News from the Maasai Mara, Kenya Tuesday 11th October 3005

After one of the longest migrations on record, there are still some large wildebeest herds on the central and western Mara plains ”“ with patchier herds towards the north of the reserve. The last two weeks have been dry and hot, forcing the animals to converge at the larger watering holes or streams to drink during the day. The higher concentration of wildebeest on the central plains is largely due to the availability of grass; unlike other areas, these plains were not burned during the dry season, thus sparing the grass for the hungry herbivores. The red oat grass that dominates the central plains also regenerates faster the more it is fed upon ”“ definitely a beneficial relationship for all species!

Recent days have been quiet on the Mara River, with only a handful of animals crossing in both directions at the Lookout Hill and Paradise crossing points. Predation by crocodiles has also gone down, after the feeding frenzy that followed the recent mass drowning of wildebeest (fuelled by rising water levels after unexpected rains at the source of the river), which had given the crocs an easy meal. On dry land, the predators have been more fortunate, with the mass birthing of topi, hartebeest, impala and gazelles offering the Big Cats plenty of easy prey. The cheetahs have been particularly busy, with their habit of catching gazelle fawns and bringing them to their cubs to train them how to hunt.

The continuing presence of the migration will depend completely on the arrival ”“ or failure ”“ of the short rains, which are usually due in the next two weeks. If the rains come, more grass will grow and the animals will stay. If they don’t, the animals will probably move south in their constant search for fresh pasture.

Predator News
All of the lion prides in the Intrepids and Explorer game-viewing territories have been busy in their home ranges. In the past week, our guests have seen all three prides hunting, either for wildebeest, zebra or warthogs. A lioness from the Ridge pride gave us our sighting of the week, coming out in both the morning and the late afternoon to play with her four young cubs just 1km from Mara Explorer. Leopard sightings have also been excellent, with Bella providing a show de force for some Explorer guests when a herd of wildebeest came looking for shade beneath a tree in which she was resting ”“ only for her to drop out of the tree straight onto a wildebeest calf. One guest who has visited us 30 times said this was the highlight of all his safari experiences to date!