December is always a wonderful month in the Mara – Christmas in the bush is a first for many and we are always honoured that our guests have travelled so far to spend such a special time with us. Christmas Day was spent as it should be: our kitchens produced incredible feasts with all the trimmings, that were enjoyed together with mulled wine. On New Year’s Eve we celebrated with canapés and Prosecco before a beautiful candlelit dinner across all the Mara camps.
The big news for the Mara is that our premier camp, Il Moran underwent a huge upgrade with a fabulous, brand new mess tent that overlooks the Mara River – the perfect spot to sit back with a Gin and Tonic and watch all the interactions of the game below. This new space is totally stunning with romantic lighting, over-sized couches, an open fire pit on the deck. Deep reds and royal blues combined with a brightly beaded centrepiece chandelier, Indian brass lanterns and a range of cow hides in bold contrasting patterns and colours has propelled this camp into a league of its own. The new structure which is raised three feet above the ground was completed in the beginning of December, and the camp was re-opened on the 24th just in time to receive guests for Christmas!
The new mess tent at Il Moran Camp
The new mess tent at Il Moran Camp
The short rains which are usually during the months of October and November came late this year. A total of 214.5mm was recorded in the Musiara area during the beginning of December meaning the grasslands are lovely and green. Despite the heavy rains, the Mara River level (which is fed from the Mau Forest) continues to drop which usually results in some hippo friction as their territorial spaces become threatened.
The Mara game has certainly been awing all of our visitors as we have received quite a number of personal holiday albums – all taken in the month of December. There are four new lion cubs in the Bilashaka area: the cubs are being fed by both Rembo & Kabibi (female lions of the Marsh Pride) so we are not sure who the mother is. We believe that Rembo might have had a couple of cubs and possibly lost one and so now she has joined up with Kabibi (who initially had four cubs, but lost one) to help raise the cubs together. Our guides have noticed how one little cub seems to be pestering Rembo, so we think that this cub actually belongs to Kabibi, but Rembo might be feeding it to help out Kabibi. Little Red (also from the Marsh Pride) sadly lost two out of her three cubs – their den was along the drainage area of the Bilashaka Lugga which was mostly dry over the last while but rain came abruptly and we think might have washed one away, the other we know was killed by buffalo which is a great shame but this is not unheard of in the Masai Mara.
Rembo & Kabibi with their cubs, photo credit Moses Manduku
Little Red with her one remaining cub, photo credit Moses Manduku
Rembo with her cub, photo credit Moses Manduku
The six young males known as the ‘6 warriors’ have now spread out over Bilashaka area and Rhino Ridge. They appear to have split up and some have joined the Marsh Pride and some have crossed over into the Rhino Ridge pride.
The Kaboso female leopard and her two cubs (both around 14 months now) are often seen out and about and thankfully are doing really well. The elusive leopard is on everyone’s bucket list and so we welcome many happy guests back into camp who have managed to spot them on their game drives.
A coalition of five male cheetah known as ‘Tano Bora’ are still in the Double Crossing area and have been seen by a number of guests – another incredible sighting given the global decline of cheetah these days. We are still encouraging guests to invite Dr. Elena Chelysheva from the Mara-Meru Cheetah Project along on game drives. She is a Russian zoologist with broad knowledge of captive and wild cheetah ecology and behavior and over 30 years of experience. Depending on her availability, Elena can accompany you on a game drive and help you to locate certain individuals and coalitions. There is a $500 donation (per group) for her time with you on the game drive (she will also give a full presentation),which goes towards the project. Meanwhile, two male cheetah were seen quite regularly around Governors’ Private Camp in December, much to the delight of our guests there.
Mara cheetah, photo credit Louise Kingston (guest)
The elephants seem to be returning from the north and making their way back to the Musiara Marsh as the water levels come up slightly after the rain. This marsh area is also frequented by large troops of Olive Baboons, giraffe and a resident herd of about 400 buffalo.
Elephants at the Musiara Marsh area, photo credit Louise Troughton (guest)
Post courtesy of Governors Camps