The Mother of All Rats

about 5 days ago, Kerry’s mum, julia rescued a giant rat who was being attacked by a black-tip mongoose. the rat is no ordinary rat, he is massive, and the largest rat-like rodent in Africa. He is a Gambian rat and this is the species that some people are using in Mozambique to look for landmines. Gambian rats tame down very quickly and are actually very friendly (as you can see from the pictures).
Anyway, a bit off subject as this report comes from Nairobi and not Laikipia but i thought it would be of interest for everyone to know about our recovering Gambian rat (he has sustained some minor injuries to the face and jaw but seems to be recovering fast). cheers, jc

gambian rat
gambian rat
gambian rat
gambian rat
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Drought Sensitive Species Beginning to Return

In the drought of 2000/2001 the species that were hit the hardest in Laikipia were the following mammals: Warthog, Waterbuck, Hippo, and Buffalo. Since then it has been the warthogs that have sustained the best rebound with waterbuck following. Buffalo in our area have been greatly helped by larger herds that live south of us on higher ground near the Loldiga mountains. Still we only see Buffalo in small herds of threes and fours and typically they are all bulls with family herds only coming onto us occasionally. Hippos have taken a very long time to return. Every once and a while we have a couple pass by Tumaren but the do not seem to stay for very long. Evidently there are nice deep pools that the few individual that are still around prefer. Despite that we have seen young hippos with mothers and waterbuck these days are frequently encountered in groups of 6 or 7. Its nice to see all these guys beginning to return.

waterbuck
waterbuck
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Oryx Kills Oryx

Our rangers this morning came back to the office to report that they had found a dead Oryx. From the tracks they could see that the fatality was not from poaching or predation. The Big Male Oryx had been killed by another Male. A deep puncture wound pierced his chest and blood had flowed from his mouth so we suspected that he had been hit in the lungs. There was no other marks on the animal besides some horn scratches on its face.
I look at Oryx every day but when i went to the scene and saw the animal lying there I was shocked by how big Oryx actually are. I have heard stories of Oryx even killing lion. Despite that I have noticed that they are generally not terribly aggressive – A cheetah that I found in Samburu National Reserve with a baby Oryx kill consumed his prize while the entire herd of more than 30 watched from within 50 feet. They could have easily driven the cheetah away but appeared spooked and didn’t bother.

0ryx
0ryx
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21 WildDogs with Waterbuck Kill

On Nov. 13 th while on safari on the Ewaso Nyiro river we ran into 21 WildDogs hunting. They were in the process of harassing a group of four Waterbuck that seemed very frightened and stressed. The Waterbucks would run and then turn to face the dogs. The dogs would then back down and look for another opportunity. At one point a Dikdik sprang from a bush behind the dogs and 4 engaged it in chase. Luckily for Mr. Dikdik he made a safe escape. Meanwhile several dogs kept returning to a certain patch of bush. As we watched the area with our binoculars we realized that they were eating and that they had a kill. When 2 young dogs began playing with a leg we decided that it was a young Waterbuck that they had taken. Very exciting and great to be able to watch the dogs for a good half hour as they played and chased each other.

wilddog
wilddog
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