Heritage Hotels Big Cat and Migration Updates

Gnu for Lunch Anyone? News From The Wild

by sales@heritagehotels.co.ke

27 July 2011

Overview

It has stopped raining in the Mara, making the grass turn coarse like hay. Only the valleys and river banks are green, attracting the grazers that prefer shorter grass. You can see them early mornings on the plains while the grass is still soft and moist from the morning dew but as the day gets hotter they move to the river banks to graze.

Time for a drink before crossing - zebras are usually the head of the migration.

The areas that were first visited by the herds of wildebeest and zebra have very short grass stalks and are dusty. It’s only the gazelles that can plug the stalks. All the rivers and the water pools are full, providing water for the herbivores, especially now to help digest the coarse grass.

Migrating Herds

The advance herds are by the rivers, paving the way for the big herds. They have left little for the others to graze along the migratory corridor. The corridor extends from Sand River gate all the way to the Marsh on the eastern part of the reserve and further in to the conservancies like Olare Orok and the Mara-West.

Crossing points are chosen for many reasons
Safety being paramount - you never know who's sneaking up on you!
This lioness wanted gnu for lunch

After making a stop at the Marsh, the herd turns towards the Mara River to their traditional crossing. It’s exciting to watch the first herd of the migration. This year they avoided the western part of the reserve and decided to follow the edges of the reserve east up to the Marsh. Traditionally, the Serengeti herds cross Sand River from the south then break into two groups - one going east and one going west towards the Lookout Hill. A few herds will trek direct to Posse Plain and cross Talek River near Mara Intrepids Camp going through Olkiombo Plain and across to Olare-Orok at the Smelly Crossing and up stream at Double Crossing to reach the Topi Plain through Rhino Ridge, down to the Mara River through Paradise Plains. Those who pass through the Lookout Hill, will cross Mara River just below the hill, to get to the Mara Triangle.

This poor fella was trapped under an unfortunate gnu who's inside the jaws of on a Nile croc

This year, the herds have been crossing the Mara River at Kichinjio where many wildebeest have died. They then head towards Rhino Ridge, Base and Shamarta which are the wildebeest camping areas and ancestral calving sites. The wildebeest follow the zebra, who explore the new areas first. However the wildebeest take a different direction from zebras who are going east to the Ngama Hills near Sekenani, for zebras prefer the taller courser part of the grass.

PREDATORS SIGHTINGS

LIONS

Lions sighting are good and food is abundant. Still the families have not come together as usual when the migration is on.

Lion prides do restructure their family units after separating for some time to avoid food competition. Notch and his four sons still dominate a section of the Mara and continue to mingle with the Marsh Pride and the Olkiombo Pride. The vultures circling in the air point to where the predators are feeding on their prey or where the wildebeest and other animals have succumbed to death.

LEOPARDS

Olive and her two cubs of different ages are at the Base lugga with a wildebeest kill.

CHEETAHS

The three brothers moved to Olare Orok Conservacy. Shingo the mother of six cubs, is east of Mara Intrepids Camp. Two young expectant females are at Bila Shaka and Topi Plain. Saba and her young male cub are at Musiara. A young female cheetah gave birth six kilometers from Mara Intrepids Camp towards Fig Tree.

Heritage Hotels (Kenya) manages two luxury camps in the Masai Mara - Mara Explorer and Mara Intrepids - in the confluence of the four game viewing areas of the Masai Mara. The camps are on the banks of the Talek River, with most tents spread along the banks.  
Report by John Parmasau, Senior Guide, Mara Intrepids Camp. Pictures by Dixon Chelule, Paul Kirui and John Parmasau.©Heritage Hotels Ltd, Kenya.http://www.heritage-eastafrica.com/

Zebra Gets Briefs Torn By Crocs - The Migration is On!

by sales@heritagehotels.co.ke

18 July 2011

 

Overview

Mara is green and lush following the rains. The tall golden grass is interspersed with short patches of grass, which are littered with white waste-paper tissue flowers. The ravines and rivers are as yet not full of water and therefore easy to traverse.

The predators are having an easy time hunting due to the increase in herbivores. With the danger lurking in the tall grass, the herbivores are moving to the north-west conservancy and the Olare Orok Conservancy, up to the east of the reserve where the plains are covered with short grass. These are the routes taken when migrating from the Loita Plains via Aitong.

Wildebeest Migration

The wildebeest are in the Mara having crossed Sand River in large herds. They are showing signs of separating. Some are facing west around Roan Hill towards Mara Bridge. South of Look Out Hill another group is facing north towards Meta Plains, Central Plains and Possee Plain, which are south of Mara Intrepid Camp.

The herds look healthy because of the palatable grass. They are busy ranting - chasing each other around and the males are trying to keep the females. The males fight using their horns as weapons to win dominancy. The calves are healthy. The migration towards the Mara River is slow due to the rains in the southern part of the reserve - the grass is moist and the natural pools full of water. Hence it’s safer for the wildebeest to drink from the pools than trekking to the crocodile-infested Mara River.

The perils of the crossings are highlighted - in a small way - in the dramatic pictures below. John Kerore Parmasau, one of our Senior guides at Mara Intrepids captured when a hapless zebra was staring death in the face - rump if you may - and lived to bray it!

Blood oozes from a cut where sharp canines from the huge jaws of Nile crocodiles bit
The wildebeest on this bank think twice about crossing as they follow the unfolding drama
Our champ has fought the good fight..
And has a huge scar to show..
Just some torn briefs. Could 've been worse!
Looks like someone up there answers bray-ers.

Big cats sighting Lions The lions are all around the Mara Intrepids Camp. Notch and his son continue to dominate the largest part of the reserve. The Olkiombo Pride and the Marsh Pride are still controlled by the male pride.

Leopards Olive and her two cubs of different ages (Kayoni and the young female cub) are regularly seen between Mara Intrepids Camp and Rekero Camp. Pacha is back with his mother. The four were seen with a warthog kill west of Mara Intrepids Camp.

Big Boy relaxing

Olive also tried to hunt a young giraffe north of Olkiombo airstrip but the mother rescued it. However the foal sustained serious injuries on the neck and throat. Cheetahs

The three brothers moved to Olare Orok Camp. Shingo, the mother of six cubs is east of Mara Intrepids Camp. Two young expectant females are at Bila Shaka and Topi Plain. Saba and her young male cub are around Musiara. A young female cheetah gave birth six kilometres east of Mara Intrepids Camp.

 

Others

The Mara ecosystem is thriving. Food is aplenty, and this is the ideal rutting season for most animals. Game viewing is also good, with a variety of birds and animals easily spotted.

Heritage Hotels (Kenya) manages two luxury camps in the Masai Mara - Mara Explorer and Mara Intrepids - in the confluence of the four game viewing areas of the Masai Mara. The camps are on the banks of the Talek River, with most tents spread along the banks.  
Report by Dixon Chelule, Assistant Head Guide and John Parmasau, Senior Guide, Mara Intrepids Camp. Pictures by Dixon Chelule and John ParmasauHeritage Hotels Ltd, Kenya.

Game Goes On A Drive!

by sales@heritagehotels.co.ke

5 July 2011

 

Guests at Mara Intrepids got more than they had bargained for on a game drive recently. A young cheetah, Shingo, decided to hop on to the jeep - let's just say, the guest were game!
The young leopard was also very obliging for a photo shoot. Pictures courtesy of Edwin Mirara and Dickson Chelule, Mara Intrepids. The video is property of MrSimbaMara