Luminous Lions in the Maasai Mara

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It’s as if the East African landscape only becomes itself at sundown and sunrise; is only visible to us humans in steeply angled light. It reminds me of the magic painting books I had as a child: nothing but white pages, the images barely descried, a palimpsest of silvery lines. All is blank then; staringly dull. But take a pot of water, and ply a paint brush across the page, and all springs astonishingly to life. Everywhere bursting in colour.

Out in the bush the wild life anyway lies low during the midday hours.  And even if you could see them, the equatorial sun flattens the vista. You lose a sense of scale and distance. Even a magnificent eland spotted in the Great Rift at noon can look strangely unimpressive.  Just a big antelope then.

Kenya’s game parks and reserves are vast – hundreds of square miles. The animals are not fenced in although, increasingly along the borders, farming (large and small scale) encroaches on grazing grounds and migration routes. But this lack of containment means you can drive around a game reserve for hour after hour and see nothing but thorn scrub; or the retreating rear end of a warthog if you’re very lucky.

But then the sun begins to set, and you are out with a local driver-guide who knows where to look; and the light turns rose-gold, and the land puts on its best colours. And what was distant, and unfocused takes on form and clarity. Out of mind-numbing absence, and hours of searching, emerges this big-cat presence…

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Of course they were there all along. Only now they let us see them. Apart, that is, from the big male who is still hiding in the grass behind his mate. It’s another piece of bush magic, how a 500-pound big cat can disappear in twelve inches of grass. Can you spot him?

copyright 2015 Tish Farrell

Ailsa’s travel theme: luminous

34 thoughts on “Luminous Lions in the Maasai Mara

      1. Hey ho. You’re right. On the other hand, the other day, I saw a group of small persons having the time of their lives in a pile of autumn leaves. Opportunity is all.

  1. i just adore your writing style, Tish. Loved that bit about the retreating rear end of a warthog, lol.

    Yes, I see that scary fella. Really sly of him to hide like that.

    Just the other day, I watched a documentary about lions on Animal Planet. Fascinating, especially about the way they usurp territories.

  2. Such a beautiful golden light capturing the luminous, golden tones of the lioness, and after looking closely I did see the lion, just visible in the grass. I loved those magic books too. I wonder if they are still available…

    1. Hello, Pauline. I thought about you yesterday and those pregnant little horse, but when I went in search of them and any equine newcomers the hill was bare. I’m not sure where their other field is, which is a blow.

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