Game Reports Kenya Masai Mara

Masai Mara weather and wildlife March 2024

This March has been a myriad of colors and conditions. Golden light casts across the open grasslands in the early hours of the day, as dark blue storm clouds roll through from the North in the evening. Strong winds part the long grasses, revealing the wildlife that hides within. Elephant herds travel great distances, their large bodies visible from miles away.

Photo credit Felix Rome

The Marsh Pride of lions relax in the midday sun, saving their energy for the cool night ahead, hoping to make a buffalo their next meal. Baboons, high in a tree alert and ready, warning the others of incoming danger as a leopard lurks in the long grass below.

An olive baboon – photo credit Felix Rome

Weather and grasslands

For the most part, March has been hot and dry, with dark threatening skies being prevalent at the beginning and at the end of the month. Temperatures have averaged out at 29ºC daily, while rainfall was a total of 135mm.

A March storm – photo credit Felix Rome

We have been experiencing beautiful sunrises and sunsets, which added a delightful splash of color to the landscape. High winds are cool the wildlife during the heat of the day and an advantage for predators when hunting, helping to mask their scent as they stalk their prey.

Mara sunset – photo credit Felix Rome

Some epic storms and dramatic clouds created immense backdrops. The Mara River has been rising and falling all month, forcing hippos to move around and compete for alternative spaces. Seismic fights have taken place between dominant males, right in front of our camps.

The Marsh Pride as a storm beckons – photo credit Felix Rome

On the plains

Large herds of buffalo have been residing by Bila Shaka for the past few weeks. Many have given birth and there are plenty of young calves around. This is the perfect opportunity for predators to steal a quick meal.

Buffalos are a favorite prey species for the Marsh Pride – photo credit Felix Rome

Hyenas are opportunist and won’t miss the chance to grab a recently birthed buffalo calf. A herd of six dugga boys – old males that have been kicked out of the breeding herd – have taken up residence just outside Governors’ Il Moran Camp and Little Governors’ Camp.

Dugga boys – photo credit Felix Rome

They prefer the short (and softer grass) as they can see any potential threats coming their way. There are many muddy wallowing holes around that area, which they love to roll around in, covering themselves in thick cooling mud, which protects them from the sun and the thousands of flies that swarm around.

Towers of giraffe break up the horizon with their tall stature. If a group of giraffe stands still, they are called a ‘tower’ and if they are on the move, they are called a ‘journey’. One early morning at sunrise, there was a sighting of a giraffe sitting down around the main crossing area. A sitting giraffe is a not a common sight.

An unusual sight of a sitting giraffe – photo credit Felix Rome

In the last few weeks of March, large herds of zebras and topis have been coming in towards Bila Shaka and the Musiara Airstrip. The large herds of zebra seem to shimmer at a distance as the sun bounces off them. Young males have been fighting for the right to mate with females. You can hear them scuffling and battling as their hooves stamp on the ground, kicking up the dust.

Zebras and topis congregate in dense numbers around Bila Shaka – photo credit Felix Rome

Fighting males – photo credit Felix Rome

Large herds of elephants have been moving back and forth across the Mara River, enjoying the distinctively green and luscious Musiara Marsh. Lots of calves follow their mothers closely, as they wade through the deep pools and the tall reeds.

Elephants love the saturated Musiara Marsh – photo credit Felix Rome

Smaller groups have been visiting each of our camps at night, creating an assortment of sound shows for our guests. Large bulls gather together which is a sight to behold; they appear exceptionally majestic as they stroll across the grasslands. One elephant in particular, named Harry, is one of the Mara’s iconic bulls.

An iconic bull named Harry – photo credit Felix Rome

On the 1st of March, we spotted a black rhino near the main crossing area; it was an exciting start to the month. There are reportedly over 70+ rhinos within the Masai Mara, but they are wary of everything, which makes them quite difficult to find. This particular male was rather tolerant and allowed a handful of guests to observe him for some time.

Black rhino Masai Mara

A lucky sighting of a black rhino – photo credit Felix Rome

Big Cats of the Masai Mara

The Marsh Pride have been holding strong this month with various buffalos sustaining them throughout. On the 2nd of March there was a Human-Wildlife Conflict involving one of the older females of the pride, Dada, and the young male known as Oleku.

Oleku Marsh Pride lion Kenya

The young Marsh male known as Oleku – photo credit Felix Rome

Dada suffered multiple wounds across her legs, tail, high quarters and her face. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust vet was called and she was successfully treated. Since then our guides have been keeping an eye on her; she appears to be doing well and regaining her strength each day, despite this massive set back.

Dada Marsh Pride lioness

Lioness Dada of the Marsh Pride – photo credit Felix Rome

Big news for the Marsh Pride happened on the 21st of March. Kito, who is one of the older females in the pride was collared by the Mara Predator Conservation Programme. Collaring a member of the Marsh Pride has been in the pipeline for a long time, but a recent ‘boma raid’ that turned fatal for lioness Summer of the Topi Pride, pushed the decision through. Watch the video here.

Collaring Kito – photo credit Felix Rome

Kito’s collar will help keep track of the prides’ movements and hopefully minimise further incidents of Human-Wildlife Conflict. The event went smoothly and Kito seems to be completely unfazed about her new collar, in fact, just two days later she led a successful buffalo hunt. The pride has been residing around Bila Shaka for most of the month, which is a historical birthing and denning area for the pride.

Kito with her collar the following morning – photo credit Felix Rome

The Marsh Pride breakaway lioness known as Yaya has been seen a few times and is looking thin, but not too bad. She is getting older but every time we see her, she still has a strong aura about her. She will carry on to be a majestic lioness for much longer still.

Her ‘grandsubs’, Pamoja mibili and Simba are looking strong and healthy as alwats. They are some of the most beautiful lions that can be seen in the Masai Mara. They were sighted by our resident photographer on the 6th, and Felix was able to capture some stunning images of them, just as the sun was rising.

Pretty Pamoja is Yaya’s granddaughter – photo credit Felix Rome

Simba leaps across a waterway in the Musiara marsh – photo credit Felix Rome

The Paradise Pride has been seen around the Main Crossing area a lot this month, with the four Bila Shaka males often found with them. They have been working hard at bringing down a lot of hippos; over five have been consumed this month.

A beautiful lioness from the Paradise Pride – photo credit Felix Rome

The pride has three cubs that are doing well and causing mischief. One of the males has been mating with a female; hopefully a new litter will arrive just in time for the onset of the Great Migration.

Paradise female with a Bila Shaka male Kibogoyo – photo credit Felix Rome

The Bila Shaka males have been moving around a lot this month, checking up on both the Riverline Pride and the Paradise Pride. They were seen outside Little Governors’ Camp for a few days around the 16th of March and then over by the Main Crossing just a few days later.

Kibogoyo – photo credit Felix Rome

At the beginning of the month we found them especially close to Governors’ Camp, resting in the bushes at the entrance of the camp during the heat of the day. They remained in the area for three days; this was a fantastic way for our guests to start their morning game drives.

On the evening of 27th March, a unknown female lion was spotted relaxing directly across the river from Governors’ Camp. Baboon alarm calls echoed throughout the camp, but the lioness took no notice of them.

Oloti the male cheetah has been seen multiple times around Rhino Ridge. He has been targeting young warthogs a lot this month with varying success. Female cheetah Nashipai was seen on the 27th with four cubs around the Double-Crossing area. We really hope she can raise most of these cubs to adulthood.

Oloti cheetah Masai Mara

Oloti with warthog kill – photo credit Felix Rome

Birds of the Masai Mara

There are hundreds of species of birds residing in the Mara. They are all stunning and full of color, which makes for great sightings in between the larger game. When the  marsh floods, theres an explosion of frogs and insects – here you will find all sorts of avifauna making the most of the increased activity.

The spur-winged lapwing is easy to identify with bright red eyes and striking plumage – photo credit Felix Rome

Hammerkops hang around close to the roads, squawking away as you drive past them. Grey crowned cranes are raising their young, keeping a watchful eye as the chicks wade through the marsh. Vultures circle overhead hoping to find the remains of a carcass left behind by lions.

A grey crowned crane enjoys the rainfall – photo credit Felix Rome

A mating pair of saddle-bill storks have decided to make a nest outside the entrance to Little Governors’ Camp. They are the tallest stork found in Kenya and have very distinctive colorations on their bills, similar to the German flag. They have been seen aggressively chasing away other birds from their nest. One particular sighting on the 19th, was that of the male saddle-bill chasing away, and even biting the tail, of an African white-backed vulture.

An amazing shot of a saddle-billed stork attacking a white-backed vulture in mid-air – photo credit Felix Rome

Little bee-eaters dart around in the bushes, catching insects. Kingfishers dive into shallow water, plucking out small fish. Lapwings divert your attention with loud squawks, leading you away from their nest, which has young chicks hiding in the grass.

Little bee eaters – photo credit Felix Rome

If you are lucky, you might see Africa’s largest bird of prey, the martial eagle, whose territory covers over 500 square kilometers. They are known to travel huge distances in a day, riding the high thermal winds and flying over 90km per hour.

Birds display all kinds of interesting behavior, so it is worthwhile spending a bit of time around them – if you want to see something unique on your safari.

An African fish eagle swoops for prey across the marsh – photo credit Felix Rome

The Southern ground hornbill has five different calls – photo credit Felix Rome

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

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