We have begun to learn the truth about rampant cattle grazing in the Mara.
The day before yesterday we (me on camera, Stanley on driving) watched some female lions sleeping peacefully as Masai cow bells and voices approached. The cows passed on the other side of the lugga* - and the lions paid no attention at all – then we heard the bell of a single cow trotting after the main herd. The lions leapt into action and hurried after it, behind the bushes. An outsider lioness also arrived, the lionesses had a bit of a spat and the cow escaped.
Later on, we saw some hyenas attacking a wildebeest, oblivious to the nearby Masai and cattle, some lions arrived on the scene commandeering the wildebeest that the hyenas had yet to bring down.
Last night we watched through our thermal camera as The Masai brought their herds closer and closer to where some lions were lounging around in the grass, the lions simply ignored them. We showed the footage to the Masai later, who had been completely unaware of the presence of 5 lions. Between looking at the cattle and sleeping, the lions chased a few hyenas and generally gave the impression that it was business as usual on Paradise plain.
The biggest question that remains is to what extent the cattle grazing damages or enhances the environment. And when the rain will relieve the pressure, and allow these
huge herds to go home.
*Mara term for ditch