10 September, 2014

RARE SIGHTING AT SAMBURU NATIONAL RESERVE

A few days ago while on a game drive we saw hundreds of vultures relishing a freshly killed male impala. At first, I thought it was a leopard kill but there was no sign of the impala having been strangled by a leopard.

Vultures feed on carcasses, they do not make a kill of their own.  We were very eager to find out who killed the impala. So we switched off the car engine and waited. 
















I only took three pictures then I saw a wolf-like animal emerging from the bush. It was a wild dog!
The impala had been hunted by a pack of wild dogs.

When we were children we were told that wild dogs only eat animals alive and when the animal falls down, the wild dogs leave it. I have also seen wild dogs hunting their own prey where they finish it immediately.


























  • African wild dogs live in packs. The Alpha male leads the team in a hunt.
  • African wild dogs take care of the young for about 12 -14 months –or for as little as six months if all of the previous young die.
  • The gestation period is between 60 and 80 days. Pups are born in dens.
  • A wild dog is adapted to long-distance running at high speeds,  of up to 66 km/hr for 10 to 60 minutes, and over great distances (at about 50km/hr. for 5.6km).  Nearly 80 per cent of all wild dogs hunts end in a kill.
  • Members of a pack vocalize to help coordinate their movements.
  • They take good care of their young. After a successful hunt, the hunters will regurgitate meat for those that remained at the den.
  • To hunt larger prey, wild dogs use a closely coordinated attack, beginning with a rapid charge to stampede the herd. One wild dog then grabs the victim's tail, while another will latch on to the upper lip or nose, and the remainder attempt to disembowel the animal.
  • The male wild dogs usually perform the task of grabbing the prey by the nose.
  • The African wild dog is an endangered species due to habitat loss and poaching. It uses very large territories (so can persist only in large wildlife protected areas), and it is strongly affected by competition with larger carnivores that rely on the same prey base, particularly the lions and hyenas.


Report by Steve Tilas – Safari Guides, Samburu Intrepids Camp.
©Heritage Hotels Ltd, Kenya. http://www.heritage-eastafrica.com/

09 September, 2014

MARA INTREPIDS CAMP ANIMAL SIGHTINGS – 30 August 2014

Weather

It’s cold and cloudy early morning, clearing up before mid-day. Dress warm dressing with Maasai shukas (blankets) for morning and evening game drives.

Temperature

17c morning
28c at midday
25c after sunset

 MIGRATION OF WILDEBEEST AND ZEBRAS

The wildebeest and zebras are looking for new shoot of fresh grass before heading back south to Serengeti. They are near Talek River, at Burungat and Posse Plains all the way to Sand River straddling Serengeti and the Mara - a distant of 23 kilometers. They look like ants covering the plains.

The wildebeest and zebras are still crossing the Mara River. Our guests at Mara Intrepids Camp and Mara Explorer have been reporting superb crossings.







PREDATORS

LIONS

Along Olkeju Ronkai River, there are two juvenile male lions from the Ridge pride, aged three years. They wait here to pounce on the wildebeest and zebras coming to the river for a drink.

The Ridge pride with their cubs was this morning by a herd of buffalos. The buffalos had been terrorizing the pride, killing their young cubs. So far the pride has lost two cubs to the herd.






LEOPARDS 

The Ridge male leopard was at Double-Crossing looking well-fed. 

Shujaa has had very successful kills at paradise crossing Mara river west of Mara intrepid camp.




CHEETAHS

Malaika with her six cubs is south of Mara Intrepids Camp.

Imani came down from the rhino ridge to look for prey lucky enough she got a young impala at maternity.







Report and pictures by John Parmasau – Head Safari Guide, Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer Camps.
©Heritage Hotels Ltd, Kenya. http://www.heritage-eastafrica.com/

13 August, 2014

MARA INTREPIDS CAMP ANIMAL SIGHTINGS - 12th August 2014

Weather 
  
It’s cloudy in the early morning but gets warmer by midday with clear blue skies.   It’s important to dress warm for early morning game drives.   

Temperature   

17c morning   
28c at midday   
25c after sunset   

MIGRATION OF WILDEBEEST AND ZEBRAS   

The migration is moving in circles following the weather pattern. For the last two weeks, the wildebeest and zebras have been crossing to the west of the Mara towards Oloololo Escarpment for greener pastures.   Four days ago, there was rain in the Central Plains. The wildebeest and zebra had already grazed the grass down here. With the heavy downpour, it’s already looking lush and green.   The center of attraction during the last four days is the massive crossing of the wildebeest and zebra south of Mara Intrepids Camp by Lookout Hill. There have been dramatic happenings around Mara River, with the anxious wildebeest jumping off high cliffs to join their friends in the river crossing.

             

 Predators

 Lions

The Double Cross pride and Ridge pride are doing well with all the prey and rain around.   The Ridge pride is at Rekero with seven cubs of different ages. The pride has four lionesses including Lipstick. Blacky is the male in the pride. Double cross is between the two rivers - Intiakitiak and Olare Orok with Mohican and Romeo2 as the males of the pride. It has six lionesses and seven cubs of different ages. During the lean times, the lionesses in the pride killed a young giraffe at Bull Crossing near Olare Orok.

     

 Leopards   

 Bahati has finished mating. She is now patrolling the area between Mara Intrepids Camp and Smelly  Crossing. Saba and Lerai are at Double Crossing - Lerai at Intiakitiak and Saba at Olare Orok. 

   

 Cheetahs   

Cheetah sightings are good around Mara Intrepid Camp. There are two young males roaming between Mara Intrepids Camp and Fig Tree. The cheetah females are still in their hideout with their young. The cubs usually come out of cover after nine weeks. This is the time when the Thomson gazelle are dropping their fawn – so there’s prey for the cubs.

     
 Report and pictures by John Parmasau – Head Safari Guide, Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer Camps.
©Heritage Hotels Ltd, Kenya. http://www.heritage-eastafrica.com/

05 August, 2014

A Wildlife Preview Of A Game Drive In Samburu National Reserve

The whole land has turn to be dry and we are deep in the dry season in Samburu and further North. Most of the shrubs, trees and grass are completely finished in some areas. The life giving river Uaso Ngiro is also too low and people within region are also struggling to graze their animals where there is little pasture. There is a lot of migration taking place---- all in search of water and pasture.   

In the reserve, our safaris have been enjoyable and successful in terms of big cats sighting. Samburu’s large carnivores – lions, leopards and cheetahs – are coping very well. Our guests see cats making kills almost daily. 


The 5 cubs and 2 females are eating a full grown warthog which was just killed by Nanai (mother of three). We have also recorded Namunyak has been limping on the right foreleg for quite some time now.

Due to lack water in the region, lots of prey concentrates within the water areas and the same makes it easier for carnivores to find the prey coming to the river. In this time therefore is the best time to see the predators because they spend more time concentrating along Uaso Ngiro River, and are also more lethargic, making it easier for carnivores to ambush them.   

This family has been most of their time it’s in the reserve near Koitogo mt.. Their hunting has been successful due the number of warthogs, Zebras, Oryx which has increased in the park. The family has many a times with warthog kill and many other time killing Zebras and other game.


Cubs eating Zebra carcass

Few other rare animals has been recorded in the reserve including kudus (lesser and greeter) 5 lesser kudus which was amazing, over 300 Grevy’s Zebras, lots of impalas, waterbuck, giraffes, grant gazelles plus of course the big cats.



 
Wild dogs have been recorded in the reserve but they are not regular visitors.  

The female lioness and her three cubs visit the river banks of Uaso Ngiro River during the afternoon hours to cool down their bodies from the intense high temperatures which are recorded during the day. The cubs are fond of eating the grass at the river banks to induce puking which is a natural way of cleaning their stomach from impurities eaten earlier from its prey.   

The female Cheetah and her two cubs are very patient and hopeful animals when it comes to hunting expeditions. Despite their hunger strikes, they are able to focus and strategize on getting their next prey. The cheetah converts its hunger strain into power and agility into hunting for its prey. It never gives up hope. The female Cheetah has a greater responsibility of getting a prey this is due to her cubs that have no greater or minimal experience and ability on hunting for its prey.

 

The cheetah has a remarkable reputation of capturing its prey after a day as compared to the other cats which spend almost two to three days towards capturing their next meal. Cheetahs are not heavy eaters but there are known for their speed both in eating and running as compared to lions and leopards. This can be explained well by their streamlined body structures.Leopards are good tree climbers due to their muscles on both the front and hind legs. The female leopard at Samburu National Reserve which was spotted on top a tree during evening hours and later on, the following day in the morning at the hills was considered to be leading a solitary life, which in general it’s their nature. They protect and monitor their territory from other predators.

 

The leopard has a good eye sight capability when it comes to sighting of their prey on top of trees. They can stay up to more than half an hour focusing and strategizing on how to hunt at the marked prey. Sometimes lions depend on them for their survival whereby they wait for leopards to kill and the run to snatch the kill. This has been very common in Samburu whereby young male lions hide near leopard’s territories to try their luck.

 


The Reticulated Giraffe, Water back, Impalas, Oryx, Somali Ostrich, Grevy’s Zebra and the dik diks are all the prey of the big Cats that are found in Samburu National Reserve.

     


Impalas numbers have increase for the last five years and that made it easy for the lions to hunt them. Oryx are also preferred due to the size which can fill the whole pride at once. The Water Bucks meat has got a lot of fatty tissue around their muscles thus it’s the least of the big Cats favorite prey. We happen to meet the Gerenuk feeding on small tree shrubs standing on its two feet and with its long neck, which is its adaptive feature and means of survival in the wild which is a major advantage among the family of herbivores game animals.

  


To mark the end of the days adventurers expedition we happen to meet “Pumba” ( a warthog) and his fellow brothers enjoying themselves before they become their predators meal at sunset…'You Only Live Once’…I heard them say.

   
Report by Steve Tilas and pictures by Jelly Loloju – Safari Guides, Samburu Intrepids Camp.
©Heritage Hotels Ltd, Kenya. http://www.heritage-eastafrica.com/