24 August, 2018

Adventure at Samburu!

Elephants

Elephants form deep family bonds and live in tight matriarchal family groups of related females called a herd. The herd is led by the oldest and often largest female in the herd, called a matriarch. Elephants are extremely intelligent animals and have memories that span many years. It is this memory that serves matriarchs well during the dry seasons when they need to guide their herds, sometimes for tens of miles, to watering holes that they remember from the past. They also display signs of grief, joy, anger and play.
The mating season for elephants is mostly during the rainy season and the gestation period is 22 months.


A lone elephant heading to the bush. The elephant was the only one around this area. More elephants where spotted in the distance distance.


River Ewaso Nyiro which means ‘river of brown water’ is the only source of water for wildlife in Samburu National Reserve. This season it has little water in it. The elephants were seen at the river, taking their time to quench their thirst. A lioness walked past them for a drink also.


During the dry season, the flat top acacias bear seed pods which are healthy for livestock and wildlife. Elephants enjoy the acacia seeds after quenching their thirst at River Ewaso Nyiro.
Compiled by Chris Letur, Camp naturalist

22 August, 2018

Journey of the Wildebeest & Zebra!

The great migration is in full steam. The first wave of wildebeest and zebra has crossed Sand River into Masai Mara. The recent rain in the central and northern parts of the park has triggered the herds to move faster. They seem to be over-excited with the amount of grass to feast on.  

The herds moved north from the Burungat Plains. Some crossed the Olkeju Rongai River into Possee Plains. But before they reached the Talek River, it rained on the western side of the park. This made them change direction, heading west towards the Mara Triangle.


This movement into the Mara Triangle resulted in the migration to start crossing the crocodile-infested Mara River. The river is quite high compared to last year making the crossings very dramatic with many drowning and hence providing the crocodiles with an easy feast.



There are other bigger herds migrating through the Roan Hills heading towards the Keekorok area. They are in their thousands and we hope that they will be in Possee Plains and Olmisigiyioi in a few days as the grass here is intact with plenty of water in Olkeju Rongai River.



At Topi Plains in the northwest of the park and in the northern side around Double-Crossing, there are some big herds of the Loita wildebeest. They are still streaming in from the conservancies like the Mara North and Olare Orok heading west towards the main crossing on the Paradise Plains. This might bring some major crossings along the river in the days to come.




Predators
The predators are having a great time with all the food on hooves in abundance. Some of the lion prides that had earlier disintegrated due to difficulties in hunting are back together.

The Rekero breakaway pride that had earlier split with part of the pride crossing over into Mara Triangle has crossed back. The pride hunted down two wildebeest recently.



The Enkuyanai pride
It is between the Olare Orok and Ntiakitiak rivers. The lions look very healthy. However the dominant males are not in good shape because some are injured from the territorial fights.  Oloolpapit has a really bad injury on his right hind leg. Olbarnoti, his coalition mate is not so badly off with a few minor injuries.




The Ridge Pride
It is back together. However since the demise of Lipstick, Blacky is losing his grip on the pride. Six males from the Marsh Pride seem to be taking over the territory and some have already started breeding with the Ridge Pride females.




The Musketeers
They seem to be expanding their territory. Some were seen at Maji ya Eland and Olkeju Rongai with kills. This area seems to be unoccupied by any male lions, so this might be an easy territory to establish.

Leopards

Bahati
Bahati has resurfaced.  The beautiful female has been trying to hunt in her territory along the Talek River. She seems to have a new set of cubs and appears to be nursing them as her udder seems to be big and full of milk. 

Kaboso
She and her cubs have been delighting our guests. They are seen nearly every day and at times even trying to hunt wildebeest as the migrating herds cross Kaboso River and Olare Orok River.

Cheetahs
The coalition of the five cheetahs that crossed the Talek River to spend a day at Chumvi Chumvi is back at Hammercop Tree which is their favorite spot for the moment.



Imani
She and her cub have finally crossed over from the Olare Orok Conservancy. They were there for some time. Imani was seen with a Grant’s gazelle kill at Double Crossing. Her cub has really grown big.

Nora
She is at Olkeju Rongai with a new set of cubs.  Reports from the cheetah research team shows that she has four cubs. She has been seen hunting far from her hidden cubs in search of prey.

Written By Koikai, senior naturalist and driver-guide at Mara Intrepids/Explorer Camps


07 August, 2018

Double Crossing


The migrating herds of wildebeest and zebra are advancing towards the Greater Mara. The herds have already crossed Sand River on the Kenya-Tanzania border and are now at the Burrungat Plains, heading towards Possee Plains. There has been some rain that has sped the movement of the migration. Some herds have crossed the Olkeju Rongai River and lots more are in the Olmisigiyioi area advancing towards Possee Plains.




With the rains still in the northern part of the Mara we expect that in a few days’ time the herds will be crossing the Talek River into Olkiombo moving towards the rain and thunder storms which they can smell from afar.


Another herd is expected to cross Sand River heading towards Keekorok in a few days.


Below Lookout Hill on the southern side are other big herds that seem to be moving towards Mara River. They may be crossing into the Mara Triangle for the new fresh grass that is very nutritious for them.



The resident herds are also in plenty at Topi Plains and Double Crossing. The Topi Plains herds are headed towards Paradise Plains. The herds at Double Crossing are also crossing the Ntiakitiak River and moving towards the Talek River and will be crossing the Talek River to meet up with the main herds at Possee Plains.



As all this is happening the predators are having a field day. The lions, leopards, hyenas and the crocodiles in the rivers are feasting as the food moves through their territories. Flocks of vultures are seen circling and descending on carcasses that have been fed on by other predators.


By Koikai, senior naturalist and driver-guide at Mara Intrepids/Explorer Camps

02 August, 2018

Nanai the Lion


The Koitogo pride of lions in Samburu National Reserve is named after the famous hill in the heart of the reserve. There are 21 lions in the pride. On a recent evening game drive we saw one of the females from the pride called Nanai (a Samburu word meaning mine) and her cubs aged five months walking on the road.


Nanai came out of the bushes followed by her cubs and walked majestically along the road.


We got some beautiful photos of the cubs. To my surprise the cubs were not shy of the vehicle. Instead they stared at us as if they were also taken by surprise.


We followed Nanai and her cubs for a while until we reached the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River which is the main source of water in this dry semi-arid land. That's when we realized that Nana’s intention was to take her cubs to drink water. After drinking, they came up the river bank. While the cubs played, Nanai looked around for prey.


She then let the cubs go in to the bushes as she hung around the banks. Nanai is one of the famous female’s seen most of the time around the reserve. She is about nine years old and really struggles to bring up her cubs. We wish her plus her new cubs all the best.

Written by Justus Kisoo | Samburu Intrepids Camp | Heritage Hotels Ltd.  

01 August, 2018

Wildebeest Migration Update


The long awaited wildebeest migration has begun.


The big herds are streaming down from the northern Serengeti in Tanzania and crossing Sand River. In the past few days there have been thousands of wildebeest crossing with the zebra. There are huge concentrations of wildebeest on the Burungat Plains up to the Lookout Hill heading towards the Mara River.


In the next few days we are anticipating some major crossings in to the Mara Triangle.
In the northern Serengeti up to the Roan Hills there are big herds of wildebeest that have not been seen in recent times.


The migration will be very interesting this year as the herds are much bigger than normal and they have come in late which means that they might take longer than they usual to stay in the Mara. This is due to the heavy and prolonged rainy season earlier in the year making more grass available for the migrating herds.


The most interesting part of the migration will be the river crossings because the water in the Mara River is a lot higher than it has been in many years.

On the other hand, the Loita herds on the Kenyan side have already started crossing the Mara rivers to the Mara Triangle. Some herds are even crossing back. At Rhino Ridge and at the Topi Plains one can see long lines of wildebeest and zebra moving towards the Mara River.


As this is happening, the season for plenty has arrived for the predators. The lions have been having a feast ever since the Loita herds started streaming in. We are seeing lions, leopards, hyenas and cheetahs with multiple kills and at times not even finishing off everything!




Written by Raphael Koikai, Head Guide at Mara Intrepids/Explorer Camps

26 July, 2018

The Great Migration 2018


The great wildebeest migration this year is a little late and this could be due to the heavy rains which have resulted to overgrown grass both in the Maasai Mara and the neighbouring Serengeti in Tanzania. The two great parks form one ecosystem.

Reports indicate that the wildebeest and zebra are still far from crossing the border near Sand River. We are hoping that in a week’s time, the first herds will arrive in the Mara.


Meanwhile, the resident herds are everywhere in the Mara. At Double Crossing the herds are heading south towards the Talek River where we may witness some river crossings in a few days. These herds usually head south to meet up with the big herds coming from the Serengeti.


Down by the Mara River there are a few zebras that have been crossing back and forth at Paradise and at the Chinese Hill at Chemarta.
The predators are seldom successful at hunting the zebras because the grass is still very long.


Lions

The Ridge Pride

It’s still at Topi Plains. Since the demise of Lipstick, the pride seems to be disintegrating. Meantime, Blacky the dominant male is becoming frail by the day. We have seen the Six Musketeers from the Marsh Pride patrolling Topi Plains which was the territory of Lipstick and Blacky. This is a clear indication that the Musketeers will soon be taking over that territory.

The Enkuyanai Pride

It’s trying to hunt the resident zebra and wildebeest in the Double-Cross area and patrolling around Kaboso and the Olare Orok Conservancy. With them are the two dominant males, Oloolpapit and Olbarnoti who seem to be doing well with the pride. The pride is advancing its territory into what used to be the Ridge Pride’s territory.

The Rekero Break-away Pride

It seems to be desperately looking for new territory.  It has been seen by the Olkiombo airstrip and moving east towards Chemarta. Long Face is trying to take over the pride but is facing some resistance from the females.

The Olkiombo Pride

It has pitched tent, so to speak, along the Talek River where the lions were last seen feasting on a hippo, but in absence of the dominant males Kaka and Maridadi. The pride has been patrolling the southern sides of the Talek River and crossing into Possee Plains.


Cheetahs

The Five-male Coalition

It is branded Tano Bora in Kiswahili meaning the Great Five. The cheetahs are usually at Maji ya Fisi and Hammercop area where they have been killing nearly every day. Their meals include wildebeest, topi, impala, gazelle, hartebeest and other antelopes. They crossed the Talek River and headed northeast to the edge of Olare Orok Conservancy and back into their favourite area at Maji ya Fisi where there is a lot of plains game.

Leopards

Kaboso

She and her cubs are doing well and have been along Olare Orok River and Kaboso River, trying to avoid conflict with the Enkuyanai lions that have been patrolling the same territory for some time. The older male cub and the two younger ones have been hunting successfully.

Bahati

She is also doing well along the Talek River and appears to be very pregnant. We expect a litter by the middle of August. Young Bella 2 and Hatari are now independent and hunting on their own. At times, they are seen with the mother.

Elephants

Herds of elephants are with some calves. There is plenty of grass and water for them. It is very common to see herds of up to forty elephants feeding in the same spot, especially in the marshy areas.


Giraffes

Common in the shrubby areas.  In the heat of the day they can be seen out in the plains chewing cud and at times, necking.


Buffalos

Common sightings with calves. There are permanent herds by Lugga ya Njoroge and Topi Plains.

Written by Koikai, senior driver-guide

29 May, 2018

Run Free Lipstick!


Lipstick was one of the pride males of the famous ridge pride that live north of Mara Intrepids/Explorer camps between rhino ridge and double cross area.

Born around 2006 in the Mara triangle area, Lipstick and his brothers have managed to move and conquer many territories, they have also lost more territories to other rival males in the Masai Mara ecosystem.

Lipstick and his brother Blackie took over the ridge pride sometime in 2015 and that is the same pride that he ruled until his death.



On the 19 July 2018 the guides found him dead in his territory. He has been involved in many fights while trying to defend the prides territory and also sometimes when trying to expand their current territory and this often leads to conflicts with other lions.

Lipstick got into a fight with other lions probably from the Enkoyanai pride males and has been injured and limping badly for the last couple of months. With his injury, he couldn’t keep up with the pride when they went hunting and so he got very weak as he would get to the kill mostly when there was not much left. With his age catching up with him there wasn’t much chance of him recovering in the wild.

Lipstick sired many cubs in the Masai Mara and his genes have been spread across the Mara. He lived a great wild and free life that many other lions don’t usually live. He was about 13-14 years old.



Blackie his brother now has the sole responsibility to protect the pride which is a big challenge as there is always other younger and stronger males trying to challenge and take over the pride.

RIP Lipstick, You brought so much joy to us and all around the world and will surely be missed. You surely left a great legacy.

Run free Mighty warrior.



Compiled by Kang’ethe Mugwe.