Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Not the only migration in Africa

Did you know there many different annual migrations in Africa? The most famous one is  the annual wildebeest migration in East Africa, but there are numerous others. It is quite obvious if you think about it. Everywhere, animals need to migration to find water and grazing according to the seasons.

Here is another migration that happens in Botswana:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Migration in the Masai Mara

Here is a game report from Governor's Camp in the Masai Mara. Some incredible game viewing in September. Governor's Camp is one of the best camps to be based when the Annual Migration is in the Masai Mara (normally between July and October).

Governor's Report courtesy of Governor's Camp.

This past month we have experienced cool mornings with warm days. Early morning temperatures have averaged around 16°C with some mornings being as low as 12°C, midday is 28-30°C and evening temperatures are a warm 24°C. Grasses are shorter in most areas where hoofed movement has been prevalent. Wildebeest and zebra have passed through on their way to the crossing points. In the Masai conservation areas adjacent to the reserve wildebeest have stayed a little longer with grasses being more palatable here. There have been scattered showers of rain this month which has induced grass growth in the conservation areas. The Mara River has been a steady flow due to more rain in the eastern foothills.  There have been some scattered showers during the month with a total of 68.5mm at Governors camp.            

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds 
General game
Some large herds of wildebeest and a few zebra came through from the conservation areas within the 1st week of the month. More zebra have been seen in and around the Musiara Marsh and Plains areas. Good numbers of elephant and more leopards are also being seen.
More river crossings early on this month!!!
There was a large crossing at the main crossing point at Paradise on the afternoon of the 1st with an estimated 5,000 animals crossing the Mara River. This was the group that were doubtful to cross in the last few days of August, interesting in that there were many Wildebeest that early afternoon in the Marsh that were moving and filing fast towards Paradise, this group must have joined up with the others a little later at Paradise for a final lunge. During this crossing there was an amusing saga with these Wildebeest and Zebra in that the path they chose was in the direct line of some Hippo, in the frenzied surge while crossing many wildebeest swam into the hippo who were not impressed by this disturbance, numerous wildebeest then tried to climb over the hippo and some even tried to vault it, one guest managed to photographed the Hippo raising his head and  lifting a wildebeest almost out of the water, after a while the Hippo moved out to the other side of the river.

Photo courtesy of Emma Smith

The majority that crossed were wildebeest and a few zebra, two were taken by crocodile as well as one young zebra foal. One other wildebeest was snatched as it tried to climb up out of the bank, it fought and kicked with much effort, but luck was on its side and the crocodile let go. On the 2nd in the morning and afternoon there must have been over 10,000 wildebeest and a few hundred zebra that crossed at the main crossing point at paradise, This was the last of the large crossings, it was a phenomenal day with guests staying out from 6,30am until 6,30pm. There was much crocodile activity and over 300 died or were trampled in the surge to get out from a precarious exit point.
Photo courtesy of Allison Hunt

On the 4th a good crossing at 4.30pm at the Mortuary crossing point. To begin with, in the morning these wildebeest crossed half way and then went back so it was a final rush later in the afternoon.
On the 8th a small crossing at the Mortuary crossing point in the morning and afternoon. On the 20th there was a crossing in the morning at 10.30am of an estimated 2,000 Wildebeest that crossed at the Main crossing point at Paradise. On the 21st at 10.30 am an estimated 150 Zebra crossed at the main crossing point with one being taken by crocodile. Mid month saw many wildebeest cross towards the east at the Kichwa tembo crossing point with these wildebeest staying longer on the short green grass.

Photo courtesy of David Roberts

On the 28th an estimated 2,000 animals eventually crossed at the main crossing point at paradise although early on in the morning there were only a few zebra that seemed to crossed back and forth, sadly this must have stimulated or stirred the crocodile into a feeding frenzy,  two of them were taken very quickly on their return trip. On the 29th at the main crossing point an estimated 5,000 animals crossed of which mainly where Wildebeest and one was taken, there were a few zebra as well that crossed.
In the evening of the 29th there were large numbers of wildebeest running at full gallop from Musiara and Bila Shaka towards paradise plains. On the 30th at 1.00pm an estimated 2,000 animals crossed at Paradise.

Photo courtesy of Steve Hixon  

During the 1st two weeks there were some good crossings on the Mara River again moving towards the Mara triangle in the west. Mid month there were a few good crossing at the Kichwa Tembo with many of these wildebeest crossing from west to east and staying for a longer period of time here in the Maasai conservation areas. Later on the in the month many were seen filing past Musiara and onto the Paradise Plains they then later crossed over. There were others that continued east towards the Mara North Conservancy. At present the wildebeest and zebra are not in large herds, Bila Shaka, Musiara and Topi Plains have a few scattered herds. More can be seen on the short grass plains in the Masai conservation areas, when the prominent grasses start to dry out the wildebeest do not like it when it is dry and with long stems.    

Photo courtesy of Steve Hixon

Topi in good numbers can be seen on Topi plains, Musiara Marsh, Paradise and in the conservation areas to the East of the reserve. There are many young calves still being born this month. Topi have a extraordinary coat with reddish brown bodies and with dark purple patching on their upper legs, in fact their coats are made of short, shiny hairs and that it is two toned and ‘shiny’ this shiny reflective glare is in fact a way of dissipating heat on hot sunny days, it is known as a reflective coat. Topi can be found in very harsh and arid country where water sources are not close by. As they are nearly exclusively grazers, they can go for months without drinking in the dry seasons if they are feeding on growing grass.

Photo courtesy of Steve Hixon

Elephant in family units can be seen more often in the Marsh and Bila Shaka plains. There are some very young calves being seen. Now that the larger herds of Wildebeest and Zebra have moved out the elephant have seemed to have moved back in.

Photo courtesy of Mark Smeltz

Warthog and their piglets are being seen all over most grassland plains. Warthog groups are known as sounders and can comprise of two or three sows two of which are older daughters, last yeas offspring and recent piglets. There were four piglets, two adult sows and thee younger sows near the causeway, there is now one piglet the other three were taken by lion. Boars tend to be solitary or move around sounders and sub-adult males associate in bachelor groups but leave alone when they become adults. It has been observed that sows will nurse foster piglets if they lose their own litter often to predation, making them cooperative breeders. This observable fact is known as ‘Allosucking’ which does not seem to be a case of mistaken identity or milk theft and may be a sign of altruistic behavior. Piglets begin grazing at about two to three weeks and are weaned by six months. Warthogs are considered a "follower" species as the young are kept nearby at all times and do not hide.
The breeding herds of buffalo have been for a long time within the Marsh and Bila Shaka and seem to get move around in the presence of lion, latterly they are being seen in the East side of the Marsh. A few cows have been taken by the Marsh lionesses with help from the Musketeers.
Large troops of Olive Baboons are seen daily on the roadside verges also in the woodland fringes. During mid day they can spread quite far out across the plains with individuals on sentry duty often propped up on a termite mound.
Thomson Gazelles with young fawns are being seen frequently, with cheetah and Black Backed Jackals feeding of them. Grants Gazelles can be seen in Marsh grasslands as well as in all open grassland plains even where there are young shrubs, Grants Gazelles will also browse readily. Defassa waterbuck and impala are still regulars within the woodlands and grassland areas between the camps, some more impala fawns are being seen, there is no breeding season as such.
Giraffe are seen fairly spread out within the Woodlands and on the open plains. A herd of Giraffe on the skyline often termed as a journey of Giraffe that is crossing a grassland plain is still a true African scene. It is amazing what distances they can travel.

Photo courtesy of Will Carpmael

Hippos can be seen in all bends of the River and also in the quarry near the airstrip. They come out a night to graze and can be heard next to ones tent as they munch away at the grass. They defecate by flicking their tail back and forth which spreads the scat not much different to that of a muck spreader; a tent at IL Moran got caught up one night and half of one side had to be cleaned when it dried.
Serval cats, a medium sized cat have been seen more frequently, they are very much a grass cat, feeding off mice and birds. This species has very large erect ears that are one of the most prominent traits of this cat. They can also be found in high altitude moorlands and many Melanistic varieties have been seen this is the condition in which an unusually high concentration of melanin occurs in the skin, plumage, or pelage of an animal.

Photo courtesy of Mark Holzaph

One Aardwolf has been seen near Rhino Ridge on the 19th in the early morning; this hyenid is a specialist feeder of harvester termites, the cheek teeth are specialized for eating insects and are mere pegs, and its large and sticky tongue for licking them up.
There are better sightings of the greater Galago in the camps at night or the evenings being good times, the main diet of the greater Galago is gums and/or fruit; it also eats seeds, nectar, millipedes and insects. The Elaeodendron buchananii tree is fruiting at the moment and this draws Elephant and Galagos into the camps, the fruit is yellow when ripe. The species we have here in the Mara is a dark brown western variety that is almost black. The Galago is a nocturnal and an arboreal species. They produce a loud raucous call and this call is uttered most often during the mating season. Occasionally there can be up to three being seen of which one is obviously larger than the other two and this can be observed as ‘Alloparenting’ which has been found to occur in some species of primates with adult females and sub adult males and females providing the care. Sub adults will play with or groom juveniles while the mother spends time foraging.
Two species of monitor lizard can be found here – the Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus) and the savannah Monitor (Varanus exanthematicus). The Nile monitor is the more common one seen often near to water courses being marsh or rivers. It is not unusual to see a Nile Monitor digging frantically into a termite mound and this action if often from that of a female monitor digging a hole to lay her eggs, the termites think this is an invasion and quickly seal up the damage and in the meantime encasing the egg cache of 20-60 soft shelled eggs. The temperature in the mound is correct incubation temperatures of about 86°f/30°c to 88°f/31.1°c usually takes approximately 95-100 days give or take a week either way,  if the ground is soft after a bit of rain etc they then hatch and dig themselves out quite quickly. Generally speaking monitor lizards produce by sexual reproduction; however, it is observed that some monitor lizards are apparently capable of parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis - is a form of asexual reproduction in which offspring develop from unfertilized eggs.
Ostriches are now sitting on eggs with three clutches that have been seen, Ostriches hens can lay 40 to 100 eggs in a year with an average of 60. Although 20 eggs at a time, the average weight is 1.5 kg and incubation period lasts a little over 40 days with the males and females both incubating them; often it is the female during the day and the Male at night.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds

The Marsh Pride – Siena and another younger lioness have six cubs that are a little over three months old. They are between the Marsh and Bila Shaka and have been feeding off Buffalo, Wildebeest and Zebra. Siena often does the hunting while the other lioness looks after the cubs. Modomo and another lioness have 5 cubs which are about 2 months old; two belong to Modomo and the other three to the lioness. Modomo had her cubs on Rhino Ridge and then ventured down to Kries lugga. At present there are only four cubs and it is now three days that the fifth cub has been missing and this is long time for a young cub to be missing from its maternal mother.

Photos courtesy of Mark Holzaph
Bibi has not been seen recently although early on in the month she was near topi plains with charm and two younger lionesses. She was being mated with Hunter one of the Musketeers on August 16th.
The four males are still being seen throughout the Musiara Marsh and Bila Shaka. Scars eye has improved although he still rubs it; this wound has been there a very long time despite the Kenya wildlife Services vet who has treated scar on two occasions. Hunter, Moran and Sikio have all been active by feeding off buffalo, wildebeest and zebra.  

Photo courtesy of Rene Faes

Joy and her 4 male sub adult cubs that are 17 months old are in the Bila Shaka and Topi Plains area. Most of the time Joy is with three of them, one of them after being scratched by the Musketeers tends to hang back and he is looking quite thin now, latterly the three males are on the short grass plains of the conservation area. These sub adult males are the progeny of Claude and Romeo and now with a new male take over in the Marsh pride Joys sub adults will have to tread carefully in their environment. At the age of 17 months they are still reliant on Joy for at least another few months. At the end of last month Joy was being mated with Sikio. They have been feeding off wildebeest and warthog.
Notch and the four males are being seen near the double crossing area, these four males are a considerable coalition they traverse a large area and have killed or pushed out many young males and cubs in the Burrangat plains and Ol Keju Ronkai area and almost as far as look out hill.  

Photo courtesy of Katie Krivan

The Lioness Nyota and her male cub Moja who is 9 months old has been seen between Rhino Ridge and the Talek River. There are a few wildebeest and zebra here and with warthog being plentiful on Rhino ridge, they will often subsist on warthog.
The Paradise Pride: 4 females and two 3 month old cubs, two male lion of which one has a nice dark mane almost black, he is the father of the two cubs. They have fed on many wildebeest that have passed through here. Guides here in the Mara have named these two male lion the ‘4km’ males who are from the other side of the Mara river.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds

The Olkiombo lion pride of 12 including their 2 cubs which are 11 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.
Malaika and her one cub that is approximately five months old are being seen on the others side of the Talek River; latterly they are being seen on the Burrangat plains. Earlier on in the month she spent a good time near on Topi plains and Bila Shaka, she them moved over Rhino ridge and down to the Talek River. She has been feeding off Thomson Gazelle and impala.

Photo courtesy of Rene Faes

The female cheetah with one male cub that is estimated at 13 months old has moved out from the Mara North conservancy; they are being seen on Paradise plains and rhino ridge. On the 21st the male cub made a kill of a Thompson Gazelle fawn he struggled to begin with the mother then helped out; later he attempted another Thomson fawn and this time was more successful. They are both being presently being seen between Rhino ridge and Paradise Plains.

Photo courtesy of Ken Straetman
The female Cheetah with two cubs that are estimated at three months old frequent the Bila Shaka and Rhino ridge grasslands. She is feeding off Impala, young warthog piglets and again Thomson Gazelle.
There is a female cheetah near look out hill that has four cubs estimated at 4-5 months old, she was seen on the 19th with a young impala female, and on the 26th she had killed a Thomson Gazelle.

Olive and her one cub that is a little over 3 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 of Paradise Plains near the mortuary crossing point on the Mara River has been seen a few times this month.
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 11 months old is still being seen regularly. There is a croton thicket with a large Warburgia tree and on the east side of the hillock and she is often being looked for here.
Olives’ older daughter called Binti has been seen frequently on the Talek River in Olive’s home range, there have been some lovely sightings of her recently with the 28th in the afternoon being memorable.
Photo courtesy of Rene Faes

The male leopard of the Marsh has been seen frequently in the woodlands quite close to Il Moran camp, he is also being seen in the Lake Nakuru area of the Marsh. On the 28th at 11.00 am he was seen walking from the Marsh to the woodlands where he later killed a young Bushbuck female.
The female leopard on the rocky hill close to the Serena pump house with her one male cub that is approximately 11 months old is still being seen regularly. A good sighting of them both recently was on the 28th and 30th.
The large male that frequents the bottom end of Bila Shaka river bed has been seen near the managers crossing point, on the 23rd in the later afternoon he was seen stalking some Impala, he disappeared into the woodlands and with what noise was being heard presumed was successful.
Walking in the Mara North Conservancy.
Pastel hues of the early dawn bring light to a new day. Many more wildebeest and zebra have been through this area particularly during mid month and grass levels have now thinned out. On the 8th at 10.15am a large herd of an estimated 2,000 animals crossed the Olare Orok River in the acacia Valley, walkers stopped and sat silent under dead acacia tree, within minutes there were was a thundering of hooves as they passed in a cloud of dust and moved up the between the gap in on the croton. Large numbers of wildebeest and a few zebra have come back into the conservancy in the last two days of this month.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds
Spotted Hyenas have been very active on the wildebeest with two to three animals per night being taken. Grasslands were still quite long in some areas although showing signs of drying out.
The majority of these Gnus 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.
There are still good numbers of Zebra on the plains above the fly over and also above rocky ridge. Good numbers of Giraffe can be seen throughout the acacia woodlands; recently they have been spending longer in the Euclea Divinorum thickest and browsing on the leaves.

Photo courtesy of Steve Hixon
Many Topi can be seen congregating in pockets of the open grasslands plains with even dominant females on termite mounds. Males have been fighting; it is not too uncommon with two of them that are of similar stamina for one to kill the other. Female Topi with calves are well scattered. Eland are being seen in the East part of the conservation area with them more frequently being seen in the croton thickets at the end of the rocky ridge.
Many Elephant in small family units have been seen in this area as well as in the Acacia woodlands.
The lioness with the three cubs that are three months old now have been seen in the croton thickets at the western end of the fly over. A male and three females have also been seen here with five sub adult cubs. These lion have been feeding off Wildebeest and Zebra.
Two black backed Jackal pups are now at the southern end of the Olare Orok, the male and female parents killed a Thomson gazelle fawn on the 21st which is a monogamous effort. There seems to be a reasonable presence of Aardwolf here as can be seen by a latrine on a disused termite mound that is used by a territorial male and female.
Two ostriches were sitting on eggs: one nest had 16 eggs and the other had 19 eggs both nests all eggs within a week of being laid were taken by Hyena, which is very sad.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Migration News from Governors Camp

News from Governor's Camp in the Masai Mara (4 September 2012):

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.


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.

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.

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.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Migration arrives in the Masai Mara

News from the Porini Lion Camp in the Mara:Philip Keter, Manager at Porini Lion Camp reports the Wildebeest Migration has now arrived in the Mara! He says that guests at camp have seen several hundred wildebeest crossing the Mara River today. Many wildebeest and zebra have also crossed the Sand River while more spilled into the Mara Triangle from the Serengeti across the border in Tanzania.

It may take days, weeks or even another month before we see the last of the Wildebeest make their way down towards the river in an attempt at the crossing. Do not miss out on the opportunity to witness this wonder. Termed as the 7th wonder of the "New World", the Great Migration movement is one of the most spectacular sightings one will ever get to experience. Over two million animals will migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya during July through to October every year. In order to get into the Mara Plains, these animals have to actually cross over the Mara River where Crocodiles lay in waiting for their Prey. It takes just one Wildebeest to make the first move into the waters and before you know it, the Wildebeest in the Mara fight for their lives as they try and make it across to the other side. It must be highlighted however that the Mara crossing alone is not what the Migration is all about. The astonishing influx of Wildebeest herds moving from the Serengeti into the Mara surviving in this circle of life is what makes the Migration what we know it to be!

We still have some fantastic offers for safaris to the migration:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Kenya Specials for 2012 migration

There are some incredible specials for safaris in Kenya for this migration season. One that has just been released is special rates for Rekero Camp and Naboishi Camp in the Masai Mara. Rates from: $330 per person per night sharing - game package or full board.

Contact Sunsafaris for full details.

These camps will be ideally located for the migration between July and October. Book today as there is limited availability.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June 2012 update: Migration on the move

The migration is now moving from the central Serengeti. They are mostly heading north west, but large herds are also going north and west. Zebra and wildebeest are now stretched from Seronera (central Serengeti) towards the western corridor close to Grumeti River. The first of the herds are likely to cross the Grumeti River in the next few days. This is one of the highlights of the annual wildbeest migration as the herds move across the Serengeti. For much of the year they are immobile and grazing, but in June/July thay can normally be seen crossing the crocodile infested waters of the Grumeti River.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Kenya Migration Safari Special

Kenya offers exceptional value for safaris at the moment, including safaris during the annual wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara in 2012. The below special is exceptional value. The best time to visit the Masai Mara to see the migration is from mid-July to mid-October, when the migrating herds are crossing the Mara River. 

6 night Migration Safari Special  – Travel between 01 Jun – 19 Dec 2012
  • 3 nights Porini Mara Camp in the Ol Kinyei Conservancy and Mara Naboisho Conservancy
  • 2 nights at Porini Lion Camp in the Olare Orok Conservancy and Motorogi Conservancy
  • 1 full day inside the Masai Mara Game Reserve.

Day 1
Road Transfer by shuttle minibus from Nairobi to Ol Kinyei (140 miles, 3 ½ hours) arriving for lunch at Porini Mara Camp. This is a small eco-friendly bush camp of just 6 tents for a maximum of 12 guests giving an intimate and more personal safari experience and where you will be looked after by the Maasai who own the Ol Kinyei Conservancy. In the afternoon, take your first game drive in the Ol Kinyei Conservancy in an open-sided 4×4 safari vehicle with an expert Maasai guide and spotter to look for the abundance of animals that have been seen in this very scenic 15,000 acre wilderness area which has a variety of landscapes including hills, valleys, acacia forests and open plains. The Ol Kinyei Conservancy is reserved exclusively for guests of the Porini Mara camp so there are no other tourist vehicles allowed into the area, giving you the chance to experience the big game of the Mara without the hordes of tourists seen in the park. In the evening you will stop at a scenic spot for a sundowner followed by a night game drive in the conservancy, then head back to camp for a shower and dinner. Overnight Porini Mara Camp.
Day 2
Awaken at dawn and head out on a game drive into the adjacent Mara Naboisho Conservancy, a 60,000 acres wilderness area which is exclusive to a few small safari camps which have joined with Gamewatchers Safaris in leasing the area as a wildlife conservancy owned by the local Maasai community. The open plains and valleys with scattered acacia woodland abound with wildlife including resident lions. Hippo and crocodiles can also be seen. Stop for a picnic bush breakfast in a scenic spot and continue exploring the Naboisho Conservancy, returning to Porini Mara Camp for lunch. In the afternoon you will have a nature walk, game drive and the option of a visit to a nearby Maasai village, the home of the families of the camp staff who will escort you.
Day 3
A full day to have game drives in the Ol Kinyei and Naboisho Conservancies to further explore the wilderness with your expert guide and to seek out the wildlife. Sundowner, night drive and final dinner at Porini Mara Camp.
Day 4
After an early breakfast drive through Naboisho Conservancy and on to Olare Orok Conservancy
arriving at Porini Lion Camp for lunch. In the afternoon you will take a game drive in the conservancy followed by a sundowner and night drive back to camp. Overnight Porini Lion Camp.
Day 5
Another early breakfast and then spend a full day inside the Mara Reserve, with a picnic lunch, to seek out the migration if is in the area. Back to camp in the evening for dinner and overnight.
Day 6
Leave the camp after breakfast and drive through the Mara Reserve to Ol Kiombo Airstrip and fly back to Nairobi or fly direct to the coast for a beach holiday after your safari.

This special is offered by SUNSAFARIS. Contact Sunsafaris to book this safari itinerary or get a tailor-made itinerary.

Child policy:
Children (8-16 years) pay 60% if sharing with 2 adults (2nd Child in tent is strongly discouraged due to limited space in tent and shower/toilet facilities).
Sharing with 1 adult the adult pays single supplement and child pays 60%.
Two children in own tent pay 75% of adult rate each.
Porini Camps are not suitable for children below 8 years of age.
Each tent has a double & single bed.
- Included flight fare is current and subject to change without prior notice.
- Included flight fare is inclusive of domestic airport departure tax and insurance.
- Baggage allowance is 15 kilograms per person, which is inclusive of hand baggage.
Prices include:
Road transfer from Nairobi to Ol Kinyei Conservancy in Mara, flight back from Ol Kiombo, Mara to Nairobi Wilson, 3 nights Porini Mara Camp (game drives in Ol Kinyei & Naboisho) and 2 nights Porini Lion Camp (game drives in Olare Orok and One Mara Reserve) with game drives in open-sided 4×4 vehicles, all meals and free house wines, beer and soft drinks, sundowners, bush breakfasts, night drives, walks, Maasai village visit, conservancy fees for 6 days and Mara Reserve for 1 day.
Prices exclude:
International flights plus taxes and visa fees, Laundry services, inoculations, all alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, Tips, gratuities, Porterage to hotel’s/camp’s staff or driver- guide(s), All items of personal nature e.g. telephone call bills, fax/email bills etc, Any other item(s) not included or mentioned in our itinerary above.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Migration news: Central Serengeti

The wildebeest and zebra are now in the central Serengeti and moving west and north west. The main herds are around Seronera and Naabi Hill. They are moving towards the Grumeti and should start crossing the Grumeti River in the coming week(s). The best place to be based at the moment is around Seronera. In the coming weeks the Grumeti River area and Grumeti Private Reserve are going to see some spectacular wildebeest-crocodile interaction. This is one of the highlights of the annual migration.

Our recommended camps in June:
Dunia Camp: A luxury tented camp perfectly located to see the migration in June.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Heavy rain in the past few weeks

There has been lots of rain over the past few weeks, with the Mara River filled to capacity. The migration is still in the southern Serengeti with some movement west and into the cenral Serengeti.

Game viewing is good, but can be very muddy in parts. A good safari vehicle is essential at this time of year. Some of the tracks are impassable. The best place to the migration is still around Ndutu and towards Kleins Camp.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

News update: Migration still in the southern Serengeti

Ongoing rains in the Southern Serengeti have kept the grass lush enough to support the huge populations of wildebeest that are moving back and forth across the southern region of the Serengeti. We expect the rains to dissipate in the coming weeks and the migration will start moving north and west towards the Grumeti Private Reserve.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rains in the southern Serengeti

The wildebeest herds are packed on the Ndutu Plains in the southern Serengeti. The rains have attracted them back to this fertile area where the short grasses are rich in nutrients. Foals are growing stronger in preparation to their long migration to the northern Serengeti and Masai Mara in the next couple of months.

Predators are everywhere, picking off the weak, young, old or isolated. The safari camps in the region have reported good sightings of lion, cheetah, leopard and hyena. As the wildebeest are mostly stationary (not migrating) at this time, a typical hunt is a patient wait, swift feet, quick acceleration and speed to capture their prey. Lions prides are masters at this, working together to ambush isolated wildebeest.

The best safari camps to be located at at this time of year are:
Serengeti under canvas - A luxury mobile camp that follows the annual migration around the Serengeti. They are currently located close to Ndutu, in the midst of the main herds.
Ndutu Lodge - Ndutu is a mid-range permanent lodge located at Lake Ndutu. It is a good place to be based to avoid the worst of the daily rains.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Migration spread across Southern Serengeti

The wildebeest herds are spread across a wide area of the Southern Serengeti, searching for decent grazing. They can be found from Ngorongoro, west towards Kusini Camp, south to Mazwa and centrally around Seronera. Rains still remain illusive.
Contact Sunsafaris to plan yout safari to Kenya or Tanzania to see the migration

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Migration update 2012: Southern Serengeti

The rains have been very poor this year. Typically, the bulk of the herds would be around Lake Ndutu on the Ndutu Plains. This is where they prefer to calve, at the rich short grass plains.
However, this year the rains have been poor and the herds have had to split across the southern Serengeti looking for grazing. They are currently spread around the outer slopes of Ngorongoro, towards Maswa, around Kusini and north to the Seronera area (central Serengeti). Ndutu is only supporting a small percentage of the herds. They are waiting to calve at the first sign of rains and they will all congregate on Ndutu Plains to graze on the new shoots of grass.

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