July has been fairly dry in the Masai Mara, characterized with cool mornings of around 15°C but pleasantly warm days getting up to highs of about 27°C. We have had a few light showers towards the end of July that served well to settle the dust, but the last major rainfall was at the beginning of the month.
The grass is particularly long around our camps; awaiting the imminent mass feeding force that is the migration. Large herds of zebra have begun to arrive taking advantage of the plentiful grazing. With the rainy season behind us, the levels of the Mara River have begun to drop, however the hippo are still flourishing. Some of the seasonal ponds that young bachelors and old males habituate have begun to dry out and as a result confrontations have been common and we have been hearing the bellowing of fighting males during the evenings along the banks of the river. Outside Il Moran we have a beautiful baby hippo that was born at the end of June – along with six resident warthog piglets that are about two months old now. The camps act as a sanctuary for the warthogs; compared to when out on game drives (when they are usually quite shy) – guests are able to get quite close to them and enjoy watching them on foot.
Blossom has been frequenting all the camps, especially at night carrying out his patrols and feeding on the local flora. Guests at Il Moran were lucky enough to spend part of the afternoon watching four elephants wallowing and playing in the river just below tent number three.
The Marsh still has an abundance of game and there remains plenty of water. Daily we see groups of over twenty elephant in the area, and sweeping herds of plains game. A substantial group of over thirty eland have stationed themselves on The Marsh alongside the elephant. The Northerly winds have meant guests have had some fantastic balloon flights – following the Mara River south with frequent birds-eye sightings of lion, herds of elephant and black rhino.
Photo credit Thor Karstad
This year, the migration is a little later than expected – roughly two weeks. There are a few theories as to why this is, but we suspect it is due to abundant rainfall both in the Serengeti as well as the Mara this year; and so, wildebeest have migrated north slower than usual due to the bountiful grassland in the south. There have also been a few fires in the Serengeti along the Mara-Serengeti border that may have contributed to the delayed movement of game.
As usual, the leaders of the pack are the zebras; thousands upon thousands have started to move into the area around our camps providing all sorts of excitement for guests and predators alike. On the 25th of July, just in front of Private Camp, guests were treated to the spectacle of a very large crocodile taking down an adult zebra that had come down with the herd to the water’s edge to drink. It was all caught on film too, do have a look at the film on our You Tube channel – although not for the faint hearted. There have been numerous zebra crossings elsewhere too, with many of the Mara crocs finally satisfying their appetites.
Coming up behind the zebra, the wildebeest have now crossed into Kenya, and as of around the 24th of July, there were said to be over two hundred thousand wildebeest in Kenya, with the numbers growing each day. By early August we expect the areas around camp to be teaming with wildebeest, with plenty of action going on at the crossing points and even perhaps within our camps.
Photo credit Moses Manduku
There have been plenty of great sightings of Serval Cats this month – thriving in the long grass. One female has even been spotted with her roughly three-month-old kitten.
Photo credit Jeff Stokes
There have been daily lion sightings this month, with the arrival of the zebra from the south, creating an abundance of prey for them.
The “six boys” or “warriors” coalition have been in residence around the Bila Shaka and Kirei area. They have been preying on zebra and eland mainly, with very high levels of success. There is a new coalition of four males that have come down from the northern conservancies that have been competing for territory with the six boys – but as of yet there have been no casualties.
Yaya’s two young cubs (who are about four months old now) are doing well and have been seen almost daily by guests around the Bila Shaka area. Yaya is a remarkable mother – she has raised her two cubs all by herself, and was seen recently by guests introducing the cubs to some of the males from the “warriors” coalition. Just today as I have been writing this, guests returned to camp having seen Yaya take down a fully-grown zebra by herself – the zebra made the mistake of taking a dust bath at the wrong place and the wrong time.
The wandering females from The Marsh Pride have made a re-appearance! Having spent nearly a year in the northern conservancies, they were spotted near the Musiara Gate on two occasions by guests and guides. Perhaps they will return to our doorstep once again as the migration moves in.
The Paradise Pride have been seen beyond Bila Shaka area on the Paradise Plains over the last month. We have seen quite a lot of the pride down by the Musiara Marsh, well away from their normal territory but as the migration arrives we expect them to move back to their core territory which is close to the Mara River and the main crossing points. The Paradise Pride have perfected the art of ambushing wildebeest as they exit the Mara River, we expect to see a lot of action from them as the migration arrives in our area.
The coalition of five cheetah have been doing well; they recently took down a fully grown topi in the Hamerkop area. They had split up from around the middle of July, but on the 23rd they reunited and took down this prize. The resident male from the Rhino Ridge area was seen taking down an impala by guests on the 26th of July and seems to be thriving and healthy. This male is thought to be Malika’s son.
Kaboso, the female leopard, has taken up residence on the eastern side of “Mlima Tatu” still with her two cubs of roughly eleven months old. She recently had a wildebeest kill which was stolen off her by hyenas; however, the following day she killed a Thompson’s Gazelle. Blue eyes, from Kaboso’s previous litter is still in the Kaboso area at about twenty-two months old now. Bahati has been seen around the Talek River area with her two three-month old cubs that are doing well and seem to be healthy. Siri has mainly been hanging out in the Paradise area, and has recently been spotted feasting on Thompson’s Gazelle.
Photo credit Alisa Bowen
The birdlife has been fantastic around our camps: especially since many of the trees are in fruit. The African Green Heart trees are bringing in a plethora of birdlife including Meyer’s Parrot and Violet-Backed Starlings. Other birds that have been seen recently by guests include the Vereaux Eagle Owl, African Paradise Fly Catchers, Collared Sunbirds, Ground Hornbills and the Narina’s Trogan which were a real treat.
Our Governors’ shop has had a complete refurbishment with new suppliers and a completely new look – those that need a little retail therapy while on safari won’t be disappointed.
Thor Karstad, Governor’s Il Moran Camp Relief Manager