23 February 2012
The long rains from October 2011 to January this year has much of the Mara covered in tall grass, which has forced the plains game to look for the tender shorter grass.
The rains stopped a month ago and the Mara is dry with midday temperatures soaring to 30 degrees Celsius. Due to the dry heat and thirst, most animals converge at the water holes along the streams and rivers. The dust in the air has created a filter that makes the sunrise and sunset very spectacular. Nonetheless there’s still a lot of game around.
Migration of The Resident Wildebeest and Zebra
The wildebeest and zebra from Aitong have flooded the Topi Plains because it’s green. The herds are passing through the Marsh and the Mara North West conservancy, moving towards the eastern part of the Rhino Ridge. They are with the young foals as this is the calving season. However their young are preyed upon by hyenas and lions at Bila Shaka and Topi Plains.
To the south of the Mara Intrepid Camp, there are a lot of topi and gazelle herds grazing on the short, sweet grass south of the Talek River.
THE BIG CATS
Lion sightings are good with many interesting happenings.
Notch and his pride are trying to dominate the whole of the eastern part of the Mara reserve. Cheza, Sala and Junior of the former Olkiombo pride took over the Maji ya Fisi territory.
Junior unfortunately was killed by the three nomads who cornered him while Cheza and Sala were patrolling their previous territory and checking on the females who did not follow them to the Maji ya Fisi territory.
A week ago Notch and his pride of five male lions invaded the territory and killed seven cubs aged two and three months after overpowering the two males who were in charge of the pride and territory. The two males fled south and their destination is unknown.
The five males are now in command of the five different prides in the eastern part of the Mara – that is the Olkiombo pride, the Olkeju Ronkai south of Mara intrepid camp, the Ridge pride west of Mara Intrepid Camp, the Paradise pride west of Mara Intrepid Camp and the Maji ya Fisi pride east of Mara Intrepid Camp.
The Olkiombo females are not stable because the males are not spending time with them. They have been trying to mate for the last five months after their cubs were eaten by Notch’s pride. The Ridge pride and the Olkeju Ronkai pride seem to be doing well for the male are spending a lot of time with the females.
Around our game viewing area, leopard sightings are always good. Olive, our famous leopard has brought the cubs out of cover to the Olare Orok Smelly Crossing. Bahati is still together with its mother feeding with her whenever she makes a kill.
Cheetah sightings are getting better compared to the previous weeks. At the Olkiombo Plains, we have a young female cheetah that loves to climbs vehicles. There’s another female with a cub of seven months in the same area east Mara Intrepid Camp about four kilometers from the camp.
Honey’s two boys are at Paradise Plain south of the Marsh area.
1 February 2012
On Boxing Day, l joined four couples staying at the lodge for a game drive in Tsavo West. We did the usual - the Shetani lava flow, Mzima springs followed by a picnic lunch at the awesome Poachers Lookout that gives a 360-degree view of the enormous terrain.
The game drive was exciting for the guests with towers of giraffes, herds of zebras, long-necked gerenuks standing on their hind legs to browse on the taller shrubs, elephants and many other herbivores of the plains.
The guests were – as for those who visit the Tsavo for the first time – excited to see all this but Sam (one of the guests) wanted to see a lion, since he had never seen one in the wild. He was getting a little downcast because it was nearing the end of the game drive and we were on our way back to Voyager Ziwani.
It began to rain as we crossed Kitani River – and then we saw what Sam had been wishing for all along - a lion - not far from us. The excited group clicked away delighted at the sighting and we drove off.
But that wasn’t all. Two kilometers from the lodge, we were in for another surprise. This time – the most elusive cat of all – the leopard. Perfect view and tons of pictures later, we arrived elated at the lodge.
It was the perfect end to a game drive and we hope to have more exciting luck in 2012.
Heritage Hotels (Kenya) manages one luxury camp on the western edge of Tsavo West National Park - Voyager Ziwani Tsavo - in Gicheha Ranch. The camp commands a spectacular of Mawenzi peak of the world highest free-standing mountain, Kilimanjaro. Some of the 25 tents are spread along the banks of Sante Dam where bloats of hippos play all day and loads of plains game and birds come for a drink.