Sunday, June 14, 2009

MASAI MARA JUNE UPDATE

Weather:
We have just come to the end of the rains in the Mara and the plains have now transformed into a sea of grass. The resident animals, mainly herbivores are congregated into groups on the sweet veldts. The grass in these areas is short and highly palatable as opposed to the long and overgrown grass on most of the plains in the reserve. It only the larger animals i.e. Elephants, giraffes, Buffaloes that roam the reserve freely and are not affected by the tall grass.

The rains that pounded the Mara late May and early this month was unusual in that we normally do not get any rain at this time of the year. Our main rain season is mid-March through April. The situation now is back to normal. With the rains over, though still wet in marshes and depressions.

The weather is now as usual, with clear skies most of the days with only a few cloudy days with sporadic drizzle in isolated areas. Earlier in the month, the afternoon skies were characterised by heavy thunderstorms that sometimes spread into the nights.
As July approaches, we can already feel the temperature change. The last few days have been cold in the mornings with temperatures reading 13ºC. But this changes within the first 1-2 hours after sunrise and would reach 25-28ºC by noon.

Wildlife:
All the lion prides in our game viewing territory are still around. However, they have been highly mobile the last few weeks, with some prides splitting up into small groups. This is due to the scarcity of food. With most of the animals concentrated only in certain areas, they find it difficult to hunt as these areas could be in other lions’ territory and will be chased back if they try to hunt in these places. Even then, the lions in the areas where the animals are currently found are not having it easy, since these animals stays in close group forming an ‘’anti predator device’’ by coming together so they have more eyes to watch. This minimises the chances of the predators getting close. It is a very difficult time for our lions. Seeing lions on termite mounts or up in trees, is not unusual at the moment, as they try to get vantage point.

Olkeju-Rongai pride patrols the area between Talek and Olkeju-Rongai rivers. The place has a small concentration of game and this is what they are hunting occasionally. To the north of the Talek river, the Olkiombo pride now rules the all that section upto Ntiakitiak river. Here, there is also a small concentration of game and the cats have been making successful hunts regularly.
The ridge pride roams between the Talek, Olare-Orok, the Mara river and Topi plains just above Rhino ridge. This pride however, has split up and can now be found in 3 groups. Though occasionally comes together. There is a particular female with two sub adult cubs that has stayed alone fro a long time and can be found to the west of the Talek Olare-Orok Rivers.
Cheetahs are seen quite regularly. Shakira, the start in the BBC’s Big Cat Live program, has settled on Topi plains for the last couple of weeks. Though would occasionally head north-west upto Bila Shaka stream. The area in between the two places is currently teeming with game, and most of these are gazelles which forms her main prey. Her cubs are doing very well.
There is another cheetah with two very small cubs just to the east of Mara Explorer. We discovered her on 13/6/09 and we believe she had just moved her cubs out for the first time. The tall grass is really making her uneasy as the cubs keeps getting lost and she has to call constantly. It is a very difficult task for her brining up the cubs at this time when visibility is poor and prey scarce. We hope she will be able to rear these cubs successfully. We get to see other cheetahs too at this time. Sometimes up in tree, which is quite unusual

Olive the leopard, showed up about a week ago after disappearing for a month. She has not cubs yet as was thought by some guides. She was reported mating with Big boy across the foot bridge at Mara Intrepids on 10/6/09. Her daughter Binti was seen regularly along the Talek River just west of Mara Intrepids. Kali has been a frequent visitor in our camp for the last one month, coming for the resident Dik Diks. While Big Boy has been patrolling the river just across from Mara Intrepids, and has been heard roaring or seen by guests from their tents.
We have lost Ayah for sometime now and she is believed to be in the lower Talek River near its junction with the Mara.

5 comments:

dianelionlover said...

Paul:

Thank you for such a lovely update and the photo's were amazing. Any news yet of the Marsh pride and Claude?

cougarCat said...

Thank you Paul... I always look forward to reading your Mara Wildlife updates. Do you know whether the BBC film crew has arrived yet to film the BIG CAT Live (Big Cat Diary in the USA)? I'm anxious to hear if there has been any news on Tamu the Lioness and Chui the leopard. Be safe and keep up the fabulous work!

Paul Kirui said...

The marsh pride have for somtimes now settled at Bila shaka, the little stream to the eats of Musiara airstrip. This area currently is on the border of the tall grass towards the main marsh and hte short grass plains now teeeming with game to the east. I believ they will hang aroung here till the arrival of the wildebeests in a few weeks. I have no idea yet as to when this year's filming of the Big Cats will commence. I will know soon since i am usually a tracker for their leopard team. We have lost the previous main characters i.e. Tamu the lioness and Chui the male leopard. But we are on their tracks and will keep you posted.

cougarCat said...

Thank you, Paul, for the continued updates. I didn't realize you were a tracker for the Big Cat film crew. I hope you will be able to one day show us a current picture of Chui if he is ever found again. Leopards are FASCINATIONG!

By the way, do you know how old Chui and Notch are these days? It's hard to believe that Notch is still around, but it is terrific news. How is he able to hunt successfuly or is he just scavaging like a hyena does? What a great cat he must be! Thanks again!!

Paul Kirui said...

Not sure of Notch's exact age, but for chui he was born between mid-June and early July 2006. I saw him for the first time on 11th July 2006. This was before i introduced the Big Cat team to them.