July is marked by spectacular sunrises and sunsets which begin and end the days. The weather is cooler with daytime temperatures averaging around 24 degrees Celsius.
July is the month when the great herds of the wildebeest migration usually arrive on the plains of the Masai Mara, between the middle and the end of the month. Tens of thousands of wildebeests take the plunge and cross the Mara River in dramatic fashion running the gauntlet of hungry crocodiles, strong river currents, steep banks and predators waiting to ambush. Once on the other side, then they spread out, covering the plains.
With the abundance of animals around, the cheetah return, taking young wildebeests as prey. We have wonderful leopard sightings in the woodlands between camp and around the Marsh.
The Marsh Pride of lions remain at the heart of their territory, the Musiara marsh, which is adjacent to our Mara camps. With so much potential prey around, they do not have to move very far and so the pride spends a lots of time together and regularly hunt wildebeests. Vultures do well cleaning up what the lions and scavengers leave behind.
Buffalos also move into edges of the forest to graze on the lush green grass that remains under the forest canopy. The main breeding herd of around 500 buffalos circulates between the Musiara marsh and Rhino Ridge.
Warburgia are the only trees with any fruit left in the forest, and this draws elephants, baboons, blue monkeys and brown parrots in to feed.
Sometimes we get sightings of rare caracals and their cubs hiding in the long grass – and also of the rare side-striped jackal. There are good sightings of eland on the ridges and plains while giraffe herds are seen in the acacia woodlands. Thomson’s gazelles give birth in July, perhaps taking advantage of the presence of large herds to have their babies in peace. Warthogs and their piglets are abundant on the plains and there are lots of spotted hyenas about with cubs of varying ages.
With all the herbivores around, there is a lot of dung out on the plains and this draws in the harvesters termites and dung beetles who spring into action, which in turn attracts families of bat-eared foxes and lone aardwolves who are foraging for termites and beetles in the dung. We also see evidence of pangolins digging for termites.
With the grasslands drying out, the grass becomes less nutritious and the elephants move into the acacia forests and riverine woodlands. Elephant families spread out, crossing the Mara River by day and visiting the Governors’ family of camps by night.