Heritage Hotels Big Cat and Migration Updates

Holiday Season - Maasai Mara

by sales@heritagehotels.co.ke

5 December 2012


The weather is great after the recent short rains. It’s clear in the mornings and cool in the afternoons with rain on the peripheries of the Mara.
The grass is green and fresh after the annual world-famous wildebeest migration. The old grass was grazed upon by the migrating wildebeest and zebras from the neighbouring Serengeti in Tanzania.
The lactating herbivorous females are well-fed on the fresh grass and are able to produce a lot of milk for their young ones.  In this season of plenty, the grasslands are dotted with wild flowers in bloom.




The Domestic Migration of Wildebeest and Zebras

The herds of wildebeest and zebras from the Loita Plains (east of the Mara Reserve) form the domestic migration. They have not returned to their calving grounds because there has been no rain in the area.
Therefore we are still enjoying big herds around the Olkiombo Plains. This means that predators like the big cats are in close range of the Mara Intrepids and Mara Explorer camps and our guests are treated to good sightings of the cheetah, leopards and lions.
There is an abundance of other plains game. The elephants have also come out of the bushes after the migrating wildebeest and zebra cropped down the tall grass. The elephants are now gorging themselves on the new shoots.


Lion sightings are good around Olkiombo Plains.
All the prides are coming together to strengthen their bonding. Notch and his sons are with the Olkiombo Pride.  The lioness in the pride has two cubs aged three months. One of the cubs has a deformed foreleg but it manages to move around.
The Ridge Pride has also returned to its residential place after hanging around for a month by the Olkiombo airstrip and Notch and his boys refusing to join the pride. However a young male joined the pride from somewhere and was seen mating with the Ridge female on recently. We do not know this male and will keep tabs on him.
The Paradise Pride is doing well with three males who took over from the Notch group without a fight.
Olive mated with the Ridge male between Olare Orok and the Rhino Ridge three weeks ago. We are expecting the new cubs by the end of February 2013.
Bahati mated one and half months ago near the Fig Tree rock by the junction of Talek and Olare Orok, west of the Mara Intrepids Camp. The cubs are due by January 2013.
Olive and Bahati are still sharing the same territory but Bahati is spending a lot of time west of Mara Intrepids Camp. Olive is still with Saba who is ten months old, patrolling her territory around Smelly Crossing at Olare Orok.
Cheetah sightings are also good around the Olkiombo Plains.
Malaika is with her cub aged nearly eight months. They are eight kilometers south of Mara Intrepids Camp on the Central Plain where the grass was burned. It now attracts a large population of gazelles browsing on the new shoots.
Alama with her two cubs aged seven months is east of Mara Intrepids Camp between Olare Orok Conservancy and Maasai Mara National Reserve.  
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 John Parmasau &  Dixon "DC" Chelule, Mara Explorer & Mara Intrepids Camp ©Heritage Hotels Ltd, Kenya.http://www.heritage-eastafrica.com/

Egyptian Geese Compete For Nesting Ground

by sales@heritagehotels.co.ke

5 December 2012

The flock of Egyptian geese at the Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort has been in residence on Caroline Island on the fairway for over five years. For the first time, the flock has successfully hatched nine goslings much to everyone’s delight.

However one of the goslings was killed by the competitors (other geese) who wanted to use the same area for nesting. Eventually the territorial parents managed to win the fight and are raising their goslings on the island and by the water dam.

The Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus) is a large, distinctive, pale-colored water bird which is easily recognized by the conspicuous dark chocolate-brown patch around its eye. The head and neck are pale buff, and there is another dark brown patch around the base of the beak, usually joined to the eye patch by a narrow line.

Picture courtesy Sarah Joos

The Egyptian goose has buff-colored under parts, which become paler on the flanks and belly, and a variable but distinctive chocolate-brown patch on the lower breast. The upper parts usually vary from reddish- to grey-brown, with a black back, rump and tail, while the crown and back of the neck may show dark mottling, sometimes appearing reddish-brown. There is a narrow, dark reddish-brown collar around the base of the long neck. The ends of the wings are black and bear an iridescent green, which is separated from the contrasting white forewings by a narrow black line. The Egyptian goose has pinkish legs and feet, which become redder in the breeding season. The eyes are orange and the beak is pink, with a black tip, black nostrils and black edges.

Picture courtesy Sarah Joos

The female Egyptian goose resembles the male, but is smaller and often has darker markings on the beak. The sexes can also be distinguished by their calls - the male gives a strong but hoarse hissing sound while the female has a harsh, trumpeting quack. Juvenile Egyptian geese are duller in color, with a grey tinge on the forewings, a darker crown and neck, and a yellowish beak and legs. Juveniles also lack the distinctive dark eye and breast patches of the adult.

Report by Daniel Kilonzo, Resident Naturalist at Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort. Pictures by Sarah Joos via Stock.Xchng.

Heritage Hotels (Kenya) manages The Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf resort in Naivasha, just an hour an a half's drive from Nairobi. The lodge is famous for one the longest holes in Kenya - the par 5 -  17th ‘signature’ at 598 metres (654 yards)!
 ©Heritage Hotels Ltd, Kenya.

Eastern Colobus Monkey, Impala & Warthogs At The Lodge

by sales@heritagehotels.co.ke

5 December 2012

For the first time, a male colobus monkey (Colobus abyssinicus) was seen at the Great Rift Valley Lodge. This is seen as a good sign, for these shy creatures are rare and very selective feeders. Being arboreal, they spend their time in tree tops and feed on leaves.

A lone male was seen at the lodge, feeding on the ipomoea flowers which are now common around the tennis courts and the surrounding bushes.
We hope that he will be joined by the rest of the troop. They are common around Lake Naivasha and the Crater Lake which are seven and eighteen kilometers away respectively.



Fact File
The name “colobus” is derived from the Greek word for “mutilated,” because unlike other monkeys, colobus monkeys do not have thumbs. Their beautiful black fur strongly contrasts with the long white mantle, whiskers and beard around the face and the bushy white tail. The Eastern black-and-white is distinguished by a U-shaped cape of white hair running from the shoulders to lower back, whereas the Angolan black-and-white has white hairs flaring out only at the shoulders.

There are three types of colobus monkeys found in Kenya. The Angolan colobus monkey is found at the coastal forests, the Guereza colobus in inland high-country areas. The Red colobus monkeys, the rarest are found in the forests of the Tana Delta.

The colobus is arboreal and only rarely descends to the ground. It uses branches as trampolines to leap up to 50 feet across. Their mantle hair and tails are believed to act as a parachute during these long leaps.
Colobus monkeys live in troops of about five to 10 animals—a dominant male, several females and young. Each troop has its own territory which is well defined and defended from other troops. Adult troop members, especially males, make croaking roars that can be heard resonating throughout the forest.
Fighting over mates rarely occurs. There is no distinct breeding season although most mating probably occurs during rainy season. Because a female suckles her infant for over a year, an average of 20 months passes before she gives birth again. Other troop members often handle very young infants. In the first month when the infant still has a pink face, it may be handled three to five times an hour in resting groups. Infant mortality is high even though the young are carefully tended.

The newborn colobus monkey is covered with white fur, and at about 1 month gradually begins to change color, finally gaining the black and white adult coloration at about 3 months. The infant monkey is carried on the mother's abdomen, where it clings to her fur. As it matures it spends a lot of time playing with its mother and certain other adults and at about 7 months begins playing with other juveniles. The games they play exercise their bodies, and as they get older, these develop into wrestling matches and mock displays.

Colobus monkeys are strictly leaf-eaters and spend most of their time in treetops, preferring to eat the tender young leaves found there. Their complex stomachs enable them to digest mature or toxic foliage that other monkeys cannot.

Predators and Threats
At one time the colobus was hunted excessively for its beautiful fur, leading to its extermination in some areas. Its skin has been used to make costumes, hats and capes. Today, the greatest threat to it is the loss of habitat as forests are cut down.

Did You Know?
  • The name colobus derives from a word meaning "mutilated one" because unlike other monkeys they do not have thumbs.
  • The monkeys communicate with a song-like call, a warning call and a mating call. Local tradition says they are good weather forecasters because they become silent when bad weather is coming. 

 Resident Impala and Warthogs


The new bush dinner area is called Volans after the flying fish.  It is named after a constellation.  It can be seen from the Lodge during the star gazing sessions but its visibility depends on the time of the year.
In addition, there are now twelve resident impalas and three warthogs living on the grounds of the Lodge, happy with all the grass they have around them to feed on.
A nature walk at the lodge has become one of the most interesting activities.

Report by Daniel Kilonzo, Resident Naturalist at Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort. Pictures, File.

Heritage Hotels (Kenya) manages The Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf resort in Naivasha, just an hour an a half's drive from Nairobi. The lodge is famous for one the longest holes in Kenya - the par 5 -  17th ‘signature’ at 598 metres (654 yards)!
 ©Heritage Hotels Ltd, Kenya.