14 March, 2017

GRVL Fun Facts

Trees/shrub

Common Name: Broad-leaved Croton

Swahili Name: Mfurufuru





Usage and treatment

Part used: Leaves, fruits, seeds and stem
 Attractive tree often planted to provide shade in plantations
 Stabilizes and enriches the soil
 Seeds are used as a fish poison
 A vegetable salt is prepared from the ashes of the burnt leaves
 Most parts of the plant are used to treat various conditions
 The juice from the leaves is used as an anthelmintic to rid the body of parasites and toxins
 A root decoction is used as an anthelmintic for tapeworm
 The juice is also for dealing with skin problems, applied on wounds to hasten clotting and treat sores, warts and ringworm
 The leaves or young shoots are eaten to treat fever and oedema
 A boiled leaf decoction is drunk, or the ashes taken orally, as a treatment for cough
 A decoction of the young leafy shoots, combined with Justicia schimperiana, pepper, butter and milk, is used in the treatment of jaundice, and for an eruptive disease resembling small-pox
 An extract of leaves is used against itchy scalp, as a purgative, to treat malaria and venereal diseases
 The bark is an ingredient for effective purgative and vermifuge
 The seed is eaten to procure abortion
 A preparation of the seed is instilled into the ear as a remedy for ear-troubles
 The crushed leaves and seed mixed are drunk in water as a remedy for tapeworm.

Fun fact:
 Eburru forest has diverse habitats
 It’s home to 188 known species of birds
 Here are some of the most beautiful ones

Doherty's bush shrike

Eastern double-collared sunbird   
By Kilonzo, senior naturalist at the Great Rift Valley Lodge

31 January, 2017

First Animal Sightings in Mara 2017

Weather
Very hot during the day with clear skies.
Chilly in the early mornings and at night.
Sunrise: 6:50am
Sunset: 6:55pm
As usual both are spectacular and best time for photography.

Temperatures
180c morning
300c at midday
270c after sunset

Wildlife
Early morning and late evening game drives have been spectacular with lots of plains game concentrated by the rivers, especially the Talek and Olare Orok. These rivers still have some pools of water though they are stagnant.
We have some incredibly large herds of buffalo including Maasai giraffes with calves near Mara Intrepids close to Olare Orok River where there is some grass.





Elephants are scarce during this dry season. They have taken to breaking trees in the forest to forage on the leaves and branches. A few herds can be seen along the rivers where the trees are lush and green.





The wildebeest and zebra from Loita hills are in plenty especially around the Topi plains and it looks like a mini migration happening. It seems like the wildebeest and zebra are not migrating back to the Loita plains because of people settling on their migration routes, and erecting wire fences. This for the predators is a blessing because it means more food for them.




The wildebeest are calving and we expect it to peak in February. It’s unusual for the wildebeest to give birth in the Mara. Historically they give birth in the Loita plains and in the Serengeti.
Other herbivores are in plenty - topis, Thomson gazelles, impalas, Grants gazelles, elands and others – but it’s a lean time for them because of the dry season.

PREDATORS
Lions
Enkuyanai Pride
A pride of 18 lions with Romeo2 as the dominant male. However since his brother Mohican was killed in a territorial fight late last year, Romeo2 has been going through tough times bullied by two dominant males - Olbarnoti and Oloolpapit - from the Olare Orok Conservancy.  They killed Mohican and are still trying to take over the pride.
On New Year’s eve, we watched Romeo2 and his pride being chased for two hours by these two.





Romeo2 is still in charge of the pride but it seems like his fate hangs in balance as long as Olbarnoti and Oloolpapit are around.

Olkeju Rongai Pride
This pride has also had a bad start to the year as there are four nomadic males from Sand River. The four had a serious fight with Long Face the dominant male and Napejo the eldest female in the pride.  A young female was killed and serious wounds inflicted on Napejo and Long Face. The pair was treated by vets.





The nomads meantime are around Talek River at the Possee Plains. They chased the females and their cubs to Olmisigiyioi south towards the Serengeti border. Long Face is very frail and was last seen along the Talek River.

The Ridge Pride
Doing very well with eight cubs.  Now that the Loita plains herds are at Topi plains - which is the pride’s territory - they have been hunting every day with multiple kills on some days.




Blacky and Lipstick the dominant males in the pride are in great shape and have of late been mating. The three young males from the previous litter have been pushed out of the pride. They are now not allowed to share food with the rest of the pride. These are signs that the three are no longer tolerated in the pride.

The Paradise Pride
This pride has six cubs and was seen feasting on a dead hippo. The four musketeers from the pride disappeared for a while and reports were that they had crossed over to the Mara Triangle. They are now back home and were seen sharing a dead hippo with the pride at Chemarta.



Leopards
Kaboso the female gave birth to two cubs at the beginning of the year. They are active and seen almost every day. Kaboso has a new kill every other day and the cubs have really grown. The two cubs from the previous litter are also doing well but have split from the female cub around the first crossing at Double Cross. The male cub is around Chumvi Chumvi.





Bahati has been seen near Mara Intrepids and Explorer. She seems to be suckling but has not brought out the cubs.



The male cub from the previous litter is around Rekero.
Lorien is at Olkeju Ronkai actively hunting.

Cheetahs
Malaika is the only cheetah around the Camp and seen every day with her two cubs. She has of late been at Rhino Ridge making kills almost every day because the cubs are growing and need to be fed.
Malkia, Malaika’s cub from the previous litter is also around the Rhino Ridge and Topi Plains trying to hunt but not with much success.




There is a lone male around wearing a radio collar. We think he is from the Olkinyei Conservancy. 

Article and Pictures By Raphael Koikai, Senior driver guide

Wildlife sightings in Samburu

Samburu National Reserve is famous for its stunning landscape and spectacular wildlife that include the big cats – lion, leopard and cheetah - and the Samburu ‘Big 5’ – Reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, Beisa oryx, Somali ostrich and gerenuk.
On the early morning game drive before breakfast, we encountered this leopard that put a smile on everyone’s face – and all you could hear was a continuous click of cameras.
The big cats are active in the morning and we continued with the game drive when we saw a lioness three kilometers from where the leopard was. The lioness was trying to hunt and was stealthily following warthogs. Unfortunately for her, the warthogs were alerted by a go-away-bird and they made good their escape. The lioness decided to rest under a thick salty bush.
It was now very hot and time to head back to the lodge for breakfast. This elephant family was also feeling the heat walking to the Ewaso Nyiro River to cool down, drink and have a splash. Elephants have a very sensitive skin and to protect it from sunburn they regularly mud themselves.
By James Ntopai - Samburu Intrepids Camp Naturalist

18 August, 2016

Masai Mara - Season of Plenty!

WEATHER
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.

Temperatures
12ºC morning
25ºC at midday
15ºC after sunset



GENERAL GAME

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. 





PREDATORS


LIONS

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.





LEOPARDS
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.






CHEETAHS
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 GREAT MIGRATION.
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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