Eyes On Nature Expeditions Blog

Masai Mara Game Report

Author: admin  /  Category: General

Masai Mara  Game Report


With rainy season in full swing it has been wet, wet, wet, over the last month. Most days this month we have had evening and night rain showers.  Some storms came in the afternoons, calmed to begin with and then were followed by strong winds. The Marsh filled up considerably with many hippos being seen either basking on the Marsh banks or in the deeper water pools of the Marsh. The Marsh grasses and reeds are flowering and this is a sign of good rainfall. There were also good rains up country to the east and north east of the Mara that caused the  levels of the Mara river to rise quite high. The grasslands are healthy with a good leaf structure showing, some plains areas grasses are getting long and those short grass plains that were looking parched have improved tremendously, it is amazing how resilient these alluvial environments can be. Temps have been generally warm with morning temps averaging 18°C and evening temperatures 24-26°C. Rainfall for the month is 267 mm. Last Year 2012 the rainfall was 337 mm.

General game

Due to the good rains many elephant can be seen within the Marsh and riverine woodlands. A few large solitary bulls that are in Musth wander across the grassland plains. The BBC leopard is a regular resident near the BBC campsite; she is being seen often with her male cub. The Marsh Pride has been within the Marsh and Lake Nakuru area of the North West side of the Marsh. Large troops of Olive Baboons move near the camps.

Game drives have been a challenge with wet conditions and heavy rain. The ground in many areas is saturated so the drives are slow as our driver-guides carefully navigate the mud.

Defassa Waterbuck with solitary territorial males and impala are close to all camps. There are quite a number of young waterbuck and the Marsh lions have fed on many of these young calves. It was thought through African myth that lion would not eat waterbuck due to their oily skin and smelly meat; this is quite untrue and we have noticed that in the marsh area during lean times waterbuck are eaten regularly.

Olive Baboons spread out along the riverine fringes as they forage for food, by evening they are often strung across the road either foraging or last minute grooming with their favourites as they slowly head back to the their habitual roosting sites. Olive Baboons will roost and live where they were born as long as they are not disturbed. Some of these savannah troops are large in size and can be up to over 100 individuals.

Giraffe are more spread out at this time of year; females live in loose associated herds with group members being well spread out; young calves are closest to their mothers; calves will be in a crèche of varying age groups. The Coloration of giraffe varies from region to region; some are almost chocolate brown to very pale, although the main colour is gray. Despite its length the neck is actually too short to reach the ground. When they drink they have to spread their legs in order to reach the ground. When they have to reach to the ground for either water or herbs there is tremendous amount blood pressure that is pumped from a large heart. At the base of the brain there is a complex network of arteries and veins lying very close to each other known as the rete mirabile which act like a sponge absorbing the blood flow when the giraffe puts its head down. On the other plane there are one way acting valves in the main jugular vein that also slows down blood pressure on the way back.

Large numbers of elephant can be seen through the Marsh and Bila Shaka plains. The Warburgia trees have stopped fruiting and this means there are less elephant visitors in camp. Occasionally the two old Bulls; George and Blossom will move in between the camps and have been feeding off Teclea and Capparis.

Topi in large herds are found on the shorter grass plains where the water drainage is better and leaf structure is more suitable. In the same areas there are Cokes Hartebeest and Grants Gazelle. Thomson Gazelles are more commonly found on the short grass plains often where there is more livestock movement.

There is a small breeding herd of Cape buffalo near Lake Nakuru and the large herd is in the eastern flow of the Bila Shaka riverbed. The ground is very saturated by water here so the buffalo tent to occupy the higher ground the coarse grasses also grow here and Buffalo love this type of grass.  The solitary and habitual bulls can be seen near the bridge area of the Marsh and also in between the camps.

Small breeding herds of eland are on top of Rhino Ridge and also small herds are near the conservation areas close to Topi Plains. These herds average 18-24 animals.

Warthog are well spread out throughout the Mara ecosystem. Early mornings and evenings are good times to see them as they forage on their calloused knees. Lion eat warthog readily and will subsist on them during wet and lean time of the year. Warthog live and reside in holes in the ground preferably dug by an Aardvark and then modify for their use. In other areas of Africa where temperatures are warmer warthog will live in thickets above ground as opposed to a hole in the ground.

Bushbucks are commonly seen in open glades within the riverine woodlands. Early mornings and evenings are good times for them. Bohors Reed buck are also seen near watercourses with long coarse grasses, a habitat they like.

Wildebeest can be seen in the conservation areas with calves that are now a month old. Small herds of zebra are also in these short grass areas. Large numbers of wildebeest and zebra returned further south east towards the Loita hills which is where they were from.

Black back Jackals are often seen in the early mornings and evenings; in the last few days we have seen four Jackals on a daily basis near the airstrip and these are be two older pups together with their parents. Jackals are extremely effective carnivores and will work in pairs, hunting young fawns of impala, Grants and Thomson Gazelles. They will also eat insects and some fruit to compensate their diet. The male plays an important role in the rearing of the pups while living in monogamous pairs.

The bat eared fox family near paradise have moved from the hole that they were in to another area perhaps that is better drained. With the rains, sightings of these little foxes have been slim. There was a large den with three males and four females and three, four month old pups. Bat eared fox’s of all the canids have the most teeth with up to 52 teeth and with a well developed digastric muscle they are able to snap 2-3 times per second!! They are insectivorous and will also eat small invertebrates.

Since the rains the marsh has filled up considerably and this has brought in many hippos that would otherwise be in a river watercourse. In the mornings are early evenings the hippos bask on the edges of the Marsh. Hippos do not have any epidermal layer and are a susceptible to high levels of ultraviolet light or sun shine so they will rest up on a sand bank and quickly go back into the water when they get too hot. They release a secretion known as Hippo sweat or Hipposudoric acid. Bulls can hold pods for a number of years, there is a bull at IL Moran Camp that holds a territory of 300 meters of river and he has been here for over three years; recognized purely by his squeaky honking sound and his left ear is lazy and flops rather than being erect. All Hippos are herbivores with a three chambered stomach and can be termed a pseudo ruminant; with a large cecum they digest slowly during the day in late evening they come out to graze using their lips to crop the grass.

Butterflies

We have had lovely recent sightings of the Narrow green banded swallow tales and Citrus swallowtails.

Lion

Marsh Pride

The Pride now consists of the 4 males,  commonly known as the ‘musketeers’ (Scar, Morani, Sikio and Hunter),  7 lionesses and 15 cubs of varying ages. They spend most of their time  between Bila Shaka and Musiara.

Siena, Charm and Bibi and their 12 cubs are within the Marsh, airstrip and the Musiara plains areas. Bibi’s 3 cubs are five months old, Charms three cubs are 7 months old and Siena’s cubs are now 11 months old.

Another of the four sisters has three cubs that are now four months old. On the 29th of April one of the sisters emerged from the forest giving the nearby foraging baboons a huge fright. Instinctively the baboons all stood on their hind legs to get a better view, once they confirmed to each other that it was a lioness they passed the message amongst themselves with loud barks ad then they all scrambled to get up an old dead Warburgia tree that had few branches many of them kept falling down rather like over ripe fruit.! The lioness looks to be lactating which indicates that she has cubs, if this is the case we will hopefully of see them in perhaps a weeks time.

The males have been seen as far as Silanga and also close to Topi Plains. The lionesses and cubs have spent most of their time near the Marsh and airstrip. They have fed off many warthog who seem to be a staple food source at this time of year, and three young waterbuck calves have been taken.

One morning two young marsh lionesses surprised a male warthog who was having a mud math near the marsh calvert. The lionesses were walking along the Marsh edge when they saw that a warthog boar was making a hasty run towards a mud hole near the road, it did not take them long to work what was going on, within 30 minutes they had killed and were eating the boar.

Modomo – three lionesses and four cubs of which the four cubs are ten months old, there is another lioness that has two cubs who are four months old; they have been seen near Grey’s lugga and Rhino Ridge. Lately all have also been seen near the large fig tree on Rhino Ridge. There are many warthog here in this area and that of Topi Plains, Grey’s lugga and Rhino Ridge. They subsist on these warthogs as well as topi who are well spread out and eland who are in reasonable numbers.

Nyota and Moja her sub adult male cub were last seen at the end of March, unfortunately we have had no recent sightings over the last month.

Paradise Pride

There are 4 females and 6 cubs of varying ages, two that are ten months old and one lioness has three cubs estimated at four months old. This pride was last seen near the main crossing point. Grass is long on the Paradise Plains so drives have been slim in this area.

Cheetah

The Female with the three cubs that are 11 months who were seen on Paradise Plains last month, they have been seen on a few occasions near Topi plains and further east and towards the onservation areas there are many Thomson and Grants gazelles here luring them in this direction and we have watched them trying to hunt warthog.

There is a young male being seen near the Musiara gate and also Bila Shaka. On the 27th he was seen near Governors Camp hunting Impala. He had taken a Thomson near Musiara gate on the 24th but was soon run off by four jackals. This male is approximately 20 months old and is the only son of the MNC female. It now appears they have both gone separate ways.

Malaika and her 12 month old male cub have been seen near the double crossing area and also towards the Ntiaktiak River we have had a couple of good sightings of them over the last month.

Leopard

We have had a few reports of sightings of the Serena Pump House male leopard over the last month.

The BBC female Leopard with her two cubs estimated at six months old, the female cub earlier on in January has been suffering from a prolapsed rectum, sadly for the last two weeks it has not been seen; this female was very stunted and not doing too well and we suspect that she has passed on. This female and her cub is being seen nearly on a daily basis.

The male that also frequents these woodlands has been seen near the junction to Little Governors; he was seen mating with another female in the evening of the 23rd.

A large male was seen near the Bila Shaka vehicle track into Paradise Plains a shallow crossing called the managers crossing. He has been seen more often this month and it is assumed that it is the same male that moves up and down the Bila Shaka riverbed. Early on in the month we had a lovely sighting of him in the woodlands close by to the mangers crossing with a young topi in a croton thicket.

There is a another male that is resident near the Bila Shaka crossing and Diospyros copse on Paradise Plains, he was seen on the 30th at midday with a young warthog kill up an Olive tree and the mother was still in a hole beneath the tree.

- Patrick Reynolds Il Moran Camp Manager

We hope to share the magic of our corner of the Masai Mara with you sometime soon.

Yours Sincerely,

Steve

MD

EYES ON NATURE EXPEDITIONS LTD(TOURS AND TRAVEL) COMMERCE HSE,MOI AVENUE 3RD FLOOR ,SUITE 311 P.O BOX 79456-00200,Nairobi,Kenya. TELFAX: 254-20-2229781 CELL PHONE: 0722-761587,0734-939308 E-MAIL: info@eyesonnatureexpeditions.com

http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com

Blog :http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com/blog

Blog :http://natureman2.wordpress.com

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Masai Mara Game Report

Author: admin  /  Category: General

Masai Mara  Game Report


With rainy season in full swing it has been wet, wet, wet, over the last month. Most days this month we have had evening and night rain showers.  Some storms came in the afternoons, calmed to begin with and then were followed by strong winds. The Marsh filled up considerably with many hippos being seen either basking on the Marsh banks or in the deeper water pools of the Marsh. The Marsh grasses and reeds are flowering and this is a sign of good rainfall. There were also good rains up country to the east and north east of the Mara that caused the  levels of the Mara river to rise quite high. The grasslands are healthy with a good leaf structure showing, some plains areas grasses are getting long and those short grass plains that were looking parched have improved tremendously, it is amazing how resilient these alluvial environments can be. Temps have been generally warm with morning temps averaging 18°C and evening temperatures 24-26°C. Rainfall for the month is 267 mm. Last Year 2012 the rainfall was 337 mm.

General game

Due to the good rains many elephant can be seen within the Marsh and riverine woodlands. A few large solitary bulls that are in Musth wander across the grassland plains. The BBC leopard is a regular resident near the BBC campsite; she is being seen often with her male cub. The Marsh Pride has been within the Marsh and Lake Nakuru area of the North West side of the Marsh. Large troops of Olive Baboons move near the camps.

Game drives have been a challenge with wet conditions and heavy rain. The ground in many areas is saturated so the drives are slow as our driver-guides carefully navigate the mud.

Defassa Waterbuck with solitary territorial males and impala are close to all camps. There are quite a number of young waterbuck and the Marsh lions have fed on many of these young calves. It was thought through African myth that lion would not eat waterbuck due to their oily skin and smelly meat; this is quite untrue and we have noticed that in the marsh area during lean times waterbuck are eaten regularly.

Olive Baboons spread out along the riverine fringes as they forage for food, by evening they are often strung across the road either foraging or last minute grooming with their favourites as they slowly head back to the their habitual roosting sites. Olive Baboons will roost and live where they were born as long as they are not disturbed. Some of these savannah troops are large in size and can be up to over 100 individuals.

Giraffe are more spread out at this time of year; females live in loose associated herds with group members being well spread out; young calves are closest to their mothers; calves will be in a crèche of varying age groups. The Coloration of giraffe varies from region to region; some are almost chocolate brown to very pale, although the main colour is gray. Despite its length the neck is actually too short to reach the ground. When they drink they have to spread their legs in order to reach the ground. When they have to reach to the ground for either water or herbs there is tremendous amount blood pressure that is pumped from a large heart. At the base of the brain there is a complex network of arteries and veins lying very close to each other known as the rete mirabile which act like a sponge absorbing the blood flow when the giraffe puts its head down. On the other plane there are one way acting valves in the main jugular vein that also slows down blood pressure on the way back.

Large numbers of elephant can be seen through the Marsh and Bila Shaka plains. The Warburgia trees have stopped fruiting and this means there are less elephant visitors in camp. Occasionally the two old Bulls; George and Blossom will move in between the camps and have been feeding off Teclea and Capparis.

Topi in large herds are found on the shorter grass plains where the water drainage is better and leaf structure is more suitable. In the same areas there are Cokes Hartebeest and Grants Gazelle. Thomson Gazelles are more commonly found on the short grass plains often where there is more livestock movement.

There is a small breeding herd of Cape buffalo near Lake Nakuru and the large herd is in the eastern flow of the Bila Shaka riverbed. The ground is very saturated by water here so the buffalo tent to occupy the higher ground the coarse grasses also grow here and Buffalo love this type of grass.  The solitary and habitual bulls can be seen near the bridge area of the Marsh and also in between the camps.

Small breeding herds of eland are on top of Rhino Ridge and also small herds are near the conservation areas close to Topi Plains. These herds average 18-24 animals.

Warthog are well spread out throughout the Mara ecosystem. Early mornings and evenings are good times to see them as they forage on their calloused knees. Lion eat warthog readily and will subsist on them during wet and lean time of the year. Warthog live and reside in holes in the ground preferably dug by an Aardvark and then modify for their use. In other areas of Africa where temperatures are warmer warthog will live in thickets above ground as opposed to a hole in the ground.

Bushbucks are commonly seen in open glades within the riverine woodlands. Early mornings and evenings are good times for them. Bohors Reed buck are also seen near watercourses with long coarse grasses, a habitat they like.

Wildebeest can be seen in the conservation areas with calves that are now a month old. Small herds of zebra are also in these short grass areas. Large numbers of wildebeest and zebra returned further south east towards the Loita hills which is where they were from.

Black back Jackals are often seen in the early mornings and evenings; in the last few days we have seen four Jackals on a daily basis near the airstrip and these are be two older pups together with their parents. Jackals are extremely effective carnivores and will work in pairs, hunting young fawns of impala, Grants and Thomson Gazelles. They will also eat insects and some fruit to compensate their diet. The male plays an important role in the rearing of the pups while living in monogamous pairs.

The bat eared fox family near paradise have moved from the hole that they were in to another area perhaps that is better drained. With the rains, sightings of these little foxes have been slim. There was a large den with three males and four females and three, four month old pups. Bat eared fox’s of all the canids have the most teeth with up to 52 teeth and with a well developed digastric muscle they are able to snap 2-3 times per second!! They are insectivorous and will also eat small invertebrates.

Since the rains the marsh has filled up considerably and this has brought in many hippos that would otherwise be in a river watercourse. In the mornings are early evenings the hippos bask on the edges of the Marsh. Hippos do not have any epidermal layer and are a susceptible to high levels of ultraviolet light or sun shine so they will rest up on a sand bank and quickly go back into the water when they get too hot. They release a secretion known as Hippo sweat or Hipposudoric acid. Bulls can hold pods for a number of years, there is a bull at IL Moran Camp that holds a territory of 300 meters of river and he has been here for over three years; recognized purely by his squeaky honking sound and his left ear is lazy and flops rather than being erect. All Hippos are herbivores with a three chambered stomach and can be termed a pseudo ruminant; with a large cecum they digest slowly during the day in late evening they come out to graze using their lips to crop the grass.

Butterflies

We have had lovely recent sightings of the Narrow green banded swallow tales and Citrus swallowtails.

Lion

Marsh Pride

The Pride now consists of the 4 males,  commonly known as the ‘musketeers’ (Scar, Morani, Sikio and Hunter),  7 lionesses and 15 cubs of varying ages. They spend most of their time  between Bila Shaka and Musiara.

Siena, Charm and Bibi and their 12 cubs are within the Marsh, airstrip and the Musiara plains areas. Bibi’s 3 cubs are five months old, Charms three cubs are 7 months old and Siena’s cubs are now 11 months old.

Another of the four sisters has three cubs that are now four months old. On the 29th of April one of the sisters emerged from the forest giving the nearby foraging baboons a huge fright. Instinctively the baboons all stood on their hind legs to get a better view, once they confirmed to each other that it was a lioness they passed the message amongst themselves with loud barks ad then they all scrambled to get up an old dead Warburgia tree that had few branches many of them kept falling down rather like over ripe fruit.! The lioness looks to be lactating which indicates that she has cubs, if this is the case we will hopefully of see them in perhaps a weeks time.

The males have been seen as far as Silanga and also close to Topi Plains. The lionesses and cubs have spent most of their time near the Marsh and airstrip. They have fed off many warthog who seem to be a staple food source at this time of year, and three young waterbuck calves have been taken.

One morning two young marsh lionesses surprised a male warthog who was having a mud math near the marsh calvert. The lionesses were walking along the Marsh edge when they saw that a warthog boar was making a hasty run towards a mud hole near the road, it did not take them long to work what was going on, within 30 minutes they had killed and were eating the boar.

Modomo – three lionesses and four cubs of which the four cubs are ten months old, there is another lioness that has two cubs who are four months old; they have been seen near Grey’s lugga and Rhino Ridge. Lately all have also been seen near the large fig tree on Rhino Ridge. There are many warthog here in this area and that of Topi Plains, Grey’s lugga and Rhino Ridge. They subsist on these warthogs as well as topi who are well spread out and eland who are in reasonable numbers.

Nyota and Moja her sub adult male cub were last seen at the end of March, unfortunately we have had no recent sightings over the last month.

Paradise Pride

There are 4 females and 6 cubs of varying ages, two that are ten months old and one lioness has three cubs estimated at four months old. This pride was last seen near the main crossing point. Grass is long on the Paradise Plains so drives have been slim in this area.

Cheetah

The Female with the three cubs that are 11 months who were seen on Paradise Plains last month, they have been seen on a few occasions near Topi plains and further east and towards the onservation areas there are many Thomson and Grants gazelles here luring them in this direction and we have watched them trying to hunt warthog.

There is a young male being seen near the Musiara gate and also Bila Shaka. On the 27th he was seen near Governors Camp hunting Impala. He had taken a Thomson near Musiara gate on the 24th but was soon run off by four jackals. This male is approximately 20 months old and is the only son of the MNC female. It now appears they have both gone separate ways.

Malaika and her 12 month old male cub have been seen near the double crossing area and also towards the Ntiaktiak River we have had a couple of good sightings of them over the last month.

Leopard

We have had a few reports of sightings of the Serena Pump House male leopard over the last month.

The BBC female Leopard with her two cubs estimated at six months old, the female cub earlier on in January has been suffering from a prolapsed rectum, sadly for the last two weeks it has not been seen; this female was very stunted and not doing too well and we suspect that she has passed on. This female and her cub is being seen nearly on a daily basis.

The male that also frequents these woodlands has been seen near the junction to Little Governors; he was seen mating with another female in the evening of the 23rd.

A large male was seen near the Bila Shaka vehicle track into Paradise Plains a shallow crossing called the managers crossing. He has been seen more often this month and it is assumed that it is the same male that moves up and down the Bila Shaka riverbed. Early on in the month we had a lovely sighting of him in the woodlands close by to the mangers crossing with a young topi in a croton thicket.

There is a another male that is resident near the Bila Shaka crossing and Diospyros copse on Paradise Plains, he was seen on the 30th at midday with a young warthog kill up an Olive tree and the mother was still in a hole beneath the tree.

- Patrick Reynolds Il Moran Camp Manager

We hope to share the magic of our corner of the Masai Mara with you sometime soon.

Yours Sincerely,

Steve

MD

EYES ON NATURE EXPEDITIONS LTD(TOURS AND TRAVEL) COMMERCE HSE,MOI AVENUE 3RD FLOOR ,SUITE 311 P.O BOX 79456-00200,Nairobi,Kenya. TELFAX: 254-20-2229781 CELL PHONE: 0722-761587,0734-939308 E-MAIL: info@eyesonnatureexpeditions.com

http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com

Blog :http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com/blog

Blog :http://natureman2.wordpress.com

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294206-i9216-k4272070-o10-Eyes_on_nature_expeditions-Kenya.html

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Heritage the large male Elephant who has a radio collar

Author: admin  /  Category: General

Heritage the large male Elephant who has a radio collar


Weather and grasslands

We had some extraordinary weather for January it was either hot and humid or wet. Early on in the month we had some warm days, building up to some heavy showers in the evenings. There were two heavy storms with a strong easterly wind on the 27th and 28th brining lots of rain. With all this rain the water levels in the Marsh rose considerably and this attracted the water birds, who seemed to materialise almost overnight. Grass levels have also improved, the Paradise, Bila Shaka and Rhino Ridge Plains have good stands of red oat grass. Total rainfall for the month was 133 mm.

Early morning temperatures average at 16-18°C with midday still being 28-31°C evening temperatures at 26°C.

Grasslands generally are looking green and growth coverage is evident. There was a full moon on the 27th with suggested ‘moon downers’.

General game

Warburgia, Teclea and Capparis are all fruiting at the moment, Elephant and Baboons love the fruit of the Warburgia and Teclea so this time of year the Elephant habituate both woodlands and Grasslands. Impala breeding herds are evident with many females pregnant and others with fawns. Defassa Waterbuck and Cokes Hartebeest will be seen between the Marsh grasslands and riverine woodlands. The four musketeers were latterly in the northern area of the Marsh.

Notes

Leopard – The young female of the Lake Nakuru and BBC camps site has two cubs a male and a female that are three months old. They are being seen frequently between Lake Nakuru and IL Moran Camp. Unfortunately early on in the month the young male was seen with a prolapsed rectum, we tried to call the vet in and the moment the vet will say he will visit this young Leopard disappears he was seen on the 26th and 29th looking much better but he is still struggling.

Game viewing is spread out with Bila Shaka, Topi Plains and lower areas of Paradise Plains being popular areas for game drives, much of these areas have shorter grasses with more resident ungulates that have moved between the conservation areas.

Elephant in some large breeding herds move between the grasslands the Marsh and the Riverine woodlands. There are many young calves within these family units.  A few large bulls are in Musth so they will move between herds. Heritage the large male Elephant who has a radio collar and that was darted last year on the 12th of June due to a large wound on his right front leg has also improved very well, he was seen on the 25th and 27th in the Musiara swamp.

On the 11th at approximately 11.30 am a young Bull elephant died near the Marsh, there were no signs of a struggle or external injuries. The Marsh lion and resident spotted Hyena fed off it for four days. Some individual Elephant particularly another bull tried to run off the feeding Lion on a few occasions. Sikio one of the blonde male Musketeers who had a damaged left front paw was chased on the 12th and learnt to run well on his remaining three legs!! The Warburgia trees and Teclea are fruiting and Elephant are partial to fruit of many trees, the Warburgia or east African green heart are fruiting heavily now, although the fruit is edible it is very hot. The species Warburgia is named after Dr. Otto Warburg a botanist from Hamburg.  The two organic compounds in the heartwood, leaves and to a certain extent in the fruit namely warburganal and Murzadial exhibit strong anti insect and antifungal properties, perhaps why even the male Giraffe like eating the leaves.

Olive Baboons like the fruit of Warburgia and Teclea; this leads them into the camps on foraging trips. Many Infant baboons are present, with large sized troops being evident throughout the Musiara woodland areas. Early morning and evenings are good times for watching primate activity. A troop of Baboons is a matrilineal society which is a very complex hierarchy based on mother-daughter lines of decent and unrelated male strength. A female Baboon is born into whatever rank her mother was; males establish their place within the troop by fighting one another for dominance. Often there is much noise associated with a Baboon troop and one can often see younger sub adult males being chased by the older and larger males. The opposite Baboons reside at nightfall in trees, rocks and cliffs and those baboons wherever born will return to sleep.

Impala and Defassa waterbuck are within the Marsh and woodlands between the camps. Dominant male waterbuck strut between cows sniffing out oestrus females. The defassa waterbuck young bachelors often form separate satellite herds, and will only leave if an opportunity arises to contest a dominant bull. Waterbuck give birth to a single calf after a gestation period of 8 months. Cokes hartebeest in small numbers can be seen near the Marsh on the woodland side, their calves are 5 months old, Topi are quite spread out with larger herd sizes on Topi Plains and Paradise Plains, their calves are also five months old.

Eland are in small breeding herds in between Musiara, Bila Shaka and Topi Plains. Within these breeding herds there are some large bulls with breeding bulls that are strongly sexually dimorphic.

The breeding herd of Buffalo have spent much of this month within Bila Shaka, a few breeding bulls and the lead cow who was well known amongst guides have  been taken by the Marsh pride. The core of a Cape buffalo herd is of related females and their offspring. Like the plains zebra, the Cape buffalo can live off tall and coarse grasses. Herds of buffalo are useful to other herbivores as they mow down the long grasses and make way for more selective grazers. When feeding, the buffalo makes use of its tongue and wide incisor row to crop grass.

Masai Giraffe are spread out all over the reserve and recently many giraffe have been in the woodlands between the camps. Females live in unrelated family units with calves in crèches.  The males and females of a herd don’t interact often unless they are looking to mate. Adult males are larger and heavier than females and can reach around 6 m in height although they have been recorded at reaching heights of up to nearly 7 meters. Females are shorter at around 5–5.5 m tall. Their legs and necks are both approximately 2 meters long with a large heart which is 12 kg.

Warthog are also well spread out, sows that gave birth in the reserve in late August early September have 40% of their offspring with them, with many succumbing to predation. There are sows in the conservation areas that gave birth in late November and December with the mortality rate being lower. Many warthog and particularly sows and their older offspring have been killed and eaten by Lion in the Bila Shaka and Musiara plains.

More sightings of serval cats again on the paradise and rhino ridge plains.

Bat eared fox’s are becoming more commonly seen, perhaps being more habituated, early mornings are good times to see them. They live in family units and den sights are best places to find them. Bat eared fox’s are insectivorous canids up to 85% of their diet is insects, with amazingly large dish like ears as the name suggests which they use to listen out for dung beetles, their larvae and harvester termites. Much of their activity is at night which can be as much as 85% of their time foraging. Something else unusual about bat-eared foxes is their unusual playfulness in the wild. They give birth to 2-6 kittens after a 60 day gestation. They also have a very well developed digastric muscle and along with up to 52 teeth which is more than any other heterodont mammal.

Spotted Hyena are plentiful on Paradise Plains and also on Rhino Ridge, there is a large clan on the Bila Shaka side of Rhino Ridge, on the 26th at 7.30am an estimated 40 Hyena were seen trying to converge on the four Musketeers as they walked across the open plains.  It is seldom that Spotted Hyena will try their luck on four large male lion, this is one competitor that they fear. Earlier on that morning near the airstrip two lionesses caught a young Hyena and promptly killed it. With their nine cubs about they were taking no chances.

The Black Rhino male has been seen near paradise plains.

A few more Hippo in the Mara River have given birth, one calve was taken by crocodile beyond Governors Private Camp.

Dik Dik our smallest antelope here can be seen in monogamous pairs within the camp woodlands with early morning and late evenings being good time to see them, particularly when the male steals out as he marks his territory dung midden and later leaves a secretion on a grass stem or branch twig that is crucial to his height for his pre-orbital gland which is situated just beneath his eye. The females are larger than the males in this species. Two secretions of Apocrine and Hylocrine and held together with melanin which is the black tar like substance one sees on the stem of grass or twig.

Lion

The Marsh pride – Siena, Charm and Bibi with their 12 cubs of varying age groups are being seen in the environs of the Marsh. Bibi’s 3 cubs are two months old, Charms three cubs are four months old and Siena’s cubs are 7 months old although one of them is a little younger which was abandoned by Bibi.

They are doing well and feeding well, particularly when a young bull elephant died on the 11th between the airstrip and the marsh, they fed off this for nearly three full days.

The four Musketeers are also evident within the Marsh plains areas. On the 4th Sikio was mating with one of the younger lionesses he also had a fracas with Hunter and damaged his left front paw probably from a bite, on the 5th he could hardly walk and for a number days he was like this and spent much time in the Bila Shaka river bed, on the 25th he was seen helping pull down an old cow Buffalo near the eastern end of Bila Shaka so the powers of healing were on his side and was walking on all four legs by the end of them month. Scar was seen mating with Joy on the 10th near Silanga; his right eye lid is healing. Morani and Hunter were seen latterly near fumbi fumbi area of Bila Shaka. On the 9th near the tree line in the Marsh they were feeding off a female waterbuck. On the 12th they all fed off the remains of a young bull Elephant that had died near the Marsh. Even Bibi’s cubs were enjoying the feast. They have been feeding off warthog, Buffalo and Defassa waterbuck.

Nyota and Moja have been seen on Rhino Ridge. Moja is over a year old now, he was seen on the 18th with the remains of a warthog, and Nyota was not far away.

Notch and the four brothers move between the Talek River, the Ntiaktiak River and the double crossing areas. They were feeding off a large male hippo on the 24th and 25th near the Olkiombo airstrip. Many of the Olkiombo pride were also feeding off this Hippo.

Paradise Pride: comprises 4 females and two seven month old cubs, the two ‘4km’ male Lion of which one has a nice dark mane and almost black. The two males were seen with Nyota on the 27th and 28th. One of the four females was seen mating on the 24th by the dark maned male, another male is also with them so a total of three can be seen; the third male comes and goes. The other two males are from the other side of the river; they have been resident on Paradise Plains for some months now. There are also two cubs that are seven months old. Early on in the month they were seen on the remains of a cape buffalo, on the 18th they were seen feeding off a Topi.

The Olkiombo lion pride of 12 including one sub adult cub which is estimated at 16 months old, 9 females, and one lioness has three cubs that are estimated at four months old. They are often seen near the Olkiombo airstrip, on the 24th they were feeding off the remains of a hippo that the four males had killed.

Cheetah

Malaika and her one cub that is 9 months old were seen mid month near the Talek River and also still near the lookout hill area. On the 23d she was seen with a Thomson Gazelle kill.

The MNC female cheetah with one male cub that is 17 months old have been seen close to the conservation areas and also Topi plains, there are good numbers of Thomson Gazelle here, he is active so he should be on his own in a short time. These two are being seen more frequently near Bilashaka and the Musiara plains. On the 29th at 10.30am she had killed a female Grants gazelle near the Hippo pool that is close to the airstrip.

The young Female Cheetah with her three cubs that are 5 months old both are being seen near the Talek River and also on Topi Plains. On the 25th she had killed an Impala female in the croton thickets near the Ntiaktiak River. This female Cheetah gave birth to her cubs in an area of Masai Land.

Leopard

The female leopard with the male cub that is perhaps over 15 months old as he is being seen more often on his own yet still in his mother’s home range. He is becoming more habituated whereas the mother is a little shy. He is being seen more frequently.

The male Leopard at the mortuary crossing point has been seen twice this month, on the 5th it was seen near the croton thickets, some other guides have said they see more of him. On the 8th he was seen with an impala kill at the mouth of the mortuary crossing point and dragged its kill up a nearby Boscia tree.

The BBC female Leopard with her two cubs estimated at three months old, the male cub early on seemed like he was suffering from a prolapsed rectum and looked in pain, this was on the 4th near Lake Nakuru that he was seen. We called the vet and soon after we got a reply it disappeared from sight and no one saw it for a few days, they were both seen again on the 10th near the BBC campsite and he looked better, on the 25th he was climbing up and down a dead Warburgia although he looks thin. The female killed an Impala near Lake Nakuru on the 4th and a Bushbuck doe near the BBC camp site on the 23rd.

There is a male that also frequents the same area as the BBC female, we are sure that this is the sire of her two BBC cubs. He is being seen frequently and has his own agenda whereby he can be quite habituated one day and not the next; he was seen in the morning of the 7th feeding off the remains of a Zebra that had been partially eaten by Scar and Morani the evening before. He had not been feeding for than 30 minutes when he was run off by a troop of male Olive baboons. Leopard will readily scavenge perhaps more so than Lion again depending what prey is available at the time.

Olive and her one female cub who is nearly a year old now has been seen near the Talek river on Burrangat plains side, she was seen on the 18th and 25th.

Walking in the Mara North Conservancy.

We have had cool mornings and hot days with heavy dew on the grass. There has been less rain in this region compared with the reserve so grasses are still short and dry. Good numbers of plains game can still be seen here with the short grasses, Thompson and Grants Gazelles are in more numbers than the reserve. A few Wildebeest and these are mainly males holding onto short term territories. Zebra in small herd are well spread out across the conservation areas.

Eland will be seen all over in small breeding herds, there is a small herd near the ‘fly over’ with two large breeding bulls.

The large Cape buffalo herd can been where there are more prevalent coarse grasses, near the white Highlands and also near the salt lick waterhole are often good places to look for them, there are a few young calves in this herd. There are also two lots of bachelor males one group has three males and the other has 5 males. Defassa waterbuck are in the river bed luggas or (alluvial depressions) and also in between the acacia woodlands. These river bed luggas often contain pockets of water and with long greases which support Bohors Reedbuck which can be spooked quite easily. Cape buffalo will also frequent these valley fans. Elephant are in good numbers here so being catholic feeders will spend time in between the acacia woodlands and the open grassland plains. Generally speaking if the grazing is available 85% of the elephants diet will contain grasses. In wooded pockets amongst the Acacia Gerrardii the tannin and sucrose levels are often higher than in other close by areas; with this Elephants will favour these and often strip a tree to the ground.

Giraffe are also well spread out and seen frequently on all the regular walks, The eastern Acacia stands are probably more favoured and it is here that the Elephant have spent time. There is a small grove of Acacia Hockii and this has been very well browsed on by Giraffe so much so the leaflets have been minimised greatly. In other areas near to the Olare Orok River the Acacia Hockii is more like a normal flat topped acacia. We have seen male Giraffe feeding on the leaves of the Warburgia tree and this is very hot on the pallet, perhaps this is why no biting flies are present on them.

Impala breeding herds are spread out across the woodlands. Many females here are pregnant with some fawns already born. A female Impala was found dead in the Acacia wood lands close to the Olare Orok River. Two fawns in different locations have been seen and who were bleating, this is probably due to a resident Leopard having taken the mothers, both fawns seemed over 4 months old so there is a 50% chance of survival.

On the 13th a large male Leopard was seen up an Acacia tree with a female Impala that it had just recently killed, the interesting thing was there were Zebra standing beneath the tree oblivious of what was above them, the moment when the Leopard saw us then the Zebra took flight.

A group of 20 Spotted Hyena killed a young zebra near the reserve and conservation boundary in the early morning hours of the 28th. There are more Spotted Hyenas in these conservation areas, they are very active predators here as opposed to the Mara reserve, and 85% of what they eat has been killed by them. The reserve hosts more Lion and these will control numbers of Hyena.

Lion are been seen by vehicle only in the Euclea Divinorum thickets close to the salt lick, except on the 28th where four lionesses and three cubs estimated at 7 months old were seen from a safe distance in riverbed beneath the Croton hill, due to long grass it was difficult to see if there was a kill or not although many vultures were in the trees above them.

The gardenia ternifolia has not flowered yet whereas in the reserve there are many flowering gardenias. Jasminum floribundum flowers are present and these are very sweet smelling they belong to the family Oleaceae which is the Olive. Launaea hafunensis is a yellow upright stemmed flower and these are common through the rocky hillsides. After some short rains early on in the month this brought on many little white Cycnium flowers (tissue paper) that are strewn through the areas of well drained soils and short grasses.  There is also good coverage of pentas lanceolata which are small little pink/mauve flowers particularly near pathways and trails across rocky terrain.

A new identification by Masai Guide Harrison Nampaso: Hydnora Abyssinica (family: Hydnoraceae) is a subterranean root parasite which parasitizes Acacia root species such as the prevalent one here Acacia Gerrardii, though lacking chlorophyll is sweet tasting and is eaten by man and animals such as porcupines, Olive Baboons and we have seen the diggings of Aardvark. The flowers are solitary, appearing above ground as a tube with the fleshy calyx lobes meeting. They soon separate, revealing the red and white cross structure. The flowers are foul smelling and are pollinated by insects. This species is more commonly found rather than being seen. Root extracts for antibacterial and antifungal properties have been used in the North Africa genus since millennia. Masai Here will eat the roots which is effective against stomach ailments and Diarrhoea.

We hope to share the magic of our corner of the Masai Mara with you sometime soon.

Yours Sincerely,

Steve

MD

EYES ON NATURE EXPEDITIONS LTD(TOURS AND TRAVEL) COMMERCE HSE,MOI AVENUE 3RD FLOOR ,SUITE 311 P.O BOX 79456-00200,Nairobi,Kenya. TELFAX: 254-20-2229781 CELL PHONE: 0722-761587,0734-939308 E-MAIL: info@eyesonnatureexpeditions.com

http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com

Blog :http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com/blog

Blog :http://natureman2.wordpress.com

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294206-i9216-k4272070-o10-Eyes_on_nature_expeditions-Kenya.html

What is life?they say its from B to D ie from birth to death,between B&D is C i.e Choices,Challenges,Chances and Change,life is a matter of 4 C.s especially the choice to use EYES ON NATURE EXPEDITIONS LTD(TOURS AND TRAVEL) ,live a Christ centered life.

David said ” your word is a lamp to my feet,and a light to my path”HOLY BIBLE BOOK, PSALM 119:105 ,Mark 14:36, Mathew 19:26,Ephesians 3:20-21

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Wildebeest More crossings this month!!!

Author: admin  /  Category: General

1 November, 2012

Weather and grasslands

This month we have hot days and cool mornings with strong winds picking up in the afternoons that sometimes kicked up dust like swirling rooster tails. Pastel Sunrises gave a welcome warmth to the start of the day.

Early morning temperatures average at 18°C with midday being a warm  28-30°C, evening temperatures are around 25°C. The grasslands are short although still holding out, the large numbers of reliant grazers not being present.  The Mara River is progressively getting lower. There was a little rain over the month with 78 mm altogether with much of this falling during mid month. On the 28th we received 14.5 mm and 12.5 mm fell on the 27th at 6.00pm with quite a lot of hail. Little Governors had more rain with a total of 92.5mm.

General game

This month more wildebeest and a few zebra came through from the conservation areas in the north east. Elephant in small herds can be seen frequenting the woodlands and Musiara Marsh areas. A herd of eland has been residing in the marsh grassland verges. Many more topi and Cokes Hartebeest calves are being born, serval cats being seen more ofte as well.

Wildebeest

More crossings this month!!!

More resident wildebeest have been crossing the Mara River back and forth at the main crossing points. On the afternoon of the 5th there was a large crossing with about 50 animals that did not make it and one taken by crocodile. Guests had been waiting two days for this crossing to take place and watched patiently as numbers grew larger as they massed prior to crossing. During the first two weeks there were wildebeest crossing on a near daily basis, many of these animals are residents that came down from the conservation area and would circle back around via the Talek River. They seemed to cross every second or third day and many of them perished at certain crossing points where the exit is to hazardous for the large numbers that continue to build up. On the 13th an estimated 1,500 Wildebeest crossed at the main crossing point in the afternoon. Many of them struggled up the other side due to wet rocks; one was taken by a crocodile. These are the resident Loita Wildebeest. On the 14th at 11.00am more crossed again at mortuary and two were taken by crocodile, these wildebeest kept crossing back and forth which spurred the crocodiles into a feeding frenzy.

Leopard – 2 cubs near the BBC camp site which are approximately 1 month old.

Charm (Marsh lioness) – 3 cubs at Silanga near Bila Shaka and approximately 1 month old.

Thomson Gazelles crossing at Paradise – on the 28th at 11.00am 20 tried cross. 12 came back, two were taken by crocodile and 6 managed to get to the other side.

There are a few zebra within Bila Shaka, Paradise and Musiara Plains and there are more concentrations of them up on Topi Plains. There are still good numbers of resident wildebeest near the double crossing on the south east side of Rhino Ridge.

On the southern grassland plains of Posse and Burrangat towards Keekorok and the sand river there are still large herds congregating here. Large herds also in the triangle on the Eluai plains and the salt lick area.

Topi with young calves can be seen all over with good sightings of them on Topi Plains, Musiara Marsh, Paradise and in the conservation areas to the East of the reserve. Many Calves can be seen in Crèches as females graze nearby.Cokes hartebeest also have calves and are well spread out. A small herd of common eland has been frequenting the Marsh from time to time also a herd of young males have been passing through. As males age, their coat becomes more grey. Males also have dense fur on their foreheads and a large dewlap on their throats and can weigh in as much as 1,000kg.

Defassa waterbuck and regular Impala can be seen throughout the riparian woodlands and marsh. Large troops of Olive baboons forage on the grassland plains with young infants at six weeks old learn to jockey style on their mother’s backs. Adult males in the groups will also care for the infants, as are likely to be related to them as a form of Altruistic behavior.

Elephant come and go and seem to spend late mornings in the marsh, Elephant love cooling themselves with mud or water and this becomes a habitual pastime. A rich habitat that includes marshes and woodland can keep an elephant’s home range to a mere 14 sq km. On the whole 85% of the Elephants diet is taken with grasses and shrubs and the 15% from a woodland habitat.

Warthog and piglets ranging from ages of a few weeks to three months old can be seen spread out across all open grasslands. The resident lion have no started to depend on them as a favorite food source.

Buffalo males are resident within the marsh and can be seen daily in groups of 6-8 together. The large breeding herd spends most of their time within the grasslands of the Bila Shaka river course where the coarse grasses form a grazing pattern for them.

More serval cats have been seen recently with good sightings of them avidly feeding of rodents and birds. Scrub hares are nocturnal so early mornings and evenings can be good time to see them. Hares and rabbits and other related species are coprophagus in that the re-ingest their first pellet in the early hours of the morning and produce a normal pellet later. These hares do not have a complex ruminant digestive system. Instead they are hindgut fermenters that digest cellulose via microbial fermentation. By ingesting the first fecal pellet they are able to extract further nutrition from grass by giving their food a second pass through the gut. Soft fecal pellets of partially digested food are excreted and generally consumed immediately. Consuming these cecotropes or ‘night feces’ is important for adequate nutritional intake of vitamin B12. They also produce normal droppings, which are not eaten. This type of re-ingestion to obtain more nutrients is not much different to the chewing of the cud in ruminants which is termed rumination.

Good Bushbuck sightings in the early mornings or evenings near to the woodland fringes with dark chocolate colored males coming out and can forage socially with impala and baboons.

Two Hippo calves have been taken by Crocodile a little downstream of Il Moran Camp. Socks the young male who spends most of his time the other side of the Mara River was seen on the 28th in Camp, Socks is quite a special Hippo with his pink feet!!

Thompson Gazelles have more young fawns; mortality is high with predation by black backed Jackals being most prevalent. Two lots of Thompsons have crossed the Mara River at Paradise and one such crossing was seen on the 28th at 11.00am with two being taken by crocodile and 6 managing to get across.

Rhino have been seen on paradise plains and this one of two males although sightings have been far and between.

Butterflies: Two species of the swallowtails can be seen in the forest. Both sexes of the Mocker swallowtail and also the green banded swallow tail. The Mocker swallowtail is also known as the flying handkerchief, the females of this species are Polymorphic by mimicking other toxic species, this is known as Batesian mimicry which is a form of mimicry where a harmless species has evolved to imitate the warning signals of a harmful species directed at a common predator.

Cats

Lion

Th Marsh pride continues to grow with lots of small cubs around – Siena and another younger lioness with six cubs that are four months old, seem to spend much of their time within the Marsh and Bila Shaka areas and have been feeding off buffalo, wildebeest and zebra. One of the cubs is a little smaller and this one was born to Bibi who rejected it soon after Siena gave birth. Siena often still does the hunting while the other lioness look after the cubs. Modomo and another lioness have 4 cubs which are 3 months old; two belong to Modomo and the other two to the lioness. Modomo and her cubs are still in Kries lugga.

Charm has three little cubs that are about one month old and she is near the Bila Shaka towards a tributary known as Silanga.

The Marsh Lionesses have been feeding off warthog, wildebeest and buffalo.

The four musketeers are being seen near the Marsh and Bila Shaka with Scar and Hunter mainly together. Often Scar spends time with Siena and the younger lioness, we often see the cubs move close and play with scar and this is true altruistic behaviour with the cubs being kin. Hunter does not tolerate these cubs too well and will move away when approached.

Joy’s 3 male sub adult cubs that are 18 months old are in the Bila Shaka and Topi Plains area. The one sub adult that was thin for a long time died on the 12th October near Topi Plains and this was inevitable due to a deep wound near his spine.

Morani and Sikio are frequenting south side of Bila Shaka.

Notch and the four brothers are being seen in the Ol Keju Ronkai area on the Posse Plains, they have fed off the many buffalo that are resident around here.

The Lioness Nyota and her male cub Moja who is 10 months old has been seen between Rhino Ridge and the Talek River, recently she has been seen near Emarti hill. They have fed on the many wildebeest and zebra that passed through here.

The Paradise Pride of lions comprises 4 females and two four month old cubs and the two ‘4km’ male lion one of which has a beautiful dark mane. They have fed on the many wildebeest that have passed through here. One of the lionesses was very apt at hunting as the wildebeest massed before they crossed and in the chaos and melee as the wildebeest prepare to lunge into the river.

The Olkiombo lion pride of 12 including their 2 cubs which are 12 months old, 8 females and 2 males which are 2-3 years old, are in the open plains area near the riverine woodlands at the bottom end of the Ntiaktiak River and the Olkiombo airstrip. They have been feeding off wildebeest and zebra.

Cheetah

Malaika and her one cub that is six months old were last being seen on the Burrangat plains and we understand she is near look out hill.

The MNC female cheetah with one male cub that is estimated at 14 months old had moved out back to the Mara North conservancy by the 10th, she was here in the Musiara area for nearly two months, on the 28th she and her cub were seen back on Topi plains so good to have her back.

The female Cheetah with two cubs that are estimated at four months has been seen near the conservation area on the Ntiaktiak. She is feeding off impala, young warthog piglets and again Thomson Gazelle.

Another female is being seen near the Murram pits close to Intrepids she has also been seen on the south side of the Ntiaktiak River, this area is all Maasai conservancy and with short grasses there are many ungulates that would suit a cheetahs needs.

The female cheetah near look out hill that has four cubs estimated at 6 months old, she was last seen early this month and is looking well.

Two brothers have been seen near Rhino Ridge and also the other side of the Talek. One male has been seen near Paradise Plains and also top end of Rhino Ridge close to Emarti. He was seen hunting warthog in the evening of the 21st due to nearby Grants Gazelle the warthog was startled and moved away.

Leopard

Olive and her one cub that is a little over 4 months old has been seen near the Ntiaktiak and Talek river area and also recently in the croton thickets above Rekero camp.

The male leopard near the mortuary crossing point on the Mara River has been very active this month he also has taken advantage of the wildebeest chaos prior to them crossing. On the 5th at 3.45pm there was a large crossing at mortuary and as the wildebeest and zebra moved from crossing point to crossing point this leopard snatched a yearling wildebeest watched by both humans and wildebeest together, this phenomenon just shows how leopard’s stealthy and surreptitious habits can actually closely live under the human blanket.

The young female leopard on the rocky hill close to the Serena pump house on the Mara River with her one male cub that is approximately 12 months old is still being seen regularly. On the 15th she was seen posing very well on the rock under the Warburgia tree. On the 18th at 9.30am she was seen carrying an Impala fawn into the croton thicket with the male cub close by. On the 28th the male cub caught a young Impala fawn and played with for 20 mins before finally consuming it, this is typical of feline activity.

Olives’ older daughter Saba has been seen frequently on the Talek River in Olive’s home range.

The female Leopard of the Marsh has been seen frequently in the woodlands quite close to Il Moran camp and the BBC campsite; she was also seen on the 26th at 11.00 am walking from the culvert on the main road with a cub in her mouth, she has two little cubs in woodlands near the BBC camp entrance.

The female and a male near Paradise Plains at the bottom end of Bila Shaka has been seen quite often, close to the Hippo pool near the woodlands are good places to see them and on the 8th and 10th were two good sightings.

Walking in the Mara North Conservancy.

Early morning sunrises open the curtain to a full day, with the early dawn colours in the sky being brilliant. The cool start of the mornings brings on a hot day later so we aim to have the walks done by 10.30am when the heat arrives.

Good numbers of wildebeest can be seen in the north east and large numbers in the early hours of the morning will be seen filing down to the reserve and often crossing the Mara River that afternoon.

Zebra will be seen on the plains above the flyover and also on the north east areas of the Conservancy.

Topi in large numbers are on the plains above the rocky flyover ridge. There are also large numbers of Thomson and Grants Gazelles up here too.

Spotted hyenas are well spread out here and with the lack of the other competitive predator, the lion, the Hyena are more active regularly hunting topi and wildebeest. The Hyena here in the Mara/Serengeti ecosystem are prominent predators and up to 85% of what they eat has been predated by them.

By midday many wildebeest can be seen huddled under the shade of the acacia tress and zebra with their coat patterning effect standing out longer in the sun.

Elephant come and come ago within the acacia woodlands and the grassland plains, if grasses are available elephant will spend 85% of their time feeding on grasses and shrubs.

The other nest of ostrich eggs we found to be destroyed by what seemed like hyena, when hyena congregate in large clans they can be quite destructive when predators are not in balance.

The Jackal pubs near the Olare Orok have dwindled to one pup they are in the conservation area so perhaps a lot of pressure again from hyena.

We have had two sightings of Aardwolf and it appears that it is the same animal that we keep seeing and more than likely a male, their dung middens are very noticeable with much soil substance in their faecal matter.

The lioness with the three cubs that are four months old now have been seen in the croton thickets near the Flyover and also close the rocky ridge. On the 9th at 6.30am 12 lion concluding 5 sub adults and 7 lionesses had killed two Gnus near the flyover.

On the 6th a lone lioness killed a wildebeest close to where we start the walk.

There have been some good sightings of the yellow winged bat (Lavia frons), they frequent the acacia woodlands and also sometime can be seen ion old gardenia trees. These are an echolocating bat and insectivorous with large ears, they active at dusk and sometimes late mornings and fly about like a handkerchief being blown in the wind. Something one learns every day: The young or baby of a yellow winged bat is called a ‘pup’. The collective term for yellow winged bat is called a ‘colony or cloud’.

We hope to share the magic of our corner of the Masai Mara with you sometime soon.

Yours Sincerely,

Steve

MD

EYES ON NATURE EXPEDITIONS LTD(TOURS AND TRAVEL) COMMERCE HSE,MOI AVENUE 3RD FLOOR ,SUITE 311 P.O BOX 79456-00200,Nairobi,Kenya. TELFAX: 254-20-2229781 CELL PHONE: 0722-761587,0734-939308 E-MAIL: info@eyesonnatureexpeditions.com

http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com

Blog :http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com/blog

Blog :http://natureman2.wordpress.com

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294206-i9216-k4272070-o10-Eyes_on_nature_expeditions-Kenya.html

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Community News

Author: admin  /  Category: General

Game Report, Masai Mara

It has been a great month for game viewing in the Masai Mara. Stunning sunrises gave way to warm balmy days and at the start of the month we were treated to many spectacular river crossings with thousands of wildebeest and zebra plunging into the Mara River to cross. The big cats also did not disappoint with plenty of small cubs around our guests have been treated to lots of lovely cat sightings.

Governors Private Camp News

Governors Private Camp has a whole

new look. We have been working on the bathrooms and soft furnishings and the camp is looking stunning and from January 2013 the camp is bookable on a non exclusive basis. This means you can enjoy this very special location without having to book the whole camp.

Community News

There has been lots going on on the community front. The Mara Rianda Charitable Trust has had a busy year and so far has built a new primary school at Enkereri, installed water harvesting at the school, completed the construction of a new maternity clinic at Mara Rianda and begun talks to build a new school on the other side of the Mara River to serve another community.

Conde Nast Readers Travel Awards

Governors Camp is delighted to have been recognised in the Conde Nast Readers Choice Awards. Governors Camp, Masai Mara was voted 10th best hotel in Middle East, Africa and Indian Ocean in the overseas Leisure Hotel Category, This is a wonderful accolade and one which we are very proud of.

Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge News

Sabyinyo Silverback had a lovely surprise this month when we received a certificate of excellence from Tripadvisor in the post. Guests have been enjoying some great Gorilla Treks with some people getting a closer than expected encounter as Gorillas have been using guests legs to steady themselves as they walk past on the steep slopes!

Mfangano island Camp News

It has been a mostly dry month on Mfangano Island with the westerly Komadhi wind blowing. A few light rain showers early on in the month brought a green flush to the island. The fisherman have been out at night looking for tiny Omena fish and casting a magical twinkly glow over the lake with their lanterns. Our clients have been enjoying relaxing on the lake shore and fishing for Nile Perch.

Loldia House News

This month Loldia has been welcoming back lots of repeat guests. The water levels in Lake Naivasha have risen due to rain in the catchment areas and the gardens are looking beautiful. Our guests have been enjoying night game drives on the farm with regular sightings of hippo and leopard. The flamingoes have been on the move, moving from lake to lake in the region but we are still treated to good sightings of them.

We hope to share the magic of our corner of the Masai Mara with you sometime soon.

Yours Sincerely,

Steve

MD

EYES ON NATURE EXPEDITIONS LTD(TOURS AND TRAVEL) COMMERCE HSE,MOI AVENUE 3RD FLOOR ,SUITE 311 P.O BOX 79456-00200,Nairobi,Kenya. TELFAX: 254-20-2229781 CELL PHONE: 0722-761587,0734-939308 E-MAIL: info@eyesonnatureexpeditions.com

http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com

Blog :http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com/blog

Blog :http://natureman2.wordpress.com

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294206-i9216-k4272070-o10-Eyes_on_nature_expeditions-Kenya.html

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Hipposudoric Acid

Author: admin  /  Category: General

Weather and grasslands

This month saw hot and dusty days with little rain although each day began with gorgeous pastel sunrises. Early morning temperatures averaged 17°C with some mornings being as low as 12°C, midday was a warm 25°C and evenings temperatures were around 23°C. The grasslands are drying out rapidly and have been grazed down with the many wildebeest and zebra that have passed through, mid month there were an estimated 500,000 wildebeest strewn over the Bila Shaka, Musiara and northern Masai conservation areas. The Mara River has been at a steady flow. There was little rainfall with 63.5mm for the month at Little Governors and 72.5mm at Governors Camp, on the 27th there was a good shower of rain of 30mm which brought the water up by two feet.

General game

Large numbers of wildebeest came through within the 1st week of the month and many zebra have been seen in and around the Musiara Marsh and Plains areas, on the 28th many of the wildebeest had moved out except the small scattered herds. Elephant have been crossing the Mara River of late.

Wildebeest migration


There have phenomenal river crossings this month!!!

At 6.00pm on the 8th at the main crossing points at paradise an estimated 2,000 Zebra and 500 wildebeest crossed the Mara River towards the Mara triangle. Many zebra and wildebeest that had crossed the sand river then came across the Burrangat and Posse plains; they then crossed via the Talek River towards Musiara and Paradise Plains. There were large numbers of wildebeest in the Bila Shaka and Musiara Plains. Since the first week there have been daily river crossings with large numbers of wildebeest and a few zebra taking the plunge. Crocodile in the river have been active, depending where they cross there is often many wildebeest killed from sheer concentrated numbers congregating into narrow exits, resulting in floating bodies, which is a tragic waste of life.

On the 11th, 15th, 16th, 17th 19th large numbers of Wildebeest crossed at what the guides call mortuary, on the 17th at 11.00am there were an estimated 250 or so animals that were trampled on by one another and floated down. On the 23rd a large crossing of wildebeest at the main crossing point took place at 11.00am with an estimated 3,000-5,000 of them crossing. Large plumes of dust were kicked up as they all suddenly lurched forward in a seething mass.

Many more herds of Wildebeest have recently come down from the conservation areas in the north east and are scattered all over Rhino ridge. The many wildebeest that crossed from mid month onwards are in the ‘Lookout’ area in the south of the Reserve. On the 31st in the morning and afternoon there was a large build up of wildebeest at the main crossing point, they made numerous attempts to cross and the final straw in the afternoon was a vulture flying into alight onto a dead carcass that was in the river, this spooked them and they all retreated back to a few hundred meters of the river. Guides from the Transmara reporting back late in the evening say that there was a small crossing near the Mara bridge of an estimated 500 wildebeest and a few zebra.

Topi in good numbers can be seen on Topi Plains, Musiara Marsh, Paradise and in the conservation areas to the East of the reserve. Many female Topi have given birth earlier than usual; with young calves being seen. Elephant have crossed the Mara River again. There are some very young calves; we have seen calves crossing the river with the assistance of their mothers. Midday is still a good time to see elephant crossing the river. Cokes Hartebeest also have calves which is the same story as Topi; being earlier than usual.

Warthog with more piglets are being seen, the resident lion are taking note and have taken many young piglets already. Lion will dig warthog out of their bolt holes if the ground surface is not too hard.

The breeding herd of buffalo is being seen within the Marsh and Bila Shaka, lately they have moved to the eastern side of the Marsh. Some of the breeding bulls have been fighting and one bull had a split ‘boss’ which indicates a severe head on contact, it is not unusual to see a bull lift another literally off the ground.

Large troops of Olive Baboons with many infants are on the roadside verges and also in the woodland fringes. At birth they are black in colour, at six weeks old they will start to ride ‘jockey’ on their mothers backs. Both male and female olive baboons hunt. In the relatively richer forest environments where they are found, olive baboons rely heavily on fruits compared to seeds and grasses consumed by savannah-living baboons. Male Baboons will actively hunt small antelopes; it requires active searching and stalking or chasing of the prey with Thomson’s gazelles making up 30 +% of the prey eaten by olive baboons.

Thomson Gazelles fawns are being seen more frequently, with cheetah and Black Backed Jackals feeding of them. Good numbers of Grants Gazelles can be seen in Marsh Grasslands, Defassa waterbuck and impala are still regulars within the woodlands and grassland areas between the camps.

Many giraffe are being seen with many differing coat patterns in the woodlands and in between the camps they are prominent browsers with more sightings of mainly males feeding off the Warburgia leaves (African pepper tree) these leaves are very spicy. Giraffe have a unique skin pattern in which the white patches are sites for complex blood vessel systems and large sweat glands which serve as a window to dissipate heat, similar to that of zebra each individual giraffe has a unique coat pattern. Giraffe are certainly not aromatic and it is said that their hair may serve as a chemical defense, as it is full of parasite repellents that gives the animal a characteristic scent, we often think that certain leaves and herbs can induce this effect, generally speaking males have a stronger odor than females, it is also thought that this odor has a sexual function.Their horns, which are more prominent on the males are not actually horns but formed from ossified cartilage and are called ‘ossicones’. These solid bone protrusions (ossicones) are covered in skin.

Some hippos have been seen more out of the water latterly on their way back from grazing and this could be from the sheer presence of Wildebeest. All hippos leave the water or marsh waterways in the late evening or hours of darkness; they crop grass with a horny layer on their lips and process this grass with their molars, the large sized canines they possess are weapons of defense only. When they have finished grazing they then slip back into the water in the early hours of the morning. Like other aquatic mammals, the hippo has very little hair so is sensitive to Ultraviolet light with this they secrete a substance through pores in their skin called ‘hipposudoric acid’. This secretion is initially colourless and turns red-orange within minutes, eventually becoming brown. An interesting note: two distinct pigments have been identified in the secretions, one red and one orange. The two pigments are highly acidic compounds. They are known as red pigment-hipposudoric acid and orange pigment-norhipposudoric acid. The red pigment was found to inhibit the growth of disease-causing bacteria, lending belief and theory that the secretion has an antibiotic effect. The light absorption of both pigments peaks in the ultraviolet range, creating a sunscreen effect. All hippos, even those with different diets secrete the pigments, so it does not appear that food is the source of the pigments. There is one young male hippo at Il Moran Camp on the opposite bank and is called ‘Socks’ due to pink pigments on his feet.

Cats

Lion

Marsh Pride – Bibi left her one cub to Siena who had two of her own, later in the month another younger lioness had three cubs. Siena’s three joined up so all six were seen together. On the 15th and 16th Siena was seen mating with Sikio and Bibi at the same time was with Hunter, although now she is spending more time with the lioness and the six cubs again.

The four males are seen throughout Bila Shaka. The other three females including Modomo have been seen between Bila Shaka and Topi plains. Modomo’s lip ulcers seem to have disappeared with only a slight scram to indicate where they were.

Scar and Morani were last seen near the top end east of Bila Shaka. They have been feeding off warthog, zebra and wildebeest. Charm is seen often now on her own and she was last seen on the East side of the Marsh.

Notch and the four males have been in Hammerkop area of Ongata posse which is west of The Talek region; there are many wildebeest here having crossed the Mara river. During hard times of drought or rain when most ungulates disperse these large male lion will opt for larger prey and hippo even large adult males were taken regularly. Notch is suffering from Sarcoptic mange and has lost much hair around his lower stomach region, some hair from his dark mane has also fallen out, he is well over 12 years old now and this mange is relatively common with old male lion.

The Lioness Nyota and her male cub Moja who is 8 months old has been seen between Rhino Ridge and Topi Plains, there are many wildebeest here that have come down from the Masai conservation areas and across the Talek River.

Joy and her 3 male sub adults that are 16 months old are being seen regularly near the windmill area of the Marsh or just within in the conservation area. They have been feeding off wildebeest and warthog piglets. On the 27th in the afternoon they dug out three piglets. Joy herself has been seen mating with Scar. One of the male cubs was scratched up by the four males but is healing well, on the 29th Joy was seen near the west side of the Marsh with only two male cubs.

The Olkiombo lion pride of 12 including their 2 cubs which are 10 months old, 8 females and 2 males which are 2-3 years old, are in the open plains area near Fig tree camp in the riverine woodlands. They have been feeding off wildebeest and zebra.

Cheetah

Malaika and her one cub that is approximately four months old are still very active; she has been feeding off Thomson Gazelles and their fawns, she is being seen more frequently near Topi plains.

The female cheetah with one male cub who is estimated at 12 months old have moved out form the Mara North conservancy and are being seen at Bila Shaka and Rhino Ridge. On the 25th they had killed a Thomson Gazelle between Rhino and Bila Shaka; they ate about 50% of this kill before being run off by spotted Hyena.

Another female Cheetah with two cubs that are estimated at two months old are frequently being seen in the Paradise and Bila Shaka plains area, again Thomson Gazelles are on the menu. They were harassed by two Jackal a dog and bitch who were baiting them for some time, the female cheetah gave chase and saw off the jackal pair, it is not uncommon to witness Jackal running off cheetah from their kill.

Leopard

Olive and her one cub that is 12 weeks old have been seen near the Ntiaktiak and Talek river area and also recently in the croton thickets above Rekero camp. She has been seen feeding off Bush Buck and impala.

The male leopard of Paradise Plains has been near the mortuary crossing point on the Mara River this month. On the 22nd in the evening after a large crossing had passed through he was seen being chased by six large male Olive Baboons.

The female leopard on the rocky hill close to the Serena pump house on the Mara River with her one male cub that is approximately 10 months old is being seen regularly. She has been seen feeding of Impala recently, good sightings of her was seen on the 19th, 22nd and 23rd where she frequents a well used Warburgia tree.

The large male Leopard of Paradise can be seen in and around the main crossing points; on the 30th at 10.30am at the main crossing point he was seen crossing the open ground with a young male behind it.

Walking in the Mara North Conservancy

Grasslands were still long and are now showing signs of drying out. The open plains below the fly over grasses are still long and dense although pockets of zebra and some wildebeest that have come through have made an impact here.

Large herds of wildebeest started coming thorough in the second week of the month. The majority of these wildebeest moved on down in a southern direction towards the Musiara and Bila Shaka areas and then onto the main crossing points on the Mara River. On the 31st there were still some good sized herds in the North and East of the conservancy.

Good numbers of zebra had come through earlier and moved on south although a few herds remained in the open grassland plains. Hyena and lion have preyed on these wildebeest and zebra. On the 23rd a herd of zebra was spooked perhaps by lion when suddenly one of them a stallion dropped dead, we were not sure what the problem was apart from the fact that it was an old Stallion. A zebras stripes are believed to play a role in social interactions, with variations of the pattern allowing the animals to distinguish between individuals, like a human finger print. Common zebras and plains zebras live in groups, known as ‘harems’, consisting of one stallion with up to six mares and their foals. Bachelor males either live alone or with groups of other bachelors until they are old enough to challenge a breeding stallion.

Elephant have been seen in the acacia woodlands mainly in the eastern corridor, signs of elephant damage can be seen on the acacia Gerrardii trees, most of the dung shows grass is the main item in their diet; it appears that when large numbers of wildebeest or cattle prevail the elephant tend to stay longer in the acacia woodlands, or move on down to the reserve.

The Buffalo herd has been seen near the salt lick and also on the open grasslands plains on the opposite side to the rocky croton hill. The Acacia lion pride have three little cubs; the lioness gave birth in the riverbed near the white highlands ridge. She was seen later in the month for some time in the croton thickets on the ‘Fly over’. Topi with young calves can be seen on the shorter grass plains in the east and southern areas of the conservancy, small herds of cokes hartebeest in the east.

Good sized herds of impala in the acacia woodlands. A lioness has three cubs that are two months old; on the 30th at 7.00am in the croton thickets near to the horse camp the lioness and her three cubs, the three other lionesses and their six cubs were all seen together; they had earlier that morning killed and eaten a wildebeest near the Olare Orok River.

We hope to share the magic of our corner of the Masai Mara with you sometime soon.

Yours Sincerely,

Steve

MD

EYES ON NATURE EXPEDITIONS LTD(TOURS AND TRAVEL) COMMERCE HSE,MOI AVENUE 3RD FLOOR ,SUITE 311 P.O BOX 79456-00200,Nairobi,Kenya. TELFAX: 254-20-2229781 CELL PHONE: 0722-761587,0734-939308 E-MAIL: info@eyesonnatureexpeditions.com

http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com

Blog :http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com/blog

Blog :http://natureman2.wordpress.com

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294206-i9216-k4272070-o10-Eyes_on_nature_expeditions-Kenya.html

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Wildebeest Migration Update in the Masai Mara

Author: admin  /  Category: General

Wildebeest Migration Update


The wildebeest migration has arrived in the Masai Mara with thousands of wildebeest crossing the Talek and Mara Rivers and pouring into the Masai Mara, and lots more wildebeest on their way.

We still have some tents available for this year’s migration season, so if you would like to come on safari and see this incredible wildlife spectacle then contact your preferred EYES ON NATURE EXPEDITIONS LTD(TOURS ANDTRAVEL) , to book your Governors migration safari.

We hope to share the magic of our corner of the Masai Mara with you sometime soon.

Yours Sincerely,

Steve

MD

EYES ON NATURE EXPEDITIONS LTD(TOURS AND TRAVEL) COMMERCE HSE,MOI AVENUE 3RD FLOOR ,SUITE 311 P.O BOX 79456-00200,Nairobi,Kenya. TELFAX: 254-20-2229781 CELL PHONE: 0722-761587,0734-939308 E-MAIL: info@eyesonnatureexpeditions.com http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com

Blog :http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com/blog

Blog :http://natureman2.wordpress.com

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294206-i9216-k4272070-o10-Eyes_on_nature_expeditions-Kenya.html

What is life? they say its from B to D ie from birth to death,between B&D is C i.e Choices,Challenges,Chances and Change,life is a matter of 4 C.s especially the choice to use EYES ON NATURE EXPEDITIONS LTD(TOURS ANDTRAVEL).

Live a Christ centered life. David said ” your word is a lamp to my feet,and a light to my path”HOLY BIBLE BOOK, PSALM 119:105 ,Mark 14:36, Mathew 19:26,Ephesians 3:20-21

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Nocturnal Aardvark Activity

Author: admin  /  Category: General

Weather and grasslands


Over the last month we have had cool mornings with many overcast days and low cloud. Early morning temperatures were as low as 12°C and averaged 15°C, although by midday we had warmed up to 25°C with balmy evening temperatures of 23°C. Grass growth is drying out slowly although protein level is still high, Bila Shaka, Paradise Plains, and some areas of Topi Plains, Emarti and Musiara Marsh grasslands have good grass levels. The Mara River level has maintained a reasonable level although a little rain at the end if the month brought the river up. The rainfall at Governors Camp for this month was 46.5 mm; much of this rain was on the 20th of this month when we had 41mm which came down in a deluge late the afternoon. At Little Governors the rainfall was 12.5mm.

General game

Giraffe and resident zebra have been seen in and around the Musiara Marsh and Plains areas. Elephant have come back again with good numbers of them being seen crossing the Mara river on a regular basis.

Notes

Gnus:More wildebeest and zebra have been crossing the sand river, on the 28th good numbers of them were congregating near look out hill, the Posse and Burrangat plains. Some quite large herds of resident wildebeest and zebra and been seen passing through the conservation areas.

Cheetah – Malaika has now one cub her other one was taken by Hyena, this little cub is three months old, they are being seen near the double crossing area.

Bibi – has one cub, she is in the Bila Shaka river bed, looks like Sienna is taking care of her cub.

Sienna – has three cubs, on the 27th she was seen with Bibi’s cub, will she take this little one over??

Gnus and Zebra have been crossing the sand river continuously and moving towards the Mara River with good numbers being seen latterly in the month. Large herds can be seen scattered across the Burrangat and Posse Plains.

Topi in good numbers can be seen congregating on Topi Plains, Paradise and in the conservation areas to the East of the reserve. Grass levels here are short with good leaf structure which is what Topi like. There also has been much spotted hyena activity here with them killing topi regularly. Topi have a habit of lying down and hyenas have capitalised on this habit of the Topi. There are a few Cokes Hartebeest scattered across Paradise, Bila Shaka and Emarti. Elephant cross the Mara River almost on a daily basis spending more time on the grassland plains. Midday is a good time to see elephant crossing the river.

A few warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) sows have given birth and this is a little early for warthog, generally they start giving birth at the end of September/October, three litters have been seen now. When water is available, warthogs will seek it and often submerge to cool down. They will also wallow in mud for the same purpose and to gain relief from biting insects and flies. Warthogs will often utilize empty dens created by aardvarks. Rather than fight, they often choose flight, and use recognized bolt holes or used dens as an escape from predators. They typically back in, using their tusks to effectively guard the entrance. Sows also use these dens to have their young. Females have litters of four or fewer young, females only have four nipples so anymore can be a problem, piglets will suckle for about four months.

The large breeding herd of buffalo have been seen within the Marsh and Bila Shaka, with this herd are many calves or varying ages, recently they have been in the Marsh grassland. Herd size is highly variable. The core status of the herd is with related females, and their offspring, in an almost linear dominance hierarchy. The basic herds are surrounded by sub herds of subordinate males, high-ranking males and females and old or invalid animals. The young males keep their distance from the dominant bull, which is recognized by the thickness of his horns. A characteristic feature of the adult bull’s horns is they have fused bases, forming a continuous bone shield referred to as a “boss”. Interesting to note is that the front hooves of the buffalo are wider than the rear, which is associated with the need to support the weight of the front part of the body, which is heavier and more powerful than the back.

On the shorter grass plains many Thomson Gazelle fawns are being seen. Female Thomson’s gazelles give birth to single fawns after a 5-5½ month gestation period. They are unusual among ungulates in that they can give birth twice yearly, rather than just once. Thomson’s Gazelles can live up to 10-15 years, although they are preyed on by most African big cats, hyenas, Black Backed Jackals and baboons. Half of all the fawns born will be lost to predators before reaching adulthood.

Defassa waterbuck and impala are still regulars within the woodlands and grassland areas between the camps. Many giraffe will also be seen with males sparring or ‘necking’ with one another. Giraffe use their 18 – 20 inch (45-50 cm) long prehensile tongue and the roof of their mouths in order to feed on a significant range of different plants and shoots, most notably from the ‘Acacia’ species. Giraffes are the tallest of all living land animals and tower over all other living land animals. The reach heights of nearly 6 m (19 ft) their long neck consists of just seven vertebrae. This is the same number of vertebrae as occurs in all other mammals but in giraffes, each neck vertebrae is greatly elongated. Many prominent trees are well pruned by giraffe and these trees stand out from miles away, even the Warburgia leaves (African pepper tree) are eaten and these leaves are very hot so perhaps some giraffe like a bit of chilli in their greens!! There are a number of calves within these breeding herds; some lucky folk have witnessed a few sightings of Giraffe giving birth. A giraffe’s heart has the formidable task of pumping blood at high enough pressure so that it can flow up the giraffe’s neck to the brain. To accomplish this, a giraffe’s heart is specially adapted. It can weigh up to 10 kg (22 lb) and generates twice the blood pressure of other large mammals. Having enough blood pressure to pump blood to the brain when the giraffe’s neck is extended upward is one challenge, but when the animal lowers its head it risks injury due to excessive blood pressure. To counter this, giraffes have a pressure-regulating system known as the rete mirabile which restricts the amount of blood that rushes towards the brain when the giraffe lowers its head. On the reversal of this action with the giraffe raising its head fast there is a one way valve in the Jugular vein that reduces blood flow back.

A few Bohors reed buck have been seen and these are a shy quiet ungulate that like coarse grass habitat, there are few in the Musiara Marsh now that grasses are drying off a little these will be seen more often.

Eland in small herds can be seen in the Marsh areas and Topi plains, scattered herds can be found throughout the Mara reserve and conservation areas, large herds of zebra and a breeding herd of eland could be seen on the lower Topi Plains this month. Bushbuck favor closed and wooded habitat with males being relatively secretive and habitual in their movements, they also darken with age, one of these males whom we used to see often close to the entrance to one of the Governors Camps was taken by a Leopard who took it up a Teclea tree that was on the road and fed off it for a few days. We have had good sightings of Serval cats this month even though the grass is long in some areas that they are found. Large numbers of Spotted Hyena on Topi Plains, Rhino Ridge and Musiara Marsh, on the Topi Plains hyena have been feeding off topi, they are more active than their competitors the lion in this area.

Cats


Lion

Marsh pride – Bibi has a cub that is five weeks old and so does Sienna who has three both of which are in the Bila Shaka river bed area. On the 26th we noticed sienna with Bibi’s cub; we all wonder if Sienna will take her cub over? Bibi is not a good mother with her losing young cubs last year.

The four Musketeers have been fighting with Sikio and Hunter who have had numerous squabbles, in the evening of the 21st Hunter and Sikio had a dramatic fight above the windmill which was well documented by guests.

Scar was chased out and for a time being was seen in Masai country, his eye is looking a little better and not so swollen, within a short time of these short encounters they were all recently seen quite close together and in good humour.

They have been mating with the young Marsh females. Modomo’s lip ulcers or growths seem to come and go, a few days ago she was seen close to the Marsh with what looks like these growths have either fallen off or they may have been pulled off while feeding. They are all feeding off buffalo and a few resident gnus & zebra that have come through. The Marsh females and males are often between the Marsh and Bila Shaka.

Notch is being seen within the Talek River region with six females of the Ol Keju Ronkai pride, they are feeding off wildebeest and warthog. The four males have crossed the Talek River and are in the lookout hill area of the Burrangat Plains perhaps a change of diet with Gnu meat. Saying this they had killed and eaten many adult hippos from the Talek and Ntiaktiak rivers.

The Lioness Nyota and her male cub Moja who is 7 months old can be seen between Rhino Ridge and Talek. Nyota is often seen on the west side of Rhino Ridge at a place called Miti ya Nyuki. She has been feeding off warthog and the odd resident wildebeest that has moved through here.

Joy and her 3 cubs that are 15 month old are being seen regularly near the windmill area of the Marsh or just within in the conservation area she had four cubs and lost a cub earlier on in May/June, they have been feeding off gnus and zebra. Two of the older male adult cubs have moved on. The three cubs were scattered on the 22nd by three of the Musketeers with Joy being seen just on her own later on they were seen together again.

The Olkiombo lion pride of 12 including their 2 cubs which are 9 months old, 8 females and 2 males which are 2-3 years old are recently being seen near the Ol Kiombo airstrip and near the confluence of the Ntiaktiak and Talek rivers. They have been feeding off the resident buffalo here and zebra.

Cheetah


Malaika and her one cub that is approximately three months old are very active. Sadly Malaika lost a cub to hyena on the 19th very sad as she was a good and caring mother. Predator aggression with hyena being a dominant predator when in similar habitat as cheetah, hyena will do the same with lion cubs if they are found unattended. The short grass areas within the Ntiaktiak and Olare Orok rivers are good places to see them.

There is another female within these areas that is also feeding off Thomson gazelles.

A nice male cheetah was seen near Topi plains on the 21st and on the 22nd he had killed a Thomson Gazelle between Topi Plains and Bila Shaka, there is short grass here which is ideal Thompson Gazelle habitat.

Leopard

Olive and her one cub that is 11 weeks old have been seen near the Ntiaktiak and Talek river area briefly this month; she lost a cub earlier on in the month and guides in this area are thinking perhaps this was from hyena activity again.

The male leopard near the croton thickets at Paradise and also near the mortuary crossing point on the Mara River is being seen often this month.

The female leopard on the rocky hill close to the Serena pump house on the Mara River with her one male cub that is approximately 9 months old is being seen regularly. She has been seen feeding of impala recently, a good sighting of here was seen on the 24th where she had killed an impala female and fed off it high up a Warburgia tree.

A female and her male cub have been seen near the BBC and Il Moran, she has been feeding off bushbuck and impala on the 19th they had killed a male bushbuck near to Il Moran Camp. On the 22nd the young male was seen carrying an impala ewe near the BBC camp on the Mara River.

Walking in the Mara North Conservancy.

Long grass still prevails in many areas below and above the ‘flyover’ of the MNC. There is very little ungulate activity here although until recently zebra will be seen on the plains above the ‘flyover’ ridge. On the plains to the east grasses are much shorter with good numbers of resident gnus and zebra that have come through earlier on in the month.

Elephant seem to be in smaller herds and they are concentrating on the Acacia woodlands. A few bulls can be seen on the open long grass plains.

Eland in small herds are being seen on the shorter grass plains to the east of the conservation area. Topi and a few cakes Hartebeest can also be seen in this area.

Thomson and Grants Gazelles are in good numbers here with two Thompson fawns being taken by Black backed Jackal.

Lion have been seen above the ‘Flyover’ on the 23rd a male and female were seen mating then two males being seen on the 24th and on the 26th early in the morning they were feeding of a zebra that they had killed, by 12.30pm there was not a item left. On the 26th 5 cubs and four females were seen at the point where we start the walk which is above a small ridge. Earlier on that morning we saw Zawadi and her 15 month old cub near to the start of Leopard Gorge. She looked in very good condition, on first sighting we mistook her for a male, and she is a big leopard as females go.

The female Cheetah and her one male cub were seen above the ‘flyover’ on the 23rd and they both looked in good condition. They have been feeding off Thomson Gazelles in the north end of the reserve where there are some very short grasses supporting good numbers of Thompson and Grants Gazelles.

There is continued nocturnal Aardvark activity as can be seen by the many holes dug into the roads and grasslands. We have also noticed more activity regarding the plated ant eater the Pangolin who eat both termites and formicine ants; they will climb trees to get at the carton ants. Three types of pangolins exist in Africa-the giant pangolin, the tree pangolin and the most widespread, the ground pangolin. Pangolins have small heads and long, broad tails. They are toothless and have no external ears, although their hearing is good. Their sense of scent is well-developed, but with small eyes their sight is poor. The weight of the protective keratinous scales and skin make up about 20% of the pangolin’s weight. The Pangolin preens itself by scratching with the hind legs, lifting its scales so the claws can reach the skin. It also uses its tongue to remove insects from under the scales. As pangolins have no teeth, the gizzard like stomach is specially adapted for grinding food. The process is helped along by the small stones and sand pangolins consume. They dig out insects from mounds with their sharp claws and use their extremely long tongues (up to 16 inches in larger pangolins) to eat them. In a resting position the tongue is pulled back into a kind of sheath that retracts into the chest cavity. Large salivary glands coat the long tongue with gummy mucus to which ants and termites stick to.

We hope to share the magic of our corner of the Masai Mara with you sometime soon.

Yours Sincerely,

Steve

MD

EYES ON NATURE EXPEDITIONS LTD(TOURS AND TRAVEL) COMMERCE HSE,MOI AVENUE 3RD FLOOR ,SUITE 311 P.O BOX 79456-00200,Nairobi,Kenya. TELFAX: 254-20-2229781 CELL PHONE: 0722-761587,0734-939308 E-MAIL: info@eyesonnatureexpeditions.com http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com

Blog :http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com/blog

Blog :http://natureman2.wordpress.com

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294206-i9216-k4272070-o10-Eyes_on_nature_expeditions-Kenya.html

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The Olkiombo Pride

Author: admin  /  Category: General

Weather and Grasslands:

Cool mornings with some overcast days and low cloud. Latterly there has been some pastel sunrises as the day warms up from a cool crisp early start. On the 3rd of June we had 18 mm of rain. The latter end of the month has brought on clear skies with crisp early morning temps being low as 12°C and average at 16°C, although midday are 24°C evening temps at 22°C. Good grass growth still prevails within Bila Shaka, Paradise Plains, and some areas of Topi Plains, Emarti and Musiara Marsh grasslands. The Mara River level has maintained a reasonable level although a little rain at the end if the month brought the river up. The rainfall at Governors Camp for this month was 52 mm; much of this rain was in the first week. At Little Governors the rainfall was 43.4mm.

General game:

Elephant are being seen regularly in the grassland areas, lion sightings and good leopard viewing despite the long grass.

Gnus: Wildebeest were seen crossing the Sand River on the 24th and sightings from various sources in Serengeti confirm many more have been seen 60 Kms from the Sand River.

Cheetah - Malaika has two cubs that are two months old near the double crossing area.

Bibi – the Marsh Lioness is lactating we have not seen anything yet!!

Elephant are spread out within Bila Shaka, Musiara and Paradise Plains; there are many young calves all spread out within these small family units. Large bulls move within the Mara ecosystem looking for females in estrous who will cycle for up to 16 weeks. Older Bulls come into Musth and will stay in this condition for up to two months depending on their physical condition. On the 12th a large bull with a radio collar called ‘Heritage’ was treated by the KWS vet due to a large abscess on his right front leg. He was treated again on the 19th and is improving with the vet saying that he hoped for a full recovery. Once he had been treated he woke up and quickly crossed the river to the Mara triangle, before returning to the Eastern side on the 27th. This Bull was seen again in the west side of the Marsh on the 31st. The bull elephant called Blossom that frequents the camps and in particular Little Governors he was last seen crossing the river at Private Camp and he is in full Musth.

The large herd of Cape Buffalo can still be seen along the Bila Shaka river bed and on the north bank of the Musiara swamp; there are many very young calves in this herd. Last count showed that there were nearly 400 animals. Lion from the Marsh pride and spotted hyena have killed and eaten some of the cows and young calves.

Cokes Hartebeest can still be seen in small pockets throughout Paradise Plains; Rhino Ridge and Bila Shaka plains, the few females close by Private Camp can still be seen. Topi that were on Topi Plains: many have been seen to have moved out to the conservation to the north east of the Talek River. A few can be seen on Paradise Plains. Near the main crossing points there is a flat area of short grass where topi congregate in good numbers. Topi prefer pastures with green grass that’s medium in length with leaf-like swards as opposed to the long grasses that still prevail in most areas that are in the reserve.

On the 24th 3 Hyena were seen chasing a topi all over the Topi Plains and at the same time in a shallow river bed 4 lionesses of the Marsh pride and one male were looking on, the hyena were so engrossed in this chase they managed to chase the topi into the waiting lionesses. The lioness ‘Modomo’ quickly took the bait and the hyena lost out.

Impala herds with young fawns within the riverine woodlands and woodland fringes with the Bachelor herds being spread out. Defassa Waterbuck are being seen again in the Marsh, male bachelor herds are scattered.

The large troops of Olive Baboons can be seen in between the camps, and there are still more young infants being born, seemingly to increase the number of mouths. Female baboons stay in the same troop their whole lives and male baboons leave the troop when they are mature enough to search for a mate.

Warthog and sows with two or three piglets that are 9 months old now can still be seen throughout the grassland plains of Bila Shaka and Musiara. Although the shorter grass plains of the reserve and conservation areas are better places to see them. Sows have up to 4 piglets at birth. Giraffe will be seen through the open plains and a good sight is a herd of them crossing a wide open plain on the skyline. Two females have been seen to give birth and this is where the calf drops from quite a height, the mother stands while giving birth and calves at birth weigh in at about 100kg. Females have a gestation of 14-15 months and usually have a single calf. Male herds can be seen together. Bohors Reedbuck can be seen in long grass areas that are close to water and have coarse grass cover. Good places to see them are in the Musiara Marsh and the Bila Shaka river bed.

Thomson and Grants Gazelles will be better seen on the shorter grasses of the reserve and conservation areas, such as Rhino Ridge and Paradise Plains. The social structure of gazelles consists of several types of groups. Male gazelles are territorial throughout their adult lives, though not usually before 2-3 years of age. During the non-territorial periods males usually spend their time in bachelor groups or as part of a mixed herd. Likewise females will form migratory female groups that travel through the males’ territory. As the female groups pass through, the territorial males will try hard to herd them to prevent them from leaving and one can see this vividly.

Spotted Hyenas are being seen more frequently, with clan numbers rising to over 20 to 30 members as they congregate when hunting and feeding. Topi Plains is a good place to see them and early mornings are a good time for it and also to get a glimpse of them hunting prey. On the 10th at 1.00am in the morning at Il Moran Camp a large clan of Hyena came through the camp and passed via the dining tent taking the ostrich eggs and knocking the ostrich bowl to pieces; before ending up behind tent number 3 where they fought for about 30 minutes, in this fracas they managed to knock down two water pipes which gushed out fountains of water which we think finally dispersed them, one hyena was found killed, looking at it in the morning light it was an old female whose teeth were well worn. This activity was probably the removal of a queen who has had her time by a daughter takeover.

Serval Cat sightings have improved this month. Two male Black Rhino have been seen near the crossing points on Paradise Plains often and the younger male had fought with the older one and suffered a few scratches around the face and horns. On the 18th the KWS vet had a look at him and cleaned up his wounds which were more superficial.

Cats


Lion

Marsh Pride – There are up to 21 lion in this pride to include the four males. The four Marsh males (Musketeers) namely Morani, Hunter, Sikio and Scar (whose right eye lid is still not quite healed, pictured above), will move between Musiara Marsh, Bila Shaka and Topi Plains. The four young females are also being seen spread out. With the long grass they have all been seen recently between the Marsh and Topi Plains. They have been feeding off the resident buffalo, Grants Gazelle and two wildebeest that had come in from the conservation areas. On the 4th they killed a male buffalo near Bila Shaka under a Balanites tree and another one again on 11th near the airstrip area of Musiara Marsh and ate off it for three days. On the 28th early in the morning the four males and four females had killed a male buffalo on the eastern side of Bila Shaka, 4.00pm they had eaten all of it and hyenas were left eating the remains. On the 24th Modomo and two other lionesses were seen on a Topi kill near the dry river called Kreys Lugga between Topi Plains and Bila Shaka. This topi they were eating was chased for them by a group of Spotted Hyenas that came in from Topi plains. On the 30th six females including Modomo (lioness with lip ulcers) were seen eating a wildebeest near the windmill area of the Marsh. The next day on the 31st they killed a warthog near the Musiara airstrip.

Notch and the four males are being seen on the Talek River and the double crossing area. On the 9th near the Talek river crossing on the north b

ank they had killed a large male buffalo and were with three females. They had killed a large male hippo on the 15th near the Olkiombo sundowner tree and ate off it for three days with the Olkiombo pride of 8 lion. They kill hippo and male buffalo frequently. They are often seen on the south bank of the Talek River near to fig tree camp. Notch the old male is looking his age now and is often seen on the Talek River below the Olkiombo airstrip. The Lioness Nyota and her male cub Moja who is 6 months old can be seen between Rhino Ridge and Talek. Nyota is often seen on the west side of Rhino ridge at a place called Miti ya Nyuki. Joy and her 5 cubs were being seen near Topi Plains and in the conservation area. She crosses between here and the conservation areas often. Two of the older male adult cubs have moved on. With long grass in the reserve lion are struggling to feed themselves, when their main prey species is well dispersed.

Another great shot from Bernadette of Joy and her cubs at 8 weeks old (Below)!

The Olkiombo Pride of 12 lion including their 2 cubs which are 8 months old, 8 females and 2 males which are about 2½ years old are being seen on the south bank of the Talek River. On the 1st July at 11.00am the four Notch males killed a Buffalo. The Olkiombo pride was also feeding off it at a later stage and we understand that one of the young sub adult males who were feeding on the buffalo was killed by the Notch males a few days ago. Two nomadic males at least 3 years old have been seen near Governors Private Camp and as far as Paradise Plains. These two are suspected to be the two males that were originally with Joy. On Paradise Plains near the main crossing points seven females are often seen.

Cheetah

Malaika and her two cubs that are approximately two months old are very active; with Malaika regularly getting onto cars and with the young cubs looking on. She is seen feeding off Thompson Gazelles and impala females. The short grass areas within the Ntiaktiak and Olare Orok rivers are good places to see them. There is another female within these areas that is also feeding off Thomson Gazelles.

Leopard

Olive and her two cubs that are 10 weeks old have been seen on the Talek river area briefly this month; due to a slow season and wet conditions sightings have been poor. The male leopard near the croton thickets at Paradise and also near the mortuary crossing point on the Mara River has been seen often this month. The female leopard on the rocky hill close to the Serena pump house on the Mara River with her one male cub that is approximately 8 months old is being seen regularly. She had two cubs of which one was a female and it appears that this female has vanished in early May. She is feeding off Impala and Thompson Gazelles. On the 9th she was seen with a Thomson gazelle up a Boscia tree. Another male and female has been seen in the Governors BBC camp on the Mara River and Lake Nakuru area of the Marsh.

Walking in the Mara North Conservancy

Cool morning starts the day although the day warms up quickly. Elephant are spread out across the open grassland plains and as the day warms up they move into the acacia woodlands or the riparian woodlands that abut the Fly-Over ridge, there are good stands of Euclea Divinorum which they also like being in. Good numbers of Eland on the Eastern side with the short grass plains and there are also many Zebra here as well. A few more resident Wildebeest have been filing in form the east towards the Loita Hills. On the 30th an estimated 100 Wildebeest were seen to cross the Olare Orok River.

Thomson and Grants Gazelles will also be seen on these short grass plains and it is here on these plains that we conduct the walks. Topi and Cokes Hartebeest will also be seen along with good numbers of Impala with some large breeding herds particularly in the north east acacia Gerrardii woodlands, bachelor herds are also seen close by.

Recently there has been much activity from Aardvarks, as can be seen from the diggings into termite mounds from the night before. The Aardvark is nocturnal and is a solitary mammal that feeds almost exclusively on Ants and Termites (formicivore); the only fruit eaten by Aardvarks is the aardvark cucumber. An Aardvark generally emerges from its burrow in the late afternoon or shortly after sunset and forages over a considerable home range encompassing 10 to 30 kilometres, swinging its long nose from side to side to pick up the scent of food. When a concentration of Ants or Termites is detected, the Aardvark digs into it with its powerful front legs, keeping its long ears upright to listen for predators, and takes up an astonishing number of insects with its long, sticky tongue – as many as 50,000 in one night have been recorded. Aside from digging out Ants and Termites, the Aardvark also excavates burrows in which to live: temporary sites are scattered around the home range as refuges, and a main burrow is used for breeding. Warthogs and Porcupines will also use old Aardvark holes.

Spotted Hyenas have been seen in small numbers as they come back from their night time activities on the northern plains, there is a large clan of Hyena in this area. Two lionesses and a male have been seen in the croton thickets close to the Olare Orok River although the viewing was good they moved away quickly. One of the lionesses has been reported being seen near to Masai villages. Black Backed Jackals are also being seen in monogamous pairs. A pair was seen eating the remains of a young Thomson Gazelle fawn on the 22nd, more than likely they caught this themselves.

We hope to share the magic of our corner of the Masai Mara with you sometime soon.

Yours Sincerely, Steve,MD EYES ON NATURE EXPEDITIONS LTD(TOURS AND TRAVEL) COMMERCE HSE,MOI AVENUE 3RD FLOOR ,SUITE 311 P.O BOX 79456-00200,Nairobi,Kenya. TELFAX: 254-20-2229781 CELL PHONE: 0722-761587,0734-939308 E-MAIL: info@eyesonnatureexpeditions.com http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com Blog :http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com/blog http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294206-i9216-k4272070-o10-Eyes_on_nature_expeditions-Kenya.html

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BBC Planet Earth Live at Governors Camp

Author: admin  /  Category: General
BBC Planet Earth Live at Governors Camp

With 3 days to go until transmission of BBC Planet Earth Live the countdown to the BBC’s latest live wildlife documentary has begun.

We are delighted to be hosting one of the film crews at Governors Camp, in the Masai Mara. So far the team has gathered some great footage of the lions of the Masai Mara.

There is also full transmission set up in camp from where the crew will be doing live broadcasts around the world. Last night whilst testing transmission the crew was interrupted by a herd of inquisitive buffalo and one hippo! Such are the adventures of working in the Bush.

Follow all the action live from the 6th of May on BBC1 and BBC knowledge, there are also live tweets from@Africanatureman and the_big_five

We hope you enjoy watching the Big Cats of the Masai Mara on BBC Planet Earth Live and hope to welcome you and your clients on a http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com safari to see the action live out on the great plains of Kenya’s Masai Mara.

We hope to share the magic of our corner of the Mara with you sometime soon.

Yours Sincerely, Steve,MD EYES ON NATURE EXPEDITIONS LTD(TOURS AND TRAVEL) COMMERCE HSE,MOI AVENUE 3RD FLOOR ,SUITE 311 P.O BOX 79456-00200,Nairobi,Kenya. TELFAX: 254-20-2229781 CELL PHONE: 0722-761587,0734-939308 E-MAIL: info@eyesonnatureexpeditions.com http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com Blog :http://www.eyesonnatureexpeditions.com/blog http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294206-i9216-k4272070-o10-Eyes_on_nature_expeditions-Kenya.html

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