During the past three months since I arrived in Serena camp, I slowly began to realize that this has been an unusually crazy time in the Masai Mara. According to Philomen, one of the Kenyan’s who works in camp, the past quarter has seen the longest drought here since 1993. As a consequence of the drought and the frequent fires that have been set in nearby Tanzania, we had a huge blaze spread through the territory of our Happy Zebra clan. The littlest members of the clans have been most traumatically affected by drought and unfortunately we have had to perform several necropsies on cubs that just couldn’t seem to handle the arid conditions.
But that's enough depressing news, and if the Lion King taught me anything, it was about the “Circle of Life”: Death leads to new life!
Over the past week or so, we've received plenty of rain. The watering holes are starting to fill back up, the ungulates are finding more healthy grass to eat and, in turn, the hyenas are finding plenty of healthy ungulates to eat!
The fire that spread through the Happy Zebra territory was extinguished weeks ago, and now with help from the rain and the fertile soil created by the fire, we are starting to see a lush carpet of healthy, green grass (see pictures in Tracy's recent blog post.) The territory is again becoming true to its name, and the zebras are very happy with their fresh new grass.
But the best piece of news? The necropsies seem to be over and we have brand new cubs in two of our clans!
We had been noticing that Pike, the matriarch of our Happy Zebra clan, had been acting awfully strange for the past few weeks for a hyena with grown cubs. She had been hanging out at the den a lot and often times was seen sacked out in the den hole. We had suspected for a while now that she was hiding new cubs from us, but we weren't sure until recently when they decided to poke their fuzzy little heads out to say hello!
|One of Pike's new cubs checking us out|
|Pike's cubs, Lance and Morningstar nursing!|
One of our lowest ranking females in the Happy Zebra clan, Silk, also gave birth to two new cubs, Nightshade and Amanita, that she brought to one of the communal dens recently.
|Nightshade snacking by the den|
|Nightshade and Amanita hiding behind mom|
And here's a video of Nightshade and Amanita wrestling.
More strange behavior in the Happy Zebra clan has been coming from Ojibway. Ojibway's only kids, Muon and Higgs, are old enough to start having babies themselves, but Ojibway has been hanging around the den very frequently. We are pretty sure this means Ojibway has a new litter of cubs to tend to. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to see the cubs yet, so no pictures of these guys.
And finally, in South clan, we have a brand new cub from Cheese Whiz! Cheese Whiz is a relatively low-ranking hyena, and doesn't like to hang around the den very often, so it’s very exciting to see her with a new cub because it means we'll get to see a lot more of her. Here's a picture of Cheese Whiz carrying her new cub, Nerd:
|Cheese Whiz carrying her 2-week old|
Photo by: Tracy Montgomery
In recent months, we've gone through some tough times on this side of the park, but things are looking up and we've got lots of new cubs to become acquainted with. The rainy season has brought birth, renewal and regrowth to the Mara- such is the “Circle of Life”!