Heritage Hotels Big Cat and Migration Updates

Mara Big Cat Update: 7th February 2005

by Heritage

7 February 2005

The Cats’ Cradle
News from the World’s Most Famous Felines

Maasai Mara, Kenya February 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 January.

Sightings of lions in the Maasai Mara have never been so good. With the unexpected rains making the grass on the plains sprout early, herds of plains game have been congregating in areas where the grass is still short ”“ providing easy hunting for the local prides, and easy lion-spotting for us! The Ridge Pride has now moved to settle just east of Rhino Ridge, where there are plenty of animals grazing on the higher ground. These lions have made several successful, mainly nocturnal hunts, before retreating to the streams while they wait for their unsuspecting prey to return. Their month’s tally includes a buffalo, which they fed on for four days, two zebras and two warthogs. There are now 11 cubs, after one was killed by a new female brought in by one of the pride males on January 28th. There was a fierce fight when the stranger arrived, with her fighting the four pride females before chasing the cubs, killing one and seriously injuring another. To the amazement of everybody, the mother of the dead cub then ate it ”“ a strange and unusual sight. The pride is still in the same place and the females have now slowly started to accept the stranger.

Cheetah sightings have also been good this month, with regular sightings of our famous star, Kike, who is still roaming the plains around Rhino Ridge and Mara Intrepids. The long grass in her old home range around Bila Shaka/Musiara has forced Kike to shift and make this new area her home, where she has bounced back to full health after losing her last litter to lions and suffering a serious bout of sacoptic mange (which was treated by a KWS vet). Her old cubs are still around, and have been seen crossing the Talek River and roaming the plains east of Mara Intrepids. Honey has also been regularly spotted in the area with her three sub-adult cubs, which are also perfecting Kike’s film-star antics ”“ jumping onto car bonnets and trying to bite off mud-flaps. A third female, Mmoja, has also been seen in the area with a single cub aged around six months.

With the grass growing taller along the rivers, we haven’t seen so much of our dear friend Bella this month. However, the Big Cat Week star continues to show signs of separating from her 18-month-old son Chui, and we believe the two will go their own ways very soon. (Leopards can usually take care of themselves after their first year.) We believe that Bella will be coming into oestrus very soon and will probably have a new litter this year. Our prayer? That she gives birth where she did in 2003 ”“ just behind Mara Explorer. With unfavourable conditions near the rivers, it’s quite likely that the two leopards near our camps have been hunting further afield, or resorting to smaller prey such as birds, hares, lizards, mice, or even fish. These can usually keep them going until the next season of plenty.

Other Big Sightings
Since early January, a female elephant with twin calves aged about four months has been seen regularly on our game-viewing circuit. This is a very rare treat. We know that they are twins because their mother keeps breastfeeding them simultaneously. For guests to the Mara’s top two safari camps, this has indeed proved a twin blessing!

Three Ringside Seats for the World’s Greatest Game Show