The weather in Masai Mara is warm and humid, a bit more than in Ongata Rongai. In the months of January and February, the heat becomes so intense that Dennis, our Safari guide, said that there is no point going out on safari between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. During the midday sun, lions, leopards, and cheetah’s will be sleeping in shaded areas amongst the thick trees, making these beautiful creatures difficult to find.
At 6:30 a.m, John and I were out on safari throughout the hills of the Mara. We passed a family of cheetah’s warming up in the sun; it was too cold for them to hunt yet. After driving around for a bit, we saw friendly animals: hyena’s, jackals, mongooses, and giraffe’s. John and I agreed that hyena’s are way more cute in person than what is portrayed on T.V. John even asked if he could bring one home, but I am pretty sure our dog and cat, Kaia and Angel, would be less than excited.
Once again, Dennis asked us what we would like to see, and of course, I voted for lions…again. He tried his best to find them, but to no avail. At least, not in the morning. The afternoon was a different story. After an hour of seeing no lions, we drove up next to a whole pride of 13!! There were 3 lionesses (all of which were lactating), along with 2 tiny cubs, 6 older cubs, and 2 male lions. Not to mention, we pulled up as they were chowing down on dinner. Lions are extremely family-oriented, but get in between them and dinner, and you will be dinner.
In prides, the strongest eat first, and the weakest eat last. The hierarchical system is based on power. Lionesses hunt and catch the food, and the males come over and eat first. Then, the female who is the strongest along with her cubs can eat, and finally, the last female can eat along with her cubs. Within a pride of lions, the males eat first because it is the males who fight. When they eat, they are strong. Then, they can challenge the competitor and protect the rest of the pride. If they eat last, then they naturally eat less, and end up being weak. Once a lion from another pride comes, the weak male will lose. Not only that, the cubs will be killed, and the lionesses forced under the new male rule. The sad part about seeing this pride eat their dinner was how the mom with the newborns was not welcome to eat; she had to eat the scraps – if there were any left.
The natural hierarchy of a pride sustains it. That’s the way it is. However, people have a choice. Do the rich and powerful come first, or the poor, weak, and vulnerable? When a rich and powerful person sees a person begging on the streets, does he say to himself, “That’s their own fault. Besides, she could easily go to McDonald’s and get a job.” In other words, she got herself into that mess, she can get herself out of it. Yet, let’s say she is also a mother of three children. She couldn’t afford daycare on a McDonald’s salary. No no. Not at $1000 a month.
On the other hand, people can choose to give – whether it’s their time or their money – to those who are poor, weak, and vulnerable. There are many examples in our society, like how we take care of new mothers and throw parties in expectation of that wonderful day. Mothers are showered with love and gifts to support and celebrate them. We are more than animals.