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Well, I'm finally getting around to our first "Safari". These adventures occurred October 23, 24 & 25, but it is now November 7 (Happy Belated Birthday, Kevin!). This brief entry will be limited to some of the wildlife we saw. I have been completely unable to show the richness of the wildlife in the Masai Mara. Some aerial shots would have definitely helped, but even that wouldn't really be enough. There are literally millions of animals. More than I have ever seen at one time in the US and a mere shadow of what once ranged here. The experience sparks a maelstrom of emotions. It is exhilerating to see so many animals at once, humbling to be a part of it all and saddening to know what devastation our species has wrought upon this work of God.

The Masai Mara is part of the traditional home of the Masai, perhaps the most famous tribe in all of Africa. It is the northern, or Kenyan, part of the world-famous Serengeti, a vast volcanic grassland extraordinarily rich in wildlife. It is small, compared to the rest of the Serengeti, and in our 3 days there we encompassed maybe 4% of it. Vast is really an understatement! This preface is just to try to give you an indication of how little we were able to see. And, of course, the only type of photography available on such a schedule is that which just happens to be close enough and brave enough to stick around while the photographer shoots away. It's hardly the way to get the best shots, but sometimes the animals are remarkably patient.

It helps to have your own White Hunter and Driver, because so many of the "tours" (and "many" may be an understatement) stop at some situation for 5 minutes at most and then they're off. We often spent an hour or so, with an animal or group, and that, of course, is really minimal when it comes to getting to know somebody.

But, let's get on with the animals.

The Topi is a pure grazer with the ability to select green leaf within swards of dry grass. Where grassland occurs in small patches, populations are sedentary and dispersed. We found the popultion to be thick in the Mara.
The White-bearded Wildebeeste is the dominant plains antelope in the acacia savannas of Kenya & Tanzania & his friends help keep his insect population within bounds.
Tommy, the Thompson's Gazelle, is one of the most common antelope on the plains. They are also just as cute as a little animal comes and I find them fascinating. Unfortunately, they hardly ever hang around like this one did to have a proper portrait taken.
The Secretarybird is a wonderful bird, who usually walks rather than flies, in his, or her, search for grasshoppers, lizards, rodents and nestling birds. It's specialty is snakes, which it literally beats to death with its "fisted" feet.
The Hyena is not generally thought of as a very nice animal, but this little female was quite curious and seemed even friendly. We first met her sleeping in the middle of the road, so I hope she survives childhood.
Impalas are fast cars and fast antelope. They're also quite clever in the matter of eating. When it rains, they are grazers and when it's dry, thyey switch to browsing.
Where there is so much life, there must be vast amounts of death, so there are a many vultures and vulture species, including these lappet-faced vultures.
The Little Bee-eater is only one small example of the wonderful world of jewel-like African birds. It seems like everywhere you turn there is another tiny brilliant bird. Unfortunately, most of them are not big on posing for portraits either, for anything shorter than about 1000mm lens.
The Cape Buffalo is massive and really quite sociable. With his own kind, anyway. Bulls past their prime associate in bachelor groups or become solitary. That's when they become particularly worrisome to people.
Giraffes, young and old, as everyone knows, are wonderful, and massive in their own way. They can get to be as tall as 19 feet and weigh as much as 3,000 pounds. More on them later.
A Warthog Family grazing. These little ones are already starting to get to be as ugly as their parents. The only little ones we have seen so far that were still cute didn't stay around to have their pictures taken.
Not that cute is everything. This lion fits the image of the big tough guy.
But here's the real tough girl.
Actually, she's just yawning. I still wouldn't want my arm in there when she closes that mouth.
And here's a little more lion dignity. Between lying around. This group of lions was probably our most thrilling adventure until we met . . .
the happy hippopotamus, who turned out to be . . .
not so happy . . .
with one of his friends. But that's another story . . . for later.