Munir Virani— 2 May 2010 — in East Africa Project Share
I have just returned from a visit to the Masai Mara where I had gone to help Corinne Kendall (see Tracking Mara’s Vultures) tag and release some more vultures. Corinne has now been in the Mara for two and a half months and has been working incredibly hard on her transects and carcass watches. Last week, with the help of her field assistant, Wilson Masek, she managed to trap and attach two more GSM units on Lappet-faced Vultures, the largest and heaviest of the vultures in Africa. The reason for my trip to the Mara was to carry a newly designed unit that Corinne will test that has been kindly donated by Henrick Rasmussen, from Savannah Tracking Ltd (a company based in Nairobi that makes telemetry equipment).
In addition, Corinne also needed some equipment from Nairobi and I had to meet with the Senior Warden of the Masai Mara National Reserve, plus other people in the Mara to invite and finalize plans for an upcoming workshop on vultures that Corinne and I are organizing at Basecamp Explorer Camp next week on the 7th of May.
The Mara was quite green and wet and the grass very high, making it difficult to make observations, let alone place carcasses. One of the difficulties that Corinne had been experiencing at her carcass traps was the arrival of unwanted Jackals and Hyenas.
Although we never trapped another vulture whilst I was there, there was never a dull moment. We witnessed an aerial fight between a Bateleur and a Tawny, plus saw a Black-chested Snake Eagle swallow a snake in mid air. Then there was a gorgeous juvenile Martial Eagle that practically modeled for us whilst we took pictures.
On the last afternoon, when we placed a carcass near Rhino Ridge, we observed a pride of seven lions that walked very close to where we were. The pride comprised mainly females and cubs heading out toward a herd of Topi. It became evident that they were after a dead Topi that had been killed by Hyenas. About 15 minutes later, a huge male appeared very close to our cars and suddenly turned back towards us where he decided to chase two massive buffaloes. Because of the presence of the huge male lion, we decided to move our carcass trap to another site.
I will certainly be back to help Corinne, but in the meantime, my thoughts wandered towards the big Vulture workshop next week, and then I got distracted again as I watched a Martial Eagle swoop down in an attempt to pounce on a banded mongoose.
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