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March in the Masai Mara

31 March, 2018

After an exceptionally dry February, the Masai Mara is certainly reaping the benefits from the first of the seasons heavy rainfall. Arriving earlier than usual, week long downpours saw us through the first quarter of March with 88.5mm of rainfall, resulting in an incredibly high Mara River surrounded by dense, lush forest. 

 
The Musiara Marsh was flooded with water and long thick grassland during the rains at the start of the month providing great fun and games for the masses of young elephant teens and tiny calfs splashing around in the muddy Marsh. The water levels have now receded slighty, still leaving plenty of delicious grasses and reeds to be enjoyed by all. Many Elephant, Antelope (Topi, Waterbuck, Impala), Buffalo and Zebra can be seen passing through the Marsh in the mornings and afternoons.   
 
elephants masai mara
 
Photos courtesy of Abi Leslie 
 
Temperatures peaked to around 30C in the afternoons, during the period of heavy rains, making for cool mornings of 17C. This has now increased to 32C in the afternoons and 19C early mornings with clear skies and stunning sunrises making for lovely early morning drives. Occasional showers are occurring every two days at present, starting in the late afternoons, creating a challenging drive through the thick mud, of course, soon overcome by our able drivers and strong vehicles. 
 
Lion
 
The Marsh Pride are remaining strong with the six male lion coalition often venturing up towards Rhino Ridge but not exceeding Topi Plains into Madomo (Ridge) Pride territory. The dominant male of the six males has been spotted with hierarchy scars, likely attained during dominance battles with the other five boys. We know this male as Baba Yao, meaning “their father,” since Babayao is the father to Lioness Rembos cubs and clearly the superior alpha male of the six coalition. 
 
male lions masai mara
Photo courtesy of Moses Manduku  
 
Lioness Rembos litter has reduced to two cubs estimated between 2-3 months old. Rembo had moved her cubs to various different spots around the wooded area of the Marsh, with the most recent hiding place being inside a fallen down tree alongside the centre Marsh. On the evening of 23rd March, all three of Rembos cubs were seen nestled together in their most recent hiding spot with Rembo away hunting. However the following morning of the 24th March just two cubs were seen, with the third cub missing. We cannot be sure of the circumstances that occurred on the evening of the 23rd, however Rembo was seen nurturing her now two cubs, then circling the various hiding spots, seemingly in search of the third cub. Baba Yao has been patrolling the areas surrounding the cubs location, between Musiara Marsh and Bila Shaka to show Rembo that he is present and protecting the area. This is a clear indication that he is the father of the litter, since the other five males have not shown any interest in Rembo or her cubs. 
The other members of the Marsh Pride have not returned to the area and are still seen across the conservancy. 
 
 lion cubs
Photo courtesy of Moses Manduku
 
The Paradise Pride are slightly divided at present, with the four muskateers, females and youngsters having crossed over into the Mara triangle earlier on in the month. There is little activity around Paradise Plains with high, thick grasses giving the Paradise Pride better opportunies to hunt elsewhere. Recently, Hunter and Sikio have been seen past Paradise Plains towards Serena away from the rest.  
 
All sixteen members of the Madomo (Topi Plains) Ridge Pride have been seen regularly together as one pride. Lipstick has been managing a sore leg, which has been healing slowly, fortunately Blacky and the pride are all close by giving Lipstick a good chance to feed on kills brought home by the females, to gain strength. 
 
Two unfamiliar male lions, estimated at six years each arrived at Rhino Ridge on 15th March. Both males were then seen around the Musiara airstrip, having stolen a Warthog kill off Marsh Pride Lioness Rembo. The two males have supposedly arrived from Sand River and lately were spotted digging out a Warthog Den. We shall see how this unfolds with the six Male coalition and / or the Madomo pride males. 
 
Cheetah 
 
Malaika does not stay in one place for any amount of time, we are still unsure of her whereabouts having not seen her since the beginning of the month, during the start of this seasons rains. Malaika’s two male sub adult cubs however, were seen hunting and feeding on a large male Impala, proving their capabilities. They are both appearing extremely healthy and able to fend for themselves, making a great hunting duo.
 
cheetah masai mara
Photo courtesy of Moses Manduku 
 
The five male Cheetah Coalition are still moving around the Southern area of the reserve. Lioness Rembo was spotted snatching a kill off one of the two Cheetah sisters earlier in the month, recently they have not been spotted together & have supposedly split as a pair. 
 
 lion and cheetah
Photo courtesy of Moses Manduku
 
Leopard 
 
The son of Kiboso was seen dragging a warthog kill down from a tree and into a safe hiding place, appearing very strong and feeding regularly. Guests have been lucky to have many sightings of leopard cubs this past month, with Saba’s Cubs developing at a steady pace, both looking healthy.  Female Leopard Romi has been seen crossing over to the other side of the Mara River often to escape the menacing baboons surrounding the forest. Romi still continues to hunt around the Toyota site. 
 
 leopard masai mara
Photo courtesy of Moses Manduku 
 
Enormous Elephant Herds & Hippo
 
It’s been a real display this past week, elephant numbers have been increasing rapidly with this time of year being perfect for breeding. An enormous herd of over one hundred elephants can be seen patrolling the Musiara plains and Marshland. This herd disperse into pockets of smaller herds throughout the day and regularly come together as one very large herd, which offers stunning views as they journey across the plains at dusk. 
 
Last months magical elephant birth within Governors Camp has equally made for breathtaking views, with the herd passing through camp on a regular basis still. We are currently deciding on names for the little calf who was born just outside tent 37, she is growing at a steady pace stuck to mums side naturally and feeding well. The familiar bull Elephant Blossom, has been enjoying browsing and grazing at both Governors and Little Governors, relentlessly shaking the fruit trees to swallow up as much as possible. Guests have enjoyed seeing Blossom along with the family herd passing through Governors outside their tents daily. 

elephant masai mara
Photo courtesy of George Murray 
 
Hippo pods are thriving in and out of the Mara river presently. Along the banks, below Governos camp we are seeing plenty of Hippo and calf’s, although during the months heavy rains few Hippo decided to seek out a less chaotic area to reside. In particular, one pod have inhabited a large pool very close to the airstrip. Surrounded by thick grasses, this pod have now resided here for near to one month, and seem to be staying put due to lack of competition and ease of movement to feed in and out of the pool. The Mara river was flowing at an extremely fast pace when filled to the brim, bringing with it many fallen logs and trees that perhaps disrupted the hippo pods are resulted in few moving out. 
 
hippos masai mara
Photo courtesy of George Murray
 
Within our camps, there has been a wonderful array of wildlife passing through. On two occasions this last week of March, the Marsh at Little Governors Camp has excitedly accommodated three Black Rhino; a female and male mating, along with the females sub adult calf.  
 
rhino masai mara
 
rhino masai mara
Photos courtesy of George Murray 
 
The Warthog family bonds are growing stronger by the day, with all warthogs venturing no further than the last tent at all camps. These bright little creatures clearly feel safer within close proximity to camp life, after one piglet was taken by a Hyena earlier this year. 
 
Masai Giraffe, Dwarf Mongoose, Olive Baboon, Blue Monkeys, Genets & Galagos Bushbaby’s have all been spotted regularly this past month due to the amount of food around the forest surrounding Governors Camps. 
 
Abi Leslie, Governors Camp. 
 

Comments

Submitted by BETT HALL (not verified) on

tthank you for all your updates so glad we came to you least year finally getting to Governors camp and the light aircraft flight fullfillled all we wanted to do in Kenya was hoping to come back but unfortunatley my husbands health has put a stop to that can no longer fly due to a bleed on the brain
he was i Kenya during the uprisings in the 50s-60s was in the Air Force RAF stationed at what was Wilson Airport always said he would bring me Kenya a country i have grown to love and lucky to have seen so many wonderful people and animals very sad i wont be visiting anymore but never say never maybe one day again Sante Sana to your hospitality Kwarheri for now Bett and John Hall

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