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The wildlife of the Masai Mara game reserve is plentiful throughout the year but is especially prolific during the dry season, July through October. Masai Mara tour drives are best taken at dawn and dusk since this is when nocturnal and diurnal animals can be seen and wildlife is most active and most visible. Sunrise is an especially busy time when one is more likely to see a predator kill. The animals make use of the cooler times of day to move around and then seek out shade to siesta through the hotter midday hours when the sun beats down unmercifully on the African savannah.

Predators are well represented in the Masai Mara national park with cheetah, leopard and the black manned lion that is found in the area between the Mara River and Oloololo Escarpment. The Mara has the largest lion population in Kenya which means that the chance of spotting these mighty predators is very good. Leopards are a little trickier to see, since their ability to climb trees; nocturnal habits and camouflage make them less obvious in the bush.

Not as striking perhaps but with their own charm, hyenas are seen often. Although not as photogenic as an elegant cheetah or powerful lion, they deserve their predator status and are amusing at times and always interesting to watch. They are hunters in their own right but often choose to steal the kills away from other predators. Large family groups form formidable hunting packs.

Herbivores of the Masai Mara include antelope (especially wildebeest, zebra, eland and Thomson’s gazelle) as well as elephant, hippo and black rhino.

Up to the 1960’s black rhino were plentiful in the Masai Mara national park but they suffered large losses due to poaching. In the 70’ and 80’s their numbers were as low as 15. With increased protection and conservation efforts from game rangers, the numbers are climbing ever so slowly.

Not to be forgotten are the river dwellers. The Mara and Talek rivers are home to hippopotamus and Nile crocodiles.

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