First animal sightings in Mara 2017

Very hot during the day with clear skies.
Chilly in the early mornings and at night.
Sunrise: 6:50am
Sunset: 6:55pm
As usual both are spectacular and best time for photography.
180c morning
300c at midday
270c after sunset
Early morning and late evening game drives have been spectacular with lots of plains game concentrated by the rivers, especially the Talek and Olare Orok. These rivers still have some pools of water though they are stagnant.
We have some incredibly large herds of buffalo including Maasai giraffes with calves near Mara Intrepids close to Olare Orok River where there is some grass.
Elephants are scarce during this dry season. They have taken to breaking trees in the forest to forage on the leaves and branches. A few herds can be seen along the rivers where the trees are lush and green.
The wildebeest and zebra from Loita hills are in plenty especially around the Topi plains and it looks like a mini migration happening. It seems like the wildebeest and zebra are not migrating back to the Loita plains because of people settling on their migration routes, and erecting wire fences. This for the predators is a blessing because it means more food for them.
The wildebeest are calving and we expect it to peak in February. It’s unusual for the wildebeest to give birth in the Mara. Historically they give birth in the Loita plains and in the Serengeti.
Other herbivores are in plenty - topis, Thomson gazelles, impalas, Grants gazelles, elands and others – but it’s a lean time for them because of the dry season.
Enkuyanai Pride
A pride of 18 lions with Romeo2 as the dominant male. However since his brother Mohican was killed in a territorial fight late last year, Romeo2 has been going through tough times bullied by two dominant males -Olbarnoti and Oloolpapit - from the Olare Orok Conservancy.  They killed Mohican and are still trying to take over the pride.
On New Year’s eve, we watched Romeo2 and his pride being chased for two hours by these two.
Romeo2 is still in charge of the pride but it seems like his fate hangs in balance as long as Olbarnoti and Oloolpapit are around.
Olkeju Rongai Pride
This pride has also had a bad start to the year as there are four nomadic males from Sand River. The four had a serious fight with Long Face the dominant male and Napejo the eldest female in the pride.  A young female was killed and serious wounds inflicted on Napejo and Long Face. The pair was treated by vets.
 The nomads meantime are around Talek River at the Possee Plains. They chased the females and their cubs to Olmisigiyioi south towards the Serengeti border. Long Face is very frail and was last seen along the Talek River.
The Ridge Pride
Doing very well with eight cubs.  Now that the Loita plains herds are at Topi plains - which is the pride’s territory - they have been hunting every day with multiple kills on some days.
  Blacky and Lipstick the dominant males in the pride are in great shape and have of late been mating. The three young males from the previous litter have been pushed out of the pride. They are now not allowed to share food with the rest of the pride. These are signs that the three are no longer tolerated in the pride.
The Paradise Pride
This pride has six cubs and was seen feasting on a dead hippo. The four musketeers from the pride disappeared for a while and reports were that they had crossed over to the Mara Triangle. They are now back home and were seen sharing a dead hippo with the pride at Chemarta.
Kaboso the female gave birth to two cubs at the beginning of the year. They are active and seen almost every day. Kaboso has a new kill every other day and the cubs have really grown. The two cubs from the previous litter are also doing well but have split from the female cub around the first crossing at Double Cross. The male cub is around Chumvi Chumvi.
Bahati has been seen near Mara Intrepids and Explorer. She seems to be suckling but has not brought out the cubs.
The male cub from the previous litter is around Rekero.
Lorien is at Olkeju Ronkai actively hunting.
Malaika is the only cheetah around the Camp and seen every day with her two cubs. She has of late been at Rhino Ridge making kills almost every day because the cubs are growing and need to be fed.
Malkia, Malaika’s cub from the previous litter is also around the Rhino Ridge and Topi Plains trying to hunt but not with much success.
There is alone male around wearing a radio collar. We think he is from the Olkinyei Conservancy.  Article and Pictures By Raphael Koikai, Senior driver guide