Monday, 4 January 2010

Kwaheri Kenya

Apologies for the lack of blogs in the last few days....recently every day seems to have been filled with lots of excitement, leaving little time to catch up! Sadly Andy and I are now leaving Kenya so this will be the last blog until our next trip in March.

Sadly I have bad news to report, the young cheetah cub that we had spent some time with has been killed/died. We are unsure as to the exact cause of death but given the proximity of the mother and cub to lions the night previous we can only assume it may have been a lion attack, although one cannot rule out buffalo, hyena or even a snake bite. Just 12 hours after we left them the night before we found the mother lying beside the motionless body in the same spot, in the middle of the plains near the migration crossing points.. It was truly a very sad scene and especially so given that she had raised it to such an age that one would usually assume its survival and one would have thought was old enough to have escaped an attack from another predator. Andy and I agreed it was possibly one of the saddest moments in all of our African trips to date, but we also both know how vulnerable cheetahs are and that sometimes nature can deal a harsh blow.

On a more happier note the ‘Notch Family’ lion cubs are still doing well, 8 cubs became 6, then 6 became 9! The mothers have had to continuously move the cubs away from the dangers of the terrible rains that have been continuing to fall in the last few days, that have been affecting much of Kenya. Torrential downpours have caused luggas to fill up within minutes and the roads becoming more like rivers.  Notch crossed over the river to the ‘Narok’ side to ensure that all is in order in the ‘other part’ of his territory, and could be seen mating (again!) with another lioness not far from Paradise plains. Perhaps this lioness was simply in false oestrus or perhaps more notch cubs will be sired!. While Notch took a ‘sabbatical’ his 4 handsome sons chose to stay in the Mara Triangle and to our delight were joined by the ‘5th son’, the one which we had always heard about but never yet seen. There appears to be a very strong bond between 4 of the boys in particular, with the 5th son seeming to be slightly more detached from the group. Given the rain and cool weather the lions have been particularly active and we have seen some incredibly interesting behaviours over the last few days. One morning we were treated with quite possibly one of the most awesome spectacles ever, a lion fight involving 2 lioness and 3 of Notch’s sons. Although all from the same pride the protective nature of one of the lionesses was seen in full force one morning when one of the sons greeted 2 of the cubs who had been slightly separated from the rest of the group. His intentions were harmless but this did not stop the lioness reacting in a ferocious manner. Within in a split second she launched upon the male with incredible force and what ensued was a huge fight that saw 2 of notches sons come to defend the brother and a further lioness getting involved. The noise of the lions fighting was deafening and the fight lasted some 20-30 seconds before all calmed down and the mother had enforced some boundaries to the males. Although the fight had concluded the tension lasted for long into the morning amongst the pride, fortunately later that afternoon all was a little more relaxed in the pride.

The most fitting way to conclude this blog is to finish with our experience on our last night, it does again involve lions, but is something we will never forget. It was nearly 10pm and we were camped high on a hill. The moon was full and seemed so close that we could touch it. Huge storm clouds billowed into the sky all around, filled with lightening so bright it light up the clouds like we have never seen before. The thunder echoed loudly against the escarpment and seemed to resonate all around. During a break in the thunder we heard something that was truly amazing, the sound of 5 male lions roaring simultaneously close by. The power in their roars was incredible, no other male lion would dare to challenge such a united force. Shortly after this united show of strength the males appeared to split and could all be heard all around the hill as they each patrolled their territory and asserted their dominance over the new pride that is forming.

Although incredibly sad to leave the Mara we depart knowing that soon we will be back again and look forward to providing more updates on the blog and look out soon for the photos on our website.....Kwaheri Kenya (for now!)