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The stunning wildlife of the Masai Mara

Updated: Feb 8, 2020

Meet the Wildlife of the Masai Mara: a guide on what you can expect to see when you are on safari at Losokwan Camp in Kenya.

The wildlife of the Maasai Mara are the stars of the show, and the reason why our guests travel from all corners of the earth to stay at Losokwan Camp. All around us the circle of life unfurls in a symbiotic way, with the animals hunting, grazing and migrating as nature intended.

The wildlife of the Maasai Mara are the stars of the show, and the reason why our guests travel from all corners of the earth to stay at Losokwan Camp.

All around us the circle of life unfurls in a symbiotic way, with the animals hunting, grazing and migrating as nature intended. The Big 5 is a term once given to the animals which early game hunters considered the most difficult and dangerous to hunt on foot in Africa, and the list includes African elephant, lion, leopard, Cape buffalo and rhinoceros. Thankfully today the only way these animals are being shot is through the lens of a camera, and the term Big 5 is more representative of how thriving, abundant and biodiverse the region is.

A Maasai Mara safari may conjure images of the big mammals, and of the powerful predators. Yet smaller and equally fascinating creatures abound too, and make surprising favorites. Tiny dik-diks, bat-eared foxes, caracals, aardwolves, birds of all color, and a variety of mongoose, baboons, monkeys and warthogs add to the melee of animals in this natural cauldron.

There are more than 450 species of animal in the Maasai Mara, from the tiniest elephant shrew to the vast elephant. Here we take a look at some of the most anticipated creatures you are likely to spot on a safari in the Maasai Mara:

African elephant: The largest land mammal in the world wanders the plains with regal authority. Measuring up to 10 feet (3 meters) in height, and weighing up to 13,200lbs (6,000kg), they are a sight to behold. Adult bull elephants are usually solitary, while females live in close-knit herds led by an older matriarch. Together they raise their young, and are highly social, intelligent animals. Seeing elephants on safari is almost guaranteed, and one of the highlights of any trip to the Maasai Mara.

Lion: The king of the plains is the lion, the largest predator on earth. The Lemek Conservancy has its own, strong and healthy resident pride which are commonly sighted lazing in the African sunshine. Differently to common belief, the females of a pride do most of the hunting, and to see this spectacle, of them working together to bring down a prey is a thing of beauty. Despite their fierce reputation lions are largely unthreatened by humans, and so sightings of these impressive predators is common.

Leopard: Differently to lions, leopards are solitary animals and live and hunt alone, except when they are rearing cubs. As nocturnal hunters, leopards are the most elusive of all the big cats in the Maasai Mara, and masters at disguise. Early morning or sunset bush walks are the best time to spot them as they emerge to hunt.

Cheetah: The cheetah is the fastest land animal on the planet, reaching speeds of up to 112km/hour. Kenya's Maasai Mara has one of the highest cheetah densities anywhere, and so chances of spotting these magnificent big cats is at its greatest here. Slight and delicate, the cheetah has to consume its prey quickly, as it cannot defend itself well even against smaller animals. For the same reason male cheetahs often form coalition groups in order to defend territories. Elusive and shy, cheetahs are a real treat to spot on safari.

Wildebeest and zebra: It’s hard not to mention one without the other, as these two animals migrate together, following the rains and the lush green grasses which erupt from it. In the Maasai Mara, July to October are the months when the plains fill with migrating wildebeest and zebra. Great rivers of black pour across the landscape in one of the world’s most astounding natural spectacles. Over two million animals migrate from Tanzania’s Serengeti to Kenya’s Maasai Mara, funneling to traverse rivers teeming with waiting Nile crocodiles, the largest reptile on the continent. Whether you’re at the river crossings or watching the animals graze outside of the migration, they are an integral part of this majestic ecosystem.

Cape buffalo: Of all the animals in the Big 5, hunters feared the ferocity of the Cape buffalo the most. Highly protective and territorial, buffalo will charge at great speed when they feel slightly threatened. They are a magnificent sight as they graze the savannah in herds 50-500 strong and seeing these tank-like horned herbivores is guaranteed in the Maasai Mara. Despite bison in North America often being called buffalo, the two are very different, and the Cape buffalo makes a fierce opponent to any lion who approaches its young.

Rhinoceros: The rhino is one of the most endangered species in Africa, having been hunted almost to extinction by poachers. To see one on safari is rare and heart-poundingly exciting. The Maasai Mara has a slowly increasing number of black rhinos, however the numbers are still around 30 individuals. The white rhino is more common, although sightings too are a rare treat.

Giraffe: These gentle, non-territorial giants walk the savannah in loose herds. They make excellent mothers, and groups of females often care for the young in a crèche-like system. Giraffes are adaptable, and able to eat leaves off even the tallest of trees – in fact, some male giraffes can reach up to 19 feet high. While they rarely fall fowl of predators, giraffes in some areas are becoming endangered due to poaching and loss of habitat. They are one of the most iconic species on the plains and a delight to behold.

If you want to come and meet the wildlife of the Maasai Mara for yourself, contact us and Losokwan Camp and we can create your dream luxury safari experience.

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