The Masai Mara is truly a magical place. The Great Migration of millions of Wildebeest and Zebra create such a unique, unbelievable spectacle I am so grateful to have witnessed and photographed. Predators everywhere, prey everywhere, incredible storms rolling in every afternoon and the battle for life and death performed in every nuance each and every day. The portfolio below is a culmination of natural events I have witnessed over 32 days spent in the Masai Mara across 4 years.
A Young Huntress
Early morning golden sunlight falls onto a young Lion cub, as she takes in the dawn of a new day.
Storms approach the wide open grassy plains of the Masai Mara, engulfing the landscape with dramatic skies, dwarfing the massive Elephant cow and her calf.
A herd of Wildebeest whips up huge amounts of dust at dawn, running along the banks of the Mara River during their annual migration across East Africa.
Clouds of dust shroud migrating herds of White-bearded Wildebeest making their way across the dangerous Mara River, following rains and the promise of better grazing.
A young Lion cub jumps onto Mom's back, biting and going in for the kill. The Masai Mara has a healthy population of Lion, together with short green grass helps create excellent photographic conditions.
We found a Zebra in a shallow river one afternoon, with a Crocodile holding onto its back leg. The struggle continued for almost ninety minutes, until the Zebra became exhausted and gave up the fight. There was a male Zebra that stayed close to the area of this Zebra in the river, calling every few minutes. We could only imagine his partner was the one taken down by the Crocodile. This image shows the male calling well into the evening, beyond sunset.
A female Cheetah surveys the land in search of prey, as her litter of four cubs stay close. The Masai Mara is a wonderful location to find and photograph these magnificent cats, and at times become privileged enough to catch a glimpse of the young ones.
A lone Zebra contemplates crossing the mighty Mara River to join up with its herd on the opposite bank, but huge rocks and danger stand in the way of survival.
Dangerous River Descent
Wildebeest have no fear when crossing the Mara River. Often steep banks stand in their way, but they make the plummet, often 4 or 5 meters high. Many animals die when jumping off these steep banks, landing and breaking bones and dying. It's tragic to witness, but it's part of the cycle of life that keeps nature so well balanced. A slow shutter speed of 1/10th of a second created the blur effect, together with panning of the camera in the direction the Wildebeest were moving. This photo is not a Photoshop manipulation, it's created entirely with specific camera techniques in the field.
Golden dawn light illuminates the breath of a Lioness as she snarls, warning off a nearby male on the plains of the Masai Mara.
Dust and Herds
Huge herds of Wildebeest and Zebra churn up a lot of dust close to the banks of the Mara River. Ethereal scenes of these dust blankets cover huge numbers of animals, waiting for their turn to cross the raging river.
End of a Journey
A young Lion cub rests on top of a freshly killed Wildebeest, playing and rolling and pretending to kill it again.
Spotted Hyena squabble over remains of a Wildebeest carcass, showing teeth and aggression. Male Hyena rank lower than every female in the clan, and almost always feed on the remaining scraps of kills.
First Glimpse of Sunlight
The sun rises over the plains of the Masai Mara, silhouetting an iconic tree of this east African landscape.
Four Delicate Lives
Tiny Cheetah cubs survey the African plains on top of a large anthill, close to their mothers protection whom was just out of frame in this photograph.
Golden Morning Approach
A juvenile White-backed Vulture approaches an old Elephant carcass on a golden morning in hopes of scavenging some scraps.
The small, compact Grey Kestrel flies towards a frequented perch with a small mouse in it's talons. I was incredibly lucky to have captured this bird in flight with prey in talons, and together with a slowish shutterspeed, the wing blur created quite a nice effect showing motion. The Masai Mara is home to many raptors, but this surely is one of my favourite photographs of all raptors captured in the area.
Hunter and the Hunted
A large male Leopard stands proud in the dappled sunlight of morning, with his prize kill, a Reedbuck hanging from a large branch half eaten.
A true African scene. Zebra walk across the grassy plains of the Mara, silhouetted by the setting sun, illuminating clouds and falling rain in the background.
In search of prey, a female Leopard uses the sound of rain as cover for her own sounds, stalking the plains of the Masai Mara. We found her a while earlier with two, tiny cubs. She hid these cubs at what seemed like a safe den site, as she left them to go hunt during a heavy afternoon thundershower.
With an intense stare set on her prey, eyes locked on and ready to kill, a Lioness stands backlit by the morning sunlight, bathing the scene in a golden hue.
Into The Chaos
Crossing the Crocodile infested Mara River is a daunting prospect for any animal, but when massive herds of animals build up on the opposite river banks, panic sets in and the urge to withdraw themselves from chaotic danger in the river becomes extreme.
A young Elephant sniffs the air at an unfamiliar scent, as her mother slowly approaches to investigate my vehicle.
King of the Land
A big brute of a male Lion patrols his territory on the plains of the Masai Mara during a fresh morning after heavy rains.
Learning to Kill
Three sub-adult Lions are left with an adult Wildebeest, caught by their mother, learning to kill. Lions kill their prey by suffocation, gripping around the throat and starving the prey of air. On this occasion the Wildebeest got away, but I'm sure a valuable lesson was learnt by these Lions.
Beautiful afternoon sunlight faintly illuminates the landscape in golden hues, back-lighting a beautifully posed Lilac-breasted Roller stretching before take off.
A Lioness leads her three cubs away from a thicket towards an open plain and a shady tree, as the sun shines down on a perfect African morning.
Male Mara Leopard
A brute of a male Leopard rests high up in a tree with his kill, looking over his shoulder at Hyena's sniffing the air close by.
On the hunt, a male Leopard seeks out prey during an overcast afternoon.
Mara Lion Cubs
Two young Lion cubs stay close to Mom, gazing over the plains of the Masai Mara on a fresh morning just before sunrise.
Mara Pied Kingfisher
The Masai Mara is not only about the Great Migration and all it's predators. Birdlife abounds in the reserve, and on this occasion a hovering Pied Kingfisher looks for prey in a shallow pool.
Heavy storms engulf the skies across the plains of the Masai Mara, dropping precious moisture onto the Earth sustaining life in this beautiful part of Africa.
Mother and Calf
A mother Elephant stands close to her calf, sniffing the air of an approaching, dramatic storm over the plains of the Masai Mara.
Of Life and Death
Life flourishes all around, clouds roll across the grassland and remains of the fallen remind those that life in this wilderness is hostile, precious and fragile.
Playful Mara Cubs
Backlit by the faint rising sunlight, two very young Lion cubs play and bond with each other. It was a privilege gaining a glimpse into the life and antics of these tiny cubs and how they interact with eachother and their pride.
Portrait of the Herd
Massive herds of White-bearded Wildebeest engage in dangerous river-crossings towards better grazing on the other side. Dust adds such a dramatic atmosphere to this dramatic natural event.
Portrait of the Queen
Golden rays of afternoon sunlight fall onto the queen of the pride as she glances across the plains of the Mara in search of prey.
A slow shutterspeed of 1/13 sec blurs the movements of a migrating Wildebeest, running across the plains of Kenya's Masai Mara.
Young Lion cubs play with a dead Wildebeest, walking on and stalking the carcass in the first golden light of morning.
Storms and Migrating Herds
Dramatic storms roll in over the southern section of the Mara Triangle, dropping precious rain sustaining lives of massive migratory herds of White-bearded Wildebeest and Zebra.
Taking the Plunge
Huge herds of Wildebeest and Zebra build on the banks of the Mara River during their annual migration, waiting for the first animal to take the risky plunge into the unknown depths of the dangerous river.
The setting sun casts golden hues onto the atmosphere, silhouetting two male Cheetah on the hunt, chasing down a fully grown Wildebeest. The chase was unsuccessful, as the Wildebeest turned around and challenged the Cheetah face to face.
The Pride Male
Male Lions, protectors of their prides, patrol and scout for nomads or intruders whom cross into their territories. On the open plains of the Masai Mara, competition is fierce, and each pride male will defend their territory to the death.
A young Lioness walks towards her pride in the golden light of morning. Lions are abundant in the Masai Mara, especially active during the annual Wildebeest migration where many kills are made every day.
The Desperation To Survive
Huge herds of White-bearded Wildebeest brave the raging crocodile infested Mara river in hopes of fresh grazing on the opposite side.