Wildlife in the Masai Mara
While wildebeest and zebras are most plentiful during the Great Migration, smaller numbers are present year-round. Other residents of the park include elephants, black rhinos, Cape buffalos, elands, hartebeests, topis, and big cats like lions, cheetahs, and leopards.
Even when wildebeest aren’t crossing, the Mara River—along with the Talek River and Sand rivers, which also cross the park—offers plenty of interest. They are home to hippos and crocodiles and attract land animals looking for water or simply a refreshing splash.
Then there are the Masai giraffes! Masai giraffes are one of three types of giraffe found in Kenya. (The other two are reticulated and Rothschild giraffes.) You can identify Masai giraffes from the others because their spots do not have smooth edges. Their rough edges and butterfly shapes give the impression of an animal covered in brown fingerpaint by a nursery school class.
While the bigger animals are impressive, don’t forget to look out for smaller critters like some of the Little 5 safari animals and bat-eared foxes, dwarf mongooses, dik-dik antelopes, and pangolins.
More than 470 species of birds, more than 50 of which are raptors, grace the reserve. Look for African crowned cranes, lilac-breasted rollers, ostriches, and Meyer’s parrots. Multiple species of vultures, eagles, bee-eaters, hornbills, ibises, and bustards also have their niche in the Masai Mara.