Beautiful sunsets in the Mara
After spending 2 weeks in the Mara, we finally ended our long 23 day safari on Monday 25th, November. Below is a brief update on the recent sightings in the Mara.
Wildebeest Crossing The Mara River
This year, the migration has been spectacular, especially considering that the herds moved back to the Serengeti in September and made a surprising u-turn back to the Mara in November due to the recent heavy rainfall we experienced there. The plains were teaming with game including hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, zebras, topi, eland and gazelles.
With plenty of food around, all the big cats we came across were extremely well fed and healthy. Throughout the safari, there were some amazing crossings taking place down towards lookout hill as the wildebeest were making their way to the Mara Triangle. On one such occasion, the crossing lasted nearly the whole day as thousands of wildebeest made their way from lookout to the opposite side. On our last few days, the migrating herds slowly began making their way back to the Serengeti, probably heading south towards Ndutu, where they will give birth to nearly 400,000 calves between the months of February and March.
The Pump House Female
During our two weeks there, leopards turned out to be extremely elusive and we did not manage to see even one within the first week. After the death of Olive, Saba and Bahati are still around. Even though we spent countless hours searching for either one of them, I guess this time around we were unlucky.
On our eight day, we got a call on the radio that a leopard had been spotted near the gardenia bushes just above Serena pump house. As we got there, we saw this beautiful leopard just relaxing on top of a termite mound right in the open. After spending an hour with her, the light began to fade and she made her way back into the thick bushes where we lost sight of her.
On the last couple of days, the female leopard who hangs out near the double cross area was sighted with one of her cubs, but since we were at lookout hill waiting for the crossing, it was impossible for us to head back that way.
Amani And Her 2 Cubs
Over the 2 weeks, we did come across many cheetahs including a lone female who was resting just South East of the Rongai river, next to the huge Euclea bushes.
On one particular day, we spotted 3 cheetah resting just below the Intrepid sundowner tree. Upon further investigation, we came to the conclusion that this was Narasha (Alama) and her two adolescent cubs. After resting throughout the scorching midday sun, they finally got up at around 5.00 PM, once it became cooler. Straight away, we noticed that they were starving and Narasha was in full hunting mode. She began stalking a herd of Tommys but as the direction of the wind changed against her favour, the Tommys caught her scent and quickly scattered away.
As the three of them moved towards double cross, it was clear that the cubs were really hungry and out of desperation, they chased down a second herd of Tommys and at just about 6.30 PM, they finally caught one of them. Narasha was quite far away and had no idea about what had just happened. As she heard the squeals of the dying gazelle, she quickly rushed to the cubs. We left them shortly after they had made the kill as it was getting dark and we needed to head back to camp.
Amani On The Lookout With Her Cubs
I guess the sighting of the trip was Amani and her two cubs. Unfortunately a few days before we arrived into the Mara, we heard that she had lost one of her cubs to hyenas. After spending a couple of days following her without her cubs, she finally decided to relocate them from their original hiding spot (may be due to the high concentration of hyenas in the area).
What was surprising was that she always kept the cubs with her out in the open for the following four days or so. Never the less, the cubs seemed to be healthy and full of energy, always playing with each other and Amani.
On our second last day, Amani kept walking back in circles, climbing termite mounds and she kept calling out in the distance. We were all wondering what she was calling, and I guess it still remains a mystery.
As usual, lions were plentiful around the reserve. Below is a brief update on the different lions/lion prides we came across.
REKERO PRIDE & 4 KM MALES
Throughout the safari, we came across the Rekero pride females, who were accompanied by 2 of the 4 KM males. The first time we saw them, they were just a few hundred metres from Olare Orok Crossing (smelly river).
Over the days, they had moved a long distance from where we had first sighted them. The next time we saw them, they were resting underneath some croton bushes just next to Naibor Camp. The rest of the pride was seen just a couple of minutes drive away near the entrance to Mara Ngenche Camp.
On one particular morning we decided to venture out to Musiara to check on the Marsh pride. On the way to the marsh, we came across a small group of the pride who were just relaxing on the main road to Governors Camp, near the culvert. After spending some time with them, we saw a lone female hanging out quite a distance from the pride. After speaking to some of the guides as to why she was so far away, they said that they think she might have cubs around. I guess we will find out in the near future, once she brings them out.
The core of the pride was relaxing at the main marsh. The only male in sight on that particular day was Scarface. He was resting under a fallen down log with 3 females and one sub adult male. We did not have any luck spotting the remaining 3 males.
NOTCH BOYS & RONGAI PRIDE
It seems that the Notch boys are quite content now to stay with the Rongai Pride. Our first sighting of them was one of the boys mating with one of the females not far from cement crossing. The remainder of the pride, including the female with the three cubs was quite far east, near the Euclea bushes.
The remaining Notch boys were in the same area as the females. The entire pride looked extremely well fed. Just looking around, the surrounding area was littered with recently devoured wildebeest carcasses.
On our last few days, while on the way to look for the Notch boys, we decided to drive by the rivers edge. To our surprise, we came across one of the Rongai females quite far away from the remainder of the pride. After spending a few minutes in the area, we heard some squeals coming from where she was resting. A couple of minutes later, she brought out four tiny cubs from the surrounding thickets. By the look of things, the cubs looked to be approximately 4-6 weeks old.
Lets hope that the Notch boys hang around the pride long enough to protect these tiny cubs!