Heritage Hotels Big Cat and Migration Updates

Big Cat Update, Masai Mara, Kenya, Friday 24th November 2006

by Heritage

27 November 2006

Lions
Lion sightings have reached a record high around Mara Intrepids and Explorer over the past month. The Ridge Pride, which has settled near our camps, has been giving guests thrilling daily sightings, with its 10 cubs - eight females and two males - regularly out and about. Over the past few weeks, the pride's territory appears to have expanded from around the Maternity Area south of Rhino Ridge towards the Talek River east of our two camps. This has brought them into occasional conflict with the neighbouring Olkiombo Pride, which once roamed freely along the Talek's banks, but now appears to have moved further east. Earlier this month, the two prides had a major confrontation, in which one of the Ridge females sustained serious injuries. The two dominant Ridge males have also been attending to the females from Olkiombo, which lost its dominant males last year. The pair has also seen off a couple of nomadic males that have also been trying to inveigle their way into the Ridge territory. These inter-pride battles are likely to continue for the foreseeable future, until both prides are taken over by new males. Our guests at Siana, meanwhile, continue to be blessed with regular sightings of the Sekenani Pride just to the west of Sekenani Gate.

Leopards
Leopard sightings have also been very good this month, with the unexpected return of the wildebeest providing improved hunting for Bella, Ntito and Kijana in their home ranges along the Talek. Guests at our two camps have been regularly entertained by their distinctive roars during the night. Guests at Siana, meanwhile, have continued to enjoy sightings of an unnamed female and her cub in the Kissinger area, where, due to the absence of larger prey, she has been seen hunting dik-diks and other smaller mammals. This female has also been seen several times in the typical - and very photogenic - 'leopard pose' on a high tree branch, scanning the plains below for potential prey.

Cheetahs
A coalition of three male cheetahs has been hunting on the plains around Mara Intrepids/Explorer in recent weeks, providing fantastic 'tours de force' for our guests. The trio, when locked onto a young wildebeest or topi, shows tremendous persistence in getting their catch. Other cheetahs have also been wandering in and out of our game-viewing area, providing us with welcome sightings. The female cheetah that we spotted with six cubs last month has now headed northeast into the new Olare Orok Conservancy, from where we hear from the guides that all the cubs are still doing well.

Other Predators
Three wild dogs were seen last week on the Aitong Plains - a sign that this rare and enigmatic predator may be making a welcome return to the Mara. We join local conservationists in praying that these members of this highly social and greatly misunderstood species will be allowed to establish themselves in their former stronghold on the Mara plains.


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

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News from the Maasai Mara, Kenya Friday 24th November 2006

by Heritage

27 November 2006

With one of the longest wildebeest migrations on record, it’s appropriate that 2006 was the year in which U.S. television giants ABC chose to name the Maasai Mara as one of the seven wonders of the natural world. Now well into the latter half of November, there are still thousands of wildebeest on the central and southern Mara plains, from where they are gradually ”“ if belatedly ”“ making their way back to the Serengeti Reserve.

The drawn-out nature of this year's migration has been largely due to the light rains that fell on the Mara in early November, drawing many of the straggling herds back from the Serengeti. This was most fortuitous for the film crew from ABC's Good Morning America, which chose Heritage's Mara Intrepids Camp from which to watch the migration from November 13th-18th - and from where anchor Kate Snow showed the most "moveable natural wonder of the world" to millions of enthralled viewers.

This week, the few wildebeest herds still in the Mara have settled south of the Mara Triangle and west of Musiara Gate, down to Rhino Ridge and Paradise on the eastern side of the Mara River, where there is still plenty of grass. Over the last few days, the reserve has received several sporadic showers, which should carpet the overgrazed areas with lush new shoots of grass - and perhaps keep the wildebeest here for a few weeks more.

Although river crossings have been reduced to a few small groups of wildebeest over the past week, they are still a sight to behold, particularly for first-time visitors. But what would one expect of the world's most wonderful natural spectacle?


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 Week24-11-06%20Map%2010.jpg

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News from the Maasai Mara, Kenya Wednesday 31st October 2006

by Heritage

4 November 2006

The wildebeest have made a really dramatic come back. In a confounding marvel of nature, we are now experiencing a similar scenario like last year where we witnessed a 'second migration'! In just a week, herds in the plains south of the Mara have swelled enormously. In a repeat of the July entry, the herds have been split into two groups, one heading north into the Mara Triangle, and the other southwards to the northern Serengeti before crossing the Sand River Gate - back into the Mara. From this reentry, the westbound herds are spread out over Burrungat, the Central and Meta Plains, with some animals already crossing the Mara River near Lookout Hill.

The northwards bound herds are now around Mara Intrepids, while most of the herds have settled temporarily on the short grass from a previous burning. The unseasoned rains have played a crucial role in the sprouting of the grass, and most importantly, attracting these herds back. The crossing points in the north around Paradise Plains are awash with activities, with easy back and forth crossings since most of the rivers almost empty.

Predators
There are still a lot of predation activities in the Mara even in the brief absence of the migrating herds from some areas. The lions had started to adopting lean period hunting tactics, but with the return of the herds, so has the season of plenty. The Ridge Pride has been roaming their territory bar two males who are now serving the females from Olkiombo Pride abandoned by their males. In the gist of events, should other males come into the fold, the progeny of the Olkiombo Pride could be killed in the harsh jungle law of maintaining one's own offspring.

Leopard sightings increased over the past week, with a young waterbuck kill right in front of Mara Explorer in full view of the guests. The same leopard later killed another waterbuck in the same location and proceeded to hoist both kills up the tree. Cheetah sighing has been good as well.


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!
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