Weather and grasslands
It has been a cool month with chilly, cloudy, mornings but warming up slowly during the day. Rainfall has been light with 30mm falling mostly in light showers in the late afternoons. The open plains have long grass which is slowly turning golden, which make for magic light that all photographers enjoy. A welcome “carpet” for the famous “Migration”. At the moment herds of buffalo and elephants are enjoying this long grass. At the end of the month large herds of zebra and topi and small numbers of Coke’s Hartebeest were arriving in our area, these herds migrate within the Mara eco system. Mixed in with the herds of zebra are eland, Africa’s largest antelope. Another feature towards the end of the month has been large numbers of elephants feeding in the Musiara Marsh during the mid-day hours. The Elephants are in small family groups and arrive mostly from the other side of the Mara River. Some guests have been lucky and have witnessed them crossing the Mara River. Interestingly, most cross the river where Governors’ built the camp for the BBC Big Cat Series. Although there has only been 30mm of rain in the Mara during the month, the Mara River is quite high and running very fast so upstream must be receiving more rainfall. The Musiara Marsh is green with lots of vegetation which is just what the elephants enjoy. Because of the long grass almost all of the Thompson’s Gazelles have moved into the Masai grazing areas where they prefer the overgrazed grass where some are giving birth. For up to 2 weeks the new born hide by lying flat down on the ground and are only visited by their mothers a few times a day to feed them. Even so, cheetahs, Silver-backed Jackals, hyenas and even male Olive Baboons actively hunt for them.
Photo courtesy of Moses Manduku
Small numbers of Wildebeest and Zebra have been reported arriving in the southern part of the Reserve, with larger numbers not too far behind.
Photo courtesy of Dave Richards
All of our guests have been enjoying watching Marsh Pride Lioness Yaya with her 2 little cubs which are about 3 months old now. During the afternoon of the 26th Yaya was seen catching an adult Warthog.
The 6 Marsh Lion males are still mostly together and can usually be found in the Bila Shaka and the Malima Tatu areas. One of the males (apparently no names have been given to these males yet) was seen mating with one of the Topi plains females. Perhaps he will join this pride, as it has only one male, Blackie now.
The Paradise Pride of lions have been spending most of their time moving about as the grass is so high, mostly they can be found in the Lugays Silanga. Some of our guests witnessed the pride jumping on to a large buffalo but the whole herd came to its recue and chased the lions away.
The Topi plains pride, like the Paradise pride, are having to move around and can be very difficult to find at times.
Because of the long grass Cheetah sighting have been fewer than normal but some of our guests have been lucky and have seen a female and her cub. Across the Mara River, a female with 5 small cubs has been occasionally seen but, again, because of the long grass she can be very difficult to find. At times like these, cheetah often move out of the reserve into the Masai areas. Here the grass is short because it has been grazed by the Masai cattle. The short grass is just what the Thomson’s Gazelles prefer and the gazelles are the cheetah preferred prey.
Photo courtesy of Alisa Bowen
The Kaboso female leopard and her two cubs have been regularly seen with her kills. On one occasion she had killed a female Grant’s Gazelle and was seen to extract a foetus and the take it to one of her cubs.
Photo courtesy of John Lyall
The endangered Black Rhino have been seen regularly in particular in the open plains opposite near the river, on occassion we have even seen a pair wander into Little Governors Camp which is always a great treat for our guests in camp.
There is a new Hippo pool along the Bila Shaka where you can get very close up views of the hippos. During breakfast at Little Governors’ Camp on the 27th a new born baby Hippo was spotted with its mother. The mother Hippo had moved way some distance from the other Hippos to protect its baby.
Masai Giraffe in small groups are being seen, mostly feeding along the edge of the riverine forest. Despite Warthogs being the main prey of the lion prides during the last two months they are still common on the grassland plains. Warthogs have a high mortality rate and fall prey to lion often, particularly when larger prey species are not as abundant.
Governors’ Private Camp
At Governors’ Private Camp, Warren Samuels, a wildlife camera man and Safari guide, held a photographic safari this month. Warren is an experienced camera man and has worked with The BBC Natural History Unit and National Geographic, to name just a few. Warren went out with the participants each day where they discussed best lighting, vehicle positioning and, basically, how to take good wildlife photographs. In the evenings, Warren hosted a digital slide show to show the guests the way to take good wildlife images, as well as the bad way.