Wildebeest Migration 2012 update
Many Wildebeest are still in the reserve with better concentrations on the shorter grass plains in the Masai conservation areas; rain in these regions move the wildebeest back and forth. A large crossing was seen on the 15th, 16th and 17th July going from east to west at the main crossing points where an estimated 5,000 animals perished. Large herds of wildebeest can be seen on the Burrangat plains on the west side of the Talek River. On the 27th many wildebeest crossed the Talek River from west to east again. Armed with a picnic breakfast guests have been out all morning with the herds so as not to miss the action. There are zebra everywhere with young foals of varying ages.
With more good Black Rhino sightings,
we are often seeing the 'big five' in a mornings drive. On the morning of the 29th guests staying at Il Moran camp saw the big five before 11.00am; they said this is their 4th trip to Africa and they have never seen such quality of wildlife in a such short space of time.Elephant
have spread out a little, small maternity herds are in the Musiara Marsh, Bila Shaka and the riverine woodlands of the Mara River, some of them pass through the camps particularly at night. Good numbers can still be seen in the Trans Mara conservancy. Giraffe remain on Paradise Plains near the riverine woodlands and also at Bila Shaka. Cokes Hartebeest in small herds are on the southern plains of Bilashaka and on the way to the Paradise Plains and there are plenty of Topi on Topi Plains and in the Conservancy areas. Defassa Waterbuck
and a large troop of Olive baboons
are ever present residents within the woodland verges of the camps. Baboon troops are held together by matrilineal females who are all related through the mother instead of the father and it is these female kinships that hold the troop together, it is only the males who come and go. The savannah dwelling species of baboons (old world monkeys) live in large groups of dozens to hundreds, called troops. Within a troop of baboons there is a very complex hierarchy based on mother-daughter lines of decent and male strength. This means that a female baboon is born into whatever rank her mother was (much like a princess becomes a queen) and males establish their place within the troop by fighting one another for dominance. Female baboons remain in the same troop their whole lives and male baboons leave the troop when they are mature enough to search for a mate. Baboons are omnivores and have a diverse diet consisting of grass, berries, seeds, leaves, root, bark and other vegetarian items along with insects, fish, birds, and small baby antelopes.Warthog
and their nine month old piglets are abundant all over the short grass plains; lion, leopard and cheetah feed off them readily and there are daily sightings of lion and cheetah with warthog. There are good numbers of eland on Paradise Plains, Musiara Marsh and in the conservation areas of Koiyaki, many females have calves averaging two months old and often these calves are seen in varying age groups huddled together in crèches.
The large breeding herd of Cape buffalo (an estimated 500 animals) are on the Eastern grassland plains of Rhino Ridge and Bila Shaka; the grasses here are still a little longer and well suited for buffalo. We have enjoyed good sightings of Black Rhino; a large male and a younger male have been seen in the Paradise and Talek areas.Spotted Hyena
with many cubs of varying ages are present all over the open plains; wherever lion inhabit hyena will not be far away; they are eternal enemies but hyena with the ability to vary their dietary habits have the upper hand.
There have been some good sightings of monitor lizards, there are both species here in the Mara, the Nile Monitor which is often found close to waterways and the Savannah Monitor (Varanus exanthematicus) which prefers more open country, particularly where there are abundant termite mounds, all monitor lizards will lay 7 to 35 soft-shelled eggs being 2 inches long with leathery shells and the female Nile monitor will often use these mounds to lay her eggs, the termites treat this as mound damage and will quickly seal it up. The temperature inside the mound is ideal for incubation. Incubation is 8 to 10 weeks. The young use an egg tooth to emerge, there is little or no sexual dimorphism (difference in appearance between males and females of a species). As they are diurnal large eagles will prey on them and the Martial eagle is renowned for this. Leopard will also feed on them.
Bila Shaka/ Marsh Pride has 15 members including five breeding females, six sub adults, two older cubs and two males; Romeo who is younger and Claude who is quite old now. One of the older females called Joy has four cubs that are five months old and another of the older females has two 6 week old cubs, originally there were three cubs, however sadly one of them was killed by the resident buffalo.This pride remain in the centre of their territory close to Governors Camp. They are feeding off wildebeest, zebra and topi.
The Paradise Pride with the 5 male coalition are seen frequently in the Paradise and Talek areas; they have been well fed on the many wildebeest that are abundant.
The Double Crossing Pride of four adult females and their four sub adult cubs; those are over 2 years old have been feeding off warthog. One of these females was quite old has not been seen recently; she was struggling to feed herself and we fear that she may have passed on.Cheetah
We have enjoyed good sighting of cheetah this month particularly of females with cubs of varying ages.
A single female has been near the double crossing area and she has one cub of about six weeks old. There are two single females resident close to Governors Camp and there is another single male seen often near paradise towards the Talek River he has been feeding on warthog.
The three male coalition have been near the Talek River and Emarti south side of Rhino Ridge. They have been feeding off impala, zebra foals and warthog. They were all seen with a single female on the 23rd and there was quite a lot of activity but none were seen to mate. Perhaps it will happen soon.
People coming back off the Governors balloon safari have had some good sightings of cheetah in the conservancy. A female cheetah has been near the makaburini site and also a male called 'Cheetah ya Balloon' which is near the airstrip side of Little Governors.Leopard
There have been some good sightings of the female leopard known as Olive and her 6 month old cub and she is sometimes seen with an older male cub; this year's young wildebeest fit the menu bill perfectly for these two.
The large male near Bila Shaka has also been seen in the Paradise Plains. The young male on the Talek River near the crossing was seen recently feeding off a young gnu.
A young female with a 6 month old cub has been seen in the woodlands near the Bila Shaka/ paradise crossing. On the 28th in the evening she was seen feeding off an impala.
With short grass and little rain the walking safaris have been busy. Good numbers of wildebeest have been seen going back and forth between the reserve and the conservation areas, their movements often depending where the rain has been. Reasonable numbers of zebra have been seen as well.
A few elephant have been sighted with young calves in the acacia woodlands. Small groups of bulls have also been seen on and off; the damage to the local acacia trees indicate that there has not been much movement.
On the 22nd walkers saw a Black Back Jackal pair hunting a young Thomson Gazelle which they caught after a good chase. Jackals are opportunistic hunters and use the same strategy as wolves and hyena in running down their prey. Black Backed Jackals are monogamous and the male plays an important role in the rearing the young pups.
Lion have been sighted on many occasions and the croton thickets below the salt lick are good places to see them. We have had lots of sightings of two females and a male and it appears two of these are mating. On the 26th walkers saw two lionesses attempting to hunt topi on the plains below the 'fly over'. There has been some good spotted hyena activity hunting wildebeest; they tend to hunt quite early in the mornings which coincides with our walking safaris.
Excitingly we have had two sightings of aardwolves this month, in the early hours of the morning. Both sightings were of a mother and a young cub. Aardwolves are specialist feeders with harvester termites playing a major part of their diet, they are very nocturnal and sightings are not common. Governors Camp Booking
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