Walking and game reports.
Month: November 2006
Weather and grasslands:
This month has been dry and warm with prevailing easterly winds. Average temps in the early morning being 20ºC and midday temps reaching 31ºC.
Grasses on the plains within the reserve are noticeably grazed down by the many wildebeest and Zebra that have been moving through. We had some rain within the early days of the month with a total of 75mm which has greened up many plains areas particularly the river frontages of the Paradise and Musiara plains, good numbers of wildebeest and Zebra can be seen here. The Mara conservancy have received a little more and with some areas that have been burnt, many wildebeest and Zebra have crossed and moved into these areas. More rain fell on the 28th and this caused many to cross over.
As the grassland plains dry and thin out good numbers of plains game can be seen more evidently, with Wildebeest and Zebra being more prominent within the Musiara, Bila Shaka and Paradise plains.
Defassa waterbuck are still evident with the Musiara Marsh and small herds of Cokes Hartebeest can also be seen. Thomson and grants gazelles can be seen on the more open areas with many young Thompson fawns. Thomson gazelles have a relatively short gestation of 5½ months and will come into estrus within two weeks after giving birth and subsequently may produce 2 young in just over a year with conditions being favourable. The Cape buffalo breeding herd of an estimated 250 are being seen within the Marsh and Bila Shaka plains, some of the cows have been taken by lion. Topi herds of females and young are also spread out within the Musiara and Bila Shaka plains. Elephant in small satellite herds with young can be seen within the woodlands and Acacia w! oodlands in the conservation areas. Good sightings of Giraffe can be seen all over with many in the Acacia woodlands of the conservation areas. Spotted Hyenas being very active in all open grasslands with the majority of their kills being possessed by them, the spotted Hyena is a very active predator and competes alongside lion. Bat eared fox's are also being seen more frequently again and still the early mornings are the best times. As it so happens the Bat Eared Fox is an insectivorous canid and with large concentrations of ungulates about there are also good numbers of harvester termites (hodotermitidae) in these regions of defecated cellulose. Termites are cellulose eaters and at the same time like the dung of herbivores. The Bat eared fox is fond of these harvester termites as well as other insectivores such as the Aardwolf which are unfortunately seldom seen, good sightings of Bat Eared Fox! 's go with the movement of the larger herbivores.
The Bila Shaka pride of one male, four females, four seventeen-month-old male cubs and four fourteen-month old cubs. They are feeding off the availability of the great herds of Wildebeest and the many available Zebra that are in the Musiara area, 'pickings for all'. They are still seen within the Musiara and Bila Shaka areas. There is also apparent indiscriminate killings happening, on the 6th they killed four wildebeest and were seen feeding off only two. This is known to happen amongst the cats when numbers of prey value are within easy reach.
The Paradise pride of three males, five breeding females, three sub-adults, six ten-month old cubs, four six-month old cubs and one four month old cub. This pride can be seen anywhere between the Rhino Ridge/Paradise plains and around the paradise crossing points on the Mara River. These lion have been seen to feed off the many Wildebeest and Zebra that are about, on the 16th they had killed three wildebeest and were eating off the one.
The maternity/ridge pride of 27 members; including two males, eight breeding females, eleven sub adults and six cubs of which four are estimated at seven months old have apparently split up so they tend to be seen spread out within the double crossing area and the Talek. One of the lionesses has three cubs estimated at three months old.
The Rhino ridge pride of 2 breeding females, 2 males and 3 eleven month old cubs have been more recently seen within the eastern Rhino ridge plains and the southern side plains of Bila Shaka.
The Single Gorge/Acacia pride of 5 breeding females and a male. These lion have been seen within the Koiyaki conservation areas and have been feeding off Wildebeest and Buffalo. They are shy and best times are the early mornings. On the 26th they were seen to rob a wildebeest that had just been killed by twelve spotted hyena.
A single female with the four cubs estimated at four months old are seen daily in the grassland plains below Kichwa Tembo Camp. This female had five cubs and one is now missing and we are unsure as to what happened.
The lone male; Is still being seen on the Bila Shaka plains and on the east side of Rhino Ridge. He is a little shy and has been seen feeding off Thomson Gazelles and Impala.
A young female is still being sighted more frequently near the Musiara gate and also north of the windmill. On the 17th she was last seen with a Thomson Gazelle near to the Musiara gate.
Another female is being seen on the paradise plains and was last seen on the morning of the 28th on a termite mound.
The coalition of the three males have been reported to have moved to the other side of the Talek River and we have no further details other than to what we have heard.
Bella has been seen again this month in the Talek river region.
A male has also been seen in the woodland areas of Paradise plains and also near the Serena pump house.
Another shy male has been seen on the western plains of Rhino Ridge, he was last seen on the morning of the 29th.
A female with two cubs estimated at five months old has been seen quite frequently beyond Governors' Private Camp. On the 12th and 20th she was clearly seen within the woodland fringes of the paradise plains.
Walking in the Koiyaki Conservation Area.
Grasslands in this area are being well utilised with good sightings of Wildebeest and Zebra.
Topi in good numbers will also be seen, Thompson and Grants Gazelles are very abundant on the more open grassland plains. Small herds of Eland with young calves are well spread out. Elephant are often seen in the Acacia woodlands with a few wondering males. Many trees of the acacia Gerrardii which is the most prevalent species here are being fed upon by the Elephant.
Good herds of Giraffes can be seen moving from one acacia belt to another. There are still many Zebra and Wildebeest within the open grassland plains of the walking area
Spotted Hyenas have been very active on the open plains with many old male wildebeest and Zebra being taken. The spotted Hyenas are cursorials and have tremendous stamina; the other two large Hyenids are more scavengers than are predators. Since the 24th the 'fly over clan' of approximately 24 members have killed and eaten a wildebeest a day and many of these kills happen within the early hours of the morning. On the morning of the 26th at about 6.20 am an extraordinary phenomena happened where some 12 hyena had just run down a male wildebeest after a short distance only and were still in the process of killing and eating this wildebeest, literally seconds later more and more hyena were seen running in and some from afar, amongst all this commotion four lion turned up and rushed the hyenas who gave up their kill very quickly. &nb! sp;
The Acacia Lion pride of one male and four females have been seen on seldom occasions this month and they appear to move in quite wide circles within the immediate area, typical of lion that habituate within close proximity with local people will tend to move away into thickets to lie low soon after first light.
A resident female leopard and her two young cubs estimated at four months old are being seen frequently in a riverine thicket close to the Aitong hills and sightings of her are from game drives only