28 March 2011
Mara Explorer is a uniquely luxurious riverside camp in the heart of the Maasai Mara reserve, with personal safari guides, lavish open-plan tents, and Kenya's wildest outdoor bathtubs! Managed by Heritage Hotels, this boutique camp offers the classic safari experience with a touch of luxury in the wild.
Video courtesy and copyright of Timberpak Video Productions.
28 March 2011
Welcome to 2011. After the 2009-2010 severe drought followed by the massive floods, the Uaso Ng’iro River has dried up again!
The 2009 drought was the worst in Northern Kenya and the river was dry for nine month.
The river divides the three Game reserves – Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba. Shaba is the driest, almost barren; Buffalo Springs is the least arid and mostly with rolling plains while Samburu is more rugged with rocky outcrops. The reserves are on the southern end of the range for birds of the arid northern bush. There is plenty of bird life in the Acacias and Doum Palms along the river banks. The shade provided by the trees also makes them a favorite place for elephants during the midday sun.
The Isiolo River, which runs through Buffalo Springs and empties into Uaso Nyiro is still flowing. It originates from the springs and has permanent water. It’s the best place to find Kingfishers, and crocodiles. Stretches of the Isiolo River with overhanging grass are good for the small herons.
The wild dogs are back! On 3rd March a pack of 16 (11 adults and five young ones) was spotted about six kilometers to the West Gate in Samburu National Reserve. The same pack was later spotted hunting near Observation Point in Buffalo Springs National Reserve. The puppies looked healthy meaning the adults are not having a hard time hunting down prey.
I took this picture in February 17 in Samburu National Reserve when our guests Alex, Collins, Holly and Mary saw the above two females from the Koitogo pride. They were very excited to spot them before they left for home.
We followed these two lionesses for five minutes, and our patience was rewarded when the alpha female caught a sleeping gerenuk fawn (giraffe-neck antelope)! It was an amazing sighting. We followed the female with the kill through the toothbrush trees near the Old Samburu airstrip where the whole pride was and we saw five more lions running towards the female with the kill. It was before breakfast and we watched the pride for 15 minutes before we drove back to the camp. Excitement is never far off in Samburu due to its dense vegetation.
Baboons are opportunistic eaters and fond of crops. They are the bane of many African farmers. The baboons eat fruits, grasses, seeds, bark, and roots and have a taste for meat. They eat birds, rodents and even the young of larger mammals, such as antelopes and sheep. Baboons have large troops, composed of dozens or even hundreds of baboons, governed by a complex hierarchy that is fascinating, especially on game drive. Males use physical power to dominate rivals. Baboons spend endless hours carefully grooming one another to remove insects and dead skin
Did you know...
- That in Samburu we have 66 families of Elephants, which make a total number of 750 residents’ elephants?
- During rainy seasons, the number can exceed up to 1200 individuals.
- Young baby elephants are weaned in their first year. The calf depends on the mother for three to five years
- A new-born elephant at birth weighs 77-113 kg. But they weigh only 4% of an adult female's weight and only 2% of an adult male’s and may consume 11.4 litres of milk a day.
- They have good memories and their brain is 30-40% the size of an adult. Mothers allocate care and interact differently depending on the baby's sex.
- The young calves are tended not only by their mothers, but also by other females of the herd.
There are many eyewitness accounts of the females in the herd gathering around to welcome the new-born. Within minutes of the birth, the mother and other females trumpet, rumble and scream, oozing temporal secretions down the side of their faces. During these initial minutes the mother also attempts to help the new-born rise to its feet. This is a matter of survival since the new-born must stand to drink its mother's milk. Without this necessary food, the calf is sure to perish.
How much can a lion eat a day?
Lions in Samburu will eat every three to four days and can go without food for more than a week. This means that the average "daily" intake of food in about 5 to 7 kgs. A lion can eat up to 25% of its own body mass when needed. The average lion will normally only kill enough to sustain himself – which is about 15 animals per year. There are incidents of young lions killing needlessly, picking on small and weak animals just for the sake of killing.
|Courtesy Brian and Alison Bloch.©
The Uniqueness of Samburu
The mane of the adult male lion, unique among cats, is one of the most distinctive characteristics of the species. It makes the lion appear larger, providing an excellent intimidation display; this aids the lion during confrontations with other lions. The lions in Samburu have shorter manes compared to their Mara cousins. They are are paler in colour, which is an adaptation to this arid land.
|Courtesy Brian and Alison Bloch.
In Samburu, I've always had great luck spotting leopards while taking guest on game drives. Once a leopard climbed into a tree while we watched. I recommend Samburu for leopards
Leopards living in desert areas tend to be pale yellow in color. Leopards inhabiting grasslands are a deeper golden color.
Northern Kenya is a huge expanse of scrub desert, bisected by a few life saving rivers. A true wilderness, this area of Kenya is very sparsely populated, and game patterns have been little affected by humans.
Steven Tilas, Resident Naturalist, Samburu Intrepids Camp ©Heritage Hotels Ltd
28 March 2011
The Mara is hot and dry with spectacular views of the sunset and the sunrise. The mornings are clear while the evenings are cloudy. There’s a good variety of game on the plains especially northwest of the Mara Intrepid’s camp.
The Loita Plains to the east of the Mara are dry. The domestic migration of the wildebeest and the zebra that migrate to the east for the calving season are still in the reserve because the calving grounds are still dry.
Sequence of photos showing zebra giving birth. Pictures by John Parmasau.
The calf is already standing up just a few minutes after birth - Baby and Mama looking good and healthy!
Therefore there are many herds of wildebeest and zebra in the reserve. Some are crossing on the western part of Mara Intrepid’s Camp, which is 15 kilometres from the Paradise Crossing at Mara River. From here they go west to the Mara Triangle.
Big Cat Sighting
The lion prides are doing well even though they lost their cubs to intruding males. However no incidences has been recorded of late. The remaining cubs are doing well, growing fast and healthy.
Daddy's day with the kids..
The prides are still holding their territories with new males been reported roaming by especially around Topi and Double Crossing. These prides split from the Ridge pride.
The split of the Olkiombo pride – the 12 lions that one time moved to the Olare Orok Conservancy - has come back into the reserve occupying a section the Double Crossing. The Double Cross pride has moved down stream towards the junction of Olare- Orok and Intiakitiak River, with three lioness and six young cubs. The lionesses are with new males and trying to mate with them.
It will be interesting to see if the males will stay with the lioness of the Oolkeju Ronkai pride or if the lioness of Double Crossing will stay with Notch and his sons.
From the amount of earth disturbed, the lions didn't have it all their way killing this buffalo
Siesta time, everyone's had their fill
The Marsh pride is still at the marsh with their two males. The Paradise pride that crossed into the Mara Triangle has crossed to the east of the Mara River looking healthy with 12 individuals – that is four lionesses and eight cubs, aged between eight and 12 months. The Ridge pride of two lionesses with eight cubs aged four months are doing well, roaming between Mara River and Mara Intrepid Camp.
The three lionesses from the Ridge pride with 5 cubs of 18 months have been hunting hippos to the west of Mara Intrepid Camp.
The Olkiombo pride that followed the three males to Maji-ya-Fisi, has three lionesses with 12 cubs.
Olive is still with her two cubs, along Olare Orok and Talek River. The cubs are looking healthy and strong.
Kayoni and Paja have taken different directions. Paja is between Olare Orok and Rhino Ridge to the Topi plains. Kayoni is seen around Rekero and the Talek River.
Cheetah sightings are good around the Olkiombo plains. The three brothers are seen around Talek River and Rhino Ridge. Alama and her two male cubs are around Double Crossing and Mara Intrepids Camp.
Paul Kirui, Chief Safari Guide, Heritage Hotels Ltd and John Parmsau,Guide Mara Explorer. Pictures by John Parmasau