Gradients of grey and shimmering orange were the main colors for November. Skies close up as fast as they open, trees sway in the wind and then hang still. November is a special time in the Masai Mara and the weather matches the mood of the plains. When all is calm and the animals are resting, the sun burns gold.
Marsh Pride lioness Yaya and her grand daughter at sunrise – photo credit Felix Rome
When conflicts appear or battles commence, the sky darkens and booms with thunder. Rain falls hard, revitalising the vegetation, allowing animals to move further away from the watering holes. Elephants thrive and are always on the move, finding food wherever they go. Leopards lurk in the forest, using the cover of rain to stalk their prey. It’s a different safari experience in November, but by no means lesser.
Elephants are always on the move – photo credit Felix Rome
The Mara has experienced some rain this month, 60mm, but it has not been cold with an average temperature of 29ºC. Towards the end of the month we have had lovely sunny days with little to no rain.
The breathtakingly beautiful Oloololo escarpment with a rainbow sunrise – photo credit Felix Rome
Hippos have been making the most of the fruitful wet times. They can be seen walking around the marsh early in the mornings and staying out later than normal. The cloud cover and cooler temperature is perfect for them.
Fashion accessories from the Mara – photo credit Felix Rome
Waterbuck have really been making the most of their name by wading out into the thickest parts of the marsh. Buffalo have gathered in large breeding herds to raise their young. All of the grazers have been loving the fresh new grass that has started to come through.
Defassa waterbucks must always remain close to a reliable water source such as the Musiara marsh – photo credit Felix Rome
Male impala have been busy deciding who is going to be the new boss of the breeding herd by constantly challenging one another for the rights to mate. Servals are spotted stalking through the long grass, ears twitching and then leaping high into the air to catch its prey.
Two male impalas sparring for rights to the herd – photo credit Felix Rome
Servals can jump up to ten feet high – photo credit Felix Rome
Elephants are in strong numbers all across the Reserve. Large herds have been seen crossing the Mara River multiple times a week in search of new feeding grounds. Dark skies above make it one of the best times of the year to watch elephants as they really ‘pop’ out of the landscape, especially if it has been raining as they look almost black.
Elephants quench their thirst at the edge of the river – photo credit Felix Rome
At Little Governors’ Camp there is a particular family of elephants that walk through the camp almost every day. It’s a wonderful sight, as long as you don’t mind getting up from your lunch to let them pass.
Some of the biggest news this month was the return of the second group of the Marsh Pride females that made their return to the territory on the 9th November. The night before you could hear roaring all throughout the camp. The four females and the cubs returned to the Musiara Marsh and made their arrival known by attacking Yaya and her grandchildren.
The Marsh Pride returned to the Musiara Marsh and have since left again – photo credit Felix Rome
It was a sad sight to see but a normal interaction between lion prides. While all of this was going on, the cubs of the Marsh Pride were trapped in a small forest just off to the side of the marsh. They were being pursued by a large herd of buffalo and some of the lions were forced to climb up trees in order to escape them.
Some of the Marsh Pride escaped the wrath of the buffaloes by climbing trees – photo credits Felix Rome
Most of the Marsh Pride cubs are over 1.5 years old, but there is one smaller cub that is around five to six months, that was in real danger. The four adult females, Kito, Rembo, Dada and Lola were so focused on intimidating Yaya that they didn’t see the imminent danger that their cubs were in. Thankfully, all parties escaped unharmed although Yaya and her grandson Simba left the scene with some slight wounds.
The smallest cub of the pride – photo credit Felix Rome
This group have since left the area and are currently back in Mara North Conservancy. They were around the Musiara marsh for only a few weeks; however, they made the most if it. Our guests saw them take down multiple buffalos and enjoyed other wonderful moments observing them. We hope they return again soon with Halftail, the pride’s dominant male.
Three of the four females hunt a buffalo – the buffalo got away on this occasion – photo credit Felix Rome
Other predator sightings include mother cheetah Risasi who has three healthy cubs in the Mara Triangle. This is her first litter and they are all being looked after by rangers who make sure vehicles don’t get too close, since cheetahs are especially sensitive to human interference.
Thanks to great management, Risasi is raising cubs without human disturbance – photo credit Felix Rome
They have mostly been seen between the border of Kenya and Tanzania as there is still a lot of food around for them there, especially prey choices such as impala, Thomson’s gazelles and wildebeest.
Risasi is the daughter of Rosetta and granddaughter of Rosa and great granddaughter of Resy – photo credit Felix Rome
Romi our resident leopard, has once again been putting on quite the show for all visitors who are desperate to see this famous cat. Although still rumoured to have cubs, no one has actually seen them yet. Recently however, she has been a little more elusive and we think the cubs are getting ready to move from their birthing ground.
Romi the leopard thrills guests during a game drive – photo credit Felix Rome
A good time to find Romi is as she is stalking prey in the late hours of the day, when the rain is falling. This gives her perfect cover as the prey’s senses are overwhelmed with smells and sounds. She has also been seen multiple times on logs outside Little Governors’ Camp and Governors’ Il Moran.
Romi relaxing in the forest at Il Moran Camp – photo credit Felix Rome
Towards the end of November, the Kichwa Tempo Pride of lions crossed over the Mara River from the Mara Triangle into the reserve. On the 25th November they killed a zebra and resided in the forest outside Little Governors’.
The Kitchwa Tembo pride near Little Governors’ – photo credit Felix Rome
They have been seen climbing logs and generally enjoying being on the other side of the river. Will they take over the Marsh Pride’s territory? Follow our Instagram page for regular updates on all the big cats of the Masai Mara.
Adult female of the Kitchwa Tembo Pride – photo credit Felix Rome
There’s an almost infinite selection of fascinating birds to be seen on safari. In between sightings of big cats, you can enjoy a multitude of avian species, from ground birds to forest birds to water birds to small song birds and even some of Kenya’s critically endangered raptors.
It is estimated that only 270,000 white-backed vultures remain in the wild – photo credit Felix Rome
Southern ground hornbills have been around in force, which is great considering that their population is currently classified as vulnerable. They can be seen walking through the grasslands, catching small reptiles and insects.
Southern ground hornbills are carnivorous and hunt mostly on the ground – photo credit Felix Rome
Little bee-eaters fly around near the Mara River, snatching bees and beetles in mid-air. This time of year is perfect for seeing colourful species such as the violet-backed starling and lilac-breasted rollers.
Little bee-eaters predominantly eat flying insects that are caught on the wing from an open perch – photo credit Felix Rome
A violet-backed starling – photo credit Felix Rome
If you love birds, you can walk around with an Askari (one of our camp guards) after lunch and see an abundance of wonderful birds living in and around the camp grounds.
One of our younger guests, Yuvi Shah, enjoys bird watching with Pesi at Little Governors’ Camp – photo credit Felix Rome
Our Masai Mara weather and wildlife for November 2022 was written by Felix Rome, resident photographer for Governors’ Camp Collection. To see other amazing wildlife imagery by Felix, please follow him on Instagram.
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