Sunday, 21 September 2014

Special permission

Masai Mara 

There is a cheetah with five cubs in the park but park wardens have forbidden most people from going to the area where she is. Brian has a permit that allows him to go to this spot. He has been here for over 30 years and has built up relationships with the Park Rangers. People in the Mara affectionately call him Mzee which means old man in swahili. When he was in camp he would take a few people to see the cubs each morning. Today was our turn.

We had to leave at 5:30am to travel to the other side of the park to find the cheetah cubs. The mother had got a kill the night before so she was eating when we arrived. Even the cubs who are about two months old were just starting to eat meat. They played in and around the shrubs which made it very difficult to get good shots - we were actually surprised at the photographs we got. Being there early it is difficult to get enough light into the camera to get the speed up. If the speed isn't fast enough, the photos are just blurred. Being cubs, they play constantly; so are always on the move which of course is the action we want.

You're watching me and I'm watching you, the film crew gets a personal greeting

There were only three other cars there, one was a film crew that had been with them for weeks. You need to be constantly aware of where all the cubs are, especially if you need to move your car as they might be on the wheels.

That afternoon we went to Brian's house, his manyatta, which is about half an hour away from camp, right on the edge of the park. He wanted to show Lindsay his workshop and get me to set up his new laptop! - glad I have my uses in life. Lindsay drove there and back, which greatly increased my appreciation for our guides, the terrain here is not easy to navigate, let alone knowing where you are going. You could get incredibly lost in the park if you were self driving. There are quite a few people who work at the Manyatta working on his fleet of Landrovers and generally around the place.There are no workshops close by to service his vehicles, so he has to do them himself. Other people in the Mara bring their vehicles to him to get fixed too. There were two men making new furniture for the mess tent - everything is made on site - the tents, the directors chairs, the tables, dining chairs, lounge chairs etc. I think he employs about sixty people all up.

On the way back to camp we could see a couple of cars off into the distance. Brian recognised one of his cars and radioed Ruben and said, I'm at your 11 o'clock is that you? It was, what were they watching? Some mongoose had a kill and a martial eagle and a tawny eagle were trying to get the kill off them.  The light was fading and the eagles were fast, so it was difficult to get sharp shots, but great to watch.

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