18 August, 2016

Masai Mara - Season of Plenty!

The weather has been cold and dry most of the month with some overcast days. Most of the mornings were quite chilly but warming up soon after the sun came up. We have been experiencing amazing sunrises for most of the days. Water levels have gone down in both the Talek and the Olare Orok rivers, making all the major crossing points in these two rivers less perilous. The grasslands have turned to brown in most of the reserve as we did not get any rains.

12ºC morning
25ºC at midday
15ºC after sunset


The general game viewing has been great throughout the month with our resident giraffe herd moving between Mara Intrepids and Explorer camps. There has been a herd of zebra and wildebeest moving between the Talek and Olare Orok river. There has been lots of activity going on in the park, with so many wildebeest and zebras around. Other plains games like the Impala, Thomson’s gazelles were spotted east of Mara Explorer camp, with a big baboon troop seen moving between Mara Intrepids and Explorer camps. This has kept most of the hunters - big cats, jackals and hyenas - very active as they have been hunting every few days.

While most of the smaller rivers are drying up now most of the elephants have been going to drink at the Mara river. 



Ridge Pride
The Ridge pride is still maintaining their territory, north of Mara Explorer camp on the Rhino Ridge, with the two dominant males Lipstick and Blackie still in charge of this pride. They have four lionesses and four sub-adult cubs with them. They have been very lucky with lots of wildebeest and zebra around and have been seen feeding on wildebeest on multiple occasions. Blackie was seen mating with one of the females.

Olkeju Ronkai Pride
This pride has maintained their territory south of Mara Intrepids and Explorer camps at Burrungat plains. This pride is doing great, with Napejo the lioness with a scarred face helping the pride in making kills, she proved to be a very good hunter when the wildebeest were crossing the Olkeju Ronkai river and she brought down two of them for the rest of the pride.

Olkiombo Pride
This pride still remains to be one of the most elusive lions, two of the  lionesses were seen hunting along the banks of the Talek river east of Mara Explorer camp. There are also two new young males that have been seen mating with one of the lioness.

Paradise pride
The pride has been sitting in a very prime position besides the Mara river where wildebeest have been crossing.  They have been very lucky and have been making kills almost every day. One of the lioness was spotted with two very little cubs about ten weeks old. The four Musketeers, which include Scarface, Hunter, Sikio and Morani, seem to have taken this pride completely since they ditched the Marsh pride.

Most of the male lions like Blackie, Scarface and the two new males in Olkiombo have been busy passing on their genes.

Bahati our resident leopard was seen on several occasions with one of the cubs, the female cub has not been spotted since April. We still can’t say that she has lost the cub as leopards have been known to stay away for long periods of time. Only time will tell. She has also been busy killing wildebeest along the Olare Orok river.

Kaboso the leopard north of Intrepids and Explorer along the Olare Orok river has also said goodbye to both of her cubs and recently she was seen lactating so she has a new litter which she has kept very well hidden. The cubs have been seen on various occasions hunting small dik diks and gazelle.

Lorians cub south of the Talek river was a frequent sighting along the Olkeju Ronkai river. He seems not to be shy at all and he was spotted jumping on top of a safari land cruiser. This is a new behavior since leopards are known to exhibit such behavior. This is a behavior that should be discouraged by all people by keeping distance otherwise it can turn out to be disastrous.

The famous Malaika was seen west of Mara Intrepids camp near Chemorta area. She gave birth to a new litter of three cubs but unfortunately she lost one of them when a big buffalo herd passed through her den. She moved her two remaining cubs south of rhino ridge where she has been leaving them very well hidden as she goes to hunt. She has been making a kill every two or three days.

Rani the mother cheetah of three was moving between Olkeju Ronkai and Look Out hill, where she has been hunting almost every day. The 14 month old cubs have been learning how to hunt as well and they have been seen chasing gazelles and young wildebeest. They were also seen along Olkeju Ronkai river with a waterbuck kill.

The migration is here with a full swing and big herds of wildebeest and zebra are all over the plains. This has attracted numerous predators who have been killing almost every day, with prides of lions making multiple kills most of the time. Some nomadic male lions have also been spotted as they are known to follow the big herds during this migration season.

We also witnessed numerous crossings along the Talek, Olare Orok and the Mara river. The crossings at the Mara river have been the most spectacular with thousands of wildebeest crossing from the Look Out hill and more on the main crossing at Paradise plains. Many of the wildebeest have died at these crossings as they stampede on each other and also some of them break their legs when trying to exit from a very rocky point. A lot of them lost their lives at the cul de sac crossing point on the Mara river. Crocodiles have been having a feast as they also have been taking the wildebeest as they try to cross the Mara river.

Big herds were seen on Topi plains, Burrugat plains and on Posee plains. We expect the crossings to continue in the coming weeks.

Report and pictures by Raphael Koikai, Joseph Kang'ethe and Dennis Waweru, Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer Camps, Masai Mara.

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