Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Massaimara the Jewel of Kenya in Savanna Grass Land

Massaimara the Jewel of Kenya in Savana Grass Land

Massaimara is a National Park (1800 sqm) of Kenya located on the southwest of the Country, famous for the migration of the herbivores animals. It is in continuation of it's sister park Serengeti of Tanzania. It is an area of Massai tribe and a river Mara, therefore, named Massaimara. Mara means spotted too.

It is a heaven for Herbivores animals: the Zebras, the Gazelles (Thomson and Grand), wildebeests, etc, in thousands come to Massaimara in June-July and return to Sarangeti in September-October. They migrate for green grass. March-April are the monsoon months, therefore, when the grass become green in Massaimara, they arrive and stay for three months. And as soon as the Serengeti Park have rains they migrate. These animals stay for 9 months in Serengeti and 3 months in Massaimara. Watching them over crossing the river Mara from different spots and saving themselves from the big crocodiles of the river are the major attractions for the tourists to watch during the migration season.

The park has thousands of Zebras. Thousands have migrated but hundreds were still on migration route. They are the donkeys, the donkeys with stripes, called Muliya Punda locally. They look beautiful as if the donkeys are ready for the Carnival. Imagine the nature, like our finger prints, the stripes of the Zebras are unique and don't match with each other. They live in herds and are monitored and guided by the group leader. If one member of the group is in trouble, they stop and wait for him. But if it is lost to the predator, they move.

Deers are the dears. The antipopes are in hundreds. Thomson the 'tommie' is small but the most beautiful gazelle with black striped golden brown colour, bounding leaps and continuously moving tail. Most of them have been migrated but few were left behind. Similar to them but bigger and more shiny brown coat without the strip but milky white rump, the Grand Gazelles were looking gorgeous. The males of both the gazelles were looking more handsome with their horns. Topi deers are peculiar. When others are sleeping, one of them become a watch topi, will stand on little top position and keep watching the dangers. If there is danger, it will wake the sleeping topis up and then they run for life. There are Water bucks, dark brown in colour, generally live near the water. The Elands the healthiest animal, look strong and beautiful but very shy, always run away when see the tourist vehicles. There are hetbeests, red bucks and Impala. The Wildebeests are famous for migration, we could see some, the left behind.

There are many Elephants in the Park. We could see more than hundred. They live in joint family, where the elders are respected. Female, called mama (mother) leads the family. Family live with the mother. The male is for security. When the old dies, the young takes over. They have good memory power. They have Infra sound communications, communicate and understand each other messages from the distance. Their life expectancy is 65 years. They die of malnutrition and starvation! As herbivores, they have to eat and grind a lot. They go through six sets of large, brick-like teeth that grow in at the back of their mouths and slowly move to the front as they are worn down. The teeth then fall out and are replaced by fresh ones. When an elephant's final set of teeth falls out, the elephant slowly dies of malnutrition or starvation. Old dies and the young takes over.

One can identify the males and females from the face. The male has round head and the female has angular head. While flapping their big ears, they control body temperature and cooling of the blood. After drinking water, they make mud through their legs and then spray over the body to maintain the cooling of the body. Their skins have many rinkles because of the dehydration of the body.

We saw hundreds of Wild buffalos. They are considered to be the strongest and dangerous animals as they may charge any time. United together they can fight with the lions. The males guard the hude. Male horns are joined together and stout. Female horns are apart and soft. People tried to make it domestic but couldn't train and failed.

Giraffes are unique, live in herds. With long neck and legs, they are always ready to give poses. Like Camel, Giraffe, while walking, move both legs on the same side of the body at the same time (both right legs, then both left legs). Other animals moving their legs in order left hind leg, left front, right hind, right front. One can identify the male and female Giraffe from the Ossicones (horns). The male ossicones are set apart and have round ball on top. Female have two cross ossicones introvert and the top round balls are smaller in size. Blacks are the aged one, as their skin become darker with ageing. They walk in steps line, keeping a right distance, so that when their is danger, they can run without obstructing each other.

The park has 200+ lions. It is called 'Simba' in local language. We could see total 18 lions during the tour. As enough food is there, Lions of Kenya found lazy. They eat and sleep, sleep for 16 hours a day. They look little lighter in colour compared to our Asiatic Geer lions. The colour of the abdominal skin is milky white. We saw a couple in mating. They sleep, wake up, mate for few seconds and again go to sleep. The cycles may go on many times during the period of mating. We couldn't see the kill, but at one spot, a Zebra was stranded, and may a wild animal was in the ditch and across the ditch many zebras were watching and waiting for their member to return.

At one spot we saw a group of 6 lions, of which 4 were resting and two grown up Cubs were watching around. And in the cordon of these six lions, a female egipcian gees was walking with her thee chicks fearlessly.

Tanzanian Cheetah, the major predator of the tommies, are now endangered specie. One of our group could see two tommies facing the cheetah with direct eye contact, as if communicating that we have seen you and you now can't catch us. The cheetah had to return. Their numbers are diminishing. They have problems of breeding and rearing the animals. Hyenas, Lions kill their Cubs. Mother Chitah lives a solitary life. The Cubs leave the mother. God knows, she must be the tough mother! Males live together in a group of two or three.

There are many Hippos in Mara river, living in groups. Their skin is sensitive to sun light, therefore, they live in water during the day time and move in the grass land for grazing in nights. 7.30 pm to 6.30 am is generally their time to move into the area for food. It was 1.30 pm. As tourists, we were not allowed to move out of the vehicle, therefore we had our lunch in the vehicle. But side by, river Mara was flowing, and the Hippos in water were, some resting, some moving; and a big crocodile was sleeping on the bank, and in the cooling wind of the nature, we have enjoyed our picnic lunch. We dined with Hippos!

There are spotted hyenas, the second highest predator after the lions. They are scavengers, normally eat the flesh of the animals killed by lions. But if need be, they form a group and can kill an animal. As they don't know hunting, they strand the animal, bite and eat it alive.

The Warthogs (pig family) of Savanna are different. One can see a couple of Warthog with their 2-3 cubs. As soon as the vehicle passes by, they run away fast, keeping their tail up. They are called the 'Kenyan Express'. We enjoyed the run of the Kenyan express many times.

We could see Vultures, Marabou (scavenger) Stokes, Ostriches, go away birds, Liela pristed rola, and many other species of beautiful birds. We could see many other animals; baboons, monkeys, jackal, mongooses, serval cat spotted like Cheetah, Impala, etc. The Park is very rich in flora and fauna.

Nature is great, maintaining the Eco system. Herbivores are eating whole day, have less sleep and live under the fear of attacks from the Carnivores. The Carnivores eat one time in a week and sleep for 16 hours a day. Herbivores are in plenty, will multiply though hunt. But some of the Carnivores become endangered species. Because they have problems of breeding and safety of their Cubs from other wild animals.

The massai tribe people are very simple and loving, carry smile over their faces. They wear bright coloured clothes, mostly red and yellow and wear lot of ornaments made of local articles. They make nice wooden handicrafts of mahogany and hapony woods. Some can understand and speak English to sale their products. It is a National Park, therefore no human population is allowed to stay in the Park area. People live in villages outside of the park. However, the herbivores wild animals damage their crops, therefore, they are dependent on Cows rearing. The families are big. Jeff, the hotel chef are 41 brothers and sisters. His father has 3 wives. The elders give blessings to have more children, therefore, they implement the wish of their parents! Average 8-9 children is very common in many families in Kenya.

There is an airport, must be the most economical Airport of the world. A dish, an antenna, a ticket window, a small cottage for the waiting passages, a toilet unit and a run way made from hard moram. Aircrafts come and go at an interval of half an hour, hour, depending upon the flow of tourists traveling by air from Nairobi to Massaimara.

The route from Nairobi to Massaimara is a road journey of 6 hours; 3 hours on tar road and 3 hours on metal road. One can pay Kshilling 20,000 (one way) and fly, but will miss the beauty of the scenery and views of the route of the Rift Valley drive. Some portion of the road was built by the Italian prisoners of WW-II. Tanzania was with Itali. British fought war with Italy to get Tanzania. It is Great North Road, where one can see traffic of trucks from Mumbasa to neighboring countries of East Africa; Yuganda, Ruanda, etc.

The tourists vehicles/Landcruisers have wireless Radio linked with the radios of other tourists vehicle. They spot the animals and communicate to each other so that the tourists can see the maximum number of animals. The landcruisers are openable from the top. Each vehicle has binocular and some beverages to facilitate the tourists. They maintain utmost discipline and follow the rules in words and spirit.  As the driver has the limitation to drive and see around, and the tourists can see farther distance from the top, the tour is made interesting by using local words. Tourists will say 'Simama' to stop and 'Twende' to move the vehicle. Fransis was our driver, saw us many animals and birds within the time constraints. He was experienced and very good at English and Swahili.

The Hotel Sun Africa offers star facilities to the tourists. It has comfortable hut rooms, good ambience, good reception and serves good food. It has good free wifi connectivity and restricted hours power supply through generator. Karibu (welcome) Travel Jeep and the company of it's  driver Fransis as guide made our trip memorable. Hakuna Matata (No Problem!)

Though restful, attractive with it's rich flora and fauna; we have to leave the place and to say Shante Shana (thank you) and 'Koheri' (good bye) Massaimara, Koheri Kenya. Next time, they will again welcome us saying 'Jambo' (Hello).

18 September 2016

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