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Into the Wild #24

By Adam Bannister

Excitement continues to build with the ever-nearing approach of the 'The Great Migration'. Sources down in the Serengeti have informed us that the Wildebeest are slowly moving northwards and at this rate we can expect them to cross into the Maasai Mara in about 3 weeks time. However, the late rains we are currently experiencing, could potentially have an impact on the movements of these animals. The Wildebeest could look north and see the rains and decide to move faster, or it could rain down in the Serengeti and slow their movements down. At this stage its all a guessing game!

Irrelevant of time of the year, there is still so much to see here in the Northern Mara Conservancies. We have resident herds of Wildebeest and Zebras that number in the thousands. The short grassy plains are alive - a canvas of life and colour. Iconic trees dot across the horizon, as small family groups of elephants traipse through the lush landscape.

We are all excited about the discovery of yet another set of lion cubs. Three precious little bundles of fluff seen being led to potentially their first kill, by their protective mother. We sat silently waiting for nearly an hour before the lioness trusted us enough to call her cubs out of hiding. The rewards were special and another magical moment captured forever.

The mother is a beautiful female with a distinctively broken left ear. We had presumed she must have had cubs when a few days earlier we watched her moving uneasily through a rocky area in the rain. My immediate assumption was that she was inspecting potential sites to move her cubs to. Interestingly, whilst spending time with her - in the pouring rain - she led us to a young male leopard. The leopard raced up a nearby tree to safety, wrapping up another extraordinary drive.

Rain always adds another dimension to a game drive. A rainy game drive from a photographic standpoint has the potential to add creativity, excitement and atmosphere!

The Sankai Males (now down to three), continue to lie low - their territory seems to be shrinking by the day. How long will they be able to hold on to power around House in the Wild? Time will tell.

Sightings of Kisaru, and her independent son Olomunyak have been good these last few days. These two Cheetahs provide exceptional encounters when they are found.

Spending time with, and in amongst, big herds of Buffalo is a real treat - especially when there are dozens of splendid white Cattle Egrets within the herd. Flashes of white contrast so perfectly against the dark hides of the Buffalo.

We had a rather unusual sighting this week of a large Rock Python slowly making its way across the 'River Road' into the flooded forest.

Last weekend we invited children from our local school to the Mara Training Centre. Visiting researchers Abby Guthmann and Gretchen North partnered with Emarti Secondary School to present workshops discussing local conservation issues. They covered everything from scientists, guiding, ecotourism and anti-poaching. Part of this experience included game drives across Enonkishu Conservancy so that these children could see wildlife and learn more about their habitats.

This week, the Mara Training Centre also played host to the Migration Gravel Race (MGR) brining together nearly 150 of the world’s top cyclists in a four-day showdown on the rocky, red dirt roads of the Maasai Mara. With a third of the entrants from east Africa, it was a rare opportunity for the region’s riders to show they can rival the best. It is one of the most gruelling gravel bike races in the world and see entrants racing 650km and covering all corners of the Mara. Think Tour de France, but on gravel roads, massive open grasslands, crossing muddy streams, dodging cows and the odd giraffe. I was dumbstruck as to the speed at which these elite athletes cycled over the terrain.

Congrats to each and every single one of those who managed to finish and organise this remarkable event. For more information click here.


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