By Adam Bannister
The rains have come, and the landscape is a carpet of electric green. Over 80mm of rain have fallen in the last 72 hours alone and the Mara River is flowing strong and steady - the dams are on the rise. The mud is fun and sticky, and the puddles are alive with frogs, tadpoles and a myriad of insect life. The middle of the days is hot and humid, and the constant high-pitched buzz of the cicadas fills the air. Clouds build to the north and by late afternoon the heavens open and almighty thunderstorms roll on into the night. The sound of the pitter-patter on the tin roof above sends me straight to sleep – an iconic sound of Africa. It’s a glorious time to be here…
Interestingly, over the last few days, we have seen an explosion of babies. Even the wildebeest have started to give birth – a good few weeks early. It’s wonderful to see the fresh young foals following their mothers through the short grasses. Photographically, there is something very special about this time of the year- the fresh golden morning light, the array of rich greens all made more vibrant in the clear rejuvenated air.
Kisaru, our star cheetah, has also had an action-packed December. She was recently seen mating with the ‘Two Brothers’ and has split from her two most recent cubs. These cubs now aged 17 months, have already been seen killing a male impala by themselves. We watch with interest to see if Kisaru reunites with her youngsters or if she avoids them and forces them to go fully independent. Time will tell.
A few days ago, members of the community gathered for the annual BioBlitz. This took place on the 1000 acres of Naretoi, the old Olerai Farm on the edge of the Enonkishu Conservancy. On the 22nd December, for a period of 24-hours, all organisms were photographed and recorded using a cellphone application called iNaturalist. A fun, and rather competitive day was had as teams rushed around the area capturing on their cellphones everything from tadpoles, grasses, birds and mammals. Over 220 species were entered into this ‘citizen-science’ platform that will help provide open-source data which can be used by anyone to help understand what is happening within the ecosystem.
We are thrilled to be partnering with EarthRanger, and the Mara Elephant Project, to become the first lodge (and conservancy) to start using GPS tracking technology to monitor our safari vehicle movements across the landscape. We are hoping to gather data that will help our land management team make constructive decisions on issues such as road maintenance, anti-poaching, ranger patrols, reducing vehicle congestion and lessening pressure on our wildlife. We are in the early stages of the pilot phase with the movements of three of our safari vehicles being analyzed using technology developed by EarthRanger to monitor wildlife. This exciting development is yet another forward-thinking way in which Enonkishu is striving to use science and technology in helping them to become a leader in the Maasai Mara conservation space.
Rumours circulated this week around the area that the extremely rare African Wild Dogs had been seen. Always slightly sceptical, when it comes to sightings of this nature, it was only once I was sent a whatsapp, that I started to believe it may be true. The image shows six members of a pack, and the Mara Predator Conservation Program has since confirmed the identity of at least two of the pack members as from the original Enonkishu Pack. This pack was feared to have all been killed – and so you can imagine our delight at seeing proof that at least some of them are still alive. Enonkishu, the area around House in the Wild, continues to be the main stronghold of Wild Dogs within the Mara ecosystem. We will keep you posted as, and when; any more sightings of this magnificent predator are seen. My camera is ready, batteries are charged.
This time of the year is fun and full of Christmas cheer. Parties, gatherings, sundowners and even the added bonus of a scintillating Fifa World Cup final made for a very special fortnight. Families come from all corners of the globe to reunite, and holiday here. For them it is a home away from home – a place where everyone can recharge, rest and relax. Of course, the emphasis is on wildlife, but it’s important on any safari to get the balance right and to have fun. We pride ourselves in setting the scene for having a good time – and our photoshoots allow the perfect opportunity to capture these moments for years to come.
To celebrate Christmas, we asked the Enonkishu herders to join us around the campfire. Many of these herders are the owners of the land which makes up the conservancy, or work for the owners, and the story of Enonkishu’s success is shared with these families and we are grateful for the opportunity to partner with them. They sang, danced and jumped – inviting our guests to join in on the experience – a moment that will surely live with them forever.
This is truly an extraordinary part of the Maasai Mara – it is alive with potential, it is full of wildlife, it is joyful and knows no limits. Its puts things in perspective and leaves you feeling warm inside. It bonds you with others and connects you to the earth. It forces you to think, and at the same time miraculously, allows you to switch off.
The team at House in the Wild, wish you, and your families a Happy New Year. May 2023 be remarkable and memorable. May it exceed all your expectations…and we hope that our paths will cross soon. We can’t wait to share our piece of paradise with you all.
Wishing you a wonderful 2023!