Sunday, June 22, 2014

Exciting animal sightings!

We spend hours and hours driving around each day looking for hyenas and in the process we see a lot of other amazing animal species. After spending 11 months in the Mara I figured I had seen all that I was going to see out here.

Well, I was very wrong and I have been extremely lucky with stumbling upon rare animals recently. A few weeks ago Maggie and I had a great caracal sighting. We were coming down the hill near camp and I happened to look out of my window at just the right time and there was a small brown cat with the characteristic tall ear tufts! I was extraordinarily excited about not only seeing a caracal but being able to just sit and watch it for a few minutes. Just last night when we were driving back to camp after obs we saw a caracal (probably the same one) run across our driveway! Looks like it is sticking around and lucky for us it is in our camp!

Tonight I had one of the most exciting sightings I've had since coming out here. I was driving through Happy Zebra Territory on the way to our den when I saw a very large antelope that looked unfamiliar. It was a really surreal feeling to not immediately recognize a species of mammal this size. It took a little while for my brain to register what I was looking at. I snapped some pictures and wracked my brain trying to figure out what this guy was. I eventually remembered the Mara Conservancy logo and a story I heard about the roan antelope being pretty much locally extinct in the Maasai Mara but it was a conservation goal to try and bring them back.  After a little research I was able to be sure that I did in fact see a roan antelope! Roan antelopes used to be much more common in the Mara but other than one sighting last year they have been absent for around a decade. 

It is so encouraging to see a species return to an area that it used to inhabit. Hopefully through continued conservation efforts these beautiful antelopes will return to the Maasai Mara and thrive here once again. 

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