01 July, 2014

The Wildebeest Migration Endures: Maasai Mara Wildlife Update

Weather

It is warm during the day with a clear sky and a great time to enjoy the beautiful golden sunrise and sunset. It can be a bit dusty during the game drives.


Temperature

17c morning
28c at midday
25c after sunset


MIGRATION OF WILDEBEEST AND ZEBRAS

The migratory animals are moving to the river crossing points towards Mara Triangle Conservancy.

The migration south of Mara Intrepids Camp has crossed Sand River into the Mara led by thousands of zebras. Some are heading north while others are moving west towards Mara River. They are moving fast due to pressure from behind.

The crossing at Lookout Hill is expected to take place any time from today heading west. At the moment the big river crossings are at Paradise Crossing upstream from Lookout Crossing in the morning. We encourage guests to carry picnic boxes for it is unpredictable when the wildebeest and zebra will cross.

The water level in the Mara River is not high which makes it easier for the herds to cross and hopefully spot the crocodiles – but they are always hesitant to cross because of the danger lurking in the muddy rivers.











































PREDATORS

LIONS:

The lion prides are establishing themselves into family units. The nomadic male lions are roaming around looking for new prides territories to take over.
The Ridge pride also called Rekero pride has five cubs of different ages with Lipstick and Blacky around them to make sure their offspring are safe from intruding males who will kill the cubs. By killing the cubs, the females come into heat soon after and are ready to mate with the new males. In this way the new males ensure their genes are carried on.

Double Cross pride is still doing well with 11 members.





















































LEOPARDS:

Bahati and Saba are still around along Olare Orok. Bahati has been seen mating but shying off into the bushes by the junction of Talek and Olare Orok rivers.

Siri at Shamarta by Mara River is lactating. We think she has cubs on the big rock.

























CHEETAHS:


Amani’s female cub is at Shamarta not far from Siri’s (the leopard) hideout by Paradise Plain.


SPECIAL SIGHTING.














Elephants swimming with hippos at Mara river.


Mara intrepid camp watching Karanja by Mara Intrepids camp foot bridge.

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

25 June, 2014

MOJA (NYOTA’S SUB-ADULT, MALE LION CUB)

Life of Moja.

This male lion cub is part of the Rhino Ridge pride, west of Mara Intrepids Camp, with Mohican & Romeo2 as the two male dominant lions of the pride.

When Moja was three months old, he was cornered by a herd of six hundred buffaloes.

Moja sought refuge in a cave while Nyota, his mother played decoy and lead the herd away from Moja. When they reached Rhino Ridge, the buffalo lost interest and started grazing in a different direction. Nyota came back for Moja and led her cub up to the ridge to join Mohican and Romeo2.

Now Moja is making his own kills. Since it is the migration season, there is plenty of prey and he might not be solitary for long. He will probably team up with other nomadic males and form a coalition – which gives him a better chance of survival.

Les and Linda Nicol from the Isle of Man in the U.K and regular guests at Mara Explorer Camp are presenting a great coverage of the migration and the life of Moja.

Moja

Moja at topi plains looking miserable after being separated from the mother

Mohican the father of Moja listening to terrifying sounds made by rival lions in the distance.


Romeo2
Nyota mating at Topi plain

Other Ridge pride lion, Blacky mating with the ridge lioness
Other Ridge pride lion Lip-stick takes a nap


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

16 June, 2014

Wildebeest Migration Sightings - Update


Weather

It gets cloudy with showers of rain after sunset. During the day there is some drizzle.  We have clear views of the sunset and sunrise.  The grass is green and short in many areas.


Temperature

17c in the morning
27c at midday
25c after sunset.


MIGRATION OF WILDEBEEST AND ZEBRAS

The wildebeest and zebras migration is taking its traditional route which is south of Mara Intrepids Camp via Maji ya Fisi, to the Olkiombo plain and then to Topi plain and onto Musiara Marsh.

There is rain along the riverine forests of the Talek, Intiakitiak, Olare Orok and the Marsh. The new fresh shoots and fresh water in natural water holes dictates the direction of the migration.

The herds are moving to Paradise Crossing along the tree line of Mara River which is west of Mara Intrepids Camp. In the next two days we expect a massive crossing at Paradise Crossing towards Mara Triangle.

There is rain, storm and thunder in north Serengeti (which adjoins Mara). This might get the migration to return faster to the Serengeti. The rain in Serengeti might also keep the remaining herds from migrating which means we will experience another migration in July-August.   

Wildebeest spread across Topi plain all the way to the Marsh North West of Mara Intrepids Camp, heading to Mara river Paradise Crossing.



Beautiful sun set across the Mara over Oloololo escarpment.



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

10 June, 2014

The Wildebeest Migration is here!

Weather

It’s drizzling in the Mara. The grass on some plains is green and short and in other parts it’s tall with the red-oat grass.
The sunsets and sunrise are great. After sunset, it’s cloudy with showers of rain.

Temperature

17c morning
27c at midday
25c after sunset.

Migration of Wildebeest and Zebras



The annual migration of the wildebeest and zebras from the Serengeti in Tanzania and the Loita plains in Kenya has arrived.

After the prolonged drought in the country, the Mara region was greatly affected with no grass for the cattle to graze. For the herds to survive, nocturnal grazing was allowed in the eastern part of the Mara reserve, where they have consumed three quarters of the grass.
Hence, the migrating wildebeest and zebra do not have enough to browse on in this part of the reserve. This has affected the usual grazing pattern where the zebras come first followed by the wildebeest and gazelles.

This has also affected their movement pattern. The herds are moving faster in search of grass. This means that the spectacular Mara River crossing to the west of the Mara to join the Mara Triangle conservancy may happen in the next few days. The most likely places for the crossing could be at the Lookout Crossing and Paradise Crossing which is west of Mara Intrepids Camp at Mara River.

The Talek River crossing will likely be between Mara Intrepids Camp and the junction of Talek and Mara River.

The Posse and Meta plains south of Mara Intrepids Camp are full of wildebeest and zebra.

The wildebeest male are busy trying to establish their dominancy and mating rites.

Predators

Predators’ sightings have been good because of the abundant food.


Lions

The prides of lions have started grouping themselves after a long period of separation due to lack of prey. It’s a survival strategy to avoid competition where the prides break into smaller family units of three or four depending on the size of the litter.

The Ridge pride now consists of three groups - one of eight individuals, another with seven members and another one of nine with Blacky and Lipstick. The males in the pride are converging between Rekero and Mara Intrepids Camp.

Double-cross pride went through a lot of hardship due to no food and dominance from the new male lions from Olare Orok pride. They came in and kicked out Mohican and Romeo2 from the Double-cross pride.
The old lioness with two cubs who had a deep cut on her back leg caused by a warthog managed to escape with her cubs from the sub-adult male lions of the Ridge pride – who most likely would have killed her cubs.
The Double-cross pride had nine cubs. Six were killed by the new two new males who came from Olare Orok conservancy (the same ones who chased away Mohican and Romeo2).
Notch’s four bully boys - Roan, Ciza, Crimes and Notch2 are at Olkejuronkai with the Shonko pride south of Mara Intrepids Camp.

Cheetahs

Amani and her four-month-old cub are at Survey, south of Mara Intrepids Camp by the Olkiombo airstrip.
Cheetahs tend to pave way for the wildebeest migration and rally behind them where the grass has been crop down. This attracts the small antelopes like Thomson gazelle which is the cheetah’s favorite prey.    

Leopards

Leopard sightings are more than cheetah ones especially along Olare Orok and Intiakitiak Rivers. Saba and Jicho, the male leopard are at Olare Orok and Lerai. Another female leopard is at Intiakitiak.


Saba, the last borne of (late)Olive, the famous female leopard at the junction of Intiakitiak and Olare Orok river


Double Cross lioness with cubs of different ages cross suckling.


Blacky, the Ridge pride male with a wildebeest kill at Shamarta west of Mara intrepids camp.


Wildebeest crossing Talek River east of Mara Explorer Camp


Romeo2 at Double Cross during his last visit after he was chased out of the Double Cross pride and territory.

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




03 May, 2014

Safari in the Maasai Mara: March - May 2014 Highlights


 Game viewing in the vast plains of Masai Mara National Game Reserve is the absolute highlight of a stay at  Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer Camps. It is always best to know what the weather and climate is like  before you travel to Masai Mara. Below is a short summary of what to expect between the months of April  - May so as to maximize on the safari experience.


  Weather:

 Following the poor distribution of long rains in the Mara, the grass plains are crisp golden as opposed to  luscious green.  The sky is clear from dawn to dusk, with a cool breeze during the day.


 Temperature:

 Morning: 17 degrees celcius

 Midday: 28 degrees celcius

 Sunset: 25 degrees celcius


 Highlights:


 Plain Game and Loita Plains Migration

 This change of weather has affected animal movement and behavior. This year, in the absence of the normal  wet season the wildebeest and zebras herds that normally spend their time in the Loita plains to calf and  raise their young, are in the Mara much earlier than expected with their young.

 There’s not a lot of grass now in the reserve and if this pattern continues, we may see more unusual animal     behavior.


 Lion

 Usually the lion cub mortality rate is high before the arrival of the wildebeest and zebra because there isn’t  enough to prey on. This year, the lion prides may do well with their cubs because the prey is here earlier  than usual.

 Normally, large grazers leave the Mara during the wet season to higher and well drained grounds so as to  avoid foot rot. This allows the grass time to grow tall, giving predators cover to stalk their prey.


 Leopard

 Leopard sighting are much better than that of the cheetah, especially along the Olare-orok and Intiakitiak  rivers.


 Cheetah

 Cheetah sightings are better after the comeback of the wildebeest and zebras migration. There’s enough  food and the grass is shorter. The short grass helps the cat to spot its prey easily and attract gazelles - which  is the cheetah’s favorite prey.



 Other Highlights:

  • Birdlife is plentiful. Great month for ornithologists as many Palearctic migratory birds are going back to Europe/North Asia, therefore many aquatic birds utilize the wet season for a brief break in the Mara and other parts of Kenya to feed before final departure
  • Dark sky background in the afternoons when the rains are building up, great photography
  • Most herbivores move to higher grounds to avoid fungal infections in the hooves. Most game will concentrate only in particular areas where the grass is short
  • Lions adapt to tree climbing to get better view and some cheetah use vehicles bonnets.
  • Lions adapt to hunting warthogs even inside holes on the ground







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

28 April, 2014

Kooijman Family Experience, Samburu

Melissa Kooijman is a travel agent from Safari Studio in Canada who visits Africa almost every year. She stayed at Samburu Intrepids Camp with her mum and sons, and spent time at Kiltamany primary school where they donated note books, pens, pencils, rulers, art and craft papers, toys and crayons to take care of the whole school with 153 pupils.

Melissa’s two sons, Ethan and Joshua, also interacted with the school children - it was their first time to Africa. The boys brought with them 63 letters from their school - and more school supplies. In the same vein, the Kiltamany children also wrote letters to Lavington school in Canada where Melissa’s boys study. They also learned how to make bow and arrows and fire with sticks. At night, we gathered around the fire to roast pope corns.




     Tilas at Kiltamany School showing the pupils how to write letters to the students in Canada


During my visit, I drew the above animals to give pupils hints on what to draw. On the same note, I discussed with the teachers about Melissa’s visit.


    Boys and girls ready to take a turn to draw on the blackboard



Fire making is part of the games we teach young adventures using the sand paper bush branches.



On the night of 3rd March, we used the fire from the twilling sticks to make a fire which we used for roasting pop corns.  After, we did had a session on stargazing.





The next morning, we visited Kiltamany village. We were welcomed by Samburu women.
Melissa visited the village for her young boys to learn about the unique Samburu culture.
  



Melissa and her sons in the village. Stephenie is in the back ground dancing with the ladies.


It is only by visiting people that one can learn about other cultures, especially our traditional literature which is not written on paper but is passed on by word of mouth.

The young boy Joshua is dancing with one of the ladies in the village. The video below is his Samburu/Africa trip. Enjoy. 



Steven Tilas, Resident Naturalist, Samburu Intrepids Camp ©Heritage Hotels Ltd

Kiltamany School Girls Boarding Gets Helping Hand

Five years ago, Heritage Hotels embarked on a school project at Kiltamany Girls School. It was to furnish the school dormitory for the local Samburu girls. The dormitory was opened on 25th January by the Honorable Moses Lenolkulal, the governor of Samburu County.

Heritage Hotels and the school are grateful to KathleenPeddicord and her family who were guests at Samburu Intrepids Camp in July 2013 for helping with the furnishing.








On the safari, the young son, Master Jackson Peddicord was intrigued by the Samburu community. He wanted to see how the Samburu men drew blood from the livestock. Mixed with milk and herbs, the concoction is drunk by the men.

I organized a treat for the family to visit Kiltamany in Westgate Conservancy bordering Samburu National Reserve.

We left the Camp early morning and after a 15-minute drive we were at Kiltamany village. Jackson the adventurer joined the Samburu boys partaking in the morning activities. The Samburu lads taught Jackson how to make fire using sticks. He was also invited to take part in drawing blood from a goat – which is done by shooting a small arrow in the jugular vein of the animal. It is a shallow depression which is sealed after the blood has been let out and the animal is not harmed. Jackson also helped the Samburu women to milk goats.

The family was impressed by the community that welcomed them at Kiltamany. After a walk-around the village and a visit to the community school, Kathleen’s family donated the mattresses to the girls’ boarding school so that the girls do not have to walk miles to school – or sometimes miss school when the wild animals are in the way.

The first group of girls – 30 very excited boarders – was admitted on 25th February. The next project is to have a boys’ boarding school.

We thank Kathleen and her family for the donation. 

Steven Tilas, Resident Naturalist, Samburu Intrepids Camp ©Heritage Hotels Ltd