By Adam Bannister
After two weeks of exploring the Indian sub-continent it’s great to be back on home soil. It’s always fun catching up with the guiding team on the local wildlife news. What’s been happening out there in the wilderness - how are the Lemek Males doing? What’s the latest with Kisaru and her sub-adult cubs? Have any new leopards been seen? Are the Sankai Male lions still living close to camp? Any more Aardvark sightings? Lots and lots of questions.
The answer from all our guides was that the wildlife sightings have been phenomenal. There has been nonstop action across the Northern Mara Conservancies and guests have been leaving us with huge smiles and memory cards full of images.
I managed to get out on a few drives since getting back and can attest what they have been saying. It’s been hot, and relatively dry. We have also had the most unusual outbreak of Cotton-Moth Caterpillars who have been munching their way across the grasslands. But none of that has impacted on the abundance of wildlife performing across the grasslands.
Thousands of Zebras and Wildebeest, presumably remnants of the once Loita-migration, have remained upon the grassy crests. The wildebeest have been calving for a few weeks now and we are so lucky to have such an abundant amount of plains game right here on our doorstep.
Of course, the lions are very happy too. Almost every day guests return from drive having seen lions feasting on Zebra and Wildebeest. I for one, had the most fantastic sighting of a big female lioness dragging a Zebra carcass across a clearing to get the carcass away from an approaching herd of Buffalo. The light was out of this world.
It seems as if Kisaru is spending increasing amounts of time apart from her two sub-adult cubs. They are of a good age to become independent, and we are all still hopeful that Kisaru may be pregnant. Time will tell, but for now we are still graced with the most wonderful of moments with these gorgeous cats.
The Lemek Males continue to confuse us all. These four males seem to be so fired up with testosterone that they are always out to cause havoc. Not only did they kill their own cubs recently, but they have engaged in a campaign of terror. Roaring in the middle of the day and chasing youngsters all over the place. I watched on the other day as two of the four chased down a young male and caught him, pinning him down and biting him all over the back. Fortunately, they hesitated just long enough for the young male to make his escape.
I also was lucky enough to watch as the Lemek Pride tried their luck at sunset in hunting a Hippopotamus. It all happened very quickly, and in poor light, but it was fascinating to see how it unfolded. At the end of it the Hippo was clearly too large for the lionesses, and it was only really one individual who gave it a serious try. The rest gave up and watched from a safe distance.
The Elephant Queen Outreach Program continues with screenings, and performances, taking place nearly every day across schools, villages and homesteads within the Maasai Mara. We are proud to be able to host this team for nearly a month at our nearby Mara Training Centre, allowing them to relax in our grounds in their down-time, so that they can continue, with vigor, their all-important work within the communities.
Whilst on the topic of Elephants we have a relatively new baby in town - a delightful little Elephant that just warms the heart.
Any instalment of ‘Into the Wild’ just wouldn’t be complete without a handful of landscape shots – images that go some way towards conveying the natural beauty of the area in which we live. The current misty mornings provide the ideal emotion on which to photograph.
In November last year we had the privilege of hosting watercolour artist Tom Shepherd in what would turn out to be a completely wonderful collaboration. One of the many projects we worked on together was in creating two maps. The first was of the three Northern Mara Conservancies in which we conduct game drives. The second was to be a more zoomed out perspective showing how, and where, House in the Wild fits into the whole Mara- Serengeti ecosystem. It was a real labour of love on Tom’s behalf and the result was even more spectacular than we had hoped for.
It was a joy to host this talented artist and most genuine of humans. This week we finally received the framed finished works which have now been hung proudly in the lodge’s bar – taking pride of place for every guest to enjoy. Smaller copies of these maps now live in all our safari vehicles and allow guests a better enjoyment and appreciation of the greater landscape.
Everyone loves a good map; and what better than a beautiful map at that – painted by one of our generations greatest most free-flowing artists. Please be sure to have a look at more of Tom’s work HERE.
Have a wonderful two weeks and we look forward to seeing how the lion drama unfolds... stay tuned!