We receive regular news from our friends at Governor’s Camps, read just how special a Masai Mara safari can be in January.
The Masai Mara has experienced lovely fair weather this January with stunning early morning sunrises. The early morning temperatures have been generally cool at 13/14°C and mid day temperatures were warm and averaged 31°C. January was a relatively dry month with little pockets of rain in the evenings with no more than 3-5 mm at a time. The Mara River appears at a low ebb and is slowly receding. On the 9th of January there was a spectacular full moon, that afternoon guests took sundowners and moon risers, and enjoyed watching the sun go down and 15mins later the moon rising, magic. With clear skies above this is a truly great evening to have a candlelight diner out under a full sky. There is still good grass coverage still within the Bila Shaka, Rhino Ridge and Musiara Plains. The conservation areas that shadow the reserve where livestock is present have shorter grasses; these short grass plains are home to Thomson Gazelle and zebra.
We have had wonderful sightings of lion, leopard and elephant galore around the marsh this month and lots of regular sightings of the big 5.
Joy the female lioness was last seen on the north side of Rhino Ridge at the beginning of the month, The three sub adults (two males and a female) often join up with Joy and her cubs or will be with another female who also moves about. The other three sub adults have not been seen for some time now and are presumed to be in the Paradise and Olkiombo area. On the afternoon on the 6th the two young males and two females were seen in the long grass north of the Marsh and had killed a warthog. The four new younger males arrived in October / November last year and displaced Romeo and Clawed. Romeo had not been seen for some time but our guides had a sighting of him up on Paradise Plain on a kill towards the end of the month. We are sad to report that Clawed met his end this month outside the Reserve. He had been seen on the Musiara Plains on the 16th on a buffalo kill with the four musketeers, he was in such bad shape that the other males saw him as no threat and allowed him to share the kill. He was suffering from Sarcoptic mange and looking thin, his back hindquarters were very wobbly when he got up to move. He had trouble eating due to his lower right canine which was nearly smashed in probably from a kick of an ungulate approximately two years ago and this more than likely put him under much stress. We shall miss his presence around the Musiara area but his lineage lives on. The new males have been named and are Hunter, Scar face, Morani and Skip. The gash on the right side eye on Scar face is still open but he is looking well enough and is still active. On the 30th the wildlife services vet darted Scar face and treated his eye lid, there was a little infection although surprisingly the eye itself is fine. They have been feeding off buffalo with three so far of these old boys being taken down between Bila Shaka and Musiara. The two young females from the Marsh Pride have been seen on Topi plains recently.
Notch and the four males are being seen in the Talek region and early on in the month they were feeding off a hippo; they have also been feeding off buffalo.
Five females and two cubs that are approximately three months old are also in the Talek area. As well as another two females a young male about two years old.
The single male that turned up last month is still in the area below the Bila Shaka river bed. He was limping on right front leg although looks in otherwise in good condition.
Elephant pass through the woodlands and camps under the fall of night as the Warburgia trees are still fruiting, they feed off these fruit and spend long periods of time under the trees, picking up an individual fruit with the fingers at the end of their trunk. The Teclea Nobilis is also fruiting and this has drawn many birds and Olive Baboons who also love this fruit. There are young elephant calves some of which are only weeks old in the grasslands of the Musiara and Bila Shaka plains.
Giraffe wander effortlessly across the open plans from the Acacia and riparian woodlands to the Mara riverine woodlands. Large and dominant males move from one breeding herd to another. On Paradise and Topi plains topi with their two month old calves are in the shorter grass areas, having a narrow muzzle means they prefer the shorter grasses. The males and the stronger older males have leks where females visit. On the western fan of Rhino Ridge that leads onto Paradise Plains the males are rutting, they grunt, strutting about between their leks, male sparring sessions can last literally a matter of seconds.
Cokes Hartebeest with young that are also two months old are on Rhino Ridge, Topi Plains and at Bila Shaka. Breeding herds of eland move back and forth between the conservation areas of Koiyaki and the reserve itself, there are some bachelor herds that float around and one male has an incredible pair of horns, he is approximately 3-4 years old, when he reaches breeding age he will be an awesome animal. A large Eland bull can weigh in at 900 – 1,000 kgs.
Blue Monkeys being more arboreal are seen in the woodland canopy, the Warburgia fruit are keeping them occupied. Olive Baboons are also spending more time in closed habitat where the trees are now fruiting this adds to their omnivorous diet. We have had comical sights of baboons in the canopy of fruiting trees and large bull elephant feeding on the fruit below, these large bulls often rock these large trees to shake the fruit down, the baboons get caught up in the trees, often shrieking and have to hold tight, on some occasions the baboons have been shaken out!! On the 21st at 4.30pm four Baboons were shaken and fell to the ground.
We have enjoyed regular sightings of male black rhino up on Paradise Plains and Rhino Ridge. There are two males that we regularly see and they like to browse on the native woolley caper bush.
A Caracal was seen near Rhino Ridge on the West side on the morning of the 25th. These small cats can be found in dry savannah and woodland areas, scrubland and also in rugged terrain in mountainous regions. Caracals are amazing jumpers and will catch ground birds in flight. Here in the Mara they have been recorded preying on Rock Hyrax and Thompson Gazelle fawns although they have a more varied diet depending on habitat.
The large herd of buffalo are within Bila Shaka and Rhino Ridge. There are two other smaller herds’ one near Naibor Soit and the other on Paradise Plains. The resident male buffalo remain within the grassland verges of the Musiara Marsh and Bila Shaka, the four new male lion have preyed upon three of these now. Cattle egrets can be seen flighting between them, even using resting buffalo as a perch!
The hippo pods in the Mara River have been very noisy this month, with water levels dropping the pods are getting more closely packed together, often causing a rift between dominant males, who are forced to get too close.
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