normally brings lots of people. There are certainly more places to explore in Kenya and both the south-eastern part and the northern is of interest. So, stay tuned as I might have something up my sleeve.
I can also recommend you too read my post about the nemesis of the lion, the Spotted hyena. A misunderstood creature that need better understanding.