Namiri Plains: East Africa’s Big Cat Territory
By Britta Foulis – Content Marketing Manager
This secluded area of the eastern Serengeti is a haven for big cats, and especially cheetah. For 20 years, the grasslands surrounding Namiri Plains were closed off to people and tourism, this was done to encourage and support the growth of declining cheetah populations. This decisive action led to the plains now being known as a haven for cheetah. These fast felines roam the plains freely and are thriving.
Many other big cats frequent the area too, both lion and leopard are often seen lounging on rocky kopjes, keeping their eyes fixed firmly on the grasslands and waiting for their next meal. One other feature of the area that makes it so appealing to these cats are the underground pockets of permanent water sources that derive from the Ngare Nanyuki underground river. These small pockets of water can be found in the area throughout the year which means that there are high concentrations of resident plains game which are found here at any time of the year – something these predators seriously love, it’s what keeps them coming back and hanging around the plains for such long periods of time.
Legends Of Namiri Plains: Bob & Ziggy
The world knew them as C-Boy and Hildur, to us they were Bob and Ziggy, but how you name them doesn’t matter, the fact remains that they were legendary lions.
Bob & Ziggy – A bond like no other.
Bob was born around Lake Magadi, in the central part of the Serengeti, close to the Moru Kopjes. He was first identified while residing in his natal pride on the 18th of October 2006. At the time, he was probably around two to three years old and was hanging around with his brothers, A-Boy and B-Boy. As far as we can tell, Bob was probably born in early 2004 or late 2003. Ziggy was first spotted on the 18th of January 2007, in the Ndutu area of the southern Serengeti. He looked to be about two to three years of age and was probably born in early 2004. In February 2008, he was seen alone, roaming the Gol Kopjes area where he stayed for the rest of the year.
Bob and Ziggy were first seen together on the 31st of December 2008 between the Boma and Semetu kopjes and noticeably joined alliance sometime earlier that year. From that moment onwards, the two were inseparable and have stayed close to one another’s side. These boys chose each other and their bond had only gotten stronger as the years passed. Bob and Ziggy most likely came together out of desperation, when they had to fend for themselves and were alone in areas with a high lion density and very little cover or protection.
During the years these two spent together roaming the plains, they fathered a lot of cubs. Some of their offspring are likely to have ousted them at some point in time! They formed and/or joined many prides during their reign together.
Bob and his signature dreadlocked mane.
As a coalition, they were neither the strongest nor the biggest, however, they were certainly the most resourceful and pragmatic. They conquered and lost prides several times but always endured. Their first documented confrontation with death was in 2009 when they were attacked by The Four Killers, a coalition which had originated from the Maasai Kopjes area. Another conflict against the same Four Killers transpired in late 2012.
Researchers have presumed Bob and Ziggy dead several times, but they always reemerged, always together, always strong, and almost always holding a different territory and a different pride.
In 2014, around the time Namiri Plainswas opened, Bob and Ziggy were frequently seen in the surrounding grasslands. They were stunning lions and were in their prime, dark-maned Bob, and blonde Ziggy. Bob was not only dark-maned, he had another unique characteristic, his dreadlocks which gave him an incredible Rastafarian-like appearance, hence his name, Bob from the father of reggae Bob Marley himself. While Ziggy may not have been Bob’s son, the two shared such a deep bond that they were consequently nicknamed Bob and Ziggy.
Sadly, in 2018, Bob died – perhaps he was killed by another lion, of this we are not sure. He was around 14 years of age at that time, the longest living lion in the history of the Serengeti, the unforgettable Rastafarian of the short grass plains, a lion who equalled none.
In September 2019, Ziggy was spotted close to Namiri Plains for the first time in years. We were thrilled to see him, looking old, but still strong and doing well. Ziggy was seen relaxing underneath the shade of an Acacia tree, he was alone and because of his old age, Ziggy will most likely live out his last days roaming the area. In the wild, lions will live up to 12 years if they are lucky, Ziggy has made it to 15 years of age and has done so in the harsh environment that the eastern Serengeti presents which is a testament to how strong, powerful, and determined this lion is.
Big Cats Of Namiri Plains
If you weren’t already sold on the fact that Namiri Plains is the ideal location to spot big cats, we want to share a few of our favourite feline stories which are sure to convince you to spend a few nights with us and spend time with these exceptional creatures. Have a look at some of our stories here:
Namiri Plains: Reimagined
Namiri Plains has officially relaunched. Embodying the same values that guests have come to love while still retaining the same excellent staff and guiding that the camp is well-known for. The upgraded camp boasts remarkably improved accommodation and an exceptionally enhanced guest in-camp experience.
Namiri Plains – Game drive with Cheetah
We would love to welcome you and have you explore this incredible corner of the Serengeti with us. The rooms are much larger and feature expansive views from their decks as well as unmatched privacy. The new Namiri Plains flaunts an information centre, pool, spa, and many more enticing inclusions making this the perfect destination for any safari lover.
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