Game Reports Kenya Masai Mara

Masai Mara weather and wildlife February 2024

Mostly clear skies, golden light and shimmering grass – this is the scene in February. Large herds of elephant feast upon the luscious grass in the Musiara Marsh. Waterbuck and buffalo enjoy the damp conditions left behind in January.

Photo credit Felix Rome

Hyena roam the plains in search of a meal to steal, as lions battle against hippos who make nightly visits to the grasslands, away from the protection of waterholes. Birds flock in large numbers as migrants make the Masai Mara their home for a few months. February is a special time to visit this iconic wildlife reserve.

Photo credit Felix Rome

Weather and grasslands

Overall, the weather in February has been very pleasant. With little rainfall the roads have been able to dry out. Blue skies have been common with the occasional storm rolling through in the evening. Conditions have stayed luscious as the grass remains vibrant green, with hints of gold. Mornings have been pleasant and the average daily temperature has been 28˚c.

A storm rolls in – photo credit Felix Rome

Some fog blanketed the grasslands in the early hours of the morning, but quickly evaporated – revealing the beautiful landscape and wildlife. The Mara River retained its usual level for the most part, with only a few rises and falls throughout the month.

A foggy morning in February – photo credit Felix Rome

Mara River Kenya

The Mara River – photo credit Felix Rome

Elephants have been making the most of these wonderful conditions by spending much of the day in the Musiara Marsh. Herds of over 100-strong can be seen right outside Governors’ Camp with large bull elephants following the females closely, hoping for a chance to mate.  They are also making a regular appearance within the camps on an almost daily basis, with some delivering a welcome disruption at lunchtime.

Herds of elephants are a common sight just outside our Mara camps – photo credit Felix Rome

On the plains

Giraffe numbers have been steady as many individuals are spotted roaming the open plains in search of food. Some young giraffes, under the watchful eye of their parents, strictly keep to the woodland which follows the Mara River.

Photo credit Felix Rome

Lovely herds of impala reside around the Musiara marsh; as one of the most common antelopes across Africa, they are often the first species you will see as you depart for your morning game drive.

Impalas at sunrise – photo credit Felix Rome

Waterbuck enjoy the spoils of the damp conditions as well as large bull buffalos, knows as ‘dagga boys’ – a local term given to old males that have been kicked out of the breeding herd.

A male and female waterbuck – photo credit Felix Rome

Warthogs keep close by to the camps, hoping for some protection against the many predators that are after them. They are very social animals and you can find them interacting with a range of other species, out on the open plains. A typical warthog group is made up of a dominant male, several females and all the babies.

Photo credit Felix Rome

Serval cats continue to excite all guests, with a healthy population residing just outside our camps. Many have been seen this month, including some mating pairs which is very exciting; hopefully some kittens will be born in late May or early June. They say that looking for a serval is like ‘looking for a needle in a hay stack’ – their camouflage makes them tremendously hard to spot. Often found roaming through long grass, they are quite elusive and considered to be a lucky sight on safari.

Photo credit Felix Rome

Big Cats of the Masai Mara

During the first week of February, two of the Marsh Pride cubs were seen hanging around the Musiara Marsh, all alone. They made a fallen, hollowed tree their refuge and stayed there for a few days, completely unattended. We found them there without fail for three days in a row, and by the fourth day, they had vanished.

Photo credit Felix Rome

It is quite likely that they fell prey to hyenas or were killed by a roaming male lion. It is also possible that they were taken out by angry buffalos who are known to kill the young of predators – especially lions – as they try to reduce their predation risk.

Marsh Pride lion cubs Kenya Masai Mara

Photo credit Felix Rome

Unfortunately, all seven cubs born into the Marsh Pride at the end of last year, have died. We know that one suffered a broken back, while heavy rains across the landscape may have contributed to the loss of others. Hyenas and male lions also play a big part in the elimination of lion cubs. Early morning on the 6th of February, Kaleo was seen calling out for the cubs, with sadly no reply.

Marsh Pride lioness Kaleo – photo credit Felix Rome

The Marsh Pride spent the first few weeks of February residing on the border between the Reserve and Mara North Conservancy. They then returned, making a stronghold at Bila Shaka. Now only eight strong and with no dominant male, they face rival prides making a move onto their territory.

The Marsh Pride – photo credit Felix Rome

On the 10th February, the Cheli Pride (also known as the Acacia Pride) entered Marsh Pride territory and attacked Dada, who was caught out on her own. Dada suffered some injuries which thankfully healed over the course of two weeks. The young male known as Oleku is still holding his place within the pride, but his time for exit is nearing.

Oleku – photo credit Felix Rome

Hippos have been the choice of menu for many lions this month, with over five being feasted upon by various prides. The Riverline Pride was seen feeding on a hippo within the forest by the entrance to Little Governors’ Camp. They had four of the Bila Shaka males with them and Kibogoyo in particular, was seen to be enjoying the meal.

Kibogoyo – photo credit Felix Rome

By entering another territory, the Riverline Pride could have caused some serious conflict. However, the Marsh Pride kept their heads down and out of trouble. Since then, the Riverline Pride has moved back up towards Main Crossing.

On the 11th February we had an epic sighting of the Paradise Pride on a giraffe; the carcass looked fresh but we did not witness the kill. It kept them going for a couple of days and we returned at different stages to find a drastic deterioration of the giraffe and full bellies for the lions. Bila Shaka male, Chongo, had found them and was heavily involved in the clean up.

Paradise Pride Masai Mara

The Paradise Pride – photo credits Felix Rome

Chongo male lion masai mara

Chongo shares the meal with the Paradise Pride – photo credit Felix Rome

Cheetah have been seen around Rhino Ridge with varying hunting successes. They can be seen carefully walking in the open in the search for food. Cheetah are vulnerable when they have a kill as hyena will chase them off it, leaving them without any of the reward after a tough hunt. On the 16th February, we spotted young Nagol (Neema’s daughter) just behind Rhino Ridge. Thanks to Cheetah Enthusiast for the ID.

Nagol – photo credit Felix Rome

Birds of the Masai Mara

Hundreds of birds have been sighted during February, from wetland species to large birds of prey. Some notable varieties seen this month include saddle-bill storks, pin-tailed whydahs, malachite kingfishers, lilac-breasted rollers, dwarf bittens, red-necked spurfowl, black shouldered kites, martial eagles and many more.

A saddle-billed stork has a wingspan of about 240 – 270 cm – photo credit Felix Rome

The dwarf bittern although widespread, is usually a difficult bird to spot – photo credit Felix Rome

The black-shouldered kite is a small raptor found in open habitat – photo credit Felix Rome

Birds are a great addition to the extensive megafauna seen on safari, and if anything, they certainly add a splash of colour to your sightings. The pin-tailed whydah is an exceptional bird to witness at this time of year, as the males are in full breading plumage and grow a tail of nearly 20cm long.

The pin-tailed whydah is a brood parasite, laying its eggs in the nest of finches – photo credit Felix Rome

Ostriches have been gathering around the airstrip, which makes for a classic sighting upon arrival in the Masai Mara. Despite the ostrich being a bird, it certainly doesn’t feel as though you are watching one. They give off more a prehistoric, dinosaur vibe, but still a joy to watch.

Photo credit Felix Rome

The eye-catching lilac-breasted roller often converts non-bird lovers, to lovers, with its brilliant display of vibrant blues, pinks and greens. They are effective hunters and can be seen perched with a large cricket or small lizard in its bill.

The iconic lilac-breasted roller, a favorite bird for many – photo credit Felix Rome

Our Masai Mara weather and wildlife for February 2024 is by Felix Rome.  To see other amazing wildlife imagery by Felix, please follow him on Instagram.

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