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Richard’s Camp – The Wildlife of Masi Mara

May 2, 2011 by Chelsea Slone

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Our much anticipated East African safari began at Richard’s camp, located in the open plains of the northeast Maasai Mara, an extension of the Serengeti. After an hour flight from Nairobi on a little six seater caravan plane we arrived in the incredible Maasai Mara, hoped in a safari jeep, and drove through the unpaved wild plains to our tented camp.

In only seconds beginning our drive to the camp we were surrounded by zebras, antelope, gazelle, jackal, and more. The further we drove the more we saw, giraffe, baboons, warthogs… The animals were everywhere right before our eyes, just how I had always imagined it. It was fascinating how much we learned in just the short drive to camp. For instance, like how zebras are identified by their stripes, which are like human finger prints, no two zebras are exactly alike. Or how dikdik, the smallest antelope, is one of the only animals to mate for life, and when one dies or is killed the other won’t live for more than a month more from the stress and sadness.

The giraffe found in the the Maasai Mara are called Masai Giraffe. These giraffe differ with their pattern, which is jagged edged reddish brown spots. Giraffes are the tallest mammals in the world sometimes growing to more than 18 ft tall. Despite their size, giraffes, like humans only have seven neck vertebrae.

Tyler and I chose to take two drives a day at the times they suggested, six am and four pm. In our morning game drives we would see several male lions wandering into the bush before the sun began to beat down in the hot plains. The lions are nocturnal, sleeping most all day long, then coming out from the bush again in at dust to begin hunting. The male lions are the more lazy that I would have ever imagined. The lioness do most all of the killing for the pride, while the lions sleep until the work is finished. When we lioness have made a kill only a single roar will notify the pride and the male then rushes down to eat before the lioness or any cubs they might have. A roar can be heard up to three miles away on a still day and up to as much as six miles away with the wind.

Most every evening in the Mara the lioness and their cubs came out to play and hunt. In this particuar pride we had been following there were two males, two females, and six cubs. There were three older cubs from one of the females and three young cubs from the other. While most lionesses remain in their natural pride forever the male cubs are forced to leave the pride when they are two to three years of age. One evening in particular we witnesses the two lionesses of this pride make a kill. It was facinating. We had seen the lionesses trying to hunt early in the morning, but they had failed. In the evening you could tell they had little energy left, their stomachs were sunken in, and they had to feed the cubs. They were desperate. While attempting to hunt a zebra all day they failed by being spotted several times. Finally just as the sun was going down they snuck up on a baby eland, who was with only it’s mother… Making it a perfect target. They went in for the attack, and before I could blink the baby eland was down and the lioness had succeeded. The elands mother was running in circles, but in reality there was absolutely nothing she could do now or could’ve done to prevent it. While the entire scene was bitter sweet, it is their way of life… The only way they survive.

The cheetah we were able to find in the Mara were just gorgeous. These long lean beautiful creatures are distinguished from a leopard by there black “tearmarks” running from the inner corners of their eyes to the edges of their mouth. Cheetahs will hunt during the day and sleep at night, and while the males sometimes stay together in groups of two or three, the females stay solitary unless they are with their cubs. One of the most I interesting aspects of a cheetah is it’s speed, they can run at the speed of 70 mph. The cheetah’s we came across a few different times was a mother and a son pair.

The African elephants, different from the elephants we saw in Thailand, were just incredible. These amazingly large creatures are very interesting in many ways. Male elephants weight almost twice as much as the females and have braided longer tusks. Male elephants have said to have tusks that weight as much as 235 lbs for a single tusk. Elephants live in families of around ten to fifteen, and are led by the matriarch, the old female of the group. They are extremely protective of one another, and when there is a death of one a funeral is held. Elephants are said to have a memory of a lifetime. Being extremely large creatures they are immune to predation, except for the rare kill of a sick or young elephant by lions, hyaenas, and crocodiles. The biggest predator for them has been man, slaughgtering 700,000 during the 1980’s. There are said to be around 600,000 elephants left today, and no ivory trade is banned worldwide.

Hippopotamus are second in terms of weight and size to elephants. There have a set of permamently growing canine tusks, with those in the lower jaw measuring up to one foot eight inches. Hippos are nocturnal creatures and usually found in groups of ten to twenty females but larger groups up to one hundred are not uncommon. During the day their time is spent in the water to prevent their sensitive skin from sunburn. They can stay under water for up to five minutes at a time, which is how they sleep, resurfacing to breathe automatically. At night the hippos will emerge from the water to begin their feeding. Each individual hippo can eat around one hundred pounds of food per night. While they only eat grass, hippos are said to have caused more human deaths than buffaloes, elephants, or rhinos. Getting between a hippos and it’s desired body of water is a guarantee attack.

Visiting the Maasi Mara was an unforgettable experience. The abundance of natural free roaming wildlife in the area was just incredible and to see animals in their natural habitat is truly a blessing. And watching sunsets go down with the silhouette picturesque acacia trees all around was a view I thought only existed in photoshoped pictures. The nostalgiic Maasai Mara is a place to make you believe true untouched beauty still exists in abundance.



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5 thoughts on “Richard’s Camp – The Wildlife of Masi Mara

  1. I’ve been thinking of you two!! It was so great to meet you at Richards. So…. what did you think of Sirikoi? Enquiring minds want to know :-) Be well, be safe and enjoy every minute xoxox Simmie

  2. Simmie! It’s so great to hear from you … We loved Sirikoi, especially after getting the amazing wildlife experience from Richard’s and the cultural side from Lemarti’s it was a great way to cap our East Africa safari. Honestly, I could have just sat and talked to Willy and Sue all day, they may be some of the most interesting people I have ever met. Be sure to stay in touch and let us know if you have any other questions.

  3. Guys! 
    Great blog on Richard’s – I have linked it to our facebook site too, and will do so for Sirikoi and Lemarti’s Camp. It was so great to get to know you at Lemarti’s and then Sirikoi… Hope the mega round-the-globe-safari is going well, have thought of you much and wondered where you have got to – now following your blog! Have a great time.

    • Juju! It’s so nice to hear from you. I’m so glad you enjoyed the blog post. Everything continues to be great with Tyler and I. We are now exploring Europe but miss Africa so much! We thouroghly enjoyed getting to know you and Wiz as well. Stay in touch and send me the link to your website so I can check it out. Good luck, and hope to visit Kenya again soon.


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