Sunday, September 12, 2010
Posted by Sara Blackburn at 4:43 PM
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Posted by Sara Blackburn at 2:23 PM
Monday, July 19, 2010
Posted by Sara Blackburn at 11:23 AM
There are three camps in the Olare Orok Conservancy – Mara Plains, Porini Lion Camp, and Kicheche Bush. I’m hoping to get all three camps involved in lion monitoring – it’s an exciting time for the project and myself, and there’s certainly no shortage of simbas!
Shivani Bhalla, from the Ewaso Lion Project, has already been to Porini Camp to engage the guides in lion monitoring. Together with the guides she managed to identify some 50 individuals in the conservancy, which covers approximately 23,000 acres. Shivani does fantastic work in Samburu, working hard to save lions throughout the region. Please check out her work at www.ewasolions.org.
It’s going to be an interesting and action packed few weeks – it’s common knowledge that the two main prides – the Motorogi Pride and the Engoyonai Pride – are at war. It will be very interesting to find out just how many of the previously identified individuals remain in the area, and which pride comes out as the top cats. With the migration well under way and gazillions of gnu pouring in, there’s already plenty of activity on the plains.
A big thank you goes to the Richard and the staff at Mara Plains for the opportunity to work within the OOC. Watch this space for some new lion faces and exciting stories!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Posted by Sara Blackburn at 3:35 PM
Monday, May 24, 2010
Posted by Sara Blackburn at 8:16 PM
Even though they generally occupy different habitats and specialize on different prey, lion and cheetah definitely don’t mix. On a hunt for lion, I came across three cheetah brothers who sometimes visit the MNC. These boys – Honey’s sons – are spectacular; they’re fit and healthy, probably owing to the fact that they hunt cooperatively. Looks like they’re learning a lesson or two from our social cats!
The cheetah suddenly became nervous, and I could soon see why. In the distance loomed two big male lions – a serious threat to the three sleek, thin-framed cats. Even though they’re the fastest animal on land, cheetah can still be outwitted by lion over longer distances.
The boys made a run for it, with the two males hot on their trail. I identified them as Samir and Shambe – two of the three boys who have been mating with Lilly, Sita and Nura from the Cheli Peacock pride. The males looked thin, and certainly weren’t going to tolerate the competition.
No sooner had the cheetah scarpered, then a strange lioness appeared. She approached with caution, but was greeted warmly by the pair. I identified her as Joy, one of the three Graces. Not only then are the Marsh Pride out and about in the MNC, but their sisters, the Three Graces, are paying a visit, too.
Joy still has two adolescent cubs, and isn’t ready to have another litter yet. But who knows if one of these boys will be the father of her next cubs? With Siena babysitting, the rest of the pride are still around the area. I’m off to go find them and see what else they get up to.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Posted by Sara Blackburn at 4:42 PM
You can search for your lion using key identifying features
Friday, May 14, 2010
Posted by Sara Blackburn at 3:57 PM
Becky and Matt, two guests at Serian Camp, saw the event unfold. After finding Nura (Silver), the couple noticed a herd of buffalo surrounding a tree. The herd looked somewhat agitated, and so they went over to have a closer look. What should they find but a young male lion trembling precariously in the branches of a thorny acacia?
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Posted by Sara Blackburn at 4:50 PM
Just outside of Serian, Chemi-Chemi (the spring) is in the northern reaches of the Mara North Conservancy on the Mara River. It’s certainly some distance from the Musiara Marsh, which is why I was surprised to identify the lions as none other than the infamous Marsh Pride.
Four adults – Siena and Joy, Bibi and White Eye were lazing in the sun with Romeo and a whole assortment of cubs. Joy's two male cubs, now around 15 months old, and six cubs around 5 months old – four belonging to White Eye and two to Siena – were all happily playing in the long grass and exploring their new environment.
The pride have been slowly working their way into the conservancy, and have been spotted on a number of occasions. Although they are far from their home, the territory is open, as many of the River Pride lions are residing on the escarpment. Romeo too has visited the area often to mate with new females.
A lion’s pride territory is not as fixed as you’d think. Although lions spend a lot of time in a core area, prides rangers are large and overlapping. However, two prides will not occupy the same shared territory at the same time, and will advertise their presence to neighbouring prides by roaring.
The Marsh Pride is also in a state of flux – with Clawed (Mpengo) seemingly absent, Red no longer with us and the five sub-adults from the females’ last litters, the large family has split into a number of sub-groups. It seems that White Eye and Bibi are forming an alliance with the Three Graces – including Siena and Joy – whilst Lispy remains with the daughters of the pride. Lispy has also been seen flirting with two handsome chaps from the border of the Marsh. Perhaps Romeo and Clawed’s reign is facing an uncertain future?
However the pride forms, here’s hoping that the Marsh females will be as successful at raising this family as they were with the last. They’ve got a lot of experience on their paws!
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Posted by Sara Blackburn at 7:08 PM
I’m not sure where these boys have come from, or how long they will spend in the area. They could simply be travelling through, and I’ll have to keep a lookout for them before I know more. Nura, Lilly and Siti are in season and mating with the three younger males – perhaps this pair have come to challenge them? Caesar still hasn’t been seen, and he’d better be careful – one of these males he may be able to handle, but together, these boys pose a real threat to Caesar.
These two have earned the names ‘Aswad'’ – meaning the black one – and ‘Sango’, which means ‘braided hair’ – his mane is slightly matted in places. Sango is probably slightly younger than Aswad, as his nose is still pink and his mane is not as well developed. He’s probably around 5-6 years old. Both of these males have a distinctive left ear, in particular Sango, pictured above.
I’ll let you know if these boys are here to stay. With five new males in the area, who knows what will happen through the rest of the rainy season?
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Posted by Sara Blackburn at 4:48 PM
However, upon my return, Caesar is nowhere to be seen. There are thoughts that he may be with Lilly, who is rumoured to have a new litter, but as of yet, we’re in the dark. It’s been over 2 months since the big boy was seen.
In his place with the Cheli and Peacock pride are three strapping young lads. Around 4 years old, this trio are strong enough to compete with a lone male like Caesar, and they certainly show it. Buffalo and elephant are a firm favourite with these boys – they’re not messing around! It’s typical for young adult males to form coalitions when they’re forced to leave their natal pride – it allows them to co-operate in hunting, steal kills from hyena and other predators, and gives them a major advantage for acquiring their own pride. Whatever the deal is with lions, there’s always strength in numbers. This is what makes lions so successful as the only social cat.
Unfortunately, Silver’s four tots are nowhere to be seen. Both her and Siti have been with the three males for some time now, and it’s unlikely that they would tolerate young cubs belonging to Caesar. It’s a real shame – all three lionesses have now lost at least one litter each, and with rogue males prowling the conservancy, who knows if their next litters will be safe?
It’s certainly a trying time for these four girls. I hope that whichever males join them stay for long enough for them to successfully raise their cubs to adulthood.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Posted by Sara Blackburn at 5:17 PM
Things have changed in the MNC – the rains are here, and everywhere the grass is green and lush, and rather long. It’s a bit of a challenge getting around. There’s a distinct lack of grazers both here and in the reserve, but leopard and hyena numbers are at an all time high. As for the lions, there’s some familiar faces around, most prominently the Cheli sub-adults, who are up to no good as usual…
The lion scene is changing, too. Marley’s group has split, interestingly, and the younger cub Mtoro and his pride-mate Maji have joined up with Cheli cubs. Kioni, Marley and the other youngsters haven’t been seen for a while, and there is no clue as to why Mtoro and Maji are now on their own.
It’s highly unusual for unrelated lions to join another group, and I’m still not sure what the true outcome of this pairing will be. Yesterday morning, Mtoro was on the receiving end of a little bullying, but in the afternoon, everyone was snoozing together quite happily. Sebastian and Rescue are already looking impressive, and good on these young lions for doing so well without mum.
In other news, an elephant carcass brought in predators and scavengers far and wide. Together with the drizzle it made for an interesting – if somewhat grisly – photography opportunity. I’m now armed with a video camera, so hopefully there will be some videos coming this way before too long.
Three new males turned up at the scene of the crime, none of whom I recognized. Males of around 4 are usually on their own or in a coalition of other males before they manage to win over their own pride. In a couple of years they should be in their prime. I’ll try and get some photographs of these boys soon.
More soon. It’s good to be back!
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Posted by Sara Blackburn at 11:01 PM
It’s a good chance to tell you all about some of the community work we’ve been doing along with Serian Camp. Education is a integral factor in promoting mutual coexistence between people and predators, and a key goal of ours is to help people understand the importance of lions to their community.
There’s nothing kids like doing more than getting messy, so we went to a local school to do some art activities on the subject of lions. After talking to the children about the local lions, they each drew their favourite. I have to say I was very impressed with their pictures – many of the children haven’t done art before as it’s not part of their syllabus at school. Together we made a great display for each class.
All of the children helped to make a giant collaged lions head with bits of yellow card and plastic. They all really enjoyed getting messy making handprints for the mane, and soon we had a great display for the school. The lion puppets went down a treat, too!
As well as being great fun, there’s a serious side to the workshops. Hopefully we can encourage the local younger generation to have a positive view of lions, and demonstrate their respect for lions through tolerance and conservation. Essentially, jobs in tourism such as guiding are highly valued, which promotes an understanding and passion for wildlife. Working with these children, as well as lodge guides, will help build positive attitudes towards lions and other predators.
Above is the finished result. Pretty good, eh??