Heritage Hotels Big Cat and Migration Updates

News from Maasai Mara, Kenya September 26th 2008

by Heritage

26 September 2008

The Mara is still teeming with wildebeest but in smaller concentrations. There are patchy concentrations in the north of the reserve, around Musiara Gate down to Rhino Ridge, and southwards around Look-Out Hill into the northern Serengeti. However, the herds on the central plains and south to Sand River are still high compared to other areas of the reserve.

Our guides have observed the mannerisms of herds that might suggest an imminent exit from the Mara. Just a few days after coming back, some of the animals have been streaming south from the Talek River towards the central plains where they have congregated heavily.

There were very little activities at the river, with only a handful animals crossing in either direction at the main points near Look-Out Hill and Paradise crossing points. The predation on the crossing herds by the crocodiles has gone down because most crocodiles are full from the feeding frenzy the past couple of months.

Big Cats Update
There were more lion and cheetahs kills in the past week than we have witnessed this season! Binti, one of Olive's sub-adult cub was seen killing a young Topi, in what could be her 'maiden' kill. Her mother Olive and the other two cubs, Ayah and Kali, were together for the whole of last week when she made a couple of kills at the confluence of the Talek and Olare-Orok Rivers.

Our guests at Mara Intrepids saw five other different leopards over the past week, confirming the location around Mara Intrepids as a special leopard zone in the Mara.

The two female cheetahs with cubs were seen regularly with their surviving litters. The one that had six cubs now has three, while the one that had four now has one. It is unfortunate that mortality among cheetah cubs is quite high in the their first 1-5 months.

Meanwhile, the Olkiombo and Ridge prides next to our camps are our main lion attractions at the moment. With the wildebeest now back in their territory, these cats never waste an opportunity, as the herbivores that returned to the Mara have been finding out! All the cubs in our lion prides are doing well, and with plenty to eat, they are just growing really fast!

Other sightings
Our guests at Voyager Ziwani camp in Tsavo West got a rare treat recently when they saw a pack of wild dogs near the camp. These endangered predators have disappeared from the area for many years and the recent sighting was a welcome to all.
In our camp Samburu Intrepids in the Northern Frontier district, our guests were treated to a week full of cat sightings, with leopard, lion and cheetah seen regularly.

Paul Kirui, Chief Safari Guide
Kindly contact: safariguide@mara-intrepids.co.ke for comments or inquiry on the migration and other animal sightings in the Mara


News from Maasai Mara, Kenya September 16th 2008

by Heritage

16 September 2008

Nature has once again confounded us, and the wildebeest migration has proven why it is thrill to millions all over the world! Just a few days after we reported in our last update of the departure of the wildebeests from Masai Mara, the migration has a new twist - the herds have returned! In the last couple of days, the concentration in the south of the reserve swelled to an enormous number. Most of the herds as per our previous update have made a complete cycle in the past two weeks. Most herds moved from the eastern part of the river, crossed west onto the Mara Triangle, then south into northern Serengeti and east from there before re-entering the Mara around the Sand River Gate - exactly as they did in July when they first came. In fact everything now is just like at the beginning - a double migration!

There is a higher concentration on Burrungat, central and Meta plains. The westward bound herds have spread out on the central plain, while others have started heading towards Look Out Hill. In the next few days these are expected to cross the river onto the Mara triangle and some, the Talek River northwards to Rhino Ridge.

The plains above are now teeming with large herds of zebra and wildebeests. This area was not burnt earlier and there is still plenty of grass, which might slow the movement somewhat. The unseasoned rains have played a crucial role in the sprouting of the grass in the recently burnt areas, carpeting these areas with lush green savannah vegetation.

Big Cats
The Big Cats in the Mara experienced a brief food shortage when the herds departed, but supply lines are back to normal! True to their predatory instincts, lions were already starting to adjust to lean-period hunting tactics. Over the last couple of days, our guides have seen the Olkiombo pride position themselves on the south side of the Talek River, where they are now hunting the animals coming across to the north side. The high number of cubs in this pride, eleven in all, means the females have to hunt a lot just to feed them.

The cheetahs in our game viewing area have been unlucky in the last few days. There was an unfortunate incident at dawn on 14th September when a herd of buffalo went through one female cheetah’s hideout. She had four cubs, two of which were killed instantly, while a third one died later due to injuries. She is now with only one cub. The cheetah with six cubs is now left with three, and it is not known how or when the other three disappeared.

There was a rare leopard sighing 3 days ago when four leopards were seen together. These were Big boy, Olive, her 18 month old daughter, Ayah and 6 month old son Kali were at the junction of the Talek and Olare-Orok rivers on the south side. It is very rare to see this number of leopards together, but we have been treated to such unusual sightings lately, we are barely coming to terms with the wild.

Paul Kirui, Chief Safari Guide
Kindly contact: safariguide@mara-intrepids.co.ke for comments or inquiry on the migration and other animal sightings in the Mara


News from Maasai Mara, Kenya September 12th 2008

by Heritage

12 September 2008

The migration took a dramatic change in the past week, confounding even seasoned observers! The Mara plains are now almost empty of wildebeests after almost all the herds from the eastern side of the Mara River crossed west. This was a quick exit, since they were expected to stay in the Mara till November, as is always the case. Once on the Mara triangle (which lies in the western side of the park), most herds headed south into northern Serengeti. The herds on the central, Burrungat and Meta plains headed south as well, and crossed the Sand River into northern Serengeti.

The northern Serengeti ecosystem experienced short rains in August. The grass on these plains was burnt in June and when the short rains came, they were replenished with lush nutritious shoots, thereby attracting many herbivores including the migrating herds.

There are however plenty of general game on the Mara ecosystem. There remains some wildebeests inside the park south of the Talek River towards Roan Hill, and others around Engoikwateet salt lick on the Mara triangle.

The situation in the Mara now is exactly similar to how it was in 2005, when we experienced a trend coined "double-migration". Looking at my archive of past updates, everything this year is the same as in that year. Because of this, we expect the wildebeest to come back again in another 2 - 3 weeks. We have just got rains across the Mara now as we compile this update and it is expected to reverse the current trend. This can only heighten the experience, since the wildebeest and zebra cross the river twice to-and-from the Serengeti, instead of once as is norm!

Big cats
The Olkiombo pride, teaming with eleven cubs of different ages, was our main attraction over the past week. They made several attempts and successful kills along the Talek River when the wildebeests crossed south onto Burrungat plains. The scene of the previous week’s crossing still smelled from the carcasses of wildebeest that died from stampede.

Cheetahs were seen throughout the week. The mothers of the small cubs have not yet led them out of their hiding place, but routinely comes out of this places to hunt. It was very unfortunate when one of the female cheetahs lost some of her cubs to a python on the central plains. Most cheetahs now have cubs. There are about five female cheetahs with very small cubs in our game viewing area.

Leopards were also seen regularly. Olive with her three cubs were seen many times at the confluence of the Talek and Olare-Orok rivers just two kilometres from Mara Explorer.

Paul Kirui, Chief Safari Guide
Kindly contact: safariguide@mara-intrepids.co.ke for comments or inquiry on the migration and other animal sightings in the Mara