Thunderbolt and lightning: As the heavens open once more, the lioness makes her way across the muddy, watery plains
A long drought on the plains of the Masai Mara has been broken by several days of torrential rains, turning the dry Kenyan plains into a veritable sea.

These stunning images taken last week show drought turned to flood on the national reserve in southern Kenya, and lone animals who did not make it to shelter in time.

They include a lioness teetering on a small mound of earth, before 'island hopping' between small patches of land still visible above the giant puddles. Another image shows a forlorn gazelle hunched and exposed to the heavy rains.

The images were taken by British wildlife photographer and guide Paul Goldstein, from Wimbledon, south London.

'Last week the drought in Kenya's Masai Mara was broken. Violently,' Mr Goldstein explains.


No way of staying dry: The lioness wades through the water which comes up her elbows

'I probably love being in the Mara during the storms more than at any time, as it invigorates the whole area and turns torpid animals into active ones.

'However this was the most intense rain I have ever experienced in 25 years of guiding here.

'In situations like this, you don't want to get stuck and always have to keep one eye on the deluge in front of you but also you realise if you find anything in it it could result in some spectacular images.

'There were no other vehicles in sight, most had turned tail at the sight of the black, brooding sky. They missed out. 'Initially we found a few gazelles, cold and saturated with their backs to the storm.


Very, very frightening: A lone gazelle stands huddled in the pouring rain on the flooded Masai Mara
'But then, staggeringly there was a single lioness picking her way across the once parched, now waterlogged plain that resembled a lake, this is unusual as normally lions are tucked into bushes during rainfall. It was compelling to watch her pick her way across the short grass from island to island.

'Storms and rainfall like this can change the whole complexion of this marvellously fertile area. Unsurprisingly huge herds of wildebeest started crossing back into the Mara the very next day.

'This lion eventually found some high ground in the Olare Conservancy and sure enough we got stuck, but no-one was complaining after such a bedraggled matinee.'