Governors' Camp Game Report, Masai Mara, September 2012







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Governors' Camp Game Report, Masai Mara, September 2012

Weather and grasslands

This past month we have experienced cool mornings with warm days. Early morning temperatures have averaged around 16°C with some mornings being as low as 12°C, midday is 28-30°C and evening temperatures are a warm 24°C. Grasses are shorter in most areas where hoofed movement has been prevalent. Wildebeest and zebra have passed through on their way to the crossing points. In the Masai conservation areas adjacent to the reserve wildebeest have stayed a little longer with grasses being more palatable here. There have been scattered showers of rain this month which has induced grass growth in the conservation areas. The Mara River has been a steady flow due to more rain in the eastern foothills. There have been some scattered showers during the month with a total of 68.5mm at Governors camp.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds

General game

Some large herds of wildebeest and a few zebra came through from the conservation areas within the 1st week of the month. More zebra have been seen in and around the Musiara Marsh and

Plains areas. Good numbers of elephant and more leopards are also being seen. Wildebeest

More river crossings early on this month!!!

There was a large crossing at the main crossing point at Paradise on the afternoon of the 1st with

an estimated 5,000 animals crossing the Mara River. This was the group that were doubtful to cross in the last few days of August, interesting in that there were many Wildebeest that early afternoon in the Marsh that were moving and filing fast towards Paradise, this group must have joined up with the others a little later at Paradise for a final lunge. During this crossing there was an amusing saga with these Wildebeest and Zebra in that the path they chose was in the direct


line of some Hippo, in the frenzied surge while crossing many wildebeest swam into the hippo who were not impressed by this disturbance, numerous wildebeest then tried to climb over the hippo and some even tried to vault it, one guest managed to photographed the Hippo raising his head and lifting a wildebeest almost out of the water, after a while the Hippo moved out to the other side of the river.

Photo courtesy of Emma Smith

The majority that crossed were wildebeest and a few zebra, two were taken by crocodile as well as one young zebra foal. One other wildebeest was snatched as it tried to climb up out of the bank, it fought and kicked with much effort, but luck was on its side and the crocodile let go. On the 2nd in the morning and afternoon there must have been over 10,000 wildebeest and a few

hundred zebra that crossed at the main crossing point at paradise, This was the last of the large crossings, it was a phenomenal day with guests staying out from 6,30am until 6,30pm. There was much crocodile activity and over 300 died or were trampled in the surge to get out from a precarious exit point.


Photo courtesy of Allison Hunt

On the 4th a good crossing at 4.30pm at the Mortuary crossing point. To begin with, in the

morning these wildebeest crossed half way and then went back so it was a final rush later in the afternoon.

On the 8th a small crossing at the Mortuary crossing point in the morning and afternoon. On the

20th there was a crossing in the morning at 10.30am of an estimated 2,000 Wildebeest that

crossed at the Main crossing point at Paradise. On the 21st at 10.30 am an estimated 150 Zebra

crossed at the main crossing point with one being taken by crocodile. Mid month saw many wildebeest cross towards the east at the Kichwa tembo crossing point with these wildebeest staying longer on the short green grass.


Photo courtesy of David Roberts

On the 28th an estimated 2,000 animals eventually crossed at the main crossing point at paradise

although early on in the morning there were only a few zebra that seemed to crossed back and forth, sadly this must have stimulated or stirred the crocodile into a feeding frenzy, two of them were taken very quickly on their return trip. On the 29th at the main crossing point an estimated

5,000 animals crossed of which mainly where Wildebeest and one was taken, there were a few zebra as well that crossed.

In the evening of the 29th there were large numbers of wildebeest running at full gallop from

Musiara and Bila Shaka towards paradise plains. On the 30th at 1.00pm an estimated 2,000


Photo courtesy of Steve Hixon

Cheetah – A female with two cubs that are an estimated three months old, are both being seen in Bila Shaka and on Paradise plains.

Marsh Pride of Lions cubs with all six that are three months old are being seen near Bila Shaka and the Marsh, either with Siena and or the young Lioness.

Modomo the Lioness – has two cubs and another lioness has three cubs near Rhino ridge and Topi plains they are estimated at two months old.

During the 1st two weeks there were some good crossings on the Mara River again moving

towards the Mara triangle in the west. Mid month there were a few good crossing at the Kichwa Tembo with many of these wildebeest crossing from west to east and staying for a longer period of time here in the Maasai conservation areas. Later on the in the month many were seen filing past Musiara and onto the Paradise Plains they then later crossed over. There were others that continued east towards the Mara North Conservancy. At present the wildebeest and zebra are not in large herds, Bila Shaka, Musiara and Topi Plains have a few scattered herds. More can be seen on the short grass plains in the Masai conservation areas, when the prominent grasses start to dry out the wildebeest do not like it when it is dry and with long stems.


Photo courtesy of Steve Hixon

Topi in good numbers can be seen on Topi plains, Musiara Marsh, Paradise and in the conservation areas to the East of the reserve. There are many young calves still being born this month. Topi have a extraordinary coat with reddish brown bodies and with dark purple patching on their upper legs, in fact their coats are made of short, shiny hairs and that it is two toned and ‘shiny’ this shiny reflective glare is in fact a way of dissipating heat on hot sunny days, it is known as a reflective coat. Topi can be found in very harsh and arid country where water sources are not close by. As they are nearly exclusively grazers, they can go for months without drinking in the dry seasons if they are feeding on growing grass.

Photo courtesy of Steve Hixon


Elephant in family units can be seen more often in the Marsh and Bila Shaka plains. There are some very young calves being seen. Now that the larger herds of Wildebeest and Zebra have moved out the elephant have seemed to have moved back in.

Photo courtesy of Mark Smetlz

Warthog and their piglets are being seen all over most grassland plains. Warthog groups are known as sounders and can comprise of two or three sows two of which are older daughters, last yeas offspring and recent piglets. There were four piglets, two adult sows and thee younger sows near the causeway, there is now one piglet the other three were taken by lion. Boars tend to be solitary or move around sounders and sub-adult males associate in bachelor groups but leave alone when they become adults. It has been observed that sows will nurse foster piglets if they lose their own litter often to predation, making them cooperative breeders. This observable fact is known as ‘Allosucking’ which does not seem to be a case of mistaken identity or milk theft and may be a sign of altruistic behavior. Piglets begin grazing at about two to three weeks and are weaned by six months. Warthogs are considered a "follower" species as the young are kept nearby at all times and do not hide.

The breeding herds of buffalo have been for a long time within the Marsh and Bila Shaka and seem to get move around in the presence of lion, latterly they are being seen in the East side of the Marsh. A few cows have been taken by the Marsh lionesses with help from the Musketeers. Large troops of Olive Baboons are seen daily on the roadside verges also in the woodland fringes. During mid day they can spread quite far out across the plains with individuals on sentry duty often propped up on a termite mound.

Thomson Gazelles with young fawns are being seen frequently, with cheetah and Black Backed Jackals feeding of them. Grants Gazelles can be seen in Marsh grasslands as well as in all open grassland plains even where there are young shrubs, Grants Gazelles will also browse readily.


Defassa waterbuck and impala are still regulars within the woodlands and grassland areas between the camps, some more impala fawns are being seen, there is no breeding season as such.

Giraffe are seen fairly spread out within the Woodlands and on the open plains. A herd of Giraffe on the skyline often termed as a journey of Giraffe that is crossing a grassland plain is still a true African scene. It is amazing what distances they can travel.

Photo courtesy of Will Carpmael

Hippos can be seen in all bends of the River and also in the quarry near the airstrip. They come out a night to graze and can be heard next to ones tent as they munch away at the grass. They defecate by flicking their tail back and forth which spreads the scat not much different to that of a muck spreader; a tent at IL Moran got caught up one night and half of one side had to be cleaned when it dried.

Serval cats, a medium sized cat have been seen more frequently, they are very much a grass cat, feeding off mice and birds. This species has very large erect ears that are one of the most prominent traits of this cat. They can also be found in high altitude moorlands and many Melanistic varieties have been seen this is the condition in which an unusually high concentration of melanin occurs in the skin, plumage, or pelage of an animal.


Photo courtesy of Marc Holzaph

One Aardwolf has been seen near Rhino Ridge on the 19th in the early morning; this hyenid is a

specialist feeder of harvester termites, the cheek teeth are specialized for eating insects and are mere pegs, and its large and sticky tongue for licking them up.

There are better sightings of the greater Galago in the camps at night or the evenings being good times, the main diet of the greater Galago is gums and/or fruit; it also eats seeds, nectar, millipedes and insects. The Elaeodendron buchananii tree is fruiting at the moment and this draws Elephant and Galagos into the camps, the fruit is yellow when ripe. The species we have here in the Mara is a dark brown western variety that is almost black. The Galago is a nocturnal and an arboreal species. They produce a loud raucous call and this call is uttered most often during the mating season. Occasionally there can be up to three being seen of which one is obviously larger than the other two and this can be observed as ‘Alloparenting’ which has been found to occur in some species of primates with adult females and sub adult males and females providing the care. Sub adults will play with or groom juveniles while the mother spends time foraging.

Two species of monitor lizard can be found here – the Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus) and the savannah Monitor (Varanus exanthematicus). The Nile monitor is the more common one seen often near to water courses being marsh or rivers. It is not unusual to see a Nile Monitor digging frantically into a termite mound and this action if often from that of a female monitor digging a hole to lay her eggs, the termites think this is an invasion and quickly seal up the damage and in the meantime encasing the egg cache of 20-60 soft shelled eggs. The temperature in the mound is correct incubation temperatures of about 86°f/30°c to 88°f/31.1°c usually takes approximately 95-100 days give or take a week either way, if the ground is soft after a bit of rain etc they then hatch and dig themselves out quite quickly. Generally speaking monitor lizards produce by sexual reproduction; however, it is observed that some monitor lizards are apparently capable of parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis - is a form of asexual reproduction in which offspring develop from unfertilized eggs.


Ostriches are now sitting on eggs with three clutches that have been seen, Ostriches hens can lay 40 to 100 eggs in a year with an average of 60. Although 20 eggs at a time, the average weight is 1.5 kg and incubation period lasts a little over 40 days with the males and females both incubating them; often it is the female during the day and the Male at night.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds

Cats Lion

The Marsh Pride – Siena and another younger lioness have six cubs that are a little over three months old. They are between the Marsh and Bila Shaka and have been feeding off Buffalo, Wildebeest and Zebra. Siena often does the hunting while the other lioness looks after the cubs. Modomo and another lioness have 5 cubs which are about 2 months old; two belong to Modomo and the other three to the lioness. Modomo had her cubs on Rhino Ridge and then ventured down to Kries lugga. At present there are only four cubs and it is now three days that the fifth cub has been missing and this is long time for a young cub to be missing from its maternal mother.


Photo courtesy of Marc Holzaph

Bibi has not been seen recently although early on in the month she was near topi plains with charm and two younger lionesses. She was being mated with Hunter one of the Musketeers on August 16th.

The four males are still being seen throughout the Musiara Marsh and Bila Shaka. Scars eye has improved although he still rubs it; this wound has been there a very long time despite the Kenya wildlife Services vet who has treated scar on two occasions. Hunter, Moran and Sikio have all been active by feeding off buffalo, wildebeest and zebra.

Photo courtesy of Rene Faes

Joy and her 4 male sub adult cubs that are 17 months old are in the Bila Shaka and Topi Plains area. Most of the time Joy is with three of them, one of them after being scratched by the Musketeers tends to hang back and he is looking quite thin now, latterly the three males are on


the short grass plains of the conservation area. These sub adult males are the progeny of Claude and Romeo and now with a new male take over in the Marsh pride Joys sub adults will have to tread carefully in their environment. At the age of 17 months they are still reliant on Joy for at least another few months. At the end of last month Joy was being mated with Sikio. They have been feeding off wildebeest and warthog.

Notch and the four males are being seen near the double crossing area, these four males are a considerable coalition they traverse a large area and have killed or pushed out many young males and cubs in the Burrangat plains and Ol Keju Ronkai area and almost as far as look out hill.

Photo courtesy of Katie Krivan

The Lioness Nyota and her male cub Moja who is 9 months old has been seen between Rhino Ridge and the Talek River. There are a few wildebeest and zebra here and with warthog being plentiful on Rhino ridge, they will often subsist on warthog.

The Paradise Pride: 4 females and two 3 month old cubs, two male lion of which one has a nice dark mane almost black, he is the father of the two cubs. They have fed on many wildebeest that have passed through here. Guides here in the Mara have named these two male lion the ‘4km’ males who are from the other side of the Mara river.

The Olkiombo lion pride of 12 including their 2 cubs which are 11 months old, 8 females and 2 males which are 2-3 years old, are in the open plains area near the riverine woodlands at the Bottom end of the Ntiaktiak River and the Olkiombo airstrip. They have been feeding off wildebeest and zebra.


Malaika and her one cub that is approximately five months old are being seen on the others side of the Talek River; latterly they are being seen on the Burrangat plains. Earlier on in the month she spent a good time near on Topi plains and Bila Shaka, she them moved over Rhino ridge and down to the Talek River. She has been feeding off Thomson Gazelle and impala.

The female cheetah with one male cub that is estimated at 13 months old has moved out from the Mara North conservancy; they are being seen on Paradise plains and rhino ridge. On the 21st

the male cub made a kill of a Thompson Gazelle fawn he struggled to begin with the mother then helped out; later he attempted another Thomson fawn and this time was more successful. They are both being presently being seen between Rhino ridge and Paradise Plains.

Photo courtesy of Rene Faes

The female Cheetah with two cubs that are estimated at three months old frequent the Bila Shaka and Rhino ridge grasslands. She is feeding off Impala, young warthog piglets and again Thomson Gazelle.


Photo courtesy of Ken Streatman

There is a female cheetah near look out hill that has four cubs estimated at 4-5 months old, she was seen on the 19th with a young impala female, and on the 26th she had killed a Thomson



Olive and her one cub that is a little over 3 months old has been seen near the Ntiaktiak and Talek river area and also recently in the croton thickets above Rekero camp.

The male Leopard of Paradise Plains near the mortuary crossing point on the Mara River has been seen a few times this month.

The young female leopard on the rocky hill close to the Serena pump house on the Mara River with her one male cub that is approximately 11 months old is still being seen regularly. There is a croton thicket with a large Warburgia tree and on the east side of the hillock and she is often being looked for here.

Olives’ older daughter called Binti has been seen frequently on the Talek River in Olive’s home range, there have been some lovely sightings of her recently with the 28th in the afternoon being


Photo courtesy of Rene Faes

The male leopard of the Marsh has been seen frequently in the woodlands quite close to Il Moran camp, he is also being seen in the Lake Nakuru area of the Marsh. On the 28th at 11.00 am he

was seen walking from the Marsh to the woodlands where he later killed a young Bushbuck female.

The female leopard on the rocky hill close to the Serena pump house with her one male cub that is approximately 11 months old is still being seen regularly. A good sighting of them both recently was on the 28th and 30th.

The large male that frequents the bottom end of Bila Shaka river bed has been seen near the managers crossing point, on the 23rd in the later afternoon he was seen stalking some Impala, he

disappeared into the woodlands and with what noise was being heard presumed was successful.

Walking in the Mara North Conservancy.

Pastel hues of the early dawn bring light to a new day. Many more wildebeest and zebra have been through this area particularly during mid month and grass levels have now thinned out. On the 8th at 10.15am a large herd of an estimated 2,000 animals crossed the Olare Orok River in

the acacia Valley, walkers stopped and sat silent under dead acacia tree, within minutes there were was a thundering of hooves as they passed in a cloud of dust and moved up the between the gap in on the croton. Large numbers of wildebeest and a few zebra have come back into the conservancy in the last two days of this month.


Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds

Spotted Hyenas have been very active on the wildebeest with two to three animals per night being taken. Grasslands were still quite long in some areas although showing signs of drying out. The majority of these Gnus moved on down in a southern direction towards the Musiara and Bila Shaka areas and then onto the main crossing points on the Mara River. On the 31st there were

still some good sized herds in the North and East of the conservancy.

There are still good numbers of Zebra on the plains above the fly over and also above rocky ridge. Good numbers of Giraffe can be seen throughout the acacia woodlands; recently they have been spending longer in the Euclea Divinorum thickest and browsing on the leaves.

Photo courtesy of Steve Hixon

Many Topi can be seen congregating in pockets of the open grasslands plains with even dominant females on termite mounds.


Males have been fighting; it is not too uncommon with two of them that are of similar stamina for one to kill the other. Female Topi with calves are well scattered. Eland are being seen in the East part of the conservation area with them more frequently being seen in the croton thickets at the end of the rocky ridge.

Many Elephant in small family units have been seen in this area as well as in the Acacia woodlands.

The lioness with the three cubs that are three months old now have been seen in the croton thickets at the western end of the fly over. A male and three females have also been seen here with five sub adult cubs. These lion have been feeding off Wildebeest and Zebra.

Two black backed Jackal pups are now at the southern end of the Olare Orok, the male and female parents killed a Thomson gazelle fawn on the 21st which is a monogamous effort. There

seems to be a reasonable presence of Aardwolf here as can be seen by a latrine on a disused termite mound that is used by a territorial male and female.

Two ostriches were sitting on eggs: one nest had 16 eggs and the other had 19 eggs both nests all eggs within a week of being laid were taken by Hyena, which is very sad.





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