On the 6th of September at 10am in the morning wilddogs were seen hunting around Tumaren Camp. A walking safari nearby were able to see the dogs briefly as they tore off after some Impala. This is not an uncommon observation on our trips and we see wilddogs often hunting in the area. While some lodges in Kenya use radio telemetry to find their wilddogs, we prefer old school tracking and spotting to the ‘canned hunt’ approach. It was thrilling then to see that our pack had some very new pups with them as well.
Kechine, one of our lead rangers continued to follow the wilddogs as they descended toward one of our dams. In thick bush he was able to catch up with the dogs just as they met with an adult lioness. There was a standoff just before the Lioness lunged and was able to grab one of the new pups. She promptly killed the dog while the rest of the pack circled in obvious concern and stress. A rather sad day for our dogs but a very interesting interaction that Kechine (also pictured below) was able to observe and document on his new Nikon camera.
Greetings from Tumaren. Outside the office, as I type, a small herd of Elephants are breaking Acacia branches to get at the tasty bark. They are part of the second largest population of Elephants in Kenya and they are a welcome distraction from the accounts.
Elephants in fact are one of my favorite aspects of life in Laikipia and specifically of the walks I guide. On Tumaren, our conservation area, we often have several herds around and observing these animals is typically the highlight of my walks. Elephants, as most guests already know, are complex and intelligent animals and observing them on safari can be a life affirming pleasure.
It shouldn’t be surprising that I think the best way to Elephant-watch is on foot, but it is. On foot we make our appoach always considering the wind direction. We are silent and slow and the animals are oblivious to our presence. Their behavior then is naturual and unrehearsed (even the tame animals in the game park behave differently when they are concious of a nearby vehicle or human smell).
Another life affirming aspect of walking with Elephants is the understanding of exactly where our species ranks in the wild. The African Elephant is the largest terrestrial species of animal on Earth. When you walk beside them you appreciate that fact. You feel small and it is humbling to realize how humans evolved beside such monstrous gentle giants.
The relationship, of course, has been a rocky one, especially in recent years. But all of our guests pay conservation fees that help safeguard our Eles among all the other fauna and flora and we are hugely thankful for that. Here are a few of our elephant achievements that we are quite proud of:
Elephants Mums are now so comfortable that they regularly give birth on Tumaren. This is now a common occurence but it never happened when we first purchased the property
We have rescued one orphan named Tumaren who was sent to the Sheldrick orphanage and is now part of their orphan herd at Ithumba
We no longer have snares in our area. The last snare we removed was many years ago
Through diligent patrols, our area is now no longer a safe place for poachers to operate in
Each year we guide a 100 mile walk to raise money for Elephant conservation efforts in Kenya
Anyway, all our trumpeting best to you and your family.
All these trees were cut in the karisia hills in order to extract honey. it is a virgin forest and these podocarpus trees would be worth a great deal if harvested for timber. instead they rot. Does this make sense? No. What a sad state Kenya’s forests are in.
On the lower slopes hundreds of women are taking out cedar posts that they are selling in the local markets. the forestry department is obviously doing nothing to prevent this and is said by the locals to be in on the sale of the wood.
Found this toad the other night and it just seems different than the others. It lies flat to the ground and takes a different posture than the more upright “typical” toads. I put quotes around typical because i have trouble using the book to Id even our most common toad.
The exploitation of African Sandlewood (Osyris lanceolata) has become a serious issue in recent years. In our area smuggling Sandlewood has become a big business with many chiefs other politicians involved.
Here is a photo of a plant i encountered on a recent walking safari:
Our dear friend Chiri Chiri was sadly killed last week defending his boma from an attacking Leopard. The cat took 13 goats that night and brave Chiri went in to protect his flock. With one strike the Leopard put poor old Chiri down. To his yelps came another dog from the neighboring manyatta and that dog too was killed by the cat.
We always spoke about Chiri as the smartest dog in Africa because he would cross through miles and miles of lion and leopard country alone to come and see us. We would feed him a bit and give him any vet care should he need then he would say goodbye and return to a myriad of girlfriends back on the group ranch.
Chiri was a real hero and when Pirjo Itkonen, a reader of wildlifedirect came out to visit us Chiri stood guard outside her tent when lions were roaring close by. Pirjo was kind enough to leave Chiri with a food allowance when she left.
Anyway, Chiri we will miss you. rest in peace old friend. Below is a picture of Chiri and below that a picture of the Leopard that most likely got him ( we took it only day later not far from where Chriri was killed).
De Braza Monkeys were thought to only exist west of the Rift Valley till Helen Dufresne discovered them living in the Mathew’s Range. Overnight the population of this Endangered Primate quadrupled within Kenya (or something thereabouts – i can’t remember exactly the numbers). Check out these pictures from our last walking safari there: