April has been hot and humid; for the first two weeks weather conditions were relatively pleasant with sporadic rainfall patterns, and only in the last week of the month did rain patterns change significantly. The Mara River has been extremely high in the last ten days due to heavy rainfall from the western escarpment. In the evening of the 22nd heavy rainfall was received in the northeast conservancies; some areas near the Aitong Hills had 90mm of rain which has brought the Olare Orok and Ngiatiak rivers to a very high state and at the same time affecting the Talek River.
The Mara River – view from Il Moran Camp – photo credit Nicholas Ledama
This little piggy …. photo credit Harrison Nampaso
Heavy rainfall across the The Mara River had reached a very high state with widespread flooding towards the end of the month. On the 26th late afternoon after very heavy rain from the northeast, the Mara River came up very high with further flooding; water had flowed over the bank and into the staff quarters at Governors’ Camp. By the early morning of the 27th, the river level had dropped at least 6 feet, however we then experienced the highest river levels on the 30th April which caused considerable worry! The total rainfall for the Musiara area was 182mm.
High water levels as photographed from the deck at Il Moran Camp –
photo credit Nicholas Ledama
The Warbugia trees within the riverine woodlands are still with fruit and this has kept the elephants coming into the camps – at this stage the trees are almost stripped clean. Earlier on in April, our friend Blossom the male elephant was particularly partial to the trees at Little Governors’ Camp – coming through on many occasions to shake the fruits to the floor. Camp manager George Murray took a video on Easter Friday – watch it HERE.
Blossom enjoying the greenery around Little Governors’ in April –
photo credit George Murray
Elephants passing through camps for the Warburgia fruit –
photo credit Harrison Nampaso
Grass levels are still high in most areas of the Reserve and around the east marsh. Paradise Plains, Bila shaka, the northern plains above the marsh, the Olare Orok, Topi plains, and Malima Tatu open plains are still short although latterly some low lying areas of Topi plains and Malima Tatu are saturated. The Musiara Marsh has filled up since last week.
Elephants have been drawn out of the forests and onto the plains
where there are new grasses – photo credit Alisa Karstad
Buffalo herds can be seen from the camp with the Bila Shaka herd being seen in the western areas of the Marsh; older resident and sedentary bulls are still being seen in the west marsh and close by to our camps. Dwarf and banded mongooses are ever-present within the campgrounds; when the sun is out, the banded mongooses can be seen sunbathing.
Family of Banded mongoose enjoying the sun at Governors’ Camp in April –
Giraffes will also come right into camp to browse on the tall trees surrounding the camp – their dung pellets are cut and rolled into balls by female metallic green dung beetles. On the 26th April we had a male giraffe making the most of the morning sun after a heavy night of rain, right in front of the guest tents.
A male giraffe inspects the excess rain water at Governors’ Camp –
photo credit Harrison Nampaso
On the 19th a young warthog was taken from Il Moran, by one of the Marsh lionesses – these resident lions often pass directly through our camps to prey on the warthog who have become too relaxed as a result of living in the camp vicinity. A leopard was seen right beside tent 36 at Governor’s Camp on the 21st.
Resident warthog – photo credit Alisa Karstad
Large numbers of reproductive termites have been active at night particularly after rain – they are attracted to the outside lights dotted around the camps. The resident Greater bush babies have been feeding off these winged termites as a food source, although this particular species (also known as the thick-tailed bushbaby) is generally a fruit and seed eater. They are very vocal and emit a raucous cry call which will be heard throughout the campgrounds at night.
Greater galago peers through the darkness at Governors’ Camp
– photo credit Will Fortescue
Bird life is thriving; with the rain comes a profusion of insect life and a revival of frogs and catfish, therefore birding is excellent in the Masai Mara in April. Double-toothed barbets are being seen often – they are very vocal since they eat the fruit of the Quinine tree (Rauvolfia caffra). The black-and-white-casqued hornbill (also known as the Grey-cheeked hornbill) are also eating the Quinine fruit. Earlier on in the month, flocks of White-throated bee-eaters were being seen in the west marsh area, they are often seen alighting near the entrance roads.
Double-toothed barbets – photo credit Alisa Karstad
Birdlife in the Marsh at Little Governors’ Camp – photo credit George Murray
By Patrick Reynolds, manager at Governors’ Il Moran Camp