6 January 2005
The Cats’ Cradle
News from the World’s Most Famous Felines
Maasai Mara, Kenya
January 7th, 2005
Here’s what has been happening to your favourite felines* since Heritage Hotels’ last wildlife update from the Cradle of Humanity (and Big Cats) back in early December.
The three prides of lions in our game-viewing territory were very active throughout December, although we were only able to keep track of two of them ”“ the Ridge and Olkiombo prides ”“ on a daily basis. The Ridge (also known as Maternity) pride has been roaming the area between Mara Intrepids, Rhino Ridge and the Mara River. With 12 cubs to feed, the females have been very active on the hunting front ”“ even killing a hippo for the second time in two months! The passage of isolated herds of zebras from the Loita Hills have provided the pride with some relatively easy pickings ”“ although once these herds have returned to the Loitas, much leaner times will begin.
With the belated end of an extraordinary migration season, the Olkiombo pride has also been hunting farther afield ”“ extending its range north to the banks of the Ntiakitiak River. With the grass starting to sprout across the Mara, many of the adult lions are developing a habit of climbing termite mounds to look for their prey ”“ making them much easier to spot. Although not much has been seen of the Shonko pride, they were sighted last week with some newborn cubs in tow. Watch this space for more news of the world’s boldest Big Cats!
Our top television starlet, Bella, has been active in her territory for much of the past month. Her son Chui (also known as Kijana) has also been seen in the same territory, although he has been largely on his own for three weeks of the past four ”“ a sure sign that he is at last beginning to go his own way. Chui has already begun to show a remarkable hunting prowess for his 17 months, killing a reedbuck on December 27th (although he later lost it to a hyena). A few days ago, he joined his mother in a successful hunt for a second reedbuck at the Mtamaiyo Lugga. They remain together as we write this. A second female leopard was also spotted at Olareorok very briefly one morning.
The spotted stars of the small screen have also been out in force this month ”“ particularly on the termite mounds from which they love scanning the horizons for prey (or enemies). The lovely Kike, who we expected to give birth sometime last month, disappeared for a time, only to reappear this week looking thin and with rashes on her ears. We believe she may have given birth and lost her cubs to the lions in Bila Shaka. However, we are not too worried about her own health, as she has proved her courage and tenacity on so many occasions in the past.
Kike’s three older cubs, meanwhile, are still together roaming the plains to the east of Mara Intrepids. On one occasion in mid-December, the male cub was confronted by another sub-adult male which tried to separate him from his sisters ”“ but he was seen off by the three of them, who fought off the intruder in unison. Although they are clearly very close siblings, we know that Nature will one day force them to go their own way”¦
* A record number of viewers are expected to tune in to the sixth series of ‘Big Cat Week’, which is showing on BBC-1 at 7pm every evening of this week.