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Lions, Leopards and Cheetahs, Oh My!

We saw lions every day on safari and I never got sick of them.  We saw four of the big five within the first two days our safari.  We had to wait patiently to see the infamous black rhino in Ngorongoro Crater where just 28 rhinos remain. 
This wounded lioness relaxes in the shade
This wounded lioness relaxes in the shade (Veronika Sieben)
Lioness roaring
Lioness roaring (Veronika Sieben)

The Black Rhino
The Black Rhino (Veronika Sieben)
Black Rhino in Ngorongoro Crater
Black Rhino in Ngorongoro Crater (Veronika Sieben)

The rhino is a solitary animal, and is also very shy.  We were warned that it was likely we wouldn’t see one, but fortunate for us we saw our one and only rhino just an hour into our game drive in Ngorongoro Crater.
Lion cub stuck in a tree
Lion cub stuck in a tree (Veronika Sieben)
Second time seeing our distressed lion cub in the tree
Second time seeing our distressed lion cub in the tree (Veronika Sieben)

Not ten minutes into the Serengeti, we saw a cub lion stuck in a tree.  Our guide explained that his mother put him in the tree while she left to hunt.  However, based on the distressed nature of the cub and heat of midday, our guide said that he likely may not make it if he mother doesn’t return soon.  Even in situations like this, the park management will most likely not interfere. 
Female lion wearing tracking collar in the Serengeti
Female lion wearing tracking collar in the Serengeti (Veronika Sieben)

The park however is tracking the number of female lions with cubs in the Serengeti in order to better keep count of the population size. Female lions with black collars like this one above are females with cubs. 
Lion finishing her zebra kill
Lion finishing her zebra kill (Veronika Sieben)
Cheetah family relaxing in the shade
Cheetah family relaxing in the shade (Veronika Sieben)

Later, in the Serengeti we saw some rare sights, including a lion kill and a family of cheetahs that included a male!  The kill came out of nowhere.  We were driving along when one of our truck mates caught sight of a lion stalking in the grass.  By the time we had stopped the truck the lion had pounced on taken out a zebra! We also saw this lounging leopard.
This leopard is taking his afternoon nap
This leopard is taking his afternoon nap (Veronika Sieben)

Leopards are selfish. They hunt for themselves, eat a little and then hide their killings high in the trees where other cannot follow.  Between the kill, the cub in the tree, and the leopards, the Serengeti quickly reminds you that the circle of life is ever present.
Overview of Lake Manyara
Overview of Lake Manyara (Veronika Sieben)

 

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