The Predators of Grumeti Reserve
As our guides often told us, you have to head out on a drive and “see what there is to be seen.” A Safari trip is a good exercise in patience, perseverance and the whims of luck. In the Grumeti Game Reserve on the edge of the Serengeti, our patience was rewarded with several exciting encounters with predators of the African plains.
Spotted hyenas are highly social and adaptable animals with complex societies and impressive hunting skills. They have incredible endurance thanks to one of the largest heart-to-body-mass ratios in the animal kingdom. We met two families at different watering holes. The cubs were inquisitive and playful. The mothers seemed happy to have the attention of their young diverted and sought solace from the heat in the shallow water.
One morning our guide had an intuitive feeling that something was lurking by the riverbed. “The baboons usually roost here for the night and they are gone,” he told us. “Something is around.” We cruised slowly along the winding banks, peering under bushes. Suddenly our guide announced that he had spotted a leopard! She was almost invisible, her camouflage blending into the shadows cast by the thick bush. This was our first* leopard sighting of the trip and we all rushed to take photos. A few minutes later, the leopard got up and started moving purposefully through the undergrowth. For the next 20 to 30 minutes we watched her walking along the riverbank, searching for prey in the cool morning air.
One evening, while most of our group opted to rest back at the lodge, two of us headed out to catch the sunset and take a short drive. We watched a group of female lions stalking two wildebeest, the first time I’ve seen hunting behavior in the wild. The wildebeest caught the lions’ scent and the hunt was over. We left the lions and went for a few sunset photos before circling back to see the lions one last time before heading home. We drove towards their location and suddenly a parade of lion cubs barreled towards our vehicle. A huge groups of lion cubs of all ages (14 in all) had joined the females and we watched their antics until the light faded to dark.
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