It isn’t always necessary to head out onto the plains of Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve for wildlife photography, as some lodges and camps attract a variety of animals, including of course birds, in which some may choose to make their home; for smaller mammals these camps almost certainly offer a greater degree of security, as larger predators are far less likely to enter the grounds.
On some days we chose to visit other camps around the Mara for lunch and to rest up during the hottest hours instead of returning to our own, and I’ve spent more than a few enjoyable hours walking around capturing images of various birds, dik-dik, and even rock hyrax. But what delighted me the most was one afternoon seeing movement around the base of a tree, which turned out to be a family of dwarf mongoose!
I had come across dwarf mongoose before out on the Mara proper, and getting close enough to this rather skittish animal is far from easy. In this case though, somewhat habituated to the movements of humans relatively close to their den, this seemed like a golden opportunity.
Ever so slowly I lowered myself until I was laying flat on the ground, then bit by bit I inched myself forward, freezing every time one of the mongoose looked my way; they were well aware of my presence and there was always at least one that kept it’s eyes on me, yet clearly they didn’t feel threatened.
This was all happening around 4:30pm, just before we were aiming to set off on our afternoon game drive, and fortunately the sun was just low enough to the west shine some light under the large tree situated directly above the den, and perfectly illuminating the right side of each mongoose face that looked in my direction.
The dwarf mongoose (Helogale parvula) is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.