Night comes swiftly at the equator, usually at 6 to 6.30 pm. But around 5 pm there is that perfect moment when the light is like molten honey. This shot was only a quick snap, taken after a game drive, and as we were heading back to camp on the Mara River. Our driver-guide was intent on one last go at spotting a leopard. For our part, we were simply entranced by this scene. Even at the time it seemed as if we had stepped into an oil painting. Besides, this was the most game we’d seen in one place all afternoon. Because that is something that wild life films tend not to show you: that you can drive for hours across the African bush and not see a single animal.
There is also more going on in this scene than is immediately obvious. Behind the zebra are some wildebeest; then the giraffe between the thorns. I’m not sure what the pale animal is on the top left horizon, but from its size I’d say it is probably an eland. Then if you look carefully just below the right hand bough of the right hand thorn tree, you might make out a brown dog-like shape. Hyena. There will doubtless be others in the grass. Once it was thought they were only scavengers, moving in on big cats’ kills. But now they are known to be hunters too. They prey on gazelles and larger antelope. Even a lone hyena can bring down a full-grown wildebeest, and pack away 15 kilos of meat at one sitting. They have jaws like industrial meat grinders, and believe me, to come upon one at close quarters, is not recommended.
Sunday Stills: Crowd Work
copyright 2014 Tish Farrell