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Crossing The Maasai Mara National Reserve is a large game reserve in Kenya, adjacent to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. The "Great Migration" of well over a million gnu wildebeest and zebra passes through the Mara every year from July to October. The Mara River lies across the migration path and at times the animals muster the courage to cross the river which they do as quickly as possible and in large numbers. We were fortunate to witness this spectacle of nature.

Crossing the river is perilous for the animals. Some of them drown and the crocodiles ambush them in the water. In the chaos of the crossing, it is not unusual for calves to get separated from their mothers and this makes them easy prey for predators. We witnessed a leopard kill a gnu calf that was wandering alone. This calf had little chance of survival as it was already weakened from lack of its mother's care.

Leopard Kill

Scavengers After a predator kills an animal in the wild, it usually only has a narrow time window with its prey before it gets chased off by scavengers. Hyenas are attentive to kills and often arrive first, but ultimately it is the vultures that descend from the skies in large numbers to feast on the kill.

There is a tremendous amount of food available for predators, so there is a large population of them, including lions, cheetahs, and leopard.


Wildlife of the Maasai Mara The density of wildlife in the Maasai Mara is truly astonishing. Tens or even hundreds of thousands of blue wildebeest, or gnu, are seen, often with zebra. Buffalos, elephants, hippos, hyenas, jackals, and herds of various types of antelope roam the plains. There are crocodiles in the waterways and on the riverbank.

The Maasai Mara also has a large number and variety of birds. Here are just a few of the many we saw.


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All photographs taken in the Maasai Mara are Copyright 2017 Jeffrey Barth, All Rights Reserved.