Heritage Hotels Big Cat and Migration Updates

News from Maasai Mara, Kenya June 27th 2008

by Heritage

27 June 2008

Over the past week, the Loita herds of mainly zebras have now spread out over the recently burnt area in the south Mara triangle. Some herds are still around Musiara Gate, Olorukoti plain and on the Koiyaki - Olare-Orok Conservancy areas. The migration this year has been gradual unlike in the past. The herds coming from the Loita plains will keep entertaining us before the imminent arrival of the main Serengeti herds from the south.

The Mara River has been active, with some zebras crossing onto the Mara triangle. The crocodiles are still enjoying a feeding frenzy, creating huge photo opportunities on what are normally deep waters. The less-than-normal rainfalls have left the water levels on the rivers lower than at this time of they year, and crocodiles are easy to spot as they drag their unfortunate prey into the deeper waters.

Other sightings:
One of the most spectacular sightings of the past week was that of six nomadic male lions on Paradise Plain near the migration crossing point. It has been many years since such a coalition of males was seen together. Nomadic males will only come together to consolidate their strength, to ward-off competition for food and to increase their chances of taking over a new pride and territory - whose dominating males will not let go easily.

Some of our repeat guests at Mara Intrepids, Valmik Thapar and Chandu Shah with their families, got bonus experience for their week's stay. The Ridge Pride killed a wildebeest at Olare-Orok River in their full view! Chandu's daughter, Sonal, an upcoming photographer on her first stay at Mara Intrepids was very excited. In her own words, "In 8 days, we sighted 10 leopards, including one complete leopard kill which was amazing"!!!!

There was an improved sighting of leopards over the week, with a sighting every day. Bella who has been our main star over the last few years, and Olive, who we have been covering lately, were spotted along the Talek and Olare-Orok Rivers. There is a new leopard along Ntiakitiak River with two small cubs. She was seen for a few days at the same place near the Double Crossing point with a kill up in a tree, while another young female was seen at Paradise Plains with a kill near the main crossing.

Cheetahs were the most elusive the past week, with our guests seeing only a few. However, our guides promise things will improve with the expected arrival of more animals into the park.

Paul Kirui, Lead Safari Guide, Heritage Hotels


News from Maasai Mara, Kenya June 20th 2008

by Heritage

20 June 2008

Our guides at Mara Intrepids have reported the head of the migration is still streaming in, albeit at a slow pace, over the past week. Traditionally, zebras lead the rest of the migratory herds, and as we are reliably informed, it won't be long before the official migration is on. Our guests have witnessed a few crossings in the past few days. Low water levels and fewer herds have not stopped the crocodiles from trying to grab the zebras on the shallow waters.

Once across the river, they enter the Mara triangle, spreading out southwards onto the recently burnt area of the conservancy. While most other areas are still teeming with grass, this area still requires some rain for the new shoots to sprout. If the grass on the Mara plains is not burnt, then the herds may spend more time here. What remains to be seen is whether they follow their natural instincts to move on - that natural calling that abounds above all else.

Lion sighting was reported throughout the past week. Long grass on the plains is forcing them to go up vantage points to spot their prey and survey their territories.
Shonko Pride has moved north of the Talek River towards the junction with the Mara River. This is normally part of the Ridge Pride's territory, but they have also moved east towards the border of the reserve with Olare-Orok Conservancy. The scarcity of prey has forced the pride to split into three small groupings.

Olkiombo Pride has settled to the east of Mara Intrepids and Explorer camps. They are now in two groups, one with five adult females with six cubs and another with three adult females with four cubs. Lion cubs have a rare survival rate, especially during the drier seasons where food is scarce. We hope these cubs will survive till the arrival of the main migration herds when food shall be in plenty.

Our guests at Mara Intrepids saw Olive twice over the past week. In one of the times, she was seen carrying a carcass of a gazelle for over a kilometre, and our guides believe that she may have small cubs - watch this space for confirmation in the coming days!

Bella has not been seen for the past one week, but the Rekero male was spotted once near the Mara River.

There were few cheetah sightings over the past week, with the long grass being the main cause. They are mainly to found in areas where the grass is short with an abudance of game. There was one female seen near Double Crossing area and another one with a cub at the Topi plains. Two sub adult males were also seen near Ntiakitiak River.

Paul Kirui, Lead Safari Guide, Heritage Hotels


News from Maasai Mara, Kenya June 16th 2008

by Heritage

16 June 2008

Migration Update:
The mini migration which we reported last week is still ongoing, with many more zebra and a few wildebeest seen moving into the reserve from the east. However, this is not the main migration from the Serengeti ecosystem, but a ‘localized’ group from Loita moving into the reserve. When traveling to or from Narok, one can see herds of wildebeests heading into the park from as far Maji moto area.

The recently burnt grasslands south of the Mara triangle, coupled with the rains has been the catalyst for this movement. The herbivores in this ecosystem have come to associate the burning with fresh lush shoots, which is an irresistible delicacy - especially for the wildebeest! Most of the Mara plains are still awash with a sea of over grown red oat grass, which most herbivores find quite tough and rough for their digestive systems. This explains why the herds have just been rushing through the reserve when there is plenty of grass.

There were crossing activity at the Paradise crossing point over the week as herds cross over to the west of the Mara River. These were mainly the Loita herds from the north east around Musiara Gate, moving across Paradise Plain to the river and crossing westwards. Water levels at the rivers are still low and this makes crossing easy, but it hasn’t deterred the crocodiles from getting their meal.

The coming weeks will witness a lot more activity, and we shall be there to report from the frontline!

Big Cats:
The lion prides in our game viewing territory can still be seen in their respective locations. The Olkiombo Pride has settled to the east of Mara Intrepids over the last few days. Our guests at Mara Intrepids witnessed them killing a wildebeest a few days ago near the main Talek - Musiara Road. Shonko Pride is still thriving at Maji ya Eland, where they have split to maximize on the prey ”“ in this case Topi and other resident antelopes concentrated in this location.

Leopard sightings have been good over the last few days. Even though the grass is still long, they were seen hunting on some clear patches. Olive was in her territory near Mara Intrepids, while two others females and the Rekero male were seen towards the Mara river.

Cheetah sightings have been rare over the last few days. However one female was seen regularly on Paradise Plain where there is a concentration of gazelles and other herbivores. There was also one female seen with one cub, but she moved into Olare-Orok conservancy.

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 HotelsMigration%20Map%20-%20June162008.jpg