September Game Report, Masai Mara, Governors’ Camp – Part 1
Weather and the plains
September saw a fair amount of unseasonal rainfall through the month, filling up the Musiara Marsh. The water came gushing under the bridge to the airstrip and on to the Mara River. The Mara River has been consistently high, mostly due to rain at its watershed in the Mau forest. The temperatures have been very pleasant, rising to a maximum of 30 Celsius around mid day. After gorgeous mornings, it has mostly become overcast in the afternoons and raining on the odd day.
Storm over the Mara courtesy of John knott
The grassland plains have been mowed down by the migration, leaving a bright green thick mat with the unpalatable dried stalks left standing, giving the impression of dry grass from a distance.
The Wildebeest Migration
We have had one of the best migrations seasons ever! Dense concentrations of wildebeest and zebra have covered the plains. The herds have tended to group together at night, spreading out as the day progresses to dot the grassland. Similarly to the end of August hundreds of thousands of animals were to be seen from Governors camps looking out onto Rhino Ridge and to the east. Mid month they started moving around and over the ridge but returned again to The Marsh. The river crossings have been plentiful in September, from a few zebras to a few thousand wildebeest. The fat, ancient crocodiles still take the odd animal as they cross the Mara River, but are mostly content to watch from the sand banks as they have had their full. The river is littered with carcasses from panicked animals drowning because of the large numbers, high water and difficult exits. This is in stark contrast to last year’s crossings where they mostly skipped across the river as it was so low, the crocodiles had to work hard for their meal then.
Wildebeest migration herd disturbed
by leopard courtesy Justin Grammaticas
Elephant and giraffe have avoiding the masses of wildebeest and zebra, with the occasional elephant family coming to the forest every few days or so. They are to be mostly found up in the acacia woodland areas at this time, where they are feeding. The large buffalo herd with their young still frequent the marsh and return up onto the ridge, the bachelor males looking from a distance resigned to the fact they are not wanted. With the bursts of rain and the promise of more, and the charge of greenery in the Mara many of the antelope herds have been mating. The males were seen rutting and asserting their territories, once the lines have been drawn and lesser males placated, they then get on with the business at hand. Gestation periods range mostly according to the size of an antelope, the smaller gazelles and impala approximately 6 months whilst the larger waterbuck and topi 7 – 8 months. This instinctual timing coincides with the seasonal rains that commence toward the end of March, giving the young new lush grass to graze on and taller grasses to hide in.
Elephant family courtesy Justin Grammaticas
Beautiful wild flowers have started springing up amongst the shorter grass, ’tissue paper’ flowers Cycnium tubulosum, fireball lilies Scadoxus multilorus bringing a contrast of red to the plains as well as the pyjama lily Crinum macowanii with its white and purple stripes.
Dung beetles of all colours and sizes are busying themselves attempting to clear up what the wildebeest have dropped. Termites take this mammoth job on too.
‘Flying ants’ termite reproductives have taken to the sky to pair up and start new colony’s. Timed with the rains so the earth is soft they dig down to start a new kingdom. They are a delicious meal to a lot of animals as they are packed proteins to sustain themselves whilst they create workers – birds, aardvark, aardwolf, bat-eared fox, mongoose and more all eat them.
The resident baboons are spending a lot of their time along the roads as the runoff from the rain has produced thick new nutritious shoots which they are feeding on. They will sit for hours near the roads providing great entertainment.
Game Report courtesy Governors’ Camp. Stay tuned for part two, with updates on the area’s big cats! If you’d like to visit Governors’ Camp and all of its amazing wildlife, call us to start planning your trip!