Heritage Hotels Big Cat and Migration Updates

News from the Maasai Mara, Kenya Monday 9th October 2006

by Heritage

9 October 2006

The past two weeks have seen some remarkable changes in the concentration and direction of the world's liveliest animal migration. While there is still plenty of grass on the main Paradise Plains, Rhino Ridge and Olorukoti Plains, dry conditions had forced most of the animals in these areas to start heading north in search of greener pastures. However, in the past week, sprinklings of rain in the southern Mara have encouraged the wildebeest to make a dramatic about-turn and start heading south again.

Herds of wildebeest can now be seen moving south on either side of the Mara River. At present, there is a higher concentration of animals around Musiara Marsh and into the high country to the northeast, from where they are trickling down to cross into the Conservancy at the main Paradise crossing-point. In the past few days, there have been some very busy and intensive crossings, starting as early as 8am. Hundreds of Thomson's gazelles and topi have also been crossing with the wildebeest - providing a memorable spectacle for our guests.

The flurry of activity on the plains has created a fresh field day for the big cats, with lions, leopards and cheetahs all seizing the opportunity to hunt and feed their young. A couple of cheetahs in our territory have small cubs to feed, and have been particularly active in hunting. The Ridge Pride of lions has also made several successful hunts over the past week. The Olkiombo Pride, meanwhile, is still along the Talek River east of Mara Explorer/Intrepids, which has probably been the liveliest location for game-viewing in the Mara over the past two weeks.

This is the same location where Bella our star leopard has spent much of the past month entertaining members of the BBC's Big Cat Week team. Cheetah sightings have also been superb, with one female rearing six one-month-old cubs in an area just north of Bella's territory, which our guides and others helped to seal off to protect her from too much harassment. She is now walking her cubs every morning up to 100 metres from the little bush that has become their home. Hopefully no lions will find them, and we will soon be enjoying regular sightings of them hunting with their mother.

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: safariguide@mara-intrepids.co.ke. From all at Heritage Hotels, we wish you happy migration watching!

"Lately there has been no better place to film leopards in the Mara than the area around Mara Intrepids and Explorer. Since we first filmed Bella here in 2003, 90% of our filming of leopards for Big Cat Week has been done within 5km of the same location"
- Nigel Pope, Producer, Big Cat Week