Scratch tigers, how about cheetahs instead? Apparently one of the "big five" is leopards, but we never saw a one. I don't think we feel bad about it given how much else we saw!
We heard about these cheetahs up in the hills and when we got there there were four or five other vans surrounding this bush. It was hard to get a good view and all the vans kept circling around trying to get a better position. Poor cheetahs seemed to be used to this sort of thing!
This is the best shot I got. I think the cheetah got up once and others may have gotten better shots. They were pretty well focused on eating whatever animal it was that they had caught.
And finally: lions! This is the first lions we saw and they were pretty well through eating this buffalo. These are all young male lions.
Some of them were on duty, keeping the jackals at bay. There were quite a few jackals out there actually, circling around, waiting impatiently. I think if the lions didn't keep them at bay, they totally would have been in there with the big cats.
Having a sip of water from the mud puddle.
Sometimes they would get up and slink off, getting very close to our vans! A bit nerve racking, because these guys could totally jump up into the van if they wanted. We had our lid read to pull down at a moments notice!
Wet lion crouching in the grass.
Down the road from the buffalo was this wet pair, a male and female I believe.
I'm wet, wet, wet!
And sadly, it looked like his jaw was broken too. Mugweru said it probably happened during the kill, which can be quite violent. It's possible this lion won't be able to hunt anymore with this injury.
Now comes one of my favorite parts. Later in the afternoon we passed these two male lions sleeping on the side of the road. One had its head down and the other was just facing away from the road. There were two other safari tour vehicles there (not from our group at all). The drivers were really obnoxioux, revving their engines and scraping water bottles along the window to make noise - trying to get the cats to turn their way or do something. The lions totally ignored them and after a minute or two, the two vans took off down the road in search of something more interesting.
About five seconds after they left, the cats "woke up." They bathed....
...totally posed for us...
crossed the road right in front of us...
then played for a moment...
Then they picked themselves up and wandered off into the plains to find their next snack.
Very, very cool - and we didn't need to make obnoxious noises or anything! =)
Well, that's the end of the photos that are good enough to share. I'm still processing and figuring out what to say about my time at the conference. Some things are filtering out. If I end up coming up with something coherent, I'll post it here!