After we had finished our first sessions of Game Counts we headed out to find any big cats in the area. The Game Counts was important for the Conservancy as information collected went to the Conservancy management but also for students doing research in the area, we recorded how many animals we saw in a particular transect, giving an idea of the species around, which species mix with which species and which areas are being used at a particular time. Whilst in these counts we saw many animals including wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, topi and Thomson's and Grant's gazelles. We also saw a clan of hyena on a carcass including some young ones too. Pictures included below.
We came across a line of bush and rocks along the edge of a vast plain, plenty of wildebeest were around grazing happily as the heat of the sun started to shine through. Two lionesses were spotted in the dense bush, but I could only see one because the bush was so dense. We remained quiet as the lionesses were clearly keen not to be seen but also to stay in the shade. The lioness I saw was busy washing herself her coat was beautiful, tanned with spots on her underbelly and all over her body. Her front along with her chest was bright white.
Her face was just like the pictures of wild lions I had seen. Her face was very long and her forehead and nose were the same shape, and the nose followed the direction of her forehead giving her a very long face. In contrast most zoo lions in the UK have pronounced noses, their muzzles lift upwards unlike those of the wild lions seen on this trip in Kenya. Once again another difference were the size of her ears, much larger than those of their UK counterparts, the larger ears help to deal with the heat they are exposed to on these open savannahs. Even though we were less than 30 yards away she remained calm while we were there. Our guide Joseph believed her to be around 3 years old, she did fit that description and didn't seem to have any scars showing a particularly dramatic past. Seeing a lone female, with perhaps another companion hidden away from view was certainly very interesting and unlike the normal belief that lions live in large prides. This was something that interested me greatly and something I would hope to find more evidence either for or against during the rest of my trip.
With one lion sighting already this morning I was confident that we would hopefully find some more during the big cat monitoring later on this afternoon. Already to see this amount of wildlife throughout the Conservancy is like something I have never seen before. Everything has its place, the hyena scavenging on the carcasses while the vultures waited to eat the scraps that no one else would want. The Giraffe and the wildebeest grazed along the vast plains besides the carcasses of an animal once their own. It is a magical place and it all made sense, everything has a purpose and everything keeps surviving.