23 May, 2016

Masai Mara - Animal Sightings

Weather
The weather has generally been very good with the mornings being a bit cold and the day time not as hot. Evening are generally cool and the rains seem to be subsiding now though we still are experiencing some occasional drizzles and light showers in the afternoons and in the night. As a result of the heavy downpours that we had in the past and the rivers flooding, we have had a lot of sand deposits in many of our crossing points eg  Muhindi crossing and Rekero crossing, both west of Mara Intrepids Camp, across the Talek river. The camp has stationed vehicles across the Talek river by the rope bridge in Mara Intrepids so we still are able to do our drives on the southern side of the park.

Temperatures
14ºc morning
25ºc at midday
20ºc after sunset

Buffaloes
The past two weeks have witnessed lots of buffalos calving and we have had two big herds of buffalos on the northwestern side of the Mara Intrepids and Explorer camps at the Topi plains, and to the west of the Rhino ridge numbering about 500 individuals. On the southern side of Olkiombo, at Possee plains, is another herd of about 700 individuals roaming around. Towards Olkeju Ronkai which is south of the Intrepids and Explorer camps, there was a big grass fire that had consumed a large area of the red oat grass, but after the rains the area is lush and green at the moment with nutritious grass which has been attracting lots of plains game and the buffalo herds.

PREDATORS
Lions
RIDGE PRIDE
The Ridge pride is still stuck at the Topi plain, north of Olkiombo, and occasionally going up to the Rhino ridge hiding in the long grass, the main diet for the pride at the moment is still warthogs, the pride is still intact and should be looking forward to the festive season soon when the migration begins.


PARADISE PRIDE
Nothing much has been seen of this pride as they seem to have gone into hiding for the past two weeks. Only one male from the Musketeers was seen mating with one female at the Paradise main crossing point west of the Mara Intrepids and Explorer camps.




OLKEJU RONKAI PRIDE
Olkeju Ronkai pride led by the old female Napejo are still within there territory and still have the five cubs with them. They killed a buffalo calf and with them was one of the dominant males from the M7 who seemed to share the kill with the females and cubs without a problem. The other male seems to be missing in action for the past week.

OLKIOMBO PRIDE
This pride had crossed the Talek river east of our camps camps but due to high water levels, got stuck across the Talek river at Maji ya Fisi, slightly due south-east of the Intrepids and Explorer camps.



Leopards
Lorien, the female leopard at Olkeju Ronkai, was seen resting on a tree near the Olkeju RonKai - Murero crossing south of Olkiombo for two days and appeared relaxed. She must have been well fed.
Bahati was seen with one male cub crossing from bush breakfast site west of Olkiombo Airstrip and went east to the Intrepids and Explorer bush lunch site with one of her male cubs. The female cub was missing and Bahati kept calling out for her. The male cub with her appeared to be getting shy as he grow bigger which is always the case with male leopards.

Cheetahs
Malaika has found a haven at the Musiara marsh and she has been in the same area for the better part of the month. She has been alternating between Musiara and the Mara North conservancy with her two sub adult cubs.



Ranii on the other hand is at Kabboson area, north of Mara Intrepids  and the grass is relatively short in the area with a lot of  plains game like gazelles, impala, topis, etc .She has of late been mostly going for Thomson’s gazelles and taking good care of her three cubs.


Report and pictures By Raphael Ole Koikai – Head Driver Guide, Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer Camps.

Masai Mara - Early Migration Signs

Weather

18ºc morning
25ºc at midday 
23ºc after sunset 


The Domestic Migration of the Loita Wildebeest and Zebra to the Mara 
The Loita wildebeest are between Double Crossing and Ntiakitiak River within easy reach of Mara Intrepids Camp. Some herds of wildebeest have already crossed the river and are heading back east towards Olare Orok and Motorogi conservancies. There are some large herds of resident zebras at the Topi Plains, north-west of the Camp.


PREDATORS
Lions

The Ridge Pride
The Ridge pride is still at Topi Plains where there is a lot of plains game. The pride has been feasting on a menu of zebra, topi and warthogs over the last few days. The pride has four cubs aged seven months; four lioness and two old black-maned lions.

The Paradise Pride
The pride is on both sides of the Mara River depending on where there is more prey. Sometimes the four musketeers from the Marsh Pride join the Paradise Pride. The four musketeers have been seen often in Mara Triangle.

The Paradise Pride is in two groups. One group has six cubs aged ten months and two lionesses. The other group has three lioness and four sub-adult cubs. 

The Olkeju Ronkai Pride
Napejo the lioness and two others have five cubs aged about four months. There are two males with them from the M7 group despite the fact that there is a shortage of prey around Olkeju Ronkai.  The cats are still healthy but they are targeting weak and single animals for food.

The topi and hartebeest are around Maji ya Eland, south of Mara Intrepids. The pride seems to be heading towards this area.  

The Olkiombo Pride
The pride has regrouped once again following the arrival of the Loita zebra and wildebeest.  Plenty of food reduces food competition among the cats which is the unifying factor in lion families.
The group of seven has joined the group of eight. The males that serve this pride are the same two from the M7 group that visit the Olkeju Ronkai pride. The pride has of late been targeting cattle along the Talek River. 

The lions are therefore elusive because they are hunting cows and so want to keep away from people. They are seen very early in the morning before they go into hiding. 


Leopards
Bahati with her two cubs aged seven months - a male and a female - is roaming around Mara Intrepids Camp and Mara Explorer Camp. She was last seen hunting across the Talek River opposite Mara Explorer Camp.

It’s not sure whether the Olare Orok female is Saba or a different female. She is still around Mara Intrepids Camp with her two cubs aged one year. The cubs are a male and a female.
Siri is at the hideout hopefully raising her cubs.  

Cheetahs
There are still some exceptional cheetahs seen around Mara Intrepids Camp. Malaika and both her cubs are moving around a lot which might mean that Malaika is planning to leave her cubs soon as they are quite grown up.


Imani and her three cubs are also seen often. Recently, Imani killed an impala near the Mara Intrepids football pitch.

Rani with her three cubs are also been around Mara Intrepids Camp.

Report and pictures By Raphael Ole Koikai – Head Driver Guide, Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer Camps.

29 June, 2015

Strange Lion Behaviour In The Mara

The last few weeks in the Mara can only be described as wet! It's not been all bad, because that rain is what attracts the migrants - wildebai, zebras and antelopes - back into the Mara ecosystem.




But what it means for the rest of the animals is soggy, uncomfortable ground. The cats are usually forced to move to higher ground to rest and get some vantage points to scan the plains.



However, a new phenomenon that our scouts have observed makes for an interesting study. Normally, leopards are the only cats that climb up trees in the Mara. Once in rare occasion, cheetahs (see video below) will be seen scampering up a low tree to scan over the tall grass.


But the photos below are nothing short of amazing - the tree climbing lions in the Mara. Observed over a couple of weeks by our guides, this will be an interesting adaptation to study in the coming years.

Take a look.




 What's going on down there?

Ok, I've heard enough. Time to go.

 Oops, this isn't as easy as it looks!

 E-e-asy...
O-o-oh!
 Have to jump!

 Thump!

As you can see from above, even though these sub-adults are not heavy, they do not have the grace of a leopard when it comes to carrying their weight. She had to jump from over 2.5 metres above the ground. The difference is, leopards long claws are adapted for tree climbing - up and down - and can take the weight of both the cat and a carcass.

Now, compare the grace with which this leopard is climbing down the tree.









Just graceful!

Hope you enjoyed it.


Report and pictures by John Parmasau – Head Safari Guide, Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer Camps.

©Heritage Hotels Ltd, Kenya. http://www.heritage-eastafrica.com/

The Wildebai Are Coming!

WEATHER
Beautiful clear days and clear skies at night - dazzling for star gazing.


Watch the fantastic race of the planets – brilliant Venus and bold Jupiter - as they draw closer together each night. Venus will pass Jupiter in late June/early July 2015. On the nights of June 30th and July 1st they will be the closest until August 27th.
 LANDSCAPE
There’s golden grass and red oat grass relished by the grazers.


Temperatures
140c morning
260c at midday
180c after sunset

LOITA WILDEBEEST AND ZEBRAS MIGRATION (DOMESTIC)
The migration of the Loita wildebeest and zebras is on. At this point, it’s at the Topi plains together with the topis and gazelles. The herds are moving south to meet the Serengeti migration which is not far from the Mara.




THE GREAT MIGRATION OF WILDEBEEST AND ZEBRAS

As usual the scouting wildebeest is the first indication of the annual migration. 
After crossing Sand River into the Mara from Serengeti, the animals did not stay for long but crossed the border back into Serengeti. This could be because the grass is very tall in the Mara for the migratory herds.
The herds have started approaching the Sand River again and we hope that in the next two days, they will cross over into the Mara.

PREDATORS

LIONS
The lion families are scattered all over.


Some lionesses, like those of the Ridge pride have even abandoned their cubs because there is not enough prey to hunt and feed them. The cubs are looking emaciated and avoid to competition while feeding. The females are in groups of two’s and not looking good. The males are not in stable prides but just hanging around females who are hunting prey.

We hope this will change in the next few days as the ‘meals on wheels’ appear – that is the wildebeest and zebra.

It will be very interesting to see the families reunite.

LEOPARDS
Leopard sightings are good.



 Bahati and Siri are the stars around Mara Intrepids Camp.

CHEETAHS
Malaika is still doing well with her four cubs. They are north-east of Mara Intrepids Camp because grass is short. The short grass is the preferred choice of the gazelles, making it good hunting ground for the cheetahs. Grant gazelles are their favourite prey.









OTHER SIGHTINGS

This hyena was spotted chewing on a fatty morsel of hippo skin. Yum! Nothing goes to waste.



 The rains are the calling card for life. Where it rains, food is plenty, as the giraffe below reaches for some helpings on the tallest branch.

 Mr Rhino is out and about for a little walk, while Mr Buffalo enjoys the Mara best spa treatment - a mudbath.



 Not to be left out is Mr Dung-Bettle. Oh, that yummy morsel has been rolled for the family back at home!


Report and pictures by John Parmasau – Head Safari Guide, Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer Camps.

©Heritage Hotels Ltd, Kenya. http://www.heritage-eastafrica.com/