31 May 2017

Olarro Conservancy May 2017 report

From the 5th of May to the 10th of May 2017, Stratton Hatfield from the Maasai Mara Martial Eagle Project and Femke Broekhuis and Britt Klaassen from the Mara Cheetah Project spent time in the Olarro Conservancies in search of Martial eagles, lions and cheetahs.
The objectives of the visit were to:

  • Gain a better insight into the geography of the Olarro Conservancies
  • Find new Martial Eagle pairs and their nests
  • Start gaining a better insight into the lions and cheetahs in both conservancies by determining group composition and creating catalogues of individuals

During the stay the data, including our effort, were all recorded using an in-house data collection application made in Cybertracker. While more was driven, the field team covered a distance of 650 km using the Cybertracker application.

MARTIAL EAGLES
Two new Martial Eagle pairs and their nests were found by Stratton Hatfield during the reporting period.


The Olarro North Conservancy Pair
The first nest was found in Olarro North Conservancy in plot 3228 at the following GPS coordinate: -1.440314° and 35.537993°. This pair has been named the Olarro North Conservancy Pair. They are nesting in a large Vachelia xanthophloea tree.


The Olarro South Conservancy Pair
The second nest was found in Olarro South Conservancy in block 13 at the following GPS coordinate: -1.472009° and 35.476194°. This pair we have named the Olarro South Conservancy Pair. They are also nesting in a large Vachelia xanthophloea tree. This pair was observed courting during our visit. It is our hope that they choose to nest later this year.


LIONS

S.O.L. Males
One the 6th May we sighted two adult males in ONC and going through the Mara Lion Project ID catalogues we found that they were two males called Osidai and Leshaan who used to be part of the S.O.L coalition. The S.O.L. coalition used to consist of the three males, Simiren, Osidai and Leshaan who are estimated to be born in 2007. They were first sighted in Naboisho Conservancy at the beginning of 2011 where they controlled one pride. By 2012 they ruled the entire conservancy. In 2015, they gradually started traveling to Ol Kinyei Conservancy, moving between the two conservancies and they moved to Ol Kinyei permanently by their own will that same year, taking over the Ol Kinyei pride. The last sighting we have of them in Ol Kinyei was in October 2016. The question remains whether they have moved permanently to Olarro Conservancy, if they are there opportunistically intruding or if they move continuously between Olarro and Ol Kinyei Conservancies.

One female has been recorded close to the Ropile luggar and we believe that she is from a pride residing in that area. Further monitoring will shed more light on this pride.
Enshipai Pride

One female has been sighted in the Enshipai area and we believe that she is from a pride residing there. Further monitoring will hopefully reveal more pride members in this pride.

Normasi Pride
This pride was seen in the southern part of OSC. So far we have recorded two adult males, three adult females and 10 cubs of three different age classes. Several of the pride members seemed to have some sort of eye infection.

One of the adult females from the Normasi pride was seen with an infection in her right eye.

Identification catalogues were created for the lions that were sighted during this trip. The catalogues are compiled from the few sightings that we had on our first monitoring trip to Olarro Conservancy and the quality and completion of them will improve as our monitoring efforts continue.

CHEETAHS
On six different occasions we sighted three different cheetah groups, one singleton female and two females with cubs (total of seven cubs) in OSC. No cheetahs were sighted in ONC during our stay.

Kiraposhe
Kiraposhe was seen with three cubs (2 males and a female) and we sighted them on three different occasions. On the first occasions they had just finished feeding on a juvenile wildebeest and we suspect that they were chased off their kill by a troop of baboons. On the last sighting she was seen taking down a juvenile Thomson’s gazelle. We suspect that the cubs were born around August 2016.

Nasha
On the 9th of May we sighted a female with 4 cubs (3 males and a female) East of OSC, not far from our first sighting of Haribika. At around 16:20 she was seen taking down an adult female impala. We suspect that the cubs were born around July 2016. One of her cubs was very distinct as he had a kink in his tail.

This singleton female was sighted twice during our stay in Olarro, once just outside the boundary of OSC and the next day she was seen on the Eastern edge of OSC. On the first occasion she was seen killing and feeding on a scrub hare and on the latter occasion she was seen feeding on a juvenile impala.

Haribika feeding on a juvenile impala on the 10th May in OSC
In 2015 Haribika had one male cub (named Enkayioni) who reached adulthood and who dispersed in June 2016. After he dispersed he joined up with a subadult group, consisting of 2 males and a female, in Naboisho Conservancy who had also recently left their mother. The four young cheetahs were sighted together for a couple of months but the males were last sighted in August 2016.

Enkayioni (Harabika’s male cub from 2015), seen here (standing) with a group of three recently dispersed individuals in Naboisho Conservancy in mid-2016.

Identification catalogues were created for the adult cheetahs that were sighted during this trip.

Territorial marking trees
Male cheetahs often advertise their presence to other individuals by marking (urine and fecal) and scratching on prominent features within the landscape such as tree, logs and termite mounds. The visitation rates of marking trees by different individuals vary depending on their positions within a male’s home-range or territory. During this visit we found three active marking trees, two in OSC and one in ONC. It is our hope that we will be able to set up camera traps at these sites so that we can get a better idea of the number of different males that use the two conservancies.

OTHER MAMMALIAN PREDATORS
Other predators that were sighted were caracal (1 sighting), aardwolf (1 sighting), bat-eared fox (1 sighting) and black-backed jackal (21 sightings). The location of the caracal sighting can be found on the map below.

Map including the locations of the lions, cheetahs and caracal that were sighted between the 5th and 10th of May in the Olarro Conservancies.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Thank you for allowing the Maasai Mara Martial Eagle Project and the Kenya Wildlife Trust (Mara Cheetah Project and Mara Lion Project) to conduct research in the Olarro Conservancies. We hope that you have enjoyed reading this brief report and we look forward to working with you more in the future. Our next visit is planned for June pending management approval. We will email you later this month with exact dates. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Report compiled by:
Stratton Hatfield (Maasai Mara Martial Eagle Project)
Femke Broekhuis (Mara Cheetah Project)
Britt Klaassen (Mara Cheetah Project)
Niels Mogensen (Mara Lion Project)

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