Heritage Hotels Big Cat and Migration Updates

Steak In The Pool, Masai Mara

by sales@heritagehotels.co.ke

26 March 2012

The rains have subsided, giving us clear skies for great sunrises and sunsets, including clear night skies for stargazing. The temperatures have dropped – the morning and evenings are cold with temperatures ranging between 18-19ºC.  Daytime temperatures are 27-28ºC.

The seasonal crossings along Talek, Olare Orok and Intiakitiak rivers are manageable with 4WD vehicles. The rivers are however drying up faster than usual.

The grass is lush and green after the rains. The old golden red oat grass is regenerating and is green, making it more palatable for the grazers like the buffalos, zebras, topis, Thomson gazelles and mixed feeders like the elephants and impalas.


The resident plains game has stayed put where the grass is short and easier to graze.

To reach these short-grass plains one has to drive through tall grass where the elephants and buffalos are. The warthogs prefer to be in their company because they are alerted to danger.

It’s easy to see big herds now especially around the Topi Plains, Paradise Plains, Olkiombo Plains which are all close to the Mara Intrepids Camp. 
The prides are doing well. Some individuals are teaming up with the family prides so as to improve their team work to bring down big prey. About two weeks ago, the Olkiombo Pride killed a buffalo at Lugga ya Njoroge on the way to the Sundowner Tree.

The elands and buffaloes have become easy prey for the lions. This is because they are suffering from the recent outbreak of the foot and mouth disease.

The Olkiombo Pride also killed an eland just east of the private Mara Explorer Camp. This pride has six lionesses and three cubs of three month old.

This is Notch’s territory and he and his boys are the ‘owners’ of the Olkiombo Pride. The boys joined the pride when the females brought down the buffalo. After the kill, the males went to Olkeju Ronkai where the other pride with young cubs is. It is also part of Notch’s pride and territory.

The King's Scepter!
The Olkeju Ronkai Pride now has seven lionesses and eight cubs of different ages.
The Ridge Pride is opposite the Foot Bridge on Posse Plains with their seven cubs of different ages that are looking healthy and well fed.

The Paradise Pride has been taken over by three new mature males. The one with a black mane is said to have come from Ngiro-Aare in the Mara Triangle. The ‘new’ lions are looking ready for any challenge and are already mating with the Paradise lionesses.
The Marsh Pride has left the marsh and is now at Bila Shaka, feasting on an elephant carcass. Their males are mating with the rest of the pride’s females on Topi Plains.  
Leopard’s sightings have been very good, with Olive and her two young cubs at the Big Rock between Mara Intrepids Camp and Rekero Crossing. 


At Shemorta, which is by the pump house along the Mara River there are five leopards - a female and two cubs and a young female mating within the same territory. At Paradise Plains, another female leopard with two cubs of seven months, was seen with a male Thomson gazelle on the Leopard Tree.
A female cheetah east of Mara Intrepids Camp has two female cubs of six month old. This area is full of gazelles and the cheetahs have zero competition from their competitors.   
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 and pictures by Paul Kirui & Guides, Mara Explorer & Mara Intrepids Camp ©Heritage Hotels Ltd, Kenya.http://www.heritage-eastafrica.com/

Time For Rebirth In The Mara

by sales@heritagehotels.co.ke

13 March 2012

With the onset of the long rains, temperatures in the Masai Mara Reserve are dropping to a bearable average of 27ºC at day time, and lows of 18ºc in the early mornings. This weather forms spectacular backdrops for early morning and late afternoon photography; cloudy orange at dawn and heavy grey skies in the afternoon. 

The birds have started preparing their nest ready for the breeding season. Some trees are starting to flower and attracting a variety of butterflies.


Resident wildebeests and zebras
The resident wildebeest and zebra of the Aitong and Loita plains have started going back to their respective calving grounds, leaving the resident topis and zebras where there is short grass like at he Topi and Paradise Plains, Ntiakitiak and Olare-Orok rivers and around Olkiombo. The topis herds are mixed with Thomson’s gazelle and zebras.
Big Cats

There are lions all around the place. Notch was spotted with a cow killed as the zebra and wildebeest are leaving. The domestic cattle belonging to the Maasai is easily available prey but the hunt is dangerous for the Maasai could attack the lions trying to protect their livestock. At the moment, the lions look hungry and skinny and their cubs are poorly fed, especially the Olkiombo Pride.
The Notch coalition has been patrolling the boarders of their territories. They are unaware that the nomadic male lions have invaded the central part of their territories.
Three young males who are not part of the Olare Orok Pride, are now sharing the territory with Notch’s group. Joy’s two sons from the Marsh Pride are yet to decide whether to move further or stay and wait to challenge the sitting males. At the moment Notch and his boys are busy mating with the Olkiombo females at Ntiakitiak Crossing.
The Olkeju-Ronkai Pride looks well fed and healthy with its nine cubs of different ages. Notch is with them most of the time making sure he passes on his genes. The Paradise Pride has crossed over to Paradise Plains from the Mara Triangle looking fine with new males who are not from Notch coalition. The four males who took over the Marsh Pride are mating with the lionesses at Bila Shaka.
The Ridge Pride is monitoring the crossings along the Talek River hoping for some animals to cross over. Their two males who have taken over a section of the Ridge Pride are currently at the Topi Plains. These two males are full-grown and strong enough to withstand any challenges but not the Notch coalition.
Leopards have been giving good sightings around and far west of the Mara Intrepids Camp. The Ridge male who is the father of Olive’s cubs is further down the ridge. Olive has yet to introduce him to the two-and-a-half months old cubs.
One female with two cubs of four month is at Chemorta by the pump house. She’s being watched by a very shy male from a distance.
A mother cheetah of two young female cubs aged six months is at the Fig Tree murram site. A young male is not far from them. The mother tried to hunt hares but all in vain.
The four young cheetah cubs – the three males and one female believed to have come from Naboisho conservancy - are at Topi Plain by the ridge hunting as a team. 

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 and pictures by Paul Kirui & Guides, Mara Explorer & Mara Intrepids Camp ©Heritage Hotels Ltd, Kenya.http://www.heritage-eastafrica.com/

NIght Out With The Genet Cat In Tsavo

by sales@heritagehotels.co.ke

12 March 2012

There's something special about a night game drive. We started out at  7.15 pm. I had my massive light and beamed it from right to left and back again through the dark night.

The guests were standing in the safari cruiser, smiling and eager to see the wild animals. At the air strip there were lots of Impalas. The male was chasing the females, trying to herd them together. We continued and came across two zebras and two buffaloes in the distance. Returning to the lodge after seeing more plains game, we saw the hippos along the river, grazing.
But it was the genet that impressed the guests most. It looked like it had hunted a mouse. It stood still for a minute before dashing into the grass. The guests were really happy because it was the fast time to see the genet.
Fun facts:
  • Genets are related to cats, civets, linsangs, fossa and mongooses. 
  • They are normally nocturnal but can be seen during the day, especially in wet seasons.
  • Known to be arboreal but hunt on the ground as well.
  • Omnivorous, feeding on small animals (rodents, bats), birds, birds' eggs, frogs, millepedes and some plants/fruits.
  • Have semi-retractable claws for climbing and holding prey.
  • Mostly solitary except during courtship or when a female is nursing young ones. Females may have up to 2 litters a year, with two to four kittens born.
  • Lifespan of about 8 years, with maturity at about 2 years.
  • Mostly found in Africa. 
  • They can squeeze their bodies whenever their heads fit!
  • Genets will arch their back, much like a cat when in distress! They purr, hiss, spit and meow as well.

Heritage Hotels (Kenya) manages a luxury camp, Voyager Ziwani Camp, on the western edge of Tsavo West National Park. Located on a private sanctuary on the  of Tsavo West National Park. It is 257 kilometres from Nairobi via the Nairobi - Emali – Loitokitok – Njukini route, or 273 kilometres from Mombasa via the Voi – Taveta route. The camp has a private airstrip where private charter can be arranged. The camp has 25 tents and borders the Sante River, where plenty of wildlife coming for a drink can be seen from the tent's verandah.  Report and pictures by Stephen Lekatoo, Resident Naturalist at Voyager Ziwani 

©Heritage Hotels Ltd, Kenya.http://www.heritage-eastafrica.com/