What a place to have lunch.
The Serengeti, a huge ecosystem that helps protect the largest migration of wildlife on earth. It has been shared by man and animals for over three and a half million years from the time volcanoes blew their ash across this magnificent landscape.
Even these endless plains had had a lot of rain this season. Grasses were tall and green. We were on the eastern side of Serengeti and we had permission to drive off road and explore the Kopjes, pronounced “copies”, around Gol and Barafu, to search for lions and cheetah.
Kopjes are large rock islands scattered throughout the savanna. Like small ecosystems, there are usually a few Commiphora and Acacia trees with Hook-Thorn shrubs for shade and protection. Usually there is also a water supply and this can make an ideal home for lions.
They are known to den up and rear their young in the shallow caves the rock slabs provide. I remember thinking no one would last very long climbing around these fortressed shelters.
With eyes straining to spot movement we slowly circled one of these rock islands. Against the grey boulders a brown furry head appeared. A large male lion sleeping in the shade with his head turned upside down looking like a house cat snoozing.
Our Land Rover inched to a stop and the lion quickly stood to attention watching us with intent.
He was awesome, easily 200 pounds of wild muscle. Like a powerful sentinel he surveyed the savanna below.
I took several photographs getting his attention back from the sound of the motor drive of the camera clicking away. We were about 100 feet away.
My driver tapped me on my leg as I stood in the open top Rover. A pregnant female was behind us. She sauntered out of the tall grass brushing her tail on the vehicle and headed toward the Kopje. The male disappeared only to come down from the rocks to greet her out in the open.
We could hear them speaking to each other in low grunts, nuzzling now some thirty feet away. The lioness followed him into the shrubs and disappeared under a rock overhang. It was thrilling to witness such an encounter.
More rock islands and thousands of wildebeest and zebra surrounded the Rover. We drove over a slight rise getting even closer to the boulders. This time there was a pride of seven lions, five cubs and two female adults.
At least two were yearlings. They scrambled across an outcrop. We could hear their claws scratching against the rock as they wrestled, growling like little kittens less than thirty feet away. Within seconds another roll of film was exposed.
I got full frame shots of these African lions yawning, preening, nuzzling and just being playful, excellent wildlife behavior. We spent more than an hour with these cats isolated without another human in sight. They owned this Park.
We stopped for lunch on the far side of this Kopje. On a rock slab out in the open a few hundred feet from the trees. We sat back to back, always watching for movement and not very far from the open doors of the Range Rover, just in case.
All images used in this post are copyrighted by Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography, 2009, All Rights Reserved. Reporduction in any manner is prohibited without the written permission of Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography. Contact: email@example.com