Photos: Wildlife of Maasai Mara

Naserian the cheetah, looking for prey from the vantage point of a termite mound
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya

I’ve visited the Maasai Mara three times so far during my time in Kenya, and been blown away by the experience each time. It’s the only place where I’ve seen a cheetah kill, watched the great wildebeest migration or had a sunset beer a few metres away from a sleeping crocodile. On two trips, we benefitted from a genuine Maasai guide, Moses, who grew up in the area and knows the landscape and wildlife intimately. And one of the very few up sides of the COVID-19 pandemic is that the animals were thriving and there were very few visitors, aside from a few Nairobi residents like us, so it often felt like we had the whole national park to ourselves.

Here is a selection of my favourite photos from the three visits:

A sleeping crocodile on the bank of a lake near our lodge at sunset. It had eaten recently and barely moved all day, although the geese still kept to a sensible distance
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
A giraffe looks out across the savannah in the late afternoon light
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
A heron takes off from a tree over a small lake and marshland
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
Sienna is the third ranking male in the Lemek Pride, which has around 20 lions
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
A hippo on its way back to the lake in the early morning. Hippos usually spend the day lazing in a river or lake but they come out to graze at night
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
A close up of a pregnant giraffe, which was sitting by the roadside when we drove past
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
Moses was able to find cheetahs by observing other animals. When they were all looking in the same direction – like these topi antelopes – it meant a predator was nearby
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
In this case, they had spotted Naserian the cheetah, who was using a termite mound as a vantage point. This cheetah doesn’t have an official name (unlike her mother Kisauru) but my son Zefi chose ‘peaceful’ and Moses translated it into Maasai
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
A male impala near a lake. He had recently survived an attack by a leopard. The wound had healed but the scar was still visible on his neck
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
A baboon in the bushes near our safari lodge. They were very bold – one of the males (possibly this one) would come and sit on the swing in our garden in the mornings
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
A martial eagle comes in to land over a small lake. It later tried to catch a duck, which dived under the water to evade it
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
Our guide Moses talking to my son Zefi. Moses was very knowledgeable about the wildlife of the Maasai Mara and happy to answer Zefi’s many questions
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
A herd of wildebeest in the southern part of the Maasai Mara, contemplating making the river crossing to the Serengeti
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
Wildebeest swim across the Mara River, with the last group waiting anxiously behind
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
A line of 2,000 wildebeest climb the hill on the far side of the Mara River, heading towards the Serengeti
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
A cheetah finds a shady spot to rest and play with her three-month-old cubs
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
Dominic, alpha male lion of the Black Rock pride, shakes his mane after mating. “When lions mate, they separate themselves from the pride for four days,” Daniel said. “That way, the male knows that any cubs are his.”
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
Dominic drinking water after mating
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
Elephants beside the Mara River, just below the iron bridge on the border with Tanzania
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
A leopard resting in the shade of a tree, camouflaged among the leaves
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
A black-backed jackal runs across the savannah
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
Banded mongoose on the bank of the Sand River, just outside our family tent. They use their strong claws to dig in the ground, looking for food
© Andrew Brown/2021/Kenya
Naserian’s mother Kisaru making a kill on our first visit, in November 2020. She caught an impala that had unwisely run away from the herd and was grazing on its own.
© Andrew Brown/2020/Kenya
Kisaru starts eating the impala, beginning with the fatty hind legs
© Andrew Brown/2020/Kenya
An elephant calf turns to look at its mother
© Andrew Brown/2020/Kenya
A giraffe eating leaves from a thorn bush, using its long tongue to reach around the thorns and get at the leaves beneath
© Andrew Brown/2020/Kenya
The weird-looking secretary bird. This is a unique bird of prey that has an eagle-like head and body on crane-like legs. They are also famous snake killers
© Andrew Brown/2020/Kenya
A buffalo with an oxpecker bird perched on its head. In a classic symbiotic relationship, the little birds pick out ticks from the buffalo’s hide to eat, keeping the buffalo clean and providing a good meal for the oxpecker
© Andrew Brown/2020/Kenya
A herd of around 20 elephants, including a matriarch and some young calves. The adult elephants pulled branches off the trees and stripped the bark to eat
© Andrew Brown/2020/Kenya


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