With the onset of the long rains, temperatures in the Masai Mara Reserve are dropping to a bearable average of 27ºC at day time, and lows of 18ºc in the early mornings. This weather forms spectacular backdrops for early morning and late afternoon photography; cloudy orange at dawn and heavy grey skies in the afternoon.
The birds have started preparing their nest ready for the breeding season. Some trees are starting to flower and attracting a variety of butterflies.
Resident wildebeests and zebras
The resident wildebeest and zebra of the Aitong and Loita plains have started going back to their respective calving grounds, leaving the resident topis and zebras where there is short grass like at he Topi and Paradise Plains, Ntiakitiak and Olare-Orok rivers and around Olkiombo. The topis herds are mixed with Thomson’s gazelle and zebras.
There are lions all around the place. Notch was spotted with a cow killed as the zebra and wildebeest are leaving. The domestic cattle belonging to the Maasai is easily available prey but the hunt is dangerous for the Maasai could attack the lions trying to protect their livestock. At the moment, the lions look hungry and skinny and their cubs are poorly fed, especially the Olkiombo Pride.
The Notch coalition has been patrolling the boarders of their territories. They are unaware that the nomadic male lions have invaded the central part of their territories.
Three young males who are not part of the Olare Orok Pride, are now sharing the territory with Notch’s group. Joy’s two sons from the Marsh Pride are yet to decide whether to move further or stay and wait to challenge the sitting males. At the moment Notch and his boys are busy mating with the Olkiombo females at Ntiakitiak Crossing.
The Olkeju-Ronkai Pride looks well fed and healthy with its nine cubs of different ages. Notch is with them most of the time making sure he passes on his genes. The Paradise Pride has crossed over to Paradise Plains from the Mara Triangle looking fine with new males who are not from Notch coalition. The four males who took over the Marsh Pride are mating with the lionesses at Bila Shaka.
The Ridge Pride is monitoring the crossings along the Talek River hoping for some animals to cross over. Their two males who have taken over a section of the Ridge Pride are currently at the Topi Plains. These two males are full-grown and strong enough to withstand any challenges but not the Notch coalition.
Leopards have been giving good sightings around and far west of the Mara Intrepids Camp. The Ridge male who is the father of Olive’s cubs is further down the ridge. Olive has yet to introduce him to the two-and-a-half months old cubs.
One female with two cubs of four month is at Chemorta by the pump house. She’s being watched by a very shy male from a distance.
A mother cheetah of two young female cubs aged six months is at the Fig Tree murram site. A young male is not far from them. The mother tried to hunt hares but all in vain.
The four young cheetah cubs – the three males and one female believed to have come from Naboisho conservancy – are at Topi Plain by the ridge hunting as a team.
Heritage Hotels (Kenya) manages two luxury camps in the Masai Mara - Mara Explorer and Mara Intrepids - in the confluence of the four game viewing areas of the Masai Mara. The camps are on the banks of the Talek River, with most tents spread along the banks. Report and pictures by Paul Kirui & Guides, Mara Explorer & Mara Intrepids Camp ©Heritage Hotels Ltd, Kenya.http://www.heritage-eastafrica.com/