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Masai Mara April 2011
Once again we experienced dry weather during the first week or so of the month - it just didn't seem to want to rain! There would very often be a big build-up of clouds all along the western and north-western horizon which would raise our hopes, but the first decent, soaking rains only came fairly late in the month.
Last month's spate of rain (where it rained heavily for about four days) meant there was (and still is) lots of water in the marshes and luggas, which attracted a big collection of herbivores, especially zebra, wildebeest and elephant, in these areas.
The Marsh Pride has been seen regularly around Bila Shaka and has fed there almost every night. It is amazing to see fifteen lions all together around a kill! The lioness with her four three month old cubs was seen a number of times around Musiara Swamp. They are still fit and healthy and seem to be making progress in, to them, what must seem like a harsh world. These poor little fellows were really thirsty one day and had the unfortunate experience of all falling into the murky water! One cub was covered in mud and mewled incessantly like a distressed child!
The Paradise Pride has been seen mostly around the crossing below Serena Lodge, but on some days as far a-field as Chemorita. Notch and one male seem to have the urge to patrol more than the other males and these two have been seen between Rhino Ridge and Salinga on a number of occasions. One particular game drive vehicle was treated to the spectacle of about 16 hyenas trying to chase 6 lions off a warthog kill on the far southern reaches of Rhino Ridge. The lions were having none of it, but the noise and interaction was quite fantastic to experience!
Leopards were seen fairly regularly last month, in fact as often as three times a week. A mother with two cubs was seen around Paradise quite often and on one day five leopards were seen together. These were the same three as mentioned above with two males. Watch this space in just over three month's time. The existing cubs are close to the age where they would leave their mother, so perhaps more youngsters are on their way! Of further interest was another female leopard with a cub of three months old in the "Base" area.
Rhinos, as usual, have remained the more elusive of the Big Five. Even so, two males and a female with a three month old calf were seen fairly regularly between Chemorita and Paradise.
Cheetahs were also less visible last month due to the movement of the bigger predators. The three brothers were seen in the Salinga area towards the middle of the month, after which they moved into the Paradise area. A young female was on Topi Plain for some time.
The big herd of buffalo that seems ever present at the western base of Rhino Ridge was still very prominent last month. They too have many youngsters at foot. These grand beasts are often over-looked but can offer hours of entertainment should one take the time to sit and watch them. There is a definite method to their movements and their actions that bears observation. Especially their interaction with various bird species can be of great interest.
The "little critters" remained captivating last month. Birding has been pretty good as the avian migrants are still around, but are soon to leave. One of our guests left Kenya having seen 203 species in 10 days. No mean feat considering he only visited Lake Nakuru National Park and the Masai Mara! Of course we are all waiting for the rains to come and the wildebeest that are sure to follow. We had to be very careful where we put our feet last month as there were huge collections and processions of "siafu" (safari ants), a sure sign that this is on the way. Once again nature moves through its processes as it has since time immemorial, seemingly with no big method but definitely with a plan and an end goal. All one has to do is quietly observe and all becomes clear.