Weather and grasslands
This month of June has been a fantastic one. The sun was out daily and we were blessed with some stunning sunrises and sunsets in the tried and tested way. We didn’t have much rain except from the third week of the month where we had some showers; they started in the late afternoon and continued into the night, with no rains during the day. Total rainfall for June was 18mm, with the heaviest showers on the 18th of June recording a substantial 11.5mm that day.
Photo credit Felix Rome
The grass has gone down especially around the borders with Mara North and Olare Orok conservancies, but also around Topi Plains and Musiara Marsh areas. Most of our roads are accessible again. June has been the busiest month this year by far and our camps are lively and ready for the migration season ahead. Plains game like the common zebra, Topi, Impala and Thomson’s gazelles made their way back into the Reserve, helping the big breeding herds of Cape buffalo and African savanna elephants to keep the grass short.
Photo credit Simon Landolt
On the plains
The elephants were seen in big numbers in and around Musiara Marsh and the herds are definitely growing; each breeding herd has their own offspring and the young elephants are all looking very healthy. We spent a lot of time with them observing the youngsters playing and enjoying life. It’s such a pleasure to watch the calves imitating their mothers in feeding behaviour. At a young age, they are not yet able to control their up to 40’000 muscles in their trunks, so they are only pretending to feed next to their mothers. The next moment, they can be seen rushing to their mothers to nurse.
Elephants in the Musiara Marsh – photo credit Simon Landolt
A highlight this month has been the ongoing ‘Little Migration’, also known as the ‘Loita Hills Migration’. North of the Maasai Mara are the Loita Hills and the Loita plains, a very important grazing area for resident zebras, wildebeests and gazelles. During the dry season in May however, when the grass has dried up, these herds start to move down south towards Maasai Mara.
Loita Hills Migration – photo credit Felix Rome
They arrived in the beginning of June and crossed the Mara River into the Mara Triangle. Dramatic scenes were bound to occur at the crossing points. Hundreds of Nile crocodiles eagerly waited for the herbivores to cross the river. They were not disappointed. There are still some small crossings taking place and we are looking forward to the ultimate spectacle – the Great Migration!
Zebras crossing the Mara River – photo credit Moses Manduku
Big Cats of the Masai Mara
With all the herbivores pushing into the Reserve, their predators are usually not too far away and seem pleased with all the extra movement inside their territories. The lions are doing very well – especially the Paradise Pride females; they deserve a trophy for being such awesome mothers. The nine cubs are better than ever, they have been seen almost daily this month – full of strength and ready to take the next step on their journey to adulthood.
The Paradise Pride – photo credit Simon Landolt
They have started to eat meat and they are growing very quickly. The mothers are well known for their buffalo hunting skills, but now with all the zebras wandering into their territory, it has become even easier to successfully catch their prey. Seeing them all together playing in the long grass or drinking at a waterhole is so satisfying.
June brought wonderful news of our resident Marsh Pride of lions; Pamoja (who is a daughter of lioness Yaya, made famous by Big Cat Tales), gave birth to three cubs which are now almost two months old. They were seen several times during the month of June.
Pamoja lets her cubs play and nurse – photo credit Moses Manduku
They are still very shy of course and Pamoja is trying to hide them, most of the time between Governors’ Camp and Paradise Plains. Yaya is there to support her daughter and can call herself a grandmother of three. We are hoping for the best outcome of these new cubs and we will try to keep you updated on their wellbeing.
One of Pamoja’s tiny cubs – photo credit Simon Landolt
Yaya and Pamoja kill a zebra right in front of Governors’ Camp – photo credit Moses Manduku
To continue with the amazing news on future generations of the Marsh Pride, lioness Rembo (of the 4 strong group of females including Dada, Kabibi and Kito), has also recently given birth to three cubs. The cubs were seen being moved around by their mother inside the Marsh close to Musiara Gate.
Rembo with her new cubs – photo credit Simon Landolt
They all looked very healthy, well fed and they were protected by marsh male Half tail – which could indicate that he may have sired this litter.
Rembo’s new cubs – photo credit Simon Landolt
Halftail – photo credit Simon Landolt
Our resident leopardess Romi was seen regularly in June, mostly resting on a fallen tree in the riverine forest which surrounds the Governor’s line of camps. She is a huge delight for all our guests who so wish to catch a glimpse of her – or any leopard (Panthera pardus), for that matter.
Romi – photo credit Felix Rome
Romi is quite a small cat; female leopards usually weigh between 28-58kg. They are the most ubiquitous of all cats (except the domestic cat) occurring throughout Africa (wherever there is sufficient cover for concealment), and from the Arabian Peninsula through Asia to Manchuria and Korea.
Calling the lions the ‘king of the jungle’ is not adequate at all; the leopard is the only large predator in Africa’s rain forests, also ranging in the montane forests and moors of the highest mountains – from Mount Kenya to Mount Kilimanjaro – where a leopard carcass was found frozen in the ice at 5692m. Leopards are typical cats, solitary and territorial. Adults will associate only long enough to mate and their young will become independent as subadults at around 22 months.
Birds of the Masai Mara
We’ve had several sightings of large raptors like the Martial and Tawny eagles and of smaller birds of prey like black-shouldered kites, grey kestrels and Ovambo sparrowhawks.
Grey Kestrel – photo credit Simon Landolt
Ovambo Sparrowhawk – photo credit Simon Landolt
Frequent observations of the western banded snake eagle (both the immature and adult birds) found around Governor’s camp, were fascinating for a lot of our guests, while the iconic call of the African fish eagle has been omnipresent when close to the river.
A western banded snake eagle – photo credit Simon Landolt
Little bee-eaters (Merops pusillus) have been observed eating small flying insects, especially bees, wasps and hornets who are caught in the air by sorties from an open perch.
A little bee-eater – photo credit Simon Landolt
Governor’s Camp has been an amazing spot to find some birding specials and rarities in June. Apart from regular sightings of African blue and African paradise flycatchers, Meyer’s parrots, Klaas’s cuckoos or grey-headed bush shrikes, we’ve had some fascinating moments watching the beautifully coloured double-toothed barbet, the very twitchy common scimitarbill and the silent and calm African olive pigeon; a variety of species which can all found right next to the bar of Governor’s Camp.
Meyer’s parrot – photo credit Simon Landolt
A double-toothed barbet – photo credit Simon Landolt
The African openbills have been seen regularly in the Musiara Marsh and around the hippo pools next to the airstrip. They can be observed arriving early in the morning and flying back to the Mara Triangle at around 6pm where most of them are spending the night. The African openbill is a species of the stork family (Ciconiidae) and is native to large parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
African openbill – photo credit Simon Landolt
This all-dark stork gets its name from a uniquely-shaped bill that creates a recognisable gap between upper and lower mandible. It usually prefers still waters in shallow lakes, swamps or ponds where it uses its oddly shaped bill to extract molluscs, namely snails or mussels from their shells.
African openbills – photo credit Simon Landolt
Masai Mara weather and wildlife for June 2021 is written by Simon Landolt, guiding intern with Governors’ Camp Collection. Read other blogs by Governors’ HERE.
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