This month saw hot and dusty days with little rain although each day began with gorgeous pastel sunrises. Early morning temperatures averaged 17°C with some mornings being as low as 12°C, midday was a warm 25°C and evenings temperatures were around 23°C. The grasslands are drying out rapidly and have been grazed down with the many wildebeest and zebra that have passed through, mid month there were an estimated 500,000 wildebeest strewn over the Bila Shaka, Musiara and northern Masai conservation areas. The Mara River has been at a steady flow. There was little rainfall with 63.5mm for the month at Little Governors and 72.5mm at Governors Camp, on the 27th there was a good shower of rain of 30mm which brought the water up by two feet.
There have phenomenal river crossings this month!!!
At 6.00pm on the 8th at the main crossing points at paradise an estimated 2,000 Zebra and 500 wildebeest crossed the Mara River towards the Mara triangle. Many zebra and wildebeest that had crossed the sand river then came across the Burrangat and Posse plains; they then crossed via the Talek River towards Musiara and Paradise Plains. There were large numbers of wildebeest in the Bila Shaka and Musiara Plains. Since the first week there have been daily river crossings with large numbers of wildebeest and a few zebra taking the plunge. Crocodile in the river have been active, depending where they cross there is often many wildebeest killed from sheer concentrated numbers congregating into narrow exits, resulting in floating bodies, which is a tragic waste of life.
On the 11th, 15th, 16th, 17th 19th large numbers of Wildebeest crossed at what the guides call mortuary, on the 17th at 11.00am there were an estimated 250 or so animals that were trampled on by one another and floated down. On the 23rd a large crossing of wildebeest at the main crossing point took place at 11.00am with an estimated 3,000-5,000 of them crossing. Large plumes of dust were kicked up as they all suddenly lurched forward in a seething mass.
Many more herds of Wildebeest have recently come down from the conservation areas in the north east and are scattered all over Rhino ridge. The many wildebeest that crossed from mid month onwards are in the ‘Lookout’ area in the south of the Reserve. On the 31st in the morning and afternoon there was a large build up of wildebeest at the main crossing point, they made numerous attempts to cross and the final straw in the afternoon was a vulture flying into alight onto a dead carcass that was in the river, this spooked them and they all retreated back to a few hundred meters of the river. Guides from the Transmara reporting back late in the evening say that there was a small crossing near the Mara bridge of an estimated 500 wildebeest and a few zebra.
Masai Mara Lion Sightings
Marsh Pride – Bibi left her one cub to Siena who had two of her own, later in the month another younger lioness had three cubs. Siena’s three joined up so all six were seen together. On the 15th and 16th Siena was seen mating with Sikio and Bibi at the same time was with Hunter, although now she is spending more time with the lioness and the six cubs again.
The four males are seen throughout Bila Shaka. The other three females including Modomo have been seen between Bila Shaka and Topi plains. Modomo’s lip ulcers seem to have disappeared with only a slight scram to indicate where they were.
Scar and Morani were last seen near the top end east of Bila Shaka. They have been feeding off warthog, zebra and wildebeest. Charm is seen often now on her own and she was last seen on the East side of the Marsh.
Notch and the four males have been in Hammerkop area of Ongata posse which is west of The Talek region; there are many wildebeest here having crossed the Mara river. During hard times of drought or rain when most ungulates disperse these large male lion will opt for larger prey and hippo even large adult males were taken regularly. Notch is suffering from Sarcoptic mange and has lost much hair around his lower stomach region, some hair from his dark mane has also fallen out, he is well over 12 years old now and this mange is relatively common with old male lion.
The Lioness Nyota and her male cub Moja who is 8 months old has been seen between Rhino Ridge and Topi Plains, there are many wildebeest here that have come down from the Masai conservation areas and across the Talek River.
Joy and her 3 male sub adults that are 16 months old are being seen regularly near the windmill area of the Marsh or just within in the conservation area. They have been feeding off wildebeest and warthog piglets. On the 27th in the afternoon they dug out three piglets. Joy herself has been seen mating with Scar. One of the male cubs was scratched up by the four males but is healing well, on the 29th Joy was seen near the west side of the Marsh with only two male cubs.
The Olkiombo lion pride of 12 including their 2 cubs which are 10 months old, 8 females and 2 males which are 2-3 years old, are in the open plains area near Fig tree camp in the riverine woodlands. They have been feeding off wildebeest and zebra.
Masai Mara Cheetah Sightings
Malaika and her one cub that is approximately four months old are still very active; she has been feeding off Thomson Gazelles and their fawns, she is being seen more frequently near Topi plains.
The female cheetah with one male cub who is estimated at 12 months old have moved out form the Mara North conservancy and are being seen at Bila Shaka and Rhino Ridge. On the 25th they had killed a Thomson Gazelle between Rhino and Bila Shaka; they ate about 50% of this kill before being run off by spotted Hyena.
Another female Cheetah with two cubs that are estimated at two months old are frequently being seen in the Paradise and Bila Shaka plains area, again Thomson Gazelles are on the menu. They were harassed by two Jackal a dog and bitch who were baiting them for some time, the female cheetah gave chase and saw off the jackal pair, it is not uncommon to witness Jackal running off cheetah from their kill.
Masai Mara Leopard Sightings
Olive and her one cub that is 12 weeks old have been seen near the Ntiaktiak and Talek river area and also recently in the croton thickets above Rekero camp. She has been seen feeding off Bush Buck and impala.
The male leopard of Paradise Plains has been near the mortuary crossing point on the Mara River this month. On the 22nd in the evening after a large crossing had passed through he was seen being chased by six large male Olive Baboons.
The female leopard on the rocky hill close to the Serena pump house on the Mara River with her one male cub that is approximately 10 months old is being seen regularly. She has been seen feeding of Impala recently, good sightings of her was seen on the 19th, 22nd and 23rd where she frequents a well used Warburgia tree.
The large male Leopard of Paradise can be seen in and around the main crossing points; on the 30th at 10.30am at the main crossing point he was seen crossing the open ground with a young male behind it.