In Search of Hippos and the lone Lion at Masai Mara is the sixth episode of my account of our travels into Kenya. It was also the third morning of our Masai Mara safari; and we were on the lookout for the Hippos today. The earlier two days, we had had our share of Elephants, Lions, wilder beasts, zebras, antelopes, deer, Thomson gazelles and a host of other smaller animals. The short rains ns of November had played a bit of a spoilsport which we had anyway expected, but otherwise things had gone good. The one big animal which had eluded us was the Hippopotamus, and we were determined to find it.
We had already enjoyed game drives for the last two days, amidst some intermittent showers and cloudy skies at times. We had been able to view antelopes, giraffes, zebras, wild hogs, African bull, wilder beast, elephants and lions in our last two days of the wildlife safari. Today we wanted to view hippos who have given us the slip for the last two days.
This is part 6 of my 7 part Masai Mara Kenya Travelogue
Hippos do not live in any kind of shelter but rather spend their time bathing in lakes and rivers. Ultimately after about half an hour of hunting up their usual resting zones, we found them in a shady meander of a brook. A herd of about twenty, half immersed in the water, were enjoying a long muddy bath.
From the other side came a rushing baby hippo with the mother covering behind. In no time did they join the whole herd, where all were merrily nudging each other up every few seconds with a reverberating call. It looked like all of them were singing in unison in a giant choral song.
The Lion King.
But the star attraction for day three was one young lion out in the open all by himself. The majestic Super-Cat of the Savannah was trotting towards us, all grace and authority. We saw a herd of Thomson’s gazelle just freeze at the sight of the lion. Kantaai, our Masai driver stopped our SUV about 30 metres from its path and turned off the ignition. None of us even uttered a word. The lion stared at us, at our vehicle and stopped for about about a minute. It seemed to take stock of the situation and understand our intentions.
Once it looked like it will walk straight to us, and our blood kind of froze in our veins. Then slowly it went on his own trail, crossing the vehicle path from left to right about 50 meters up, till he vanished into the bushes. With the lion moving out of sight, life returned back to the gazelles and the smaller animals around them.
We later heard from Kantaai that the young lion, has crossed the threshold age and had walked away from the pride. It is like the coming of age for the lions. He has now to prove himself and build up his own territory. He is also in the process of finding a new den for himself, woo anew mate for himself and thus raising his own family. He was trying to forge his own kingdom in the wilderness.