27 September 2006
The wildebeest migration is still on in the Mara, and over the past fortnight the movement patterns have changed dramatically. Earlier in the month, the animals had begun heading back to the Tanzanian border and into the northern Serengeti, but over the past two weeks light rains across the Mara have persuaded many of the wildebeest to alter their southerly course.
During the past week, the Mara River has been the scene of great activity, with thousands of wildebeest crossing the river at different points. The herds have now spread out again over the Paradise, Rhino Ridge and Burrungat plains, where the lack of recent burning has spared a lot of grass for the hungry herbivores. The recent light rains have also caused a fresh sprouting of the highly-nutritious red oat grass, which is likely to keep the wildebeest here for the near future. Being a fast-regenerating species, the mass grazing is beneficial to both the grass and the grazers.
In the southern part of the Mara River, only a handful of animals have been crossing around Lookout Hill - although a rise in water-levels here has caused several drownings, providing an easy meal for the local crocodiles. The cats, meanwhile, have been enjoying a continuing season of plenty, with an increase in antelope numbers providing particularly easy prey. In their typical style, several cheetahs have been seen bringing live gazelle fawns to their cubs to train them in various hunting techniques.
All of the lion prides in our game-viewing territory are still present in their home ranges. There were spirited sightings of these cats in the past week, hunting wildebeest, zebra and warthogs - much to the excitement of Heritage's guests. A lioness from the Olkiombo Pride gave us the sighting of the week, just 1km from Mara Explorer, with her three young cubs cavorting endlessly for our guests' cameras. You simply can't see time passing here.....
Leopard sightings have also been excellent over the past week, with our favourite star Bella killing two young wildebeest only to lose them to hyenas. Bella has been particularly easy to locate since the BBC's Big Cat Week team moved back into our area at the beginning of the month. Cheetah sightings have also been frequent, with several successful hunts witnessed by our guests.
It's no wonder so many wildlife aficionados continue to rate the central Mara as the best place for Big Cat watching on Earth. But don't take our word for it - come and see for yourself!
As usual, if you have any interesting accounts of wildlife activities in the Maasai Mara, please feel free to drop a line to our head guide, Paul Kirui, at: firstname.lastname@example.org. From all at Heritage Hotels, we wish you happy migration watching!27-09-06%20map%207.jpg
6 September 2006
After a premature departure to the Serengeti, the return of the great wildebeest migration to the Maasai Mara is heralding a season of plenty on the plains of the world's most famous wilderness. Over the past two weeks, the usually empty plains to the east of Lookout Hill have been teeming with thousands of wildebeest, with many more crossing the Mara River westwards into the Mara Triangle. For the past few days, early birds have been treated to some spectacular river crossings, sometimes as early as 8am.
The return of the wildebeest has brought a "second course" of hunting for the legendary lion prides of the southern Mara. The Olkiombo Pride has been particularly evident in the Olkinyei area of the central plains. The Intrepids guides christened the pride after its dominant male - instantly recognisable from his completely black right foreleg - which was born in the area known locally as Olkiombo, near Mara Explorer.
While the southern plains have become a hive of activity, the north of the park has slipped into a period of relative calm. The area around Musiara Marsh, teeming with wildebeest last month, has again fallen quiet. The northern section of the Triangle is also quite empty, with most of the herds congregating around Olpunyata Swamp and south of Kurao Plains. Now that the wildebeest are again expressing their satisfaction with Kenyan grass, we expect most of the herds to remain this side of the border at least until November!
Intrepids and Explorer guests have been blessed with daily sightings of cheetahs - including our beloved Kike - since our last update. With plenty of gazelles in the area, the cheetahs - especially the mothers with cubs ”“ have been enjoying a bountiful hunting season. Leopard sightings have also improved dramatically, with the BBC's Big Cat diarists making it easy to track our friends Bella and Chui. The two cats have been giving us the best leopard sightings one can probably find anywhere in the world right now (it's small wonder they've picked our backyard for a special documentary on the species).
Apart from the Olkiombo pride, the Ridge Pride has been dominating lion news in the area, with regular kills in the vicinity of our two camps. Last Sunday, they killed two wildebeest along the Talek River, and by Monday had moved their hunts into topi territory.
It's no wonder so many aficionados consider this the best place for big cat viewing on Earth. But don't take our word for it - come see for yourself! And as usual, if you have any interesting accounts of wildlife activities in the Mara, please feel free to drop a line to our head guide, Paul Kirui, at: email@example.com. From all at Heritage Hotels, we wish you happy migration watching!6-09-06%20Map%206.jpg6-09-06%20Map%206.jpg