The plains of the Maasai Mara are always a contrast between beauty and tragedy. For every successful big cat out there, there are a dozen who do not make it. Whether through a bad hunt, an encounter with other predators, or being wounded, many of the cat characters out on the Mara plains find themselves struggling to survive. For them, each new day brings seemingly mounting and overwhelming odds.

Such is the case with Kakenya. Her life has not been an easy one, thanks to a tragedy of circumstances that have piled upon her. The start of 2018 saw her as a mother of five new cubs, unfortunately it seems other marauding predators have eliminated her litter. Kakenya had spent many days nursing them, ensuring their safety, to have them taken from her before they even left the den sight, was a sad event indeed. Kakenya did not spent much time mourning her cubs and soon resumed her lone prowling of the plains. Her situation remains this way for now, as she forages for herself, with no mate or pride to rely on. She is the definition of a lone ‘wolf’, seeking her own survival.

In a situation like this, a human being would perhaps throw in the towel and simply give up. But Kakenya’s instinct for survival keeps her going, keeps her fighting. She remains a formidable huntress, constantly seeking out her next meal. She carries herself through her wandering with a sense of grace, even perhaps nobility. Perched on a hill, her intelligent eyes scan the landscape, she possesses a sense of regality, calling to mind a noble woman such as Queen Victoria. Kakenya is assured of her place in the world, despite the chaos that has seemingly upended it.

It’s impossible to know what she is truly thinking. But one can see Kakenya is hardly going to give up anytime soon. Sitting tall on a termite mound, Kakenya watched the grassy landscape with keen eyes. Soon, she spotted something and silently disappeared into the grass.

Well hidden Kakenya slinked toward her target: a Thomson’s gazelle. She exploded from her position with the electric speed of lightning. Her quarry, taken by surprise, stood no chance. The hunt was over as soon as it began, ending with Kakenya’s teeth sunk deep into a well deserved meal.

Kakenya showed watchers that she still possesses great inner strength despite all that has befallen her. It’s impossible to know what life has in store for her and going forward, her lone world will doubtlessly be hard. But she’s shown that she is not to be underestimated, as she still hunts with well learned experience. Kakenya’s life has been a sad one since her cubs were lost. But not all stories end in tragedy. Sometimes, the tragedy is the start of a new beginning.

Written by – Jake McDaniel