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Bush Telegraph Newsletter
December Game Report Masai Mara
Weather and grasslands
The Musiara area recorded 4.5 inches of rain over the course of November. Making it the third highest monthly rainfall recorded in 2013. Days were generally clear and hot with average temperatures of 30 Degrees Centigrade in the day. As a result of this combination the short grasses had bursts of growth which kept the migratory herds flowing into the area in great numbers, from North and South. With the rainfall also came the sporadic eruption of beautiful Fireball Liles or Scadoxus Multiflorus growing in clusters across the plains.
Since early November, many Wildebeest and Zebra returned from the Northern Serengeti back to the Musiara Marsh, Topi Plains and Rhino Ridge. Other migrating herds moved southwards from the northern conservancies, spending a week or more in the vicinity. Towards the end of the month there were many crossings at the Main Crossing ranging from those of a few hundred animals to those of a few thousand. An estimated 30,000 Wildebeest and 15,000 Zebra headed to the Serengeti via the Main Crossing.
Photo courtesy of James Borchers
Large herds of Impala, Grants and Thomson's gazelle have been seen all over the plains providing good prey items for Cheetah. The Topi have similarly been seen in their thousands, many of which are still calving, a good sign for all resident predators. The resident Buffalo herd have also been calving near Governors Camp and Private Camp. A few dozen elephant have also returned to the area and have been grazing and browsing between the Marsh, riverine woodland and the Triangle. There are one or two very small Calves with most small herds.
Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds
Windmill Breakaway's (Marsh Pride)
Sila: unfortunately lost one of her three young cubs in the Marsh area. The cause of death is not certain. On Tuesday the 3rd of December Sila was seen being chased from the centre of the Marsh to the Windmill by Sienna leaving her remaining two cubs behind. Both remaining cubs have now been adopted by Lippy who is now looking after all three cubs (one being hers and two Sila's. They are about 2.5-3 months old).
Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds
Kinny: is still lactating near the windmill side of the marsh. She has been seen with Jicho, another Windmill Breakaway of the Marsh Pride lioness. So far no cubs have been sighted. None of these four young lionesses have successfully managed to rear cubs beyond 6 months of age. Hopefully Sila will be the first.
Core Marsh Pride
Sienna, Bibi and Musiara along with the juveniles of the Marsh Pride (9 sub-adults of about one and a half years including three males and six females) have been spotted mostly in the Marsh between Il Moran Camp and Governors Camp. On the 8th December, Enos noticed a small cub of less than two weeks old amongst the group and looking for a teat. However none of the females present were lactating and we are curious as to whom the mother is. Charm has been seen very seldom and it could be that this is one of her new cubs which she has 'lost' whilst transferring den sites. We will keep you posted.
Topi Plains Breakaway's (Marsh Pride Lionesses known also as the Four Seasons Sisters)
These four lioness have moved from the east of Bila Shaka, westward between the River and Manager's Lugga, on the north-west of Rhino Ridge. They remain with 3 sub-adult offspring of about one and a half years including two males and a female.
Paradise Plain Females (Marsh Pride)
Three cubs of about two months old have been spotted with a lioness near Serena. The mother belonging to the former Paradise Plain Pride which was taken over by the Four Musketeers. It is believed that the sire is Sikio who mated extensively with the former Paradise Pride females after the take-over.
Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds
Five of the Paradise Plain Pride
sub-adults that fled from the Muskateers appear to have made it across the River and into the Triangle where they have been doing well near the main Crossing.
Four Musketeers (Marsh Pride Male Coalition)
The Four Musketeers have been spotted separately trying to cover their whole territory, which is now rather large, stretching from the Windmill to Serena and the Western Side of Rhino Ridge. Scarface has moved very little from Manager's Lugga area in the last 5 days
and has been suffering an injured paw, which we are waiting on vets to attend.
Photo courtesy of Jacob Lelesara
Mohican and Romeo II
These two ex-Marsh Pride males have been spotted on Monday 2nd near the Double Crossing with one female and two cubs of about three months old. They are doing well.
Three of Notches sons (Grimace, Notch II and Sisa) were spotted on December 2nd with three females of the Rongai Pride (one of Notches Boys Pride), six cubs of about three to four months old and eight sub-adults). Ron (Notches fourth son) is heard to be mating with a lioness around the Topi plains near Keekerock. The boys still control the largest territory in the reserve and have the biggest pride/s (probably double that of the Marsh Pride Muskateers).
Romi was spotted only twice near Il Moran Camp and we suspect she may have a new litter of cubs still hidden in the forest. The big male or Romi's Husband was spotted between Il Moran and Little Governors Camp on several occasions and their son, Romi's Son has been spotted many times between Private Camp and Manager's Lugga, generally with very good sightings.
Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds
Serena Pump House Female was spotted a few times and an unidentifiable courting pair was spotted in Kwa Nyoka area which is a very successful Leopard habitat. The female leopard with two 6 month old cubs also in the Kwa Nyoka area had two more sightings in November.
Nalasha the female Cheetah deserted her juvenile cubs on a kill near Bila Shaka. The cubs are 15-16 months old, one male and one female. They are looking rather thin and they have not quite got the hang of the hunt yet. They are currently on the northern side of Rhino Ridge near Miti ya Nyuki.
The three 17-20 month old juvenile Cheetah, two males and one female have been spotted between Governors Camp and the west of Rhino Ridge. A Cheetah trio fitting their description was seen on 11th December on the south side of Ol Keju Rongai (South of the Talek River).
The two males that were being seen in September near Bila Shaka/Rhino Ridge have remained in Mara North Conservancy.
The young female Cheetah who had three cubs of 4-6 weeks old (in October) near Joseph's Tree on the western fan of Rhino Ridge.
Photo courtesy of Jacob Lelesara
The last remaining male Cheetah of 'Honeys Boys' was seen on the 7th December, south of the Mara River around an area called Egyptian Geese.
Malaika and her large cub were last seen at Lookout a while ago. She may have ventured into Tanzania.
James Duder, Governors Camp Collection Manager.
The Hirwa Gorilla Family
This was one of those treks where everything just falls into place and ends up being an absolutely amazing experience. The plan was to visit one of the closer families, but as is so often the case with a plan that involves wild free-roaming animals, nothing is set in stone and we ended up getting the opposite! Munyinya, the big Silverback and dominant male in this group decided to take his family further up the slopes and onto the ridge-line that joins Sabyinyo and Bisoke volcanoes.
With it being the rainy season, the trek was muddy and slippery, which in turn gave everyone a good chuckle when someone else in the group lost their footing. I myself landed flat on my backside at least twice.
It took us one hour and fifty minutes to complete the 940ft climb to the gorillas. Spirits were high throughout the trek though. The age group varied from 38 to 70 years and everyone did remarkably well. Every so often you would here the "are we there yet?" or "and this was suppose to be the short hike?" and so often the guides response to these questions would be, "this is why they are called Mountain Gorillas". There was quite the sigh of relief when we reached the trackers.
The first 20 minutes of the hour with the Gorillas were in the thick bamboo forest and this makes it very hard to photograph these guys. I put the camera down and just enjoyed watching the little ones get up to all sorts of mischief. I have not laughed this much for quite some time. The little ones would play a game of King of the Hill and every time one of them make it to the top, he would stand upright and give us an all-mighty chest beat before getting flung off and replaced by another.
Once they moved out of the bamboo into the open, it was magic! The lighting was perfect for photography and I managed to get a few keepers. Munyinya grabbed one of the infants and started grooming the little one. What an enormous Silverback!!! Munyinya in my opinion has to be one of the biggest Silverbacks in all the families I have visited. His fingers are almost the same size as the infant's foot. Very characteristic of this Silverback is his tolerance of and love for his offspring. He is an amazing father. On several occasions I have seen him surrounded by babies with not a single mother in sight. The little ones will use him as a trampoline, jumping up and down on his back or pull his ears. The last time I tracked Hirwa, we watched the family cross a stream that came down in flood after a very heavy downpour. Kabatwa was pacing up and down the side of the stream holding both her twins in one arm.
Munyinya saw this and went back to her, took the one infant and carried the little one across and then went back for the second one. Such a humbling and privileged sighting.
Our one hour came to an end and everyone left in absolute amazement. It is easy to understand why even the most experienced professional guides in Africa would class Mountain Gorilla trekking as the ultimate safari experience.
November/December News from Loldia House
November had a quiet start but picked up with more Guests' towards the end of the month.
Daniel Nedgwa the long standing Chef who retired last year, thankfully, came back to make ALL the Christmas Cakes, Puddings, Mince Meat, Marmalade and Plum jam for ALL the camps. It was such a pleasure having him back here. He has said that he will come back and give us a hand over the Christmas period. Wonderful man!
There have been no sightings of Leopards this month. Guests' are still enjoying their trips to Lake Nakuru - the lake level is still very high - where they are guaranteed to see both Black and White Rhino. They also see the Rothschild's Giraffe. Some Guests have also seen Lion and on one occasion, they say, an 18ft. Python.
There has been some rain which has helped all the back lands as it was getting very dry and the grazing was running short. There seem to be more male Impala this year so a lot of jockeying for females.
There have been the usual Buffalo, Hippo, Zebra and Eland wandering up and down along the fence. The lake is still very high so still are not able to use the bottom road along the lake front to the House.
A young Irish couple out on their Honeymoon went out on a night game drive with Sammy and saw an Aardvark - a very rare sighting. Luck of the Irish! I know, if a couple who stayed at Loldia earlier in November, read this they will be 'very unhappy' as they have stayed at Loldia on a number of occasions and gone out with Sammy and never seen an Aardvark.
Good marlin fishing in the Rips and Pemba Channel
Written by David Slater "Honeylulu"
Strong north winds have inspired the marlin fishing in both the Rips, off Watamu, and the Pemba Channel with good reports of fish most days, although there is still a shortage of clients among the charter boats, but with the Christmas holiday here private boats are taking to the water and making up the numbers.
Ol Jogi from Watamu had an amazing run with first time anglers Chris Sparg and Beatri Meyer when they started with a blue marlin released, estimated at 100 kgs. A day off, and they tried again, notching up release flags for a black and a striped marlin and a sailfish, for a grand slam which many anglers with twenty years experience would envy! Then next day a final trip produced another blue marlin for the lucky anglers - what a trip, all three marlin species and a sail!
Monday was a busy day in the Rips, with pride of place going to Pintail, a small private boat which released a blue marlin estimated around 230kgs, while Seastorm, Ol Jogi and Tega all released a blue marlin. White Bear, White Mischief, Clueless and Unreel each had a striped marlin, and Black Widow tagged a sail for a show of flags on the best day of the season so far. The stripey on White Bear was caught by 16 year old Freddie Mark fishing with his dad, for his first marlin - thus ringing the marlin bell in the Hemingways bar, traditionally drinks all round!
In the Pemba Channel, the marlin have also turned on with Bryan Matiba in Shuwari reporting great catches, two blue and six striped marlin and seven sail in recent days, while Kamara II found two stripies one day and Broadbill a stripey and a sail another day.
Earlier Kamara II had hooked into a big black marlin of around 200 kgs, which moved so fast it circled over the line and cut it, while the angler was still adjusting his rod belt. One has to move fast in game fishing!
Recently in Watamu, Unreel placed a satellite tag in a blue. A similar tag, placed in a black marlin last April, showed up some months later in the Gulf of Aden, having travelled 1100 kilometres!
Get Involved in Conservation in 2014
2013 has been a successful year for the Conservancy. We welcomed the birth of our 100th black rhino, we reinvested 14Ksh million back into the surrounding community and in August, we saw an all-time record number of visitors come through our gates.
Looking forward into 2014, Ol Pejeta is focusing on transforming its tourism experience. With the introduction of a dedicated tourism department and significant investment in infrastructure, guide training, environmental education and development of Conservation Activities, it is our hope that we will not only afford visitors to the Conservancy a close proximity to wildlife but give them a unique opportunity to be actively involved with our ongoing conservation efforts.
Learn about the lions of Ol Pejeta when you book LION TRACKING, and help us to gather vital research informatio n needed to monitor the collared lions. In the event that the collared lions are inaccessible, other lion sightings are reported and the same identifying features such as whisker spots, ear tears and nose spotting recorded. It is a great way to learn about these predators and all of the information gathered is passed on to the Ol Pejeta Ecological Monitoring Department.
In 2009, Ol Pejeta Conservancy welcomed four of the world's last remaining seven northern white rhino from the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic. You can now enjoy a once in a lifetime opportunity and visit our ENDANGERED SPECIES ENCLOSURE. Meet the four rhino up close and personal and hear their amazing story. All proceeds from the Endangered Species Enclosure are reinvested into the continuing efforts to pull the species back from the verge of extinction. The 700-acre endangered species enclosure also protects small but vital populations of Grevy's zebra and the Jackson's hartebeest.
A NIGHT GAME DRIVE offers an opportunity to discover Ol Pejeta 'after hours'. With the help of a spot light, the drives can produce some unusual sightings of nocturnal animals, including aardvark, white-tailed mongoose, zorillas and even perhaps the bat eared fox. Lions, often sleeping during the heat of the day are more likely to be sighted alert and active at night. On occasion the more elusive leopard can also be seen.
Walking on the plains of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy offers a unique game viewing perspective. The BUSH WALKS also give a brief insight into what it takes to be an Ol Pejeta ranger patrolling the length and breadth of the Conservancy on foot to ensure that our rhino are kept safe. Accompanied by one of our experienced armed rangers, this interpretive walks brings you up close and personal with the sights, smells and sounds of the African bush.
Learn about game trails, spoor identification as well as insects, birds and smaller mammals.
The walk is not designed to be strenuous; however a reasonable level of fitness is required. Group sizes are restricted to a maximum of six (6) people and the activity is not suitable for children under 12 years.
With over 300 different species of birds, a RAVINE RIVER BIRD WALK on Ol Pejeta is an ornithological paradise. Accompanied by one of our experienced armed rangers, this interpretive walk through ravine forests, offers a chance to see a wide variety of resident and migratory bird species, whilst still enjoying the sights, smells and sounds of the African bush. The ravine river bird walk is not designed to be strenuous however a reasonable level of fitness is required. Group sizes are restricted to a maximum of six (6) people and the activity is not suitable for children under 12 years. Binoculars a must!!
As a not-for-profit organisation, by visiting us on Ol Pejeta, you are making a difference and we would like to take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of the Conservancy and the community at large for your continued support.
For further information on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy or the work that we do, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or directly on email@example.com
One Lewa's greatest asset is its devoted donors, supporters and champions from around the world who have and continue to make it possible for us to achieve our goals. As the CEO of Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, I want to thank you for making this possible.
As we enter a new year, here is a quick recap of news that made headlines in 2013, from founder Anna Merz's sad passing to new milestones and achievements:
Saying Goodbye to Anna Merz:
Lewa's co-founder and greatest champion Anna Merz passes away in South Africa at the age of 82. Lewa's mama kifaru - Swahili for mother of rhinos as she is fondly remembered - leaves behind a lasting legacy of a conservationist whose love and passion for wildlife has inspired many.
World Heritage Status:
UNESCO extends the boundaries of the Mount Kenya World Heritage Site to include the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Ngare Ndare Forest. This is a great achievement that celebrates the Conservancy's work in endangered species conservation and habitat
Historic Black Rhino Translocation:
11 of Lewa's black rhinos are moved to the neighbouring Borana Conservancy to establish a founding population on Kenya's latest black rhino habitat. Borana, like many other former black rhino habitats in the country, has not held any rhino for decades.
A Decade of Supporting Rural Women:
Lewa's micro-credit programme celebrates 10 years of successfully supporting women from the neighbouring communities. Starting out with just 30 women, the programme now has over 800 members.
First Black Rhino Naming Ceremony:
Young Kilifi is named in a colourful ceremony that is the culmination of a partnership between Lewa and Athi River Mining Company. The symbolic ceremony brings together conservation, culture, politics and law enforcement.
Sirikoi Gets Nominated by the World Travel Awards:
One of Lewa's lodges, Sirikoi, gets nominated by the World Travel Awards (WTA) as Africa's Safari Lodge of the year. The WTA have been described as 'the Oscars' of the tourism and travel industry.
Ground-Breaking Ceremony for the Construction of Il Ngwesi's First Secondary School:
Thanks to the community's champion Kip ole Polos and donor Ann Bent, Il Ngwesi will soon get their first secondary school to enhance literacy in the area.
14th Safaricom Marathon:
Philomen Baaru makes history by retaining his title as the marathon's champion and a couple gets engaged at the end of the race! The marathon continues to be a world-class race attracting participants from across the globe.
Community Elders and Kenya Police Honour Lewa and NRT's Security Teams
Tigania East elders and the Kenya Police travel to Lewa to show their appreciation for the security teams' tremendous work in reducing crime in the Tigania East area, particularly cattle rustling.
Most of these achievements could not have been possible without your help and support. Lewa's model of conservation and wildlife protection, that goes hand in hand with sustainable development and poverty alleviation, makes it a catalyst for conservation across the globe. We hope you take pride in the fact that it is you, the donors and supporters, who make this work possible.
Thank you and have a prosperous 2014!