Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sudan, The only Male Northern White Rhino has died

When you become so passionate about animals, you elevate them to the same status as human beings, to a point where you mourn the death of an animal equally to that of a human being.
This is the second time in a week i am reporting the death of some famous animals i have been able to see and photograph over the years. Last week i reported about Kanyonyi the male gorilla in Bwindi, and now it is about the death of the only northern white rhino male. Many may not know the devastation such news mean.

Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, age 45, died at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on March 19th, 2018 (yesterday). Sudan was being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds. His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal. The veterinary team from the Dvůr Králové Zoo, Ol Pejeta and Kenya Wildlife Service made the decision to euthanize him.

I am happy to have seen and photographed Sudan while alive, but at the same time, i am sad that future generations will only see them in pictures. While we mourn Sudan, there are many other species around the world faced with extinction. What are we doing to save them, since their extinction is due to our negligence or cause. Lets stand up and save our planet.

Sudan will be remembered for his unusually memorable life. In the 1970s, he escaped extinction of his kind in the wild when he was moved to Dvůr Králové Zoo. Throughout his existence, he significantly contributed to survival of his species as he sired two females. Additionally, his genetic material was collected yesterday and provides a hope for future attempts at reproduction of northern white rhinos through advanced cellular technologies. During his final years, Sudan came back to Africa and stole the heart of many with his dignity and strength.

Unfortunately, Sudan’s death leaves just two female northern white rhinos on the planet; his daughter Najin and her daughter Fatu, who remain at Ol Pejeta. The only hope for the preservation of this subspecies now lies in developing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females.

Sudan when he was still alive an strong to stand on his own

Myself and a professional photographer, Mr. Roger Hooper, who is a conservationist, when he visited Sudan to photograph and document his plight in order to raise awareness through photography. His photos featured in a "Remembering Rhinos" exhibition campaign (in London) and in the  book ‘Remembering Rhinos’  

One of the rangers, Mr. Mutai with Sudan on Olpejeta Conservancy. He spent many years as Sudan's keeper  and is one thats saddened most. I call him this morning to comfort him as i know very well how he feels. He was interviewed on BBC online for those of you who follows that. He told me this morning, there are about 1000 media groups coming to cover this story. So you will hear some comments from him

Two female white Rhinos. One is a northern white and the other a southern. Can you spot the difference?.... 
Well the one on the left is a northern white Rhino female. Please note the fringes (fur) which lines the edge of her ears, which is missing on the southern white female. There are other differences which i will leave to you to figure out

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Kanyonyi the silverback gorilla from Bwindi is dead!

I am saddened with news that Kanyonyi, the silver back with Mubare group of gorillas in Bwindi has died. The news got to me a bit late but still shocking. Kanyonyi was the dominant male in the group and used to like climbing trees despite his weight. It was during such climbs that he fell down and broke his hip. This was in September last year despite treatment, he became less mobile for about 2 months. After which a new black back came into the area and managed to take the females away from Kanyonyi who was now helpless. Once the females were safely away he came and fought the now helpless Kanyonyi inflicting fatal injuries. He died 3 days later on 9th December. I took the photo attached in June. I am sad that i will not see him on my many subsequent visits this year. RIP Kanyonyi

Kanyonyi doing what he liked doing... climbing trees!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Welcome to The Greatest Masai Mara Photo Competition

 (I would like to apologise for the 2 blanks posts that were sent our earlier. I noted the system changed the font colour to white, making the words invisible) Here below is a repeat of one of the posts.
I am happy to introduce to you the first photographic competition completely dedicated to the greater Maasai Mara. As a means of showcasing to the world the extraordinary photographic potential and superb game viewing of the Mara throughout the year we have started a new competition: The Greatest Maasai Mara Photographer of the Year 2018. Anyone can enter by visiting www.thegreatestmaasaimara.com
 The entry fee is 1000 Kenyan Shillings or USD 20 per photograph. 100% of the money goes to one of the 6 conservation partners and you get to decide which one to support. 
 Each month we choose a winner and at the end of the year we choose the best out of the monthly winners. The prize is huge…USD 10,000 in cash and a 5 night safari at the lovely Angama Mara lodge including internal flights and a private photographic vehicle. In addition to this whoever the guide is of the winning photographer will walk away with a brand new Gypsy Maruti car!  If the guide takes the winning photo then he/she walks away with the whole lot: money, flights, accommodation and car.

To find out more information, to see the latest galleries and to enter be sure to visit www.thegreatestmaasaimara.com

January entries video: 

February entries video:

Trailer video

Winning entry, January 2018

Winning entry, February 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Masai Mara: First quarter game viewing report

The month of January, February and early march, has been a season of great sightings in the Mara, despite the absence of the wildebeest. There are people who associate the Mara only with the migration. But there is plenty to see. All you need is different eyes.
This year, just like the last few, has seen the number of wildebeests calving in the Mara going up. We have been seeing many wildebeests with young calves on the conservancies of Olare-Motorogi and Naboisho and also on the middle-eastern edge of the reserve. These were calving at the same time as the ones in Serengeti, though they are few.
Because of the number of cats and other predators in the areas mentioned above, predation on the calves has been quite high. They are often taken as easy prey. Some of the lion prides, like Engoyanai, which has few small cubs, has taken advantage of the season of plenty to feed their young. We saw so many hunts by all predators since the calving started.
Big cats sighting in general has been great. Fig, the leopard, on OM conservancy continued to treat us and our guests with great shows. She and her cubs are always a joy when spotted. Kaboso, Bahati, Siri and Lorian, our other leopards in the reserve also gave us good sightings. We had good cheetah sightings over the period too. The 5 male cheetah coalition was seen in the reserve through out the period also were another 3 cheetahs, 2 males and a female who are siblings found on OM. We also had Malaika and her cubs entertain us, though we lost her early this month and have not been seen again.
General game viewing was great, with the most of February being the rutting season for Topis. They were seen all over the Mara in their usual “leks”. It would require you to sit and watch them for a while to understand how their courtship works. Although most places in the reserve now have tall grass, there are many places too with short grass, and this is where most herbivores are found.

We were worried earlier in February that the Mara river will stop flowing, when the water level went really low, but rains just came in time and now its running normally.
most of my guest over the period were professional photographers. Kindly follow this link to see one of the photographers workR.H. Photography

Monday, March 5, 2018

Malaika: The Mara Cheetah missing

am worried we may have lost Malaika, the cheetah in Masai Mara. There is a suspicion that she may have drowned crossing Olare Orok yesterday morning. When i saw her two days ago crossing the same river by double crossing area from the east going west onto Rhino ridge where she stayed for 2 days. The day before yesterday in the evening, we watched her trying to hunt some Impala though she failed after some Hyaenas showed up. When we woke up yesterday morning we found the cubs on the banks of a raging Olare Orok river, calling as they stared into the river. They did this almost half a day before withdrawing a shot distance away, then rested under a tree for the rest of the day. ( we saw this behavior when Malaika lost a cub to a croc on the Talek sometimes back) 
This morning they came to the same spot on the river on the river and after calling briefly, they braved and jumped into the river and crossed. They river was still high but lower than yesterday. There are two big crocs at the same spot, which can be seen basking on the banks.
Now the big question, could Malaika have drowned trying to cross or has she just abandoned the cubs to fend for themselves? She mated with the 5 musketeers about 2 weeks ago and i think if she is now expecting some new comes in 3 months, then its possible she may have abandoned the cubs to live on their own since they have now come of age.
Should anybody see her alive.... please share the info

The boys scent marking a tree

The family match

Malaika walking across the plain with her boys

Friday, December 29, 2017

Migration update December 2017

Over the last one week, i have been following the wildebeests in Serengeti on my safari.
At the moment there are still some herds coming from the north, streaming across Namiri plains, (Serengeti East) and some are still in small pockets around Seronera in the central part. However, the majority are around Naabi gate west to Hidden valley, some were at Olpaaye north for river Simiyu about 3 days ago.
However, major herds are now coming out of the woodlands of Maswa game reserve into Kusini plains and somehow taking south easterly direction. I am headed back again in few days and will update.
Zebras on the dry plains of Namiri

Zebras come to drink at waterhole on Namiri plains

Many lions in South Serengeti now having cubs in time for the season of plenty

Herds head south from Namiri plains

Beasts on the move

Zebra take time to rest and watch each others back while resting from the migration

Herds seen 2 days ago south of Moru

Friday, October 20, 2017

October Wildlife update from Masai Mara

General overview
With the arrival of the unusual rains after a long dry spell, has brought relief to the animals in our game reserves. There were a lot of activities in the Mara in the past week. When the rains started falling on the dry and parched plains, all animals especially herbivores are now hopeful for some new shoots of grass that will sprout following the rains. The situation had got very bad, with little for most grazers to feed on. Mostly affected were the hippos, many of whom could be seen in the middle of the day frantically trying to grasp at least some bites of the dry grass. This is unusual for them to be feeding out on the plains under a scorching sun with temperatures sometimes at 32°C. Many can still be seen out feeding in the day because the rain has not changed anything much. We have counted quite a few Hippos dead either on plains or near the river. The vultures and hyaenas were having a feast. Buffalos though highly dependent on water are not as badly affected as the hippos, likewise with other herbivores, gazelles etc. 
The beginning of this month also marked the start of the outbound departure of the migrating herds especially wildebeest and zebra from the reserve. This is normal and expected at this time. Most wildebeest are now heading back to their breeding grounds, east to the Loita plains and south into Serengeti. Currently there are small herds on the lower Mara triangle crossing south into Kogatende area. On the eastern side of the river there some herds towards the sand river gate and Keekorok area and near roan hill all heading south. The remaining herds, which used to form what we called the loiter herds are now heading into the neighboring conservancies since access and residing in the Loita plains is becoming less and less.
Big Cats
All the lion pride prides in our game viewing territory are still around and actively hunting the remnant wildebeests and resident herbivores. Cheetah sighting has likewise been superb. In the Mara there is a popular coalition of 5 males that have  kept our guests entertained by their appearance and hunting activities. They continue to roam around Rhino ridge down to Burrungat plains. Their hunting strategies leave everyone stunned by their agility and determination. They hunt animals previously believed to be least on the Cheetahs menu, from adult Topi, wildebeest, Impala etc.  Apart from these, there are other individual cheetahs that we see regularly. Leopard sightings are also very good. 

Lion sightings are good

The wildebeest departing for Serengeti

The 5 male cheetah coalition

The river pride

There are many other animals even without the wildebeests 

Paradise pride