Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

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Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

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Article excerpt

NAMED for the traditional tribal inhabitants of the area, the semi-nomadic Masai people, and the Mara river which divides it, the Masai Mara is dominated by wildebeest.

The annual migration, which also involves zebra and the flighty Thomson's gazelle, begins in the Serengeti and rolls into the Masai Mara. They return south from October.

The rains create a flush of growth on the Masai grasslands providing a feast for the wildebeest and many other animal species who, in turn, load up the meal table for predators, including lions, cheetahs, leopards and, on the river crossings, crocodiles.

Back on the ground, in our open-sided safari truck, we are on a game drive with our guide/driver Moses.

A pride of lions has brought down a wildebeest and is feeding. The young lionesses take no notice of us, although we are within a dozen metres - and even closer to a male which could, if he chose, take us for meals-on-wheels.

But the animals here have grown used to the game drive vehicles - so long as we stay inside - and life for them goes on.

Later, more vehicles wait at a Mara river crossing where wildebeest and zebra will wade and swim across to the other side. They cross in their thousands, some becoming victims to the fat crocodiles who lie in wait. As we watch, one wildebeest falls into the jaws of a crocodile but eventually struggles free to the cheers of the tourists looking on. No kill this time.

The so-called Big Five - lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo and rhino - are all found in the park, although the latter is scarce, with too many having ended up as bottled aphrodisiac.

Moses is a genius at finding animals and positioning our vehicle for the best and closest photos.

And what a show. We spot a cheetah on the hunt. It has marked out a lone Thomson's gazelle and gives chase for 200m right in front of us. …

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