November was a very wet month in the Mara, but fortunately as most of the storms occurred in the late afternoon and evenings, I was able to get out everyday. With swollen rivers it was not possible to access some areas, with most of the usual vehicle crossings being impassable. This did not prove a problem however, and I experienced some great sightings. The theme of this visit seems to have been cubs, the young with their mothers, child birth and sadly, experiencing the harsh circle of life in the Mara, with the loss of a cheetah cub.
Apart from her annoying habit of climbing on vehicles, one very special cheetah, Malaika, fourteen months ago gave birth to six cubs. She has subsequently lost three of those cubs, which is not unusual, but for the remaining three one would have hoped the worst was over. On November 26th Malaika decided to cross the swollen Talek River with her three cubs. With the fast flowing river they were not able to make the crossing as quickly as they normally would, and sadly one of her cubs was taken by a crocodile. I arrived at the river shortly after, so did not witness the attack, but was presented with the dreadful sight of the crocodile laying alongside the dead cheetah cub which it had lodged up against the river bank. I know these things are an everyday occurrence, but it is extremely hard not to be upset when a family you have followed for so long suffers a loss like this. Malaika spent the next few days waiting by the river for her missing cub, calling out to her, it was heart wrenching to witness. There was an air of sadness amongst all the guides and visitors in the Mara for the following days. Crocodiles suddenly became the most unpopular of creatures! For the brave there is a picture of the scene below.
Moving on to happier things, I spent many wonderful hours with two leopard mothers, Fig with her one cub, and Bahati with her two cubs, along with a lioness with four young cubs and a cheetah, Nora with her two cubs. A first for me, I watched and photographed a topi giving birth and waited to see her newborn calf take its first steps. Within twenty minutes the calf had managed to stand and take its first unsteady steps, a remarkable experience which I feel privileged to have shared.