Monday, September 1, 2008

An Afternoon with the Sereti Males

If you read books on Wildlife Photography you almost always get told to not photograph during the hours around midday as your images will not work. Also, if you read books on Animal Behavior you get told that lions are nocturnal and sleep during the day.

Do not always believe what you read!!

After our guests checked out Gavin and I got a call from our electrician to say that he saw a large male lion on a wildebeest kill up on the North Western fence line earlier that day. On a whim we decided to get in the cruiser to go and check it out. On the way we passed our guests who were stuck behind a herd of ellies. Ellis, if you and your mom are still wondering - no... we did not go to the pub. Here is what happened just after we left you.

As we arrived we found the Masu male, a single walking lion in Madikwe, on a wildebeest kill. The funny thing was that the dead wildebeest must have been chased into the reserve fence as it was half stuck. With the temperature pushing 30 degree Celsius the four year old male decided to use out vehicle as cover and almost crawled completely under the vehicle. I was able to get a few short video clips on my Sony T100 and will look at getting these on YouTube and link them to the Blog.

Long story short - after trying to get rid of the lion under our Land Cruiser Matt, also a contributing photographer on Photo-Africa, arrived to try and get the dead animal off the fence. It caused a dander to the lion, possible damage to the fence and with the afternoon game drives coming up the kill would have been better off away from the fence and the lion would probably be way happier guarding his kill in a bit of shade.

I will probably do a Blog with video clips later on but after hooking a tow-rope on the kill and dragging the kill away from the fence line the Masu male decided he is not going to let anybody take his kill from him without a fight.

Keep in mind this is a wild lion!! It was amazing to see the strength of one male lion as he pulled against a Land Drover Defender. After stopping the vehicle for a while the lion fed and the kill was finally pulled underneath a thicket where the lion was now quite happy to go and crash in the shade and get up for the occasional bite.

While all of this was happening a very interested male lion popped his head up not 200 meters from all the action. It turned out to be two of the three Sereti males. These young males, who you will have read about on previous posts, were on a wildebeest kill of their own and made for quite an interesting array of possibilities? Will they accept the Masu male so close to them? Will they risk getting into a fight with the older male? Will they possibly accept him?

Gavin and I decided to stay with the Seretis for a while to see if any answers to these questions pop up. None did, but we were in for quite a show of intimidation and fighting.

These guys might have been a bit more tense than usual due to the presence of another male lion and they were quick to show us how the felt as we moved closer to them. A lot of their aggression was aimed at each other and you could see clearly that the only times a coalition of males will argue is about the last scraps of food and mating rights. They caught us off guard the first time but we were ready when they flew into each other for a second time.

Both Gavin and I were able to get amazing images of these two going at each other and will hopefully get these up onto the Photo-Africa Stock Library towards the end of the month. (Yes - Internet still an issue!)

We spent the next three hours with these large cats. They did not ease up on the aggression and here are a few of the 'faces' they pulled at us during our afternoon with them. For those of you reading for the first time remember - all the images in the Blog have been taken in the wild!

You can see they were pretty tense but it made for the most amazing photography! Gavin and I had a blast capturing these guys on camera. Between the two of us we filled 4 memory cards so still a lot of images to go through!

You might recall a Blog where I mentioned that the Seretis have the most amazing eyes of any lion I have ever seen. We were parked about 3 meters from them so while they were feeding on the wildebeest I was able to get a few close up images of their eyes.

I still think these guys are going to play a very big role in Madikwe and will be one of the dominating coalitions in the reserve. They are very large for their age and seem to have an aggressive streak which will give them the edge when they start competing for territory.

These two have been away from their brother for a few days as he has been very busy with the Etali female.

Three years is very young for a male to be mating with a female of around 7 years and shows that even she can recognise that these guys might be the future.

It is also interesting too note that a few days before the above images were taken the Etali female was seen mating with the Masu male. She is obviously keeping her options open and it is going to be very interesting to see how things develop over the next couple of months.

Will she back the three young brothers or will she hook up with the single walking Masu male?

It was an amazing afternoon and one that reminded me why we do what we do - both from a Field Guiding and Wildlife Photography point of view.

I will keep you posted as things develop and will hopefully get more images onto the blog in the next couple of days!

As always I look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time.



Michael Palmer said...

Had the whole family around the screen!! INCREDIBLE shots!!

Photo-Africa said...

Thanks Michael! I think it't about time you pack you bags and bring your family over so you can also get a chance to photograph these amazing cats!! Reckon you might have quite a good time!! :)

Viaggio Africa said...

Wow! Really nice shots.
I like this little cats...

Anonymous said...

Maybe one day I can get lucky as well and see these sightings. I just hear about these sightings and when I'm in the bush just see them sleeping :-)