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Governors' Camp Collection News
April / May 2016 

Friends of Governors!

We have experienced a change of seasons across all our properties with the start of the much anticipated rains. In the Masai Mara the grasses are growing long in preparation for the arrival of the herds from the wildebeest migration, big herds of elephant move through the plains and despite the long grass, sightings of all the big cats remains good.

In Rwanda our guests have been enjoying some very exciting gorilla treks and managers Thor and Alisa have taken our clients on biking tours to the great lakes and treks to Buhanga Sacred Forest. April marks the memorial of the genocide in Rwanda, and the community comes together for peace and reconciliation talks, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge has played a small part in these.

At Loldia the rains have arrived and the ranch is full of young animals at every turn. Our team took a recce up to Eburru, a new and wild area, which we hope to be able to take guests to in the very near future.

Within the Governors Camp Collection we have a series of fantastic photo safaris lined up for 2016 guided by the very talented Warren Samuels. We also have some fabulous family offers and Governors remains a great camp to introduce the whole family to the magic of a safari in the wild. 

April Game Report Masai Mara 

Weather and Grasslands

April started hot and relatively dry with the humidity rising throughout the day. In the evening the temperature cooled with the wind picking up predominately from the north east. The second half of the month has been considerably wetter and in the last week we have had dry but humid mornings and then rain falling heavily in the late afternoon and well into the evening. The water level in the Musiara marsh has risen as well as the Mara River and is now flowing quickly. The grass on Bila Shaka, Topi Plains and Musiara plains are tall and green causing game to tend to prefer the shorter grasses on the edge of the conservation areas were they feel more secure. The Warburgia trees have stopped fruiting so the elephant are now throughout the Marsh preferring the very green grass.

 Photo courtesy of Fred Cave 

On the Plains

At the start of the month with the river low the Hippo have been very active jostling for position in their preferred deeper pools. During these interactions there seemed have been a few fatalities involving new born calves which the crocodiles soon claim. However, now with the river now higher these encounters are less common and now the female Hippos need only to worry about opportunistic crocodiles. This month we have had regular sightings of two Cape buffalo breeding herds numbering approximately 170 to 200 individuals and both herds are made up of calves of all ages. One herd is mostly commonly seen on Topi plains and the eastern side of Rhino ridge and other residing in Bila Shaka and Musiara Plains. Many Bull buffalo have been lying up in the Marsh either in small groups of up to half a dozen or are solitary. These old Bulls who have been pushed out of the herd are very dangerous but the fact that they do not have the safety in numbers afforded by being part of a large herd means they are more vulnerable to predation by Lions. However, due to their size the Lions would have to be in good number or accompanied by a big male. At the Start of the month there were vast herds of Elephant numbering approximately 200 individuals spread throughout Bila Shaka and particularly Musiara plains. Although they are still in good numbers and have dispersed slightly into smaller family groups, the best place to see them has been along the woodland around the northern marshes. Blossom the large male Elephant is often seen between and in the camps however his most recent visits have been in the evening. 
Photo courtesy of Fred Cave 

Impala are plenty to see and are in good numbers mainly along the edge of the forest but also out on Topi plains. Impala rams spend plenty of energy keeping their large Harems often numbering up approximately 30 to 40 females. Always close to these are satellite groups of males waiting for their chance to oust the dominant male and take over their females. A large troop of Olive Baboons are seen regularly between main Governors and little Governors camps. They are seen regularly with Impala for their safety and move out to the edge of the woodland moving through the grass feeding. Thomson and Grants Gazelles have been seen in large numbers on Topi Plains and along the Olare Orok River where the grass is shorter so they feel safer. Giraffe have been seen throughout the Musiara areas and moving across the open plains stopping to browse on their preferred Acacia trees to more forested areas. These are either temporary associations of males or small groups of Adult females with their calves. 

Photo courtesy of Fred Cave 

Warthog are rife throughout the plains often only seen through the long grass by a female with her tail raised for the piglets to follow. They have preyed on heavily by Lions. Cokes Hartebeest are dispersed throughout our corner of the Mara and rarely in groups of more than 10 individuals. They are seen regularly amongst large Topi herds that are ever present on Topi Plains and the surrounding area. There are plenty of calves are amongst the herd and seemed to be preyed upon regularly by the resident Lion pride. Zebra are in numbers throughout the plains and at the start of the month formed large herds on the eastern side of the double crossing and the conservation areas, since then they have become slightly more dispersed and herds of Eland and their calves break up the herds of Zebra. 

Photo courtesy of Fred Cave

Hyenas are seen very regularly all over the plains throughout the day and are generally seen in pairs or alone often lying in pools made by the Buffalo or in thick tufts of grass in the heat of the day. When a decent sized kill has been found they may call and the rest of the clan will move in to try and drive off whoever made the kill. They killed a Topi on Topi plains in the morning of the 17th. Black backed Jackal have been frequently sighted and are always on the move. These monogamous little carnivores are often seen at Lion kills sneaking right up and grabbing a morsel or just lightly shadowing them in the hope they make a kill. Groups of Banded Mongoose are seen throughout the plains numbering up to 25 individuals. Mongooses are very opportunistic and eat a variety of small vertebrates including snakes, small birds and small mammals. 

Photo courtesy of Fred Cave

Male Jackson widow birds are seen all over the grasslands forming a 'Lek' and performing their peculiar mating dance of jumping up and down in the hope of attracting a female. Rufous naped larks and Yellow throated Long claws are often seen on the side of the road calling noisily. Marabou Storks were seen in large numbers earlier in the month near the air strip along with a Saddle billed Stork who had caught a large fish and took a good half an hour to swallow it. Open billed storks and black headed herons are throughout the Marsh. Pairs of Secretary birds are seen early in the morning at the top of Balanites trees where they have been roosting before coming down to walk the grasslands looking for invertebrates and even snakes. Southern ground hornbills are seen often on the edge of the forest between camps and a few pairs have sub adult chicks. Black and white bellied bustards along with the Kori bustard are also a regular sighting. Fish eagles are seen along the edge of the Mara River and are heard regularly throughout the day. Pied kingfishers have been seen frequently fishing along with Malachite and woodland kingfishers although the Woodland is heard more often than seen. 

Photo courtesy of Fred Cave


At the start of the month we had regular sighting of the Madomo pride on Topi plains and the western side of Rhino Ridge. This pride is made up of ten individuals' four lionesses and four 8 month old cubs and two black maned Lions, Lipstick and Blackie. 

Photo courtesy of Fred Cave

The two males are often seen with the females and cubs and both have been mating with various females. Lipstick was seen frequently alone with Madomo from the 12th for a couple of days and on the 19th Blackie was seen with a Madomo pride female also on Topi Plains. Although they're a coalition they are very protective of the female which they are mating with and will not tolerate the other coming too close. On the 13th we came across the females attempting to dig up a second Warthog after Blackie stole the first for himself. They killed and ate a Zebra on the morning of the 17th. 

Photo courtesy of Fred Cave

Sightings of the 4 Musketeers have been scarce over the past month. We saw Hunter, Morani and Sikio along the edge of the forest lying up in the shade on the 9th about a mile south of camp. Sikio was seen mating with a Paradise female on the 11th in the rocky ground above paradise plains. The rest of the Paradise pride was also seen that morning. It seems the Musketeers are spending a large amount of time on the other side of the river.

On the 19th Marsh pride male Lions Tatu and Red were seen on the edge of the northern conservation area walking down the main road and appeared to becoming from the direction of Topi Plains. This is Blackie and Lipsticks stomping ground and it is possible they were hurried out. From then on they were sighted on the following after the 2nd Marsh pride group of Lippy and Kini and didn't seem to be welcome. They were sighted again that afternoon in a heavy downpour and tried to use it as cover to hunt Giraffe along the edge of the River not far from the Windmill. 

Photo courtesy of Fred Cave

Lippy, Kini and Jicho have been seen regularly in the north Musiara marsh area. Lately in the morning they have been seen returning back towards the river and marsh from the direction of the conservation areas where the game is more abundant .Lippy's cub which is 3 months old is doing well; however it's a shame there isn't any other cubs to act as playmates, although the two sub adult male are very tolerant of being constantly ambushed. On the 10th they made a kill deep in the Marsh. On the 21st Lioness Jicho chased Romi up a tree not far from the Windmill. 


Romi the female leopard has been seen regularly near the northern marsh along the riverine woodland and more recently near the Windmill. In the afternoon of the 21st she was chased up a Giant Diospyros tree by Marsh pride lioness Jicho. As far as I can tell there has been no sign of her cubs. 

Saba a female leopard with a male and female cub who are approximately 16 months old has been seen frequently along the Olare Orok river woodland. She resides in a game rich area where the short grass attracts Topi,
Thomson and Grants Gazelles and Warthog. On the 16th she killed and ate a Warthog piglet in thick cover and on the 8th an Impala ewe was seen in the fork of a tree near where her and her cubs were resting. 


Malaika the female cheetah and her two cubs who are almost 2 years old have been sighted frequently over the last month. At the beginning of April she was seen most frequently on the Eastern side of the double crossing but since then has moved towards the northern Masai conservation areas and been seen near the windmill. On the 20th she killed a Thomson Gazelle fawn. 

Musiara the female Cheetah with three 10 month old cubs were seen on the 8th on the eastern side of the double crossing not far from Malaika and her cubs. She was seen again on the 20thand she started stalking an Impala ewe only for her cubs to spook a couple of Giraffe and spoil the hunt.
Fred Cave, Governors Camp. 

Governors Guide to May in Masai Mara 

Usually in May the grasses on plains are fantastically long, with the red oat grass in seed there is a red tinge to the plains in preparation for arrival of wildebeest migration. The days are warm with temperatures ranging from 15 - 31 degrees Celsius, rain falls mostly in late afternoon and evenings. We tend to go out with picnics for longer game drives at this time of year.

We have good sightings of lion, cheetah, leopard and serval cats. Good sightings of cheetah up on the short grass plains where the Thomson and Grants Gazelles are found. 

With the long grass in the reserve, the prey species disperse and lion have to travel further afield for a meal. The lion are feeding on eland, buffalo and hippos. There tend to be cubs in the prides and the Paradise pride focus their efforts on hippos. 

Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds

Big herds of elephant spread out in Musiara and Bila Shaka grasslands with lots of calves in these family herds feeding on grasses. Elephant feed and bathe in Musiara Marsh. There is a large presence of Males some a little testy and in musth but mostly happy to eat alongside the females and families, there is some mating occurring.

Giraffe are present in the woodlands between the camps with lots of calves in the family units. Giraffe are frequent visitors to all the Governors Camps.

There are waterbuck with young claves, impala, bushbuck and baboons in the forest margins close to the Marsh. Warthog seem to be everywhere with males busy sparring for females. Sows have piglets of 7 months old. Good numbers of eland in herds of 10 - 40 individuals are seen out on plains with calves in breeding herds and large bulls flanking the breeding herds. Good numbers of topi with their 6 month old calves out on plains. The large resident buffalo herd spends its days on the grasslands of rhino ridge where the grass is long and well suited to buffalo. 

On Topi Plains there are lots of spotted hyena and their cubs, they compete with lion for prey and will also hunt topi at this time of year


There is usually great birding in the month of May. A few species hatch young chicks and teach their fledglings to gather the abundant insects. Hundreds of open billed storks around (they are inter African migrants) as well as small flocks of white storks stocking up before their long flight back to Europe.

We see Woolley necked storks (inter African migrant) and green shanks Eurasian migrants are seen on the banks of the Mara River. Jackson widow birds display their breeding plumage to females by jumping up and down around a specific tussock of grass trying to attract a mate, red collared widow birds, white winged widow birds, fan tailed widow bird and yellow bishop are seen in the long grasses of marsh, blue flycatchers are back within camp grounds breeding and striped swallows nest around camp if rains are late. And we often have sightings of the less common birds such as the Leviallants Cuckoo, Marshal Eagle, Dark Chanting Goshawk Grey Headed Bush Shrike breeding, calling and feeding their young and Double Toothed Barbet breeding. We see lots of Grey Kestrels on the termite mounds eating termites.
Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds 

There are lots of beautiful butterflies around including swallowtails in the woodlands around the Mara River, and African Monarchs in the grasslands. 

Leopard hung up in a tree by another leopard

Posted on 26 April, 2016 Written by: Pedro Segura

While on a safari in Samburu National Reserve in Kenya we came across a tragic incident: a killed leopard was hung out in the branches of an acacia tree - looking much like its own prey. The leopard had been partially devoured by another leopard - and had been the loser of a territorial dispute in an area north of the Ewaso Ngiro River. 

We came across the 'crime scene' while enjoying an early morning safari, and our guide told us all about the terrible incident that had happened during the night. 

When we arrived at the area we saw the killed leopard, hanging in the tree about four or five metres above the ground. 
Meanwhile, his killer was resting in the branch of a nearby acacia. 
I took these images with a mixture of feelings: disbelief, sadness, astonishment... it was a disconcerting and tragic image but also a unique and unusual sighting that I had never before had the privilege of seeing, even in books, magazines and wildlife documentaries. 
Living leopards taken the previous day in the same area - possibly 'the hunter' or 'the hunted' 
Living leopards taken the previous day in the same area - possibly 'the hunter' or 'the hunted' 

Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year 2016 
A silverback mountain gorilla has a pensive moment 
©Martha Robbins 

A face-off between an African buffalo and an elephant 
©Dominik Behr 

Warthogs pick a fight in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya ©Gillian Lloyd 

A majestic tusker walks across a dry lake 
in Amboseli National Park, Kenya 
©Pieter Ras 

A free-roaming black rhino 
©Will Burrard-Lucas 

Close-up with a lion in the Serengeti National Park 
©Will Burrard-Lucas 

Spot a leopard in South Luangwa National Park 
©Will Burrard-Lucas 

Elephants galore in Hwange National Park 
©Will Burrard-Lucas 

Meet the orphaned elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

I've heard Daphne Sheldrick, the world's expert on raising orphaned baby elephants, say on many occasions that, "elephants are like us... but better." Growing up I only knew elephants from reading Babar the Elephant books, and going to zoos. Later I would see my first wild elephants in Africa. But it was while visiting the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust on the edge of Nairobi National Park in Kenya that my love affair with the world's largest land mammal really began. 

©Sarah Hoffman

Today I am back at the Sheldrick centre for my fifth or sixth visit. I can't get enough of the place, and make a point of visiting whenever I am passing through Nairobi.

I'm waiting among a crowd of people, including about 100 local school children who have never before seen an elephant. We are gathered around a roped off mud hole. 

Out of the woods walk local men dressed in blue-green coveralls followed by a line of elephants the colour of the red earth we are standing on. Some of the animals run kicking a ball, some lag behind, others play with the tail of the elephant in front of them. 

Their excitement is palpable, their energy contagious and adorable. The young ellies have come to play, wallow in the mud, and take their mid-morning feeding of the milk solution Daphne Sheldrick perfected over years of trial and error. 

If the Sheldrick centre had volunteer positions I would sign up immediately. I envy the keepers who hand feed the elephants from gallon sized "baby" bottles, and at night sleep in the stalls with the baby elephants who need almost constant contact until the age of three.

I listen to the keepers tell each baby elephant's story of tragedy that brought them here to the orphanage. This one fell down a well and was so dehydrated when she was rescued. That one over there watched its whole family being poached and was found vigilantly standing beside her dead mother's body. This little one is still so fragile she wears a blanket to keep her warm even though it's 80oF today. 

Each story is as heartbreaking as the next.

But there is a happy ending for most of the 200 elephants that have been brought here over the years. Daphne says, "There is a saying: If you love an animal, set it free, and if it loves you, it will come back to you to thank you from time to time." She says she has found that to be very true.

After five years at the orphanage (or when they are deemed ready) the young elephants are transferred to holding areas in Tsavo National Park where they will eventually walk
back to the freedom that is their right as a wild elephant. On many occasions the "re- wilded" elephants will return to this place of transition to say 'Hi' to a keeper, or ask for help when they have a festering wound for instance. They never forget the caregivers that saved their lives. And I will never forget the close encounters I have had with these orphaned elephants. They have changed my life. 

Caroline Treadwell