Migration Uncut – the Mara Magic
It was a morning filled with anticipation, expectations and enthusiasm. It was my first morning in the African savannah and for me nothing could be bigger than this. It was a number game as the numbers grew from hundreds… to thousands… to millions. Specks of dust particles rose to form clouds of dust as nature prepared itself for the biggest wildlife spectacle on this planet. Through my lens I could see some nervous faces on the other side of the river. Though they were cautiously approaching the river, their nervousness was overpowered with their enthusiasm to reach the opposite shore in search of greener pastures.
The Great Annual Migration of Masai Mara is much more than a mere river crossing. It is a phenomenon in itself for it is here you see the best of nature and its various forms. The African savannah is flooded with wildlife and numbers can sweep you off your feet. Over 1,240,000 wildebeests, 200,000 Burchell’s zebra, 18000 elands and 500,000+ Thomson’s gazells – the statistics are staggering and at times I felt the need of some specially designed super wide lens that can capture the entire mood of this natural wild exhibition.
Even after witnessing and photographing around 14 river crossings I still wanted more… for the entire hysteria around the Mara River is beyond human imagination. In addition to being a visual delight, as a photographer one goes through multiple emotions during the entire process – right from the build-up, the anxious initial steps, the final plunge and the splashing waters.
This is a period when predator behavior in Mara changes on a daily and weekly basis. While the mean Nile crocs have a feast during the initial river crossings their responses become slower as the migration progresses. With more and more wildebeests covering the entire landscape of the Mara Triangle, the lion action heats up. I realized that in Mara you can’t take a sleeping lion pride for granted as within minutes the group dullness can transform into some dream breathtaking action. The ever curious cheetahs can spring up with some surprise act before you can react to their fast moves.
Life in the savannah is hectic – both for a visitor/photographer and the denizens of the forest.