Heritage Hotels Big Cat and Migration Updates

News from the Maasai Mara, Kenya Monday 31st July 2006

by Heritage

31 July 2006

The concentration of wildebeest and zebra herds in the Maasai Mara has been building faster than expected over the past week. The light showers that swept across the southern and eastern Mara have accelerated the arrival of new herds from the northern Serengeti, where they had briefly settled on areas of recently burned grassland. The herds are now spread all over the Keekorok Plains and around Roan Hill, with several larger herds grazing on the Burrungat Plains south of the Talek River. There have been a few crossings near Lookout Hill over the past few days ”“ although they have not been as dramatic as usual, owing to the low water levels.

The northern migration of herds from the Loita Hills, meanwhile, is now spread from Musiara Gate down to the Ntiakitiak River and south to the Talek Gate. Over the past week, these herds have been streaming in small numbers towards the Paradise Plains, with some crossing westwards into the Mara Conservancy. These herds still have a higher concentration of zebras than wildebeest.

Predators
Along the Sand River's northern bank, a pride of 30 lions have been very active hunters since the herds came into their territory two weeks ago. This pride, which once numbered 48, is believed to be the largest in the Mara ecosystem, although the last lean season saw them separating into several smaller prides. To the north, the Ridge Pride is still very active, with many attempted hunts witnessed by our guests over the past week, while the old Bila Shaka Pride has regrouped to the north of Rhino Ridge. We have also been enjoying some wonderful sightings of cheetahs and leopards, including our beloved Bella of Big Cat Diary fame.

Keep your eyes peeled for all the action, with our ever-vigilant guides from Heritage Hotels!
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News from the Maasai Mara, Kenya Monday 17th July 2006

by Heritage

17 July 2006

The concentration of wildebeest in the areas mentioned last week has increased quite dramatically over the past few days. Thousands of zebra and wildebeest have been massing around and to the north of the Sand River Gate this weekend. The first herds have pushed further west to Roan Hill and have been joined by another herd of about 2,000 wildebeest that crossed the Tanzanian border through the Naima Lumbwa Hills. This rapid build-up in numbers confirms our assertion that the world's greatest wildlife spectacle is now officially underway.

The burning of grass in the northern Serengeti has obviously hastened the pace of the wildebeest from the south, as they associate burning with new and lush shoots of grass. However, the burning may not be extensive this time as the grass is still lush from the late rains experienced across the Mara and northern Serengeti last month.

There about two large prides of lions now strategically positioned between Sand River and Keekorok Lodge, where they are eagerly awaiting a new season of plenty. The leopards are up and about for the same reason. Yesterday, one of our guides from Siana Springs saw a leopard and cub with a zebra foal up a tree near Sand River.

The resident wildebeest and zebra herds from the Loita Hills are also increasing in number in all of the areas mentioned last week ”“ close to the Musiara Gate, near the 'Double Crossing' on the Mara River, and on the Topi Plains east of Rhino Ridge.

The Ridge Pride of lions has established itself around the Double Crossing area and southeast of Rhino Ridge. The cubs that have survived the lean period are now bouncing back to good health. Our guests have witnessed several kills in the past week, together with several vain attempts which livened up our game-viewing! This is just the beginning of the action ”“ which is guaranteed to get hotter in the coming weeks”¦

Watch this space for more up-to-the-minute news from the Migration Frontline!

If you have any interesting migration tidbits that you would like to share, please let our head guide Paul Kirui know, by emailing him direct at: safariguide@mara-intrepids.co.ke.

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News from the Maasai Mara, Kenya Wednesday 12th July 2006

by Heritage

14 July 2006

Heritage Hotels’ guides can today officially confirm the beginning of the world’s greatest annual wildlife spectacle, with thousands of wildebeest massing around the traditional entry points near Sand River Gate. A herd of almost 5,000 animals has already crossed the border, and could be seen this morning moving in the direction of Roan Hill. Despite this early progress, however, the wildebeests’ movement is likely to be slower than usual this year because of the long grass that has sprouted on their route following longer-than-usual rains since April.

Looking south into the Serengeti from Sand River, we can see isolated herds of zebra and wildebeest reluctantly meandering north. Because it has been dry in the Mara for the past month, any sign of rain in any direction is likely to distract the animals from their instinctive march north.

The resident wildebeest population from the Loita Hills is, however, already in the Mara, with a herd of about 2,000 zebras and wildebeest building steadily around Musiara Gate and along the reserve’s northeastern boundary. This has meant that guests from Mara Intrepids and Explorer, as well as our camp outside the reserve at Siana Springs, are already enjoying daily sightings of large migratory herds ”“ and the large predators they inevitably attract.

In the past few days, there have been several wildebeest crossings on the Mara River by Lookout Hill, as well as a few early arrivals crossing over to the Mara Triangle. At the traditionally busy Paradise Crossing, we have seen many zebras crossing back and forth ”“ with the large resident crocodiles seizing the opportunities this presents.

Predators
The lion prides to the south and east are now reshaping their territories to benefit from the arrival of the migration. The Ridge Pride have been roaming widely to the east of Rhino Ridge, along the Ntiakitiak and Ngorbob Rivers, where they have been making almost daily kills. Bella the leopard and her son have both been seen several times in the past week, as has the world’s most spotted star, Kike.

Watch this space for more news and views on the world’s greatest wildlife spectacle
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