Heritage Hotels Big Cat and Migration Updates

Other Wildlife Sightings

by Heritage

21 October 2009

The Big Cats Of Mara:

The Lions

The Mara cats are enjoying the last of the easy meals this month before the wildebeest leave. Many skeletons are strewn on the plains because of the big feast. As the wildebeest leave, the lion prides will become very mobile in search of prey, especially the ones with cubs. Some prides will split up because there will not be enough food to share around the pride.

Over the last few weeks, the Ridge Pride was seen roaming around the southern base of Rhino Ridge, Mara Intrepids and the Mara River area. There is one female with three-month-old cubs and one with two-month-old cubs. The females made easy kills when the wildebeest were all over their territory, which meant the cubs were well fed.

Leopards

Olive, our star female leopard and her three-month-old cubs are still around the junction of the Talek and Olare-Orok Rivers. They have lately been moving between this place and the little forest between Mara Intrepids and Explorer camps.

Binti and her daughter are downstream from where Olive is. They also took the opportunity to hunt the wildebeest when they were streaming down south through their territories and we saw a few young wildebeest' carcasses up in the trees along the river.

Cheetahs

Shakira, who for the past two years has been our star female cheetah, is still around with her three daughters. She has had some easy hunts because of the many gazelle fawns born in the past three weeks.

Honey's three male cubs, continue to roam far and wide from Musiara to Paradise Plains and south to Burrungat Plains. There is another cheetah between Talek and Olkiombo airstrip with three very tiny cubs. This is not Alama, who we reported earlier. In general cheetah sightings have been the best this season.

The Samburu Cats

Lions

Lions were seen throughout August and September. The prolonged drought has forced the herbivores to come to the Uaso River for the little grass and shrubs to sustain them. This has been good for the lions,
who have waited along the river to pounce on the poor prey. In Buffalo Springs, the Ngare Mara pride was seen thrice in a week along the Ngare Mara River.

Nanyeisho of Ngare Mara pride had two cubs, which were first seen in the beginning of September when they were two months old. The cubs were named by our guides as Ngooyeni (Lucy) and Ngayoni (Ricki) (the little couples). Many lions in the area have been forced to go to Isiolo River, which has a permanent water source in the region.

The Koitogo pride has split into smaller groups. The pride of four adults (two females and two males) with five youngsters is seen at Daraja-wire area north of the Uaso Ng'iro River. This is part of their territory, but they have also moved east towards the border of the reserves (Buffalo Springs and Samburu). Two lions were also reported at West Gate Conservancy. The scarcity of prey has forced the pride to split into three small groups.ӬThe Ngare Mara pride has split into two smaller groups, both with little cubs. The White River females have two cubs, which were nearly six months old. Our guides named the female Uaso (Uaso was born by River Uaso which had water after a long dry spell) and the male is called Lengolong' which means; 'born during the bad drought'. The mother has been named Moduai, which is a Samburu word for 'rarely seen'. Moduai has settled in the southern part of the Uaso Ng'iro River, three kilometres east of the main viewpoint along the White River. The lion population in both the reserves is between 17 and 20.

The Intrepids guides have named all the lions in the area. The biggest pride Koitogo has Uni, a mother of two (Lentasat and Namunyak). Lentasat is the young male lion who is roughly 13 months old.

Namunyak is a Samburu word for the blessed one. The 13 female lionesses share the name with the lioness which adopted the Beisa Oryx fawn at the beginning of the millennium. Namunyak barely managed to survive a buffalo attack a few months ago when they were learning how to hunt.

Nashupai, another lioness, has three cubs Ngosouwan, Lolibuo and Naduaya. She is Naibor's daughter and Uni's sister. Her name in Samburu means 'smart girl'. Ngosouwan means the 'strong one' (buffalo like). She made her first hunt going for a buffalo during the dry season. In the normal circumstances a healthy buffalo, often stampedes towards the thicket where the young lions cubs are, doing their best to trample the cubs to death whilst warding off the lioness.

However, this time the buffalos were in for a surprise. Lolibuo, the young male was very eager to make a kill and when Ngosouwan jumped on the buffalo's back, Lolibuo followed and since it was the whole pride of seven, all the lions tried to help the little guys kill the buffalo. The enraged buffalo flung Ngosouwan into the bush and Lolibuo was left alone hanging on buffalo's back! Namunyak had nothing else to do but to help her half-brother. The buffalo saw it coming and got ready for it. Luckily, Ngosouwan came out of the bush with Uni and the two jumped on the buffalo.

Lion cubs have a rare survival rate, especially during the dry seasons when food is scarce. Furthermore, when one or more new males oust the previous male(s) associated with a pride, the conqueror(s) often kills any existing young cubs, perhaps because females do not become fertile and receptive until their cubs mature or die. Luckily this has not been experienced in Samburu National Reserve for a number of years now.

Paul Kirui, Chief Safari Guide and Stephen Tilas, Head Naturalist, Samburu Intrepids

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Migration Update: Issue 7

by Heritage

21 October 2009

The Outbound Migration

The migration in the Mara is drawing to a close as anticipated. The wildebeest have been trickling back to the Serengeti this past week, where they are seen to concentrate on the recently burnt patches in northern Serengeti. Only a handful of herds remain in isolated pockets in the Mara, and these are mainly in the south Mara triangle. Looking around driving through the Mara plains, it is easy to understand why these animals have left; most of the plains are bare of grass.

A combination of a dry spell and over grazing has played a major role in the grass cover becoming depleted. This is not a new phenomena for the wildebeest will move on to new pastures to give time for the old grazing pastures to regenerate.

The wildebeest will gradually stream back into the Serengeti with the last herds expected to leave by end of November. They will be away till June-July next year when they will return to graze on the rich green grasses after the long rains of April-May. It will be another season of plenty for the predators and the prey, as the cats and crocodiles keep a close tab on the grazers.

When the wildebeest finally leave the Mara, the predators have to devise smarter methods of hunting for the elusive resident animals. At times they have to go for long periods between meals. The strong ones survive but for the weak and the old, this may be their last season ”“ in the wild, this is the survival of the fittest.

Click Migration%20Update%2009-%207.JPG for the migration map

Paul Kirui, Chief Safari Guide
Kindly contact: safariguide@mara-intrepids.co.ke for comments or inquiry on the migration and other interesting wildlifel sightings in the Mara, Rift Valley, Samburu and Tsavo West National Park

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Humpback whales, Whale sharks and dolphins spotted in full view of Voyager

by Heritage

8 October 2009


For the past week Humpback whales, Whale sharks and schools of dolphins Ӭhave been spotted in the ocean from Voyager Beach Resort. Join us for daily dive and snorkelingӬ excursions to see these amazing creatures.

ӬӬHere's a bit of folklore. In Kiswahili, the whale shark is called papa shilingi, meaningӬ "the shark covered in shillings". According to the local legend, God was so pleased when he created this beautiful fish, that he gave the angels gold and silver coins to throw from heaven onto the back of the shark. Luckily, the whale shark with its magical markings is easy to spot because it swims near the surface, catching the sun on its back. It's the whale shark's way of saying thank you to the maker.ӬӬ

Whale sharks have called Kenyan waters home for many years. Even though it's a shark, the fish behaves like a whale, feeding on plankton and other small sea creatures and it's completely harmless, making it a beautiful fish to swim with. Recently, there's been a significant increase in their sightings, possibly due to the post El Nino mantis shrimp invasion, which the whale sharks feed on.
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However, the worrying bit about the increase in whale sharks along the Kenyan coast is that they haveӬ become more of a target with fishermen. Under international law, whale sharks are only given a secondary type of protection. They are listed under CITES Appendix II meaning that trade in whale sharks is allowed but must be monitored. But monitoring can only be successful if there are enough patrols at sea and the law is enforced. Most specialists are of the opinion that this level of protection is not enough and that we still do not know much about the biggest fish in the ocean.

Check with Buccaneer Diving for diving excursions with the whale shark. Buccaneer Diving is assisting with gathering information about these amazing creatures, working with Project AWARE to help protect these gentle giants of the sea.

Frederic van Lennep, Operations Manager, Buccaneer Water Sports and Diving
freshaevents@gmail.com

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