Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa – Code: AN793ST
Location: Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Portfolio Type: “ THE ONE ” Fine Art Portfolio
(Logo on image is not on print)
To tell you about how I came to get this shot, I have to go back to 6 in the morning, it was still dark and I was pulling out of the Mara Serena Lodge with my Land Rover head lights on, heading off for a morning safari to the south west corner of the Massai Mara National Reserve, in actual fact it’s the Mara Triangle Conservancy area. I had spent the first 3 hours of my drive not really photographing anything of gallery worthiness, I was now in the most south western part of the park, a very remote area where not a lot of safari tours go. As I peered out towards the Tanzanian border I spotted a pride of lions on the move, so I quickly hoped off the track and head towards them, as I got closer I realized that they where probably heading for somewhere to get out of the heat of the day till the late afternoon when they would head out again on the hunt. Understanding the rules of not getting more then 25 metres to the wildlife, but with the knowledge that it was OK if they came to you. I quickly guessed that they where heading for this big acacia tree, so I moved ahead of them and park the Toyota landcruiser in a spot write under the tree. My guess paid off, as they were heading straight for me.
So the pride spread out under the tree and to my delight only ten feet away from my vehicle and I started photographing them, which is how I got this shot. Now I was in a Toyota Landcruiser that needed the ignition on to wind the windows up and down, so I had turned the ignition on to wind down the window to photograph and left the ignition on just incase I needed to wind the window up quickly. What I didn’t realize is that I still had my headlights on from leaving the lodge earlier that morning. So once I had finished capturing the imagery I needed, which was half an hour later, I tried to start the engine but the battery had lost so much power that the engine would not kick over. So there I was in a remote part of the park, not near the track, stranded with a pride of lions right next to my vehicle with no cellular coverage and no way to let anyone know where I was. I couldn’t get out of the vehicle to try to clean the connections of the battery to see if that would give me enough charge to start the engine. I was trapped and with the window half way down, I just had to wait till the pride moved on. So I sat there with the pride of lions from 9am to 6pm, that’s nine hours in the African heat. One comical moment was when I went looking through my canned food for something for lunch and came across a can of tuna, and jokingly said to myself “well I’m not opening that, cats love tuna and I don’t need a lion trying to come through the window of my 4WD”, just to be safe I had something else.
So the pride got up and left at 6pm, it was just before sunset. Once they where out of site I quickly got out and cleaned the battery connections but that didn’t help, it only enabled me to wind the window up. So I resigned myself to the fact that I was stuck and probably for the night. It was great to be out of the vehicle and a herd of elephants weren’t far off so I grabbed the camera and captured them with the sun setting. But I had noticed that the mosquitos had come out and thought it best once dusk had settled to get back in the 4WD. Knowing that the lodge would see in the vehicle entry and exit books that I didn’t come back in, I knew they would have the word out to look for me. So I set up a LED light with the flashing setting on, to make it easier for anyone trying to find me, but by 11pm I figured that know one was coming tonight and turned off the light and went to sleep.
I woke an hour and a half later with vehicle lights heading towards me, I joyously got out of the 4WD , too be confronted by armed soldier jumping out of their two vehicles with guns at the ready. We quickly established that I was the missing vehicle and there was backslapping and smiles all round. These soldiers where the anti poaching team that patrols this area, as it is one of the hot spots in the park, what I found out from them was that the lodge had told them to be on the lookout for me but they had given the wrong registration number to the anti poaching team, so they where unsure if I was a poacher or the person lost and that’s why they came in with guns at the ready. In typical Africa fashion they tried helping me start the vehicle via jumper leads but someone put the leads around the wrong way and totally killed the electrics, So I got a lift back to the lodge and slept and then went back out in the morning with the lodge mechanic and repaired the issue and drove back to the lodge.
I can’t thank the Mara Serena Lodge and the anti poaching team enough for their help in rescuing me… mental note to self “turn off your lights and ignition”
And that’s how I was able to capture this beautiful and pride lioness.
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