20 July 2007
The Migration is On!
The guides at Heritage Hotels' Intrepids and Explorer camps are today confirming that the first of the Serengeti wildebeest are entering the Maasai Mara - and the world's greatest wildlife migration is officially underway! The first herds can be seen along the sand river that winds north from the Tanzanian border. All indications suggest that this is the head of the 2007 migration into the Mara.
Four weeks ago, several herds of zebra passed through this area heading west. These were the Loita herds, which normally pass by here en route to the northern Serengeti or the Mara Triangle. These herds are often confused with the main Serengeti herds - raising premature hopes of an early migration”¦
The herds now entering the Mara are the onset of the real migration. Most people in the Mara were expecting a late arrival this year due to the amount of grass in the way of the migrating herds. Reports from the Serengeti also confirm extensive burning of grass on the central plains, which, due to the recent rains, has provided plenty of the short lush shoots that the wildebeest find irresistible. This was predicted to delay the herds, but - as Nature has shown so often in the past - the instinct of the animals to move is stronger than any meal or obstacle in their way!
That said, the onset of the migration this year is likely to be slowed by the sheer quantity of grass on the central Mara plains, which is likely to slow down the northward progress of the main herds.
Since our last Big Cat Update, we have seen a lot more activity on the lion scene than in earlier months. Most lion prides are now coming together, sensing that a new 'season of plenty' is just around the corner. Guests at the Intrepids and Explorer camps have been blessed with daily lion sightings over the past two weeks.
Cheetah sightings have likewise improved over the past fortnight, with near-daily sightings by our guides and guests. Leopard sightings have also been fantastic, and will definitely improve with the arrival of the main wildebeest herds.
Please log onto our website for weekly updates on the progress of the migration (and local Big Cat action) over the next three months.
Paul Kirui, Lead Safari Guide, Heritage Hotels20-07-07%20%20Map%20Issue%201.jpg
3 July 2007
The Mara plains were pounded by rain in the first half of June, making game-viewing quite difficult - and putting several places temporarily off the human map! However, the weather is now clear again, and things are slowly getting back to normal. We've had several large herds of zebra here in recent weeks, moving in from the east and southeast of the reserve - usually a sure sign that the migration is about to begin. However, the herds moved swiftly across the Mara plains and most crossed the river west into the Mara Conservancy, from where they proceeded into the northern Serengeti. Despite the 'false alarm', reports from the Serengeti indicate that the main migration is now between the central plains and heading into the western corridor. It may be another three weeks before they arrive in the Mara, particularly with the thick grass that lies in their way. We will let you know as usual as soon as we confirm their arrival.
Lions were seen throughout June, with many prides now pulling back together. Although there is still little to hunt, these agile cats always adapt easily by changing their hunting tactics or going for unusual prey. Last week, the Olkeju Rongai pride killed a giraffe and another pride brought down a second giraffe east of the Topi plains. The Ridge pride is still in the Olare Orok Conservancy, occasionally moving into the northern part of the reserve in the Double Crossing area. The Olkiombo pride is still roaming the area north of the Talek River, where our guests have been viewing them almost every day.
Leopard sightings have been really good - particularly sightings of a new female with two cubs around the rocky outcrops near the Mara River crossing point. Our guides have named her Rocky because of her preference for this rocky terrain. Hopefully, her two cubs will make it into adulthood to provide us with plenty more viewing in the future. Luckily for her, the Paradise pride of lions have crossed the river into the Mara Triangle, and may not come back too soon as the water in the river remains high. (One big male and a female with one cub can be seen in the Olkeju Rongai area.) Bella continues to entertain guests on an almost daily basis in the area between Mara Intrepids and Rekero, which she appears to have made her new home due to the high concentration of gazelles and topi.
Cheetah sightings remain relatively good, with regular sightings of three young brothers that have settled just south of Mara Intrepids. The female with four cubs is still in the Olare Orok Conservancy. It is great to see her with four of her six original cubs, as most new mothers would generally lose a higher number than this.
Happy 'big gaming' from all of us here at Mara Intrepids, Explorer and Siana Springs!