28 June 2006
The news from the frontline is positive: the world’s greatest game show is now officially underway. Over the past two weeks, herds of zebra have been amassing in the northern Mara, particularly around Musiara Marsh and south to Ntiakitiak River, where almost 10,000 zebras and wildebeest are now grazing. Although observations suggest these are mostly local migrants from the Loita Plains, their presence in such numbers undoubtedly portends the imminent arrival of the main migration from the Serengeti.
In the past few days, we have been witnessing mini-crossings at the main crossing site on the Mara River. For first timers in the Mara, this has been thrilling enough ”“ but just wait and watch this space, as the action really hots up over the coming two or three weeks!
It has been an unusual year for the world’s largest wildebeest herds, some of which did not depart from the Mara until March ”“ at least 4-5 months later than normal. The delay was at least partly attributable to last year’s prolonged drought. However, this year we are back on track, following the generous rains of April-May, which have brought the Mara’s nutritious oat-grass back to its full glory. After a long lean season, the reserve’s Big Cats and other predators are also finally waking up to a season of plenty.
Already, the giant crocodiles in the Mara River have been treated to a few early-season feasts ”“ treating Intrepids and Explorer guests to a few of Nature’s rawest spectacles. Likewise, our three lion prides have all been involved in successful hunts over recent days ”“ shifting from their regular low-season fare of warthogs and small antelopes to some more substantial meals. Hyenas are also changing their feeding patterns, moving from their regular low-season scavenging to some particularly cunning wildebeest and zebra hunts.
We are confident that the world’s greatest wilderness is once again poised on the verge of another incredible migration season. And we would like to welcome you to witness it with the world’s greatest safari hosts!27-06-06%20Map%201.jpg
20 June 2006
The month of May was generally a quiet one in terms of game-viewing. Following the bountiful rains in April, the grass grew tall, forcing most animals to move to other areas to look for nutritious shoots and to avoid the predators. Lion sightings would have been very poor were it not for the Ridge Pride, the Mara’s largest, which decided to stay in the area and treat us to regular sightings. Although a couple of nomadic males tried to inch their way into the pride’s territory, they had no chance, being seen off quickly and forcefully by the two dominant males. The Shonko Pride, meanwhile, has moved from Olkeju Ronkai to Maji ya Eland in search of easier prey, while the Sekenani Pride are still being seen by our guests at Siana Springs, just to the west of Sekenani Gate.
Leopard sightings have been very scanty over the past month. The long grass along the Talek River and on the plains has made it quite difficult to spot our favourite cats, although we still hear the trademark roars of Bella at night. Her young male cub was seen quite a few times to the west of Intrepids/Explorer, where he seems to have established himself along the river. Meanwhile, our Siana guests continue to enjoy the sighting of a female leopard with a cub in the Kissinger area, where the long grass often forces her to seek refuge ”“ and a clearer vantage point ”“ in the higher trees.
By contrast, cheetah sightings were relatively good during May, with several individuals spotted regularly. One female with a single cub was seen many times near the Hippo Pool along the Mara River, although she seems to have moved to a new location in the past few days.
The first signs of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacle are now upon us, with a steady trickle of zebras into the north and east of the main reserve. Large zebra herds, mainly residents from the Loita Plains, have started to gather around Musiara, Milima Tatu and the Lookout area ”“ a sure sign that the southern migration will soon be with us. Over the past few days, zebras that have crossed the Olorukoti and Paradise plains have begun to ford the Mara River into the Mara Triangle. This “trial run” has provided an early treat for Intrepids and Explorer guests, who normally do not expect river crossings until the migration season begins in earnest in early July.
Please watch this space for the Maasai Mara’s most comprehensive and informed Migration Update, which will be sending you weekly reports from the end of JuneCat%27s%20Cradle%20Map%207-06.jpg
8 May 2006
The arrival of the long rains early last month brought considerable relief ”“ not only to the Mara’s game but also to its human residents, who had been deeply saddened by the growing number of starving and emaciated animals around the reserve. In a few short weeks, the grass has grown tall and, as is usually the case at this time of year, most animals have moved to areas where the grass is shorter. This is mainly to avoid predation, but also to look for more nutritious shoots. However, this year the number of animals around the Mara reserve is surprisingly high.
Lion sightings have been very good this past month, with the Ridge Pride seen by our guests nearly every day. All the 10 sub-adults ”“ eight females and two males ”“ are still roaming in their ‘empire’, usually around the Maternity area south of Rhino Ridge. Over the past month, they have also expanded their territory east of Rhino Ridge and north and south of Mara Intrepids/Explorer. The Olkiombo Pride can still be seen along the Talek River, with the two males from the Ridge Pride now firmly ensconced in their pride. Although there are a couple of nomadic males also trying to inch their way into this territory, they have no chance as the two dominant males are at their prime and can see off the intruders with ease. The Shonko Pride, meanwhile, has settled around Maji ya Eland, just southwest of Mara Intrepids, where they are being spotted daily. The Paradise Pride has also become more settled around the main wildebeest crossing along the Mara River, which is currently enjoying a high concentration of game. The Sekenani Pride, better known to guests at Siana Springs, can still be seen just to the west of Sekenani Gate.
Leopard sightings improved towards the end of last month, with regular sightings of Bella along the Mtamaiyu Stream, where she had a kill last week. The young male was only seen a few times last month. There is also another female with two cubs at the Maji ya Fisi drainage, which also tolerate vehicles in much the same relaxed manner as Bella. Hopefully she will raise these cubs successfully so that we will have more photogenic cats in the Mara. Our Siana guests, meanwhile, continue to enjoy the sighting of a female leopard with a cub in the Kissinger area, where the long grass often drives her to adopt the classic leopard pose in higher tree branches.
Kike, our greater spotted star, gave us several fantastic ‘shows’ last month. While most other cheetahs were wandering unpredictably, Kike has made Rhino Ridge her permanent home, however much game there might be in the area. For the past two weeks, she has been spotted many times in the vicinity of the Mara Intrepids airstrip. The three male cheetahs were also seen around Intrepids early last month, but have now moved south to the Hammerkop area, where they are being regularly spotted by Siana’s guests.Cat%27s%20Cradle%20Map%206-06.jpg