As I said in my previous story (Cats, not the Musical), the felines of Kenya were plentiful, and I enjoyed photographing them playing, eating, and, yes, mating.  But of course, there were not only cats, so here are a few more of the beautiful Masai Mara inhabitants.

Let’s begin with a few birds, starting with the impressive ostriches. Ostriches tend to hang out with their partners, though I mostly saw them one at a time.  First, a colorful male photographed at (barely) dawn, as evidenced by the heavy grain of the image, and then a more muted female, luckily colored by the sun setting.  (I‘ll never get used to the fact that the male is the colorful one of the pair for so many species, surely it should be the other way around).  Yellow-billed storks (I love it when the name is purely descriptive, it helps with my failing memory), a prominent African wading stork, were seen in many water pounds around.  And finally, a lilac-breasted roller, Kenya’s national bird with its vast array of colors on its feather coat which I rudely photographed in the middle of his meal.

Then the elegant gazelles and other antelopes are always ready to decamp when you pay attention to them.  Unless one is lucky enough to find them in a group, one likely will photograph their (nicely) marked behinds.

The imposing hippos we mostly see in the water staying cool during the day are only dwarfed in size by the magnificent African elephants.  The elephants would be my husband’s favorite, particularly if they lined up as he likes to think of them as nudging. 

The Masai giraffes won the prize for the most surprising behavior (to me). As we approached two of them, I could see that they were interacting and naively thought they were showing affection.  However, it became clear that they were in the midst of a vicious fight using their long necks as weapons.  It went on for a fairly long time, and hits were quite forceful until one of them quit. Naturally, all of this was done to win a lady’s attention.

And what to say about the zebras other than they feel like a canvas with their unique zigzag patterns.   And at this time of the year, they are quite plentiful as they join the wildebeests migrating from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya. 

Finally, the bearded wildebeests (also called gnu) were in large numbers.  It is estimated that 2 million animals travel in the Masai during the Great Migration.  We often found ourselves surrounded by them, and seeing so many was rather mind-numbing, though it is hard to convey the sheer size of these herds through photographs.

Unfortunately, none of them attempted to cross the Mara river while we were there; that is the scene typically photographed to depict the Great Migration.  Managed fires in Tanzania had them take a slightly slower route, and they arrived at the river the day I returned home. This is not to say that one more day would have been enough, as they often stay on the cliff weighing their chance of a successful crossing for quite a long time.  I guess I’ll have to go back for the crossing and hope for better timing or be happy with my memories of them on the way!

Thank you, Masai Mara!




12 Responses

  1. Hi, you really captured the light beautifully. I was in Kenya right after you I believe. Curious as to how you got your aerial shots? They look like you had a drone which I thought couldn’t be used in Kenya? Thanks,

    1. Thank you, Vaughn! I am sure you had a great trip as well. As to your question, I took a balloon ride on the last day of the trip, hoping to capture the magnitude of the herds. Best,France

  2. What magnificent photos and what a show nature turns on . I love zebras and giraffes , their bold striking patterns are a feast of design and colour ..though black and white are not considered colours but they are to me 😂.
    I once saw a nature film that showed two giraffes fighting and was quite shocked at how ferocious they can be ….I don’t know why I expected them not to be . 🌺

    1. Dear Emilie, So sorry for my laaaaate reply, I was on the road and miss your comment (which I always enjoy reading). I love zebras and giraffes too and black and whites are colours on zebras as they are not pure black and white. They are of different shades going to dark grey, brownish grey, beige and creamy white. So there. And you were one step ahead of me for the giraffes, I had no idea that they would fight so aggressively. They look so gentle, one would almost expect them to solve their disagreement by discussing the issue and shaking hands (!) at the end! But no, like the others that have to fight for survival, it is all about displaying your physical strength. Oh well. Going back to nature was a good break for me, but it looks like the world is slowly awakening again. We’ll see!

      1. That’s so interesting about the different shades ..I suppose when you see a lot together you can really tell the difference as opposed to seeing just a few at a zoo . Nature is so restorative. 🌺

  3. I heard about you from the book Misbehaving by Richard Thaler. He mentioned that it’s worth visiting this home page in one of the footnotes

    1. Thank you for visiting. Hope it wasn’t a total waste of time, and if yes, I hope it was a pleasant one. Cheers, France

  4. France, I think that your pictures of Cote d’Ivoire are amazing. It is incredible how you captured so many intimate pictures of the dancers and the animals in Masai Mara.

    1. Dear Bill, Apologies for such a delayed reply as I was traveling with NO internet access. I just spent a couple of weeks in South Sudan, a different world, for sure! Anyhow, warm thanks for your kind words on my images. I am glad you like the pictures of the Ivory Coast and the Masai, two destinations that made the pandemic more bearable for me. All the best, France

  5. Hi,
    Got to know your site from the book “Misbehaving”. It was indeed amazing and inspiring to see the photography and stories along.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to visit and for your kind words. Hope you are enjoying the book! All the best, France

  6. Again thank you for your photos. As per my comment re Lamu, I was in E Africa in 1989. I went to Masai Mara, Lake Necuru (sp) etc your photos just took me there again. In one spot we camped. While setting up this large male baboon came in twice stealing a loaf of bread and a cabbage … very funny. Thanks Ross

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