The Mara Siria Story: Big Cat Week
Following a few days of heavy rain, this week in the Mara Triangle has seen some incredible action. In particular, sightings of the big cats have been remarkably frequent. Cats often become more active following ain as they need to replenish territorial markings that may have been washed away. Here I account the amazing activity witnessed in the last week so enjoy the first edition of The Mara Siria Story: Big Cat Week.
The cat action began when we found the BBC pride looking intensely at a herd of zebra and thought we might see a hunt. However, one of the lead females seemed to decide it was too hot for a chase. After passing metres from our car found a shady area in a thicket the other side of the road and settled in for a long sleep during the heat of the day. One by one the other adults and cubs followed.
Heading further south and over the Mara River there was a female leopard called Luluka lying in the shade of a tree. She had stashed a warthog carcass in the tree’s canopy to prevent any lions or hyenas stealing her prize.
On our return to camp we passed through the BBC area again and were lucky to find Mpaka again, this time with a kill. Cheetahs are even more vulnerable to having their kills stolen than leopards as they exert so much energy on hunting at such high speeds. For several minutes after making a kill they need to sit and pant to get their breath back before feeding. Fortunately there were no enemies in this area and he could tuck into a well deserved dinner.
The morning after and the cats kept coming! A Taliban male was seen with a very full belly walking towards his brothers along the road at the 4kms area.
We spotted another leopard further south sitting in a tree about 150 metres from the road. This one was very shy and leapt down and away before I could get my camera out.
Carrying on we spotted an unnamed female cheetah (thought to have recently crossed over from the Serengetti) in the distance. After Jacob expertly navigated the rocky terrain were able to view her up close. She was staring intensely past us and after scouring the horizon with our binoculars saw the reason why; a lone lioness also perched on a termite mound. To avoid confrontation the cheetah moved off in the other direction.
From our high ground, we then spotted another pride of lions relaxing in the sun. They initially looked docile but after a while saw an opportunity for a hunt in the form of a couple of a warthog on the other side of the ridge. They crossed the valley and looked just within pouncing distance when the warthog caught a glimpse of lioness and high-tailed (literally!) in the other direction. The lions decided a chase wasn’t worth it for what would’ve been a mere snack for a whole pride.
After lunch we continued to the Kenya/Tanzania border and located the two cheetah brothers known as the Rosetta boys (individually Ruka and Rafiki) under a tree. Again they were incredibly alert and judging from their full stomachs and constant attention to the area just behind us had probably just been pushed off a kill, most likely fm the hyena clan in the area.
This week has also been great for birds. Several raptors have been sighted such as Crowned Eagles, Black-chested Snake Eagles and Augur Buzzards, with the Martial Eagle being the crown jewel. This is one impressive bird, the largest of the eagles found here, capable of preying on young impala and gazelle.