Friday, July 24, 2009
Change in the migration pattern
The migration took a dramatic change at the end of the past week. All the excitement at the crossing died out when most of the herds from the eastern side of the Mara River crossed west. Once on the Mara triangle (The western side of the park) most herds headed south into northern Serengeti. This was a quick exit, since they were expected to stay in the Mara till November as is always the case. Our observation shows that the change in the rain pattern and the burning of the grass in northern Serengeti played a role in this change of events. Driving along the border shows that the herds have settled on the Serengeti side on recently burnt plains. There is usually a massive burning of the grass in July in Northern Serengeti. When the short rains come in August, these plains flourish with lush nutritious grass thereby attracting many herbivores including the migrating herds.
Most of the central Mara is now almost empty except for a high concentration of an isolated herd to the north around between Rhino ridge and Musiara Marsh and to the south just below look out hill. All is not lost because the movement of the herds inside Serengeti shows they are bound for the Mara again. Most of them once inside the Serengeti are heading east along the burn grounds, feeding as they move and entering the Mara again just south of lookout hill.
There have been sporadic crossings below lookout hill and at paradise crossing point. These crossings however, are not as dramatic as it gets sometimes, since the water is very low in the river and the animals crosses easily. This can be attributed to the failure of the short rains at this time.
From experience, as was the case in 1998 and 2005, when wildebeests disappeared only to return shortly, the herds will be on their way into the Mara again. However the change in the rain patterns and the confusion brought by sporadic burning of the grass are expected to cause some changes in the concentration and duration of stay in the Mara.
All the lion prides in our game viewing areas can be seen and have been giving our guests good sightings including daylight hunts. There are six prides of lions within our game viewing reach from Mara Intrepids/Explorer. These are; lookout pride, Olkeju-Rongai pride, Ridge pride, Paradise pride, Marsh pride and Olkiombo pride. With all these prides in our game viewing zone, you can never have better lion sightings.
Leopards’ sightings have been good the past week. There was however an unfortunate incident where a female leopard was killed by another due to territorial fights south of the Talek river.
Cheetah sightings have been very good. We had a record of seeing 12 cheetahs in a day recently. With the concentration of plain game going up, we will be having superb sightings the coming weeks.