News from Governors Camp
March started in much the same way as February ended, with dry conditions, hot days and a great deal of animal movement. Vultures and other birds that use thermals seemed to be up and away much earlier, while there was a longer rest period in the middle of the day for the general game. None the less, there was still much to see in our corner of the Mara.
The Paradise Pride of lions split up (although it is unlikely to be permanent) with members moving to either side of the Mara River. This split is probably because of the same animal movement as was seen the previous month and is typical of a pride needing to “broaden their horizons” in order to feed. With six big males to make their collective presence known, it is also no surprise that younger males and some females feel the pressure! This pride is still hunting hippo.
The Marsh Pride seemed settled in the Bila Shaka area and made good use of the Loita zebra and the resident warthogs as their prey. An interesting occurrence in March was the first sighting of four very young cubs. They belong to a female who is associated with the Marsh pride, but who hasn’t yet been accepted by the other females. The cubs are believed to be her third litter.
In the walking area the Acacia Pride male lions were still to be seen earlier in the month enforcing their dominance. Towards the end of the month four lucky walkers were treated to a spectacle of no less than fourteen lions moving past them, the young ones gambling and tugging at each other tails while the adults stoically endured the rabble!
Leopard sightings were almost on a par with last month. Seen regularly was a young male near Private Camp. Of great interest was the sighting of a female with a three month old cub near Chemorta. What a privilege to be allowed a glimpse of a very secret and fiercely protected world!
Rhino lived up to their reputation and were ever elusive. Our drivers were patient and persistent however, and amazed many guests with their uncanny ability to almost sense where these prehistoric beasts were. Various individuals were seen but memorably, towards the middle of the month, three were found together – mother, calf and adult male. The adults were mating! Watch this space in fifteen month’s time!
Towards the middle of the month we were treated with a dowse of extremely welcome rain! The whole Mara seemed to take a deep breath and change into a new gear. The Mara River rose almost immediately and very soon a different pattern of animal movement became visible. Cheetahs, for which fairly large distance had to be travelled previously, were seen much closer to our camps. This is most likely because of there suddenly being a greater availability of food for herbivores and their subsequent decrease of movement. Less prey movement meant less large predator movement and thus a relatively safer environment for less robust predators such as cheetahs.
More water meant a better deal for elephants and indeed, a large number (in big groups as opposed to the smaller family groups of February) is still to be seen around the marshes. The African Green Heart tree is still bearing fruit and there is still a group of elephants that visit the camps regularly to take advantage of the shorter grass and Green Heart fruit. A little more work for our watchmen to keep us fore-warned and a marvelous sight for all!
An interesting phenomenon brought about by the rain is the slow return of the Loita zebra to their residential area. As conditions improve the attraction of home draws them south and east of us. Many of them had been caught on the “wrong” side of the Mara River and, amazingly, a crossing of some seven hundred zebra and – fourteen giraffe – was seen on the 29th of March! Only one poor little zebra was caught by crocs.