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Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

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Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  Safariman on Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:55 am

As with previous trips I will do this post on an ongoing basis adding stories and photos as I go along, the videos may take a little longer as I have to try and edit and put together about 350 different clips. It seemed a good idea at the time but now I not so sure perhaps I should stick to just stills!!
As usual when I stay in the Mara North Conservancy I stayed at Offbeat Safaris' Mara Camp and was able to link up with my two Masai friends, David my guide and Kapeen my spotter.
Since my last trip the two main lion prides in the Conservancy, the Offbeat Pride and the Acacia/Chili Pride have both undergone take overs by new males. The Offbeat Pride new males are two young guys from the Acacia Pride and the Acacia Pride have two young males from the adjoining River Pride. I have seen all these males when they were younger and growing up so it was fascinating to watch them in their new roles in charge of the prides. The consequence of these two takeovers meant that there were lions and cubs scattered everywhere around the Conservancy so this trip was dominated by lions. Everywhere I went there were lions mating or cubs hiding and young adults being kicked out or laying low in the hope of being accepted back into the prides by the new bosses. Lion society is very complex and the more I see it the less I really understand but that is what keeps making me return year after year.
The weather was very mixed with the Nov. rains starting early and for the first 5 days of my trip we had tremendous early afternoon/evening storms.
The following are just a few miscellaneous photos and I will follow them up with more stories and pics.



The scene in front of camp on arrival with wildies,zebras, topis and Thomsons gazelle everywhere.



Driving out of camp 4 hours later after the first of many thunderstorms.



Young male buffalo showing off his horns



One of the two ex. River Pride males who have taken over the Acacia Pride



A balloon flies low over the Conservancy.
I feel at times the balloons fly far too low and spook and panic a lot of the wildlife. I appreciate that many people love to have a balloon ride but I think there has to be a way of doing this without disturbing the wildlife.



The Bulbul has quite a shock when it sees its' reflection in the wing mirror.
The reflection is of Kapeen my spotter walking towards the car!!



Black-backed jackal



A newly arrived Thomsons gazelle.
The gazelles, impala and topi were all starting to drop their young in anticipation of the rain



Verreaux's eagle owl



Giraffe relaxing



5 week old male lion cub of the Offbeat Pride
He is one of 3 and  I will post many more photos and stories about them later.



One of the many dramatic sunsets I witnessed


SM
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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  Doogs on Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:48 pm

Yeah SM, you're on the ball cheers

Thanks for the updates from your last trip, interesting both the 'local' prides have been taken over by new males and that is fascinating that you've known them from when they were little.

How lovely to wake up to that view every morning Very Happy

Then rains can be a pain at times for getting about and trying to see the animals Crying or Very sad Praying we are lucky in a few weeks time and don't get too much.

Beautiful shot with the giraffe and balloon - totally agree with you re the balloons.  Never done one and probably never will, won't give up a mornings drive for it !!!

Awww look at that baby Tommy I love you I love you I love you   This time of year is wonderful for new life, we saw loads of little Topi's, Hearbeest etc last November they were gorgeous.
All the rest of your pictures brilliant as usual and WOW look at that sunset, stunning cheers

Many thanks, looking forward to the next installment  . . . .
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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  Laikipia on Wed Oct 15, 2014 3:35 pm

http://i73.servimg.c  Safariman.  A lovely start to the story of your safari.  I love the first photo, just reminds me of being there and to see all those wildies is just fabulous.  Wow it certainly did rain.  Your photos are wonderful and I love the lion and the cub and of course the reflection of Kapeen, I would recognise him anywhere.  The sunset is superb just magical and makes you want to be there.  Re the balloon, I've done it once and wouldn't bother again, although in Namibia it was amazing, and a great way to see the scenery, of course you don't have the wildlife so nothing to spook!

Thanks for sharing Safariman, that really made me smile seeing your lovely photos.

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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  whitestarling on Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:23 pm

Sorry SM at the moment I cant see your pics I can see from Doogs, and Lais comments they are on. I think it's proberbly the host site updating it shows a smallm box with a cross that's usualy the sign, but I will check it again tomorrow

WS

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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  Safariman on Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:41 am

Thanks Doogs and Lai.
WS I have the same problem from time to time on my tablet with no pics appearing however there is never a problem on my main computer. Not sure what the problem might be.

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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  whitestarling on Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:25 pm

No problem with the pics opening tonight SM, I think it must have been a site update.
Some really great photos SM, as always It must be really nice to see that the two Males, have grown up since you first saw them, to fullfill their potential. It's a shame that so many cubs get killed in these takeovers, and also the old pride males get injured, or killed, but as we know the prides need these injections of new blood to survive. What a great sight to see from your camp on arrival, and a gorgeous sunset. Hope you do manage to sort your videos out, looking forward to seeing some of them
Thanks for sharing your trip
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Very young lion cubs

Post  Safariman on Fri Oct 17, 2014 11:58 am

Thanks WS, I am starting to sort out the videos and will try and post a short one with each of my stories and then try and combine them into a single one which I will post separately.

This first story is rather sad but illustrates the problems that occur when new males take over a pride.
My first afternoon game drive was somewhat delayed due to a rather spectacular thunderstorm but although it was still raining David my guide suggested we head out to see if anything was around before it became too dark. About a week before I arrived one of the Offbeat Pride females had given birth to three cubs but unfortunately was unable to produce any milk. One of the other Offbeat females who had also given birth a few weeks earlier (story to follow) initially helped out but was also very busy with her own 3 cubs. Add to this that the new males were now in attendance who were not the fathers of the cubs meant trouble was around the corner.
We didn't have to drive far before we found a rather wet and bedraggled female but no sign of her cubs however after a little searching we spotted 2 of the tiny 7/8 day old cubs, they looked reasonably healthy and apart from being very wet seemed o.k. Trying to get any photos was difficult as the light was failing and it was still raining and we didn't want to disturb them too much. As we left them we heard the mother making a rather plaintive roar.
The following day, reality struck when we found the body of one of the cubs. It had probably been caught by one of the males who simply picked it up and threw it away breaking its neck. We assumed the same fate had happened to the other 2 cubs as we didn.t see them again. The life of a lion is harsh and cruel but it is their way of ensuring a new set of genes enters the pride.
A few days later we found one of the Acacia Pride females who had also just given birth to 3 cubs but these were only 5 or 6 days old with their eyes barely open and only able to stumble around on very shaky legs. Trying to photograph them was a considerable challenge as they and their mum were well hidden in thick bush and again we did not want to disturb them. I had to revert to manual focus on my camera as the auto focus only focused on the bushes. Surprisingly the video seems to have come out better than the stills. The pics are not great but they do show very young tiny cubs.
David was not sure if the father of these cubs was one of the new males who had taken over the Acacia Pride, if not their fate would be the same as the Offbeat cubs!!!!



The Offbeat female, mother of the 3 tiny cubs



Two of the cubs







The sad sight of a dead cub



The Acacia Pride female suckling her 3 cubs well hidden in thick bush











SM
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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  Laikipia on Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:16 am

Thanks for sharing your photos and clip Safariman.  I could see the clip but 4 of the photos were just an icon, so I will check back later.  Wow those cubs were tiny and it's so sad when the males come in and kill them especially as lions are so precious but that is nature.

You must have been so excited to see such new cubs.

Lai

ps they just appeared that little dead cub is a truly sad sight Sad
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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  Doogs on Mon Oct 20, 2014 2:03 pm

Oh my world Safariman, tiny then even tinier !!!  I love you I love you   What lovely photos and the video as well.  The cubs looks so helpless when they are calling out for them mum !  The Acacia Pride lot could barely stand they were that little !  I think the look kinda 'alien like' when they are that young !!

Lion 'families' can be so heartbreaking at times, especially when it means that the little ones suffer Crying or Very sad but it is the 'set up' up lion life and in a way you can see why they do it, as upsetting as it is, especially to us humans.  

That must have been so so sad seeing that little ones lifeless body, poor wee toot Sad

Brilliant SM, thanks so much cheers
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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  Safariman on Tue Oct 21, 2014 12:28 pm

Thanks Lai and Doogs. Sadly very few lion cubs manage to reach maturity, the life of the big cats is very hard.
Whenever I stay at Offbeat's Mara Camp I like to take a trip into the Mara National Reserve to see what is happening there. This time we decided on a full day to try and see if there was a chance of seeing a migration crossing at the Mara River. We set off early with a full hamper and coolbox for our picnic breakfast and lunch. Although the Conservancy adjoins the Reserve it takes a good hours drive to reach the Musiara Entrance gate. We were surprised how little game we saw on the way with very few wildebeest, in fact there was more game in the Conservancy than in the Reserve. The migration is starting to change year by year as the weather pattern becomes more and more unpredictable.
The Musiara Marsh which should be full of birdlife at this time of year was almost dried out the main April/May rains having failed this year. However what we did find was one of the Marsh Pride females Sila, I think, relaxing on the edge of the marsh with her 3 tiny cubs hidden away in a hollowed out fallen tree trunk. We also encountered a lone hippo making its way back to the Mara River after a very late night out!
Moving away from the marsh David spotted another female lion again relaxing and keeping well out of the way. It turned out to be Sienna who had been badly gored by a buffalo a few months earlier. The wound seemed to be almost healed although we could not get very close for a proper look. Nearby we also found her 3 cubs who are probably about 4/5 months old.
Deciding on breakfast we found a nice shady spot overlooking the Mara River. However many times I go on safari I still find it an almost surreal experience to be eating breakfast while listening to hippos noisily honking away while behind us about a 100 metres away we were being watched by a huge bull buffalo and slightly beyond him a female lion relaxing on a termite mound. It is not something one can experience in the U.K.!!!
There was still very little game around and by the time we reached the main migration crossing point not a wildebeest in sight. There were only 2 other vehicles there which for the1st. Oct. is very unusual. The only thing we saw crossing the river was a Kori Bustard and he wisely flew across. There would be no food today for the well fed crocs!!
We moved away from the river to an area of the reserve I hadn't visited before where we soon found a male and female lion relaxing in the shade of the tree. David said the male was one of Notch's 4 sons and he soon stood up appearing a little distracted as behind us a second male appeared,much to the consternation of a herd of buffalo, another of Notch's boys. I am not sure if they have taken over any prides or are just roaming freelance!!
Close by we also found 2 more females with 2 cubs about 3 months old who were probably the offspring of the nearby males. By this time the weather was closing in and the sky turned black signalling a storm. We quickly closed the roof hatches and dropped the plastic windows down just as the first drops of rain fell. To experience an African storm is quite something and the rain soon turned the Mara into a huge lake. How David managed to find his way back I will never know as we were driving through a sea of water with no way of knowing where the roads were supposed to be!! We stopped once to see an unfortunate male cheetah bravely riding out the storm on top of a termite mound. The storm followed us all the way back to camp and lasted well into the evening.
The following are a few photos of our day plus a short video.




Sila one of the Marsh Pride females relaxing with her cubs well hidden close by.



A topi and 3 impala reflected in a pool.



A lone hippo makes its way home after a very late night out!!



Sienna with her wound barely visible and almost healed.



Sienna's 3 cubs



A perfect spot for breakfast overlooking the Mara River



Our curious breakfast onlookers, a buffalo and a lion!!



A small herd of elephant



A baboon poses for a photo



The only thing we saw crossing the river, a Kori Bustard, and he took the sensible route, he flew!!



One of the many well fed crocodiles of the Mara River



One of the few wildebeest we saw plus a huge bull elephant



One of Notch's 4 sons with female companion



A definite family resemblance!!



He stands up as his brother walks by



One of his brothers



Two females and cubs, probably Notch's grandchildren!!



The two cubs mutually grooming



The gathering storm!!



A lone cheetah rides out the storm on top of a termite mound





SM
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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  Laikipia on Tue Oct 21, 2014 2:23 pm

Thanks Safariman, a lovely narrative of your day in the Mara, I love the Musiara Marsh, it's such a wonderful area with several ideal breakfast spots. As you say, you can't beat breakfast in the bush with all the wildlife watching, hopefully from a safe distance! It is a really special experience as are the sundowners in the bush Very Happy

Some stunning photos and a really lovely clip, it really brings it all to life and you can imagine being there amongst it all. Notch's boys really are handsome and certainly carry his genes.

Thanks for sharing, you've definitely brightened up a very wet and windy day.

Lai
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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  whitestarling on Wed Oct 22, 2014 12:33 pm

Thanks for the photos, and videos on the Lion takeover SM. As you say it really is sad about what happens during a pride takeover, but Male Lions are hardwired to do this, it's natures way unfortunately. It would'nt under normal circumstances affect Lion numbers, but because of whats happened to Lions in terms of habitat loss, poaching, and the killing of lions to protect live stock it does make a big difference. Really sad to see the brocken body of the cub, but also great to see the video of the cubs suckling, thats life for these creatures in the wild all ups, and downs.
Will catch up with yesterdays post asap
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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  Safariman on Sun Oct 26, 2014 3:15 pm

This post involves the other Offbeat female with young cubs. The cubs were slightly older than the ones mentioned previously being about a month old when I arrived. I first saw them on the day of my arrival after the storm and just as it was starting to get dark. There is an area at the bottom of Lion Hill which seems to act as a playground and the mums seem to bring their cubs there to get rid of some of their surplus energy before returning to the safety of the hill for the night. This mum is a very good mum being very attentive and a great defender of her cubs. According to David she had already had several altercations with the new males, steadfastly defending her cubs. I think the new males being quite young are a little wary and unsure of themselves and will give way rather than cause a big fight!! It was great to watch the tiny clubs in their uninhibited play which is all part of the learning curve for their later life. The three cubs are all boys and very boisterous and mum was also the target for their games, her tail being particularly favoured!! They were still very unsure of themselves in the very wet conditions and it was fun to watch that whenever they tried to wash their back legs while sitting they always fell over. The vehicle did not seem to worry them only acting as an object of curiosity. Hopefully they will grow up totally habituated to vehicles.
I was lucky enough to see them on a couple of further occasions and will include them in further stories.
Below are just a few of the photos of them playing, I took hundreds, together with a short video.



Mum and her three little boys



Curious innocence!!



Confrontation





Me and my brother



Lets get mum!!









Now go and play on your own!!



Time for a fight



My personal favourite photo!



Now where did he go?



I am now going to lick you to death!!



Fascinating to see the size of the claws on such a small cub.




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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  Laikipia on Sun Oct 26, 2014 6:29 pm

Thanks Safariman, those cubs and just so tiny and adorable. Lovely photos and a great clip and of course the story that goes with them.

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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  whitestarling on Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:04 am

Great to see Notchs Boys they definitely have his genes, and also good to know that Siennas wound seems to be almost healed. Wow that is one big Bull Elephant, and the Croc looks really happy with life, and a full belly Very Happy . I've seen Kori Bustards at Petes Pond on the cam there, they are really big, and along with the Great Bustard are the heaviest known bird capable of flight. I really enjoyed watching your clips of the Cubs suckling, and playing I have sagred them with my friends on Ustream Chat so you may find your number of views have gone up a bit, they loved them.
Thanks again for the photos, videos, and as ever your great story line it really helps to bring your Safari to life

WS

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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  Doogs on Tue Oct 28, 2014 2:04 pm

I've missed two posts to comment on so I'll deal with your one from 21/10/14 first.

Great that you were able to get down/up/across to see the Marsh Pride, it is always enjoyable to see them as there's so many of them.  A lovely area to have your breakfast at, esp with the Hippos cheers  

A wet safari can be challenging at times but great that you managed to see so much and get some wonderful photos.  

Great to see Sienna looking great and that wound of hers has almost healed completely which is great, that's been a long time  pale    

How wonderful to see Notch's Boys, they are incredibly handsome, just like their dad of course  Wink

That Bull Elephant is HUGE !!!

Lovely to see more 'Little Lions' I love you

Another set of great photos, video and story - thanks SM  Cool
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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  Safariman on Thu Oct 30, 2014 3:13 pm

Thanks everybody for the positive comments.
I thought I would get away from lions and do a post about the elephants I saw. There were not as many as usual and those I did see were in small family groups or single bulls. It seems to depend on the food supply and they tend to wander far and wide to find what they need. But it is always fun to spend some time just watching them, particularly the very one young ones. Unlike lion society the adults appear to leave the young calves to their own devices while they spend all their time feeding. If they want to play the young calves have to find another one of around the same age and then the older ones might intervene if the play becomes too boisterous!! It must be quite lonely for a single calf if he has no playmates as all he can do is practice trying to use his trunk the way mum does as it takes some time before they can feed for themselves.
The last couple of photos are of a big tusker bull called Hugo. He is fitted with a collar so that his movements can be tracked and he wanders far and wide throughout the Mara and the surrounding area. We did witness some unusual behaviour from him that I had not seen before. There was an a acacia tree that had been uprooted some time before possibly by Hugo or another elephant and was completely dead. However what Hugo did was to push the tree out of the way as underneath, following the rains, was an ares of new, lush succulent grass that had been untouched by the other grazers. A very clever elephant!!!



Stripping bark off the branches of an acacia



A very flexible trunk!!



Time for a drink



More bark stripping while junior takes a rest



The youngsters play while everyone else feeds



A trial of strength!!





A young bull poses for the camera



Hugo and his companion take on a golden glow as they are illuminated by the last rays of the setting sun.



Hugo stands beneath an almost full moon having just moved the acacia tree to expose the new growth of grass.





SM

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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  Laikipia on Fri Oct 31, 2014 9:17 am

Thanks Safariman, another great collection of ele photos and clip. Lovely to see eles but a shame you didn't see as many as usual. Hugo is obviously one smart ele Very Happy

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Offbeat Pride.

Post  Safariman on Tue Nov 04, 2014 11:49 am

When I lost saw the Offbeat Pride in Feb. they were well spread out away from their normal territory due to the incoming new males. There were 6 females plus two sets of cubs the"big five" who were 6 months old and the"small five" who were 3 months old. Sadly none of the latter survived the takeover but one of the females managed to keep the others well out of harms way.
When I returned in Oct. the takeover was complete and the 2 new males firmly established. The males seemed to spend all their time mating particularly with Napono the matriarch of the pride. This was actually a complete waste of time as due to her age she is now infertile!! But it did not seem to worry Napono who I think was reinforcing her dominance over the other females in the pride and also finding out which of the new males was going to be the leader. I got the impression that she was unduly enthused by either but I have to admire their stamina!!! Whenever we saw them which was often they were mating, Napono always encouraging them. The other females looked on waiting their turn!!
The Offeat territory although mainly focused on Lion Hill also encompasses an area on the other side of the Olare Orok River and with the regular storms the river was in full flow. We were lucky enough to see Napono and one of the males crossing the river which made for an exciting spectacle. A couple of days later we also witnessed them crossing back over with the male gallantly following Napono's lead.
David my guide had not seen the "big five" cubs for some time however we did manage to find 4 of them on the edge of the Offbeat territory with one of the adult females The fifth had taken refuge with the female with the 3 small cubs I posted about earlier.
It was a great relief and surprise towards the end of my stay to see most the pride relaxing on the far bank of the river. There were 4 adult females the 2 males and the 3 small cubs all together. As the 3 cubs were not the offspring of the males this was quite a defining moment as it would appear that the males were willing to accept the cubs.
The hope now is that they will also accept the "big five" cubs who are now about 13 months old and that the pride can be reunited together. I will find out when I return in January.
David was saying that the ideal size for a pride was between 16-18. Consisting of 8-10 females 6 cubs and 2 males. This allows the cubs to be kept safe while others hunt. Anything bigger and the pride tends to split up and anything smaller and the cubs are always at risk.
It has been fascinating over the last few years with my visits to Offbeat to see the constantly changing dynamics of the pride, their ups and downs and their constant struggle just to survive.




One of the new males



The other male



Male drinking





This became a common site everytime we saw the males!!



Tired out!!



Even the buffalo bull got fed up watching the constant mating!!



Now it's my turn!!



Wake me up when he's finished!!



The lion and the jackal



Female having a scratch and a rub watched by a pair of jackals



Napono preparing to cross the river



First steps!!



Halfway across



Almost there



Time for a quick shake!!



Re-crossing the river a couple of days later



Four of the"big five" 13 month old cubs hopefully keeping out of harms way



One of the Offbeat females suffering very badly from ticks



When not mating or eating males spend all their time sleeping!!



Happy families. Most of the Offbeat Pride together including the very young cubs.



The young cubs happily playing with the rest of the pride close by.






A video of the Offbeat Pride


SM


Last edited by Safariman on Wed Nov 05, 2014 11:42 am; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  Laikipia on Tue Nov 04, 2014 1:08 pm

Safariman, fascinating account of the Offbeat pride, and how amazing that the cubs appear to be safe, that's such great news. I love the clip, they all look so relaxed together and both the males look rather handsome!

It's great that you visit Offbeat Mara a couple of times a year and can keep up to date with all that is going on there.

When in January will you be there? Pete and I are visiting Kenya in January but not the Mara this time, we'll be up north.

Thanks for sharing and look forward to more photos as and when the server allows What a Face

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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  Laikipia on Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:31 am

Just before you do WS. I am on my PC at work and I use IE and today I can all photos and clips including 30th October which I couldn't see yesterday on my laptop scratch

So for me I can see everything and have enjoyed looking through all your photos again Safariman - Thanks

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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  whitestarling on Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:32 pm

Thanks Lai just spotted this. I can also now see, all the photos, inc Oct 30th. I have now unlocked the thread in case anyone should wish to post a commwnt

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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  Laikipia on Sat Nov 15, 2014 9:18 am

WS - it's a complete scratch

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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  whitestarling on Sat Nov 15, 2014 10:45 am

The Forum Motion Admin sent out a patch to fix the problem, and it looks as though its taken time for it to reach all sections affected, I think thats what happended. I dont know, but I think the intial problem was caused by a fault in the html codes, that were not recognised by some browsers that seems the most likely cause

WS

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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

Post  Laikipia on Sat Nov 15, 2014 3:26 pm

You the man WS

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Re: Mara North Sept/Oct. 2014

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