During the second half of July the weather got really chilly in the Mara. The few remaining Wildebeests proceeded heading southwest into the Mara Triangle. With my guests we caught a couple of days of beautiful river crossings. Unfortunately the spectacle is often ruined by the behavior of many guides who won’t hesitate to cut off and scare the Wildebeests in order to show their clients at least a glimpse of the famed migration.
Just around mid-July we had a glimpse of the female Leopard Bahati during her honeymoon with a new young male. I have started seeing this male last year in September around Rhino Ridge. He is the male that sometimes sleeps in the Euphorbia trees on top of the ridge. We didn’t see them actually mating, though we repeatedly heard the noise coming from the bushes. The male is very shy so whenever cars appeared early in the morning he would lead Bahati across the Talek and into thick vegetation. They had a kill on the river banks so they came back in the night. I was really thrilled of seeing this important moment in her life, after seeing her when she was a small cub. Previous Olive’s female cubs have all moved away from this area and I never saw them again. With Olive’s death last year, Bahati could probably settle in the area. Saba, Olive’s last daughter, is also still seen occasionally further norteast.
While Cheetahs have been really really hard to see this July, we had a lot of sightings of Lions. Many prides have small cubs, especially in the Marsh where there are at least five females with cubs less than six-months old. Driving around the Musiara marsh is extremely exciting these days as there are Lions virtually everywhere. The Marsh pride is divided in many smaller units. One evening along the Talek there was drama when the Lions’ den where the cubs were hiding has been attacked by a large herd of Buffalos. It was late evening so we had no idea of how many cubs had survived. The next morning we realized only two out of seven small cubs had died. In this image one of the females moves a cub across the plains to a new den.
The same method to transport their babies is used by Spotted Hyena. We spent a lovely morning near a den with three tiny pups. Here the mother is moving one of them from one side of the den to the other.
While photo opportunities remained good this month, I came away very worried about the fate of the Masai Mara. Greed and abuse seem to be the leading forces, both within the tourism industry and among the rangers and the politicians who should take care of this jewel. The cows have been going deep into the reserve every night, turning most of the northern Mara into a lunar landscape without a single stem of grass. The migration is severely disturbed daily by greedy drivers who break all the rules in order to get a tip from their chinese clients. Camps are popping up in every patch of forest in the reserve, totally out of control. I am wandering where will the Leopards hide, where will the Elephants find their food. The grass on the plains has been completely eaten, the bushes and forests are all filled with camps. It’s depressing.