I hadn’t returned to the Mara after my visit there in December. I spent a lot of time in Amboseli instead, before the beginning of the rains there. At the end of March I was glad to return to my tent along the Talek river for about a week, after another unexpected hard disk crash on my computer. The Mara was extremely hot and humid, there was no rain in the first few days but I could feel it coming. In December I had devoted most of my time to the female Leopard Lorian with her two cubs. I was sad to hear that she lost one of the two cubs. I didn’t see her personally. On the other hand, I have had many reports of new Leopard cubs. Of course Olive has her two cubs hidden in the forest along the Talek. I saw her trying to hunt an Impala but giving up just when it seemed like she was ready to bounce out. The female Leopard Acacia, based between the Mara reserve and the Olare Conservancy has one cub. Another female in the same area was seen with two, but she is reportedly very shy. There was also another report of a female on the plains along the Mara river with two cubs. She too is apparently a bit shy. I wasn’t able to see any of them yet. Bahati is also still in her mother’s territory, and I was very happy to see that she is hunting on her own, even targeting big prey like Impala rams. On one particular morning I woke up and found a flat tire on my vehicle. I had to change it and fix it before heading into the park and I missed an amazing scene of Bahati hunting a male Impala that was distracted in a fight with another male. It took her long to suffocate it, she had to hang from the Impala’s neck as it stood up while giving it the “kiss of death”. She finally succeeded in killing it. I saw it all in pictures of a friend of mine when I reached there. I was very frustrated.
The Lions’ situation is still confused, with the old male Notch and his four sons creating havoc in many prides in the Central Mara. They are still killing many cubs and chasing or killing other males. It seems like they are not willing to settle with any particular territory or pride, which is quite unusual and not conducive for healthy Lions’ population. In the Musiara Marsh things are a bit more clear. The two males that have been in command since late 2007, Romeo and Clawed, have been chased by four new young and handsome males. I caught up with them one morning feeding on a Zebra kill. One of them was courting one of the pride Lionesses. Hopefully we’ll have new cubs in the pride soon. The female Joy with her four cubs has moved north, probably to protect her cubs from these new males. It will be interesting to see what happens.
Not many news of Cheetahs. One female with two adolescent cubs has recently transited through the Ol Kiombo area heading north to the Olare Conservancy. Four newly independent Cheetahs have been seen on their own near the Ntiakintiaki river.
In the last few days the rains finally came. The grass is very high throughout most of the reserve, despite huge herds of Cows are grazing the park every day and night. The ticketing system has been modified, a smart card system has been introduced but it is apparently not working properly yet. Hopefully it will by the time the high season returns.
I am now back in Nairobi, getting ready for a short trip to the US for an awards ceremony at the Smitshonian Museum in Washington DC, on April 24th.0