A very great deal of people are quite put off by cockroaches. They tend to evoke repulsion in a way that Spiders and Snakes sometimes do suggesting that humans may have a hardwired response built in. Cockroaches spread germs and we maybe genetically trained to be repulsed. Sadly though our natural fear is naively for all cockroaches when only about 4 species have really evolved to associate with humans. There are over 4600 species of cockroach currently described almost all of which are harmless. Cockroaches occupy many different habitats and they began their evolution away from termites in the Devonian, about 150 million years before Dinosaurs. Maybe we should actually give them a bit more respect then no? Like as in respect your elders. Also think about this: 4 out of 4600 species of cockroach are invasive or troublesome but for the Great Apes it is 1 (guess who!) out of 7, a much greater proportion.
Here are some pics I took recently of a Burrowing Cockroach which I believe is a member of the Blaberidae, or the Giant Cockroaches. When I handled him he was very powerful and could wedge or push under my hands in the same way that a mole cricket and other burrowing things can. Here are some pics:
This is a new species of snake that we recently found on Tumaren. It is a Desert Black-headed Snake (Micrelaps vaillanti or so we think. Exciting to find new species after all these years hiking this bush.
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.
Our most hard to see hyena, the Aardwolf. Recently on a walk I flushed an Aardwolf from a burrow. On another walk weeks later the same Aardwolf sprang from the same hole. Kechine our expert tracker could see some other very small prints in the fine dust beside the entrance. We put the camera on it and this is what we got:
Tumaren is booming and the wildlife are all breeding, frolicking and fighting. THIS is the time to be on safari! I have never been able to fathom why so many people and agents steer guests away from Kenya during the rains. It is by far my own favorite time to be on safari and more international visitors should know about how nice it is.
The rain brings out lots of life that has to hide away during the long dry periods. The tortoises start to roam widely in our area and begin to search out mates. Insects of all color and shape emerge to pollinate or eat the equally diverse collection of flowering plants that erupt. Birds are nesting and the young attract the attention of many kinds of predator. The lush vegetation prompts most of the plains game to go into breeding mode – the stallion zebras fighting off advances from other males while the gazelles too come into season and begin to drop their young in the long grass. Its a predator’s dreamscape.
To give an idea of what people are missing by not travelling during the rains, here are are just a few images from a 2 hour game drive in Samburu. I didn’t stop for the bugs or flowers as there were just too many for the kids in my car.
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: