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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.