NightCam Diaries : Midnight Pot Luck
Like anything in life, you wait and wait for something, and it just doesn’t happen. You have moments of doubt that it ever will. Yet, there is that little voice in your head that reminds you to keep going. That voice for me, was not the usual one that has an endless running commentary reel in the realms of my head. No, the voice was Lorenzo. The tone I can only describe as “nagging”.
“Tam, why have you not put your camera up in two nights!”
I felt defeated, for the simple reason that the night I did not put my camera up, two enormous male lions positioned themselves on our road and roared until the sun had had enough. The sun decided to get up and put an end to the night and like a tennis umpire, climbed up his umpire seat and steadied himself to control the match. Roar one from the west, responded by a bellow from the east. My tent was in the middle almost like the net. Our guests that morning had opted for a morning walk and sat quietly and watched the male lions like championship spectators.
The despair that I did not get the photographic evidence, only got worse! The rustle of the grass near the tent indicated a hurried heavy mass was rushing past. A little croak followed the swift steps. My mouth dropped open as a female lioness dashed past me, obviously looking for her little ones. I suspect, to get them out of the way of these rather competitive males.
We worried that morning that the males were intruders from Mwayembe springs. Our pride in the Mbagi region, where both our camps, Jabali and Kwihala find themselves, had successfully raised 4 cubs, but lacked a permanent dominate male. The female lioness who missed out on motherhood last season, now had little ones, and we could only assume that they were the wee babes of Mr. T
There is a reason we call this particular male Mr. T. given his reputation, you would have thought it was because he was a Terror. However, the reason is because of his unfortunate hairline. Ruaha lions are renowned of not possessing glamour, Revlon-worthy manes. No, they are rather mangy and sparse. Due to the heat and their specialized hunting skills, they cannot be doing with hair in the way. Mr. T certainly benefitted for the lack of hair, when last season he took down an elephant cow all by himself. He was found on top of the unfortunate elephant proud as punch with his meal to go! Mr. T has a distinctive bald patch that is very similar to the letter T… hence the name.
Mr. T has the habit of being rather unpredictable. One of our guests did received a spray from him right on the back of their head. An experience!
The Night That Luck Became Reality
The next night, I wasted no time to rush out to my faithful spot just outside the camp and set up. I slept soundly, not hearing a sound. Lorenzo, bush tuned, told me the next morning that he had heard lions but did not want to get my hopes up. I leapt into the car and fled to the scene. My heart was in my throat as I saw a mélange of tracks. Then my heart sank. The biggest paw prints you had ever seen moved from the middle of the road, onto the side and disappeared, just before reaching my camera. I could not believe it!
I pulled off the camera and without hope, opened up the camera… then my jaw dropped.
I had been so distracted by the passing lion tracks, that I had not even looked at the other passerby evidence! A second sighting of an Aardwolf, a new species for the NightCam: a white-tailed mongoose and a wee genet. My favorite feline and the one I had really hoped to get: A Leopard!
The next selection of photos had chills down my spine.
The unfortunate hairline making an appearance!
It was M.T! He had not side stepped the camera! Knowing it was him I scoffed, of course he would never have walked past an alien object. A moment of fame, a chance for digital recognition, Mr. T got up front and personal! Thankfully, the NightCam lived to see another night, as Mr. T did not take the camera away.
This was certainly a potluck night. Lorenzo explained to me, after I had finished my victory laps around the lodge showing anyone who would look, that this is not a normal occurrence and to manage my expectations. So fellow camera comrades… got out and set up those cameras immediately! Pot Luck Nights are up for grabs!
You can read the first instalment of our NightCam Diaries here.
More Wildlife & Conservation Articles
First Time On Safari : The Insider Guide to an East African Safari16 September 2018
Going on a safari in Africa, at least once in your life, is on most people’s...
Isolation Specialists: East Africa Edition09 April 2020
We as humans are usually social creatures - we lean on one another for entert...
For Life: Monogamous East African Species08 April 2020
They say, if you love something, let it go. Well, this doesn't ring true for...
Two of Kenya’s Rare White Giraffes Have Been Poached11 March 2020
It is with a heavy heart that we bring you the news that Kenya's only female...